The 15th edition of the Sommets du cinéma d’animation will take place in Montreal from November 23 to 27 at the Cinémathèque québécoise and the nearby Phi Center.

Through the years, Sommets has evolved into a full fledged animation festival, and this year’s schedule includes 148 shorts, two feature films, two masterclasses, four talks, three exhibitions, a series of professional networking events, a youth program, and vr programming.

Under the artistic direction of the Cinémathèque’s Marco de Blois, the festival presents a bold and provocative array of programming. Among the events that stands out in this year’s programming line-up is a new competitive section composed of 33 ultra-short films (under two-and-a-half minutes), with audiences choosing the winner. It sounds like a smart way to bring attention to very short animation projects that are often overlooked at animation festivals, especially when it comes to awards.

Some of this year’s other highlights include:

  • An interactive five-hour masterclass with NFB filmmaker Diane Obomsawin (whose film I Like Girls won this year’s grand prize at Ottawa this year), in which she will present and discuss her film and comic book work, and then work with audience members to collaborate in the creation of an animated GIF. The event, presented in French, will take place in the Cinémathèque’s Norman McLaren Gallery.
  • Oscar-winning filmmaker Joan Gratz (Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase) will present her films and discuss her unique clay-painting animation technique in a masterclass session. Her new film, Primal Flux, also screens in competition.
  • An industry-oriented breakfast on Friday morning in which Montreal-based animation projects across film, TV, online, and interactive/transmedia, will be highlighted.
  • A series of industry-related talks and panels including “Finding Work in the Visual Effects Industry” (organized by Framestore); “Money and Eyeballs,” about the challenges of financing and distributing short films in the internet age; and “Animation, Journalism, and Film Criticism,” about the challenges of discussing art in a tight-knit community like animation (I will be participating in this latter discussion as a panelist.)
  • An exhibition of puppets by Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski (Clyde Henry Productions) created for their films like Madame Tutli-Putli and Cochemare.
  • The presentation of the René Jodoin Award (in recognition of the exceptional work of a leading figure in Canadian animation) presented to Montreal filmmaker Steven Woloshen, who specializes in cameraless animation.

Further continuing the theme of Woloshen’s cameraless animation, the festival commissioned Canadian animation legend Pierre Hébert to create two cameraless festival trailers, which can be seen below:

Screenings cost C$10 (C$9 students/seniors), while a pass to all the festival screenings is C$50. Admission to the panel discussions and lectures is free, and admission to all events is free for members of the Cinémathèque.

For a full program book with screening times and other details, visit the Cinémathèque québécoise web site.

Cartoon Brew is a media sponsor of the festival this year, and I will be in attendance for the whole festival, so see ya there!

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