Int’l Ani Fest Bigger Than Ever

Fifteen years ago, animation was the backwater of most film school programs. Becoming the next live-action tyro Spielberg, Lucas or Coppola was the name of the game. But not anymore. At least if what’s happening at the Ottawa Int’l Student Animation Festival is any indication.

This year’s frame, to be held October 16-19 at the National Archives of Canada has exploded since the fest’s last call for student entries in 2001. "We have a record 1200 entries representing 50 countries, compared to 800 entries when SAFO was last held two years ago," says festival founder and artistic director Chris Robinson. "It’s very exciting to see the festival attract so many new animators from around the world."

First held in 1997 and running in alternate years with the Ottawa Int’l Animation Festival, SAFO was created to provide a venue for university, college, and emerging animators to showcase their work. “Students and first-time filmmakers have the opportunity to screen their work in a more supportive environment than in open competition festivals,” says Robinson, “In festivals (the work can be) overshadowed by bigger budget entries.”

Narrowing the entries down to 70 student and first-time films to compete in six award categories was a challenge to Robinson and SAFO selection committee members. Because of the embarrassment of riches, SAFO has also selected 72 films to be shown out of competition in its Panorama screenings.

Selected entrants will compete for prizes in seven award categories, including: National Film Board of Canada Award for Best Graduate Film, First prize: Post-Secondary/Undergraduate Film, First prize: High School/Secondary Student Film, First prize: First Film, First prize: Children’s Film, Grand Prize for Best Film, and Grand Prize for Best School Show reel.

Festival passes may be purchased for $110 by visiting the Ottawa Int’l Animation Festival web site at www.awn.com/ottawa/safo03 or by calling (613) 232-8769.