Ottawa International Animation Festival – Day Four



John Canemaker was in to sign his “Two Guys Named Joe”.  He did a talk that was programmed opposite Competition 3, so I sadly missed it.  A thing like a Canemaker talk can stay with you longer than a dozen short films.

After his morning signing I hiked to a panel hosted by Michael Fukushima on Independent Filmmaking.  Carolyn & Andy London, Biljana Labovic and Nick Cross shared their experience in fundraising, distribution and general survival.  The festival caters to (and celebrates) independent animators but the placement of the panel during the student/school events on Saturday morning serves as a strong reminder to future filmmakers that they are not obligated to follow the stream into the industrialized animation.

They, again, screwed up the signal film projection.  This time competition 4 had no opener.  The conceptual process of the cycle hopelessly thrown off, I talked directly with the projectionist afterwards to cobble together a semblance of completion over the next screenings.

Interesting to me in retrospect -and perhaps a good lesson to others- when Matt Rosen, the capable technical manager of the festival asked me if the projectionist explained the mistakes I realized I didn’t ask her the cause.  The reasons, I told him, weren’t important at the moment, I just wanted to formulate a simple plan for moving on.

Perhaps because of my dour state, the standout film of program 4 was a humorous student film from Wales, Ben Cady’s “The Goat and the Well”.  The simple linework and the timing based humor are in the vein of Richard Condie or Marv Newland.  Few students explore this territory these days.

Liesje Kraai & David Cowles’ They Might Be Giants music video also played.  Its a fun romp but there isn’t much in the manner of animation, its primarily puppets and compositing, though thinking about it I can’t say it’s all that different from most Flash-based animation.

I had been greatly looking forward to Phil Mulloy’s follow up to his feature “Goodbye Mr. Christie”, “Dead But Not Buried”. The novelty of “Goodbye…” peculiar genius marks this as less exciting, and maybe a little less funny although I suspect back-to-back viewings would prove otherwise.  The writing and graphics, seemingly broad and flat, are truly textured and subtle.  Verbal and visual weaves become apparent on keen inspection, many of these threads stretch thin and break in the mind of the audience when the chapters are screened a year apart.

The final shorts competition ended with Paul Driessen’s “Oedipus”.  First, its a delight just to watch the way his drawings move.  The narrative and discovery of this well known story play with the expected wit.  It may not be the “best of the festival” -but it might.  It’s a fun and memorable film, and though he’s been doing it for a half century Driessen’s animation is still refreshing.