An overriding excuse -I’ve been busy lately. In bed at 3 am, out a 7 am (or later and earlier) kind of busy. This, of course, is my own fault. Trying to accommodate the world.
Multi-week sleep deprivation is a similar sensation to attending a film festival. A soft cloud develops around your head, sunlight grows a sharpened edge, a long red light seems like a good time for a little nap. Rollercoaster programming of a good festival, though, will make you angry and elated and raise you out of the even-keeled funk of the working world.
The festival in Ottawa unfurls so that it’s possible to be slowly drawn into the movie-haze unaware, in my current state I hit it in full fog. The Television Animation Conference precedes the film programming by a day. This is mostly dull stuff about animation as a product. Movie making as money making, producing art as though it were manufacturing widgets. But still, there is always something interesting. Yesterday that was a panel that included Titmouse impresario Chris Prynowski. His work as an animator is impressive and his studio produces work that exceeds the quality of any other making series for American television. As a speaker he’s engaging and articulate. He’s honest about the process and clearly know what he’s talking about. A lot of people hide behind abstractions and broad figures when discussing work -it hints at a mere surface understanding of what it takes to make something. Prynowski’s self-effacing discussion of the top to bottom details of his operation is possibly the most engaging thing I’ve seen at any TAC.
This year the event is being held at the Museum of Nature. It’s a nice venue. Cocktail parties surrounded by dinosaurs.
Two screenings in the evening: the French/Belgian feature “Approved for Adoption” and the competition shorts #1.
It might be a new “thing” in European animation, and it’s not a good thing, to “toon shade” CGI models so they look like something from Xtranormal.com. There was a short in competition that did the same thing. It’s made even worse by the drawn sequences in the film that are generally pretty attractive (same is true for the short).
For me, the highlight film of the short program was Edmunds Jansons’ “Choir Tour.” The story is no great shakes but the design and animation are both terrific.
The look utilizes contemporary drawing tools -likely Illustrator or Photoshop or some such thing in a pleasing and expressive fashion. The animation is idiosyncratic and exploits the design.
Julia Pott’s “The Event” also ran. There’s a lot to like about this film, and I’ve seen it several times. It holds up (and in some ways improves) with repeat viewings. I wish I could pinpoint why it leaves me a little cold. It’s a good piece, though. Strange to say, it felt a little out-of-place in the program. Usually an apocalypse like this would be one of many in a competition selection- last night it felt like the only one.
Joanna Priestley’s “Split Ends” is attractive. It feels like some of the graphics within it could form the basis of an interesting film. She’s working in shape and abstraction to the point where they near representation. Maybe this experiment will get pushed further in a future work.