What We’re Looking Forward To At This Year’s Ottawa International Animation Festival
After being held online for the past two years due to Covid restrictions, the 46th Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF) will be back at its in-person best this year.
North America’s oldest and largest animation festival, OIAF will run from September 21-25.
Below, we spotlight a handful of this year’s most compelling events.
Contemporary Chilean Animation
Curated by Chilean filmmaker Hugo Covarrubia, this sidebar is dedicated to the art coming from one of Latin America’s most exciting emerging territories for the medium of animation. According to Covarrubias, who is also a member of this year’s competition jury, “Chilean animation is spontaneously breaking down the boundaries between the visual arts and animated film, placing these disciplines at the service of the questions that keep us alert in a world where chaos is constantly bursting into our lives.”
Since Punkrobot scored Chile’s first-ever animation Oscar win in 2016 with the animated short Bear Story, Chilean animation has seen an influx in both commercial and arthouse work that has made an impact at festivals and on major tv networks and platforms around the world. It was no surprise then that Covarrubias’ own stop-motion film, Bestia, was nominated for best animated short at this year’s Oscars.
Best of VR@OIAF 2020 and 2021
With the last two editions of OIAF relegated to a virtual format, those without their own vr rigs at home were unable to enjoy the award-winning works from those years. This year’s festival proposes to remedy that situation by bringing back the best vr award-winners from 2020 and 2021 to allow OIAF attendees to experience the projects in person for the first time.
Animation Exposé Fair
Aspiring animators are invited to pack up their portfolios and meet with representatives from animation schools, studios, and more at the Animation Exposé Fair on September 24th. Dozens of reps from Canadian and international companies will be on hand to network and discuss upcoming opportunities in the world of animation. Companies sending representatives to Ottawa include Netflix, Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network Studios, Sphere Animation, Brown Bag Films, DNEG, and a wide range of animation schools and institutions, to name a few.
The artist talks that are part of Animation Exposé are not to be missed either. Some key talks include a conversation with Scott Clark, head of the new Walt Disney Animation Studios outpost in Vancouver and a look at Netflix’s upcoming interactive special We Lost Our Human with creators Chris Garbutt and Rikke Asbjoern (Pinky Malinky).
Held at Ottawa’s Ottawa’s famous Château Laurier, TAC (The Animation Conference) is one of North America’s key networking events for the world of animation. Surely, everyone attending will be looking forward to meeting face to face once again after being kept apart by COVID.
This year’s TAC programs include a Toon Boom! Organized boat cruise, the dual pitching events Fast Track and Pitch This!, and a co-pro focus with a spotlight on the recently renewed Canada-France treaty, with plenty of French producers in attendance. There will also be a networking breakfast hosted by Women in Animation Vancouver, a talk presented by Covarrubias, a “Meet the Festivals” panel, and an Animators’ Picnic.
Special Delivery: The Films of John Weldon
There are few Canadian animators who can boast a career on par with that of Oscar-winning filmmaker John Weldon. While Weldon’s Oscar win came for his 1978 short Special Delivery, he may be best known, at least in Canada, for Log Driver’s Waltz. He was also nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1990 for To Be.
Animator’s Picnic and Care Bears Party
The annual Animator’s Picnic is one of the highlights of OIAF and allows guests to hang out and chat in a relaxing and pressure-free environment. For nighttime fun though, there’s parties and get-togethers every evening, including a Care Bears-themed party on Friday, September 23, in honor of the franchise’s 40th anniversary. The event promises vintage episodes, dancing, real-life Care Bears, and Care Bear-themed cocktails.
All Alone Except for Everyone: The Films of Jonni Phillips
Animator Jonni Phillips combines drawing, paper cutouts, and digital techniques to examine the banalities of everyday life. Characters in her work often have mundane jobs, ordinary relationships, and are just altogether unspectacular. Far from unspectacular, however, is how engaging the artist can make these characters empathetic and their worlds engaging, often fueled by an understated sense of humor.
Phillips’ most recent feature, Barber Westchester, is also playing in competition at this year’s fest and is surely one title that attendees won’t want to miss. Other titles from her oeuvre include The Final Exit of the Disciples of Ascensia, Goodbye Forever Party, Wasteland, and Secrets and Lies in a Town of Sinners. Phillips is also a member of this year’s festival jury.
Best of Ottawa 2022
With everything going on at the festival, it’s not always possible to see all of the mind-expanding competition programs, programmed by artistic director (and Cartoon Brew writer) Chris Robinson, but thankfully OIAF does a wonderful job itself of providing a Cliffs Notes version for those who want to catch up on key highlights. The Best of Ottawa screening program includes fan favorites and award winners from the competition field – which we highlighted in July – including a broad selection of short films that provide a unique cross-section of what filmmakers from around the world are doing today.
The full OIAF program is available on the festival’s website.
Pictured at top: “Bestia,” “Barber Westchester,” “Log Driver’s Waltz”