Ottawa Animation Fest Rolling

The 2002 Ottawa International Animation Festival opened Wednesday night at Ottawa’s National Arts Center (NAC) with a focus on working and playing hard.

Chris Robinson, OAIF artistic director, read a hilarious speech that he had “bought for $25 from ‘Speeches Online’ — speeches for any occasion.” On this occasion, he told festival attendees, “We must make a pre-emptive strike in the name of culture.”

Honorary President David Ehrlich commented that “this is the second largest animation festival in the world, and the most serious.”

It’s also very well attended. On Wednesday organizers said that only a few passes for the event were still available.

Animators from around the world are vying for prizes in the independent short films competition, the commissioned films competition as well as the Grand Prize for Best Independent Film/Video.

This year’s international jury includes Piotr Dumala (Gentle Life, Franz Kafka), Amanda Forbis (When the Day Breaks), international filmmaker and theater artists Janie Geiser, Andreas Hykade (We Lived in Grass, Jesus) and Piet Kroon (Dada, Osmosis Jones).

Fourteen works in Competition 1 were screened Wednesday night and ranged from experimental works to CG to commercial spots to TV series animation. Viewers were asked to vote for one work only to be considered for the OIAF 2002 Public Prize.

The attendees seemed eager to play as hard as they worked. Animators trailed off to after-parties. Chez Ani, held at the Capital Hill Hotel and Suites, was presented by Quickdraw Animation Society. Ottawa animation firms Dynomight Cartoons, Boomstone Animation, Amberwood Entertainment and Pip Animation sponsored a packed soirée at Barrymore’s Music Hall. The DJ played retro tunes and The Banana Splits theme as Dynomight’s Untalkative Bunny flickered up on a wide screen like a silent film star.

However, business still proved to be the bottom line. Boomstone Producer/Director Rich Vanatte said his company, which has been working on the Rescue Heroes TV series for Nelvana, is setting up business meets with Nelvana and others during the festival.

Nelvana is just one of 15 companies exhibiting at the show’s Animarket, also taking place at the NAC. The other firms (and animation schools) include: Digital Glass, Sheridan College, Discreet Media, Seneca College, Algonquin College, Corel, Mind Avenue, Boomstone Animation, Vancouver Film School, Center for Digital Imaging and Sound, Seoul Animation Center, ChromaColour International, TELETOON and Pip Animation.

The festival runs through Sunday, Oct. 6, and will be offering a variety of workshops and retrospectives as well as the competition screenings.