Events Round-Up: Locarno Premieres, Ottawa Retrospectives, VR at SIGGRAPH & More

The Oscar-qualifying Locarno Film Festival, taking place for the 74th year in the Swiss-Italian town from August 4-14, will include bold animation amidst its broad spectrum of new and inspiring cinema, in the Pardi di Domani competition. (

  • Hybrid documentary Love, Dad will screen August 6. The MA graduation film from FAMU takes its director Diana Cam Van Nguyen back to her childhood days, when her father used to send her affectionate letters from prison. Through the letters, she remembers the mutual closeness, which, however, came to an end when her father left for another family. Diana uses the film to respond to her father, blaming him for abandoning the family, but also trying to understand his reasons. The theme of the importance of having a son touches on the conflict between Vietnamese tradition and European values.
  • Slovenian animation star Špela Čadež returns to the festival circuit with her eighth film, Steakhouse (Aug. 5 with filmmaker Q&A; encore screenings Aug. 6 & 7). Like its predecessor Nighthawk, Steakhouse uses multiplane stop-motion cut-out technique to serve up a slow-burning drama simmering on the stove of personal pain as a social problem, topped with a darkly comedic pay-off that sneaks up on the unsuspecting viewer. Franc has been marinating a steak to celebrate Liza’s birthday for days. When her colleagues throw her a surprise party, she wonders if she will make it home on time to join him, as he stews in the kitchen with his eyes on the clock.
Kill It and Leave This Town
Kill It and Leave This Town

The Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF), one of North America’s premiere toon celebrations, has detailed two intriguing retrospectives on important artists (who will also serve as jury members this year) which will feature in the 2021 event’s program, presented online September 22 to October 3. (

  • This year’s special screening series launches with a retrospective of OIAF 2020 Grand Prize for Best Feature winner, Mariusz Wilczyński. Through his work, Wilczyński pulls audiences into a world of nostalgia, loss and mortality. The raw and honest sensations associated with these themes lead casual viewers and film aficionados alike to an uncomfortable crossroads; the one between letting go of the past and delving deeper into it to move forward. A self-taught artist who has been creating animated auteur cinema for over 20 years, Wilczyński’s works include several short films (Times Have Passed, For My Mother and Me, Unfortunately, Kizi Mizi) and music videos (“Allegro ma non troppo,” “Death to Five”). His most recent work, Kill It and Leave This Town, took 11 years to complete.
The Grand Bizarre
The Grand Bizarre
  • Acclaimed experimental animator Jodie Mack is also under the light at this year’s OIAF. Using recycled materials, Mack is a Dr. Frankenstein of sorts, injecting life and energy into materials. Each of Mack’s films embodies this approach to animation and is fueled by pure curiosity. It is through this curiosity and revitalization of materials that Mack explores the tensions between form and meaning, a topic that we often shy away from in our everyday lives. Her films have screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Jeonju International Film Festival and the Viennale. She was a 2017/18 Radcliffe Fellow and a 2019 resident at the Headlands Centre for the Arts. Mack currently teaches animation at Dartmouth College in the United States. Her animated feature, The Grand Bizarre, will be available late July on Criterion’s online streaming platform.
Penggantian (Replacements)
Penggantian (Replacements)

SIGGRAPH 2021 announced its immersive programming, including one world-premiere experience, and the jury-selected award winners for both the Immersive Pavilion and VR Theater. Virtual conference live events will run August 9-13, with content available online and on-demand from August 2 through October 29. Spotlighting over 35 projects from more than 15 countries, 2021 content features work out of the U.S., Kenya, Ireland, Iran, and Taiwan, among others. (

Highlights across all immersive programming include:

  • Garage: GPU Particle-based AR Content for Futuristic Experiences | An AR project from Akatsuki Inc. based on its system for creating interactive AR content and experiences, which is capable of capturing real-world geometric and visual information and translating it into particle-based AR content.
  • Namoo | The latest project from Baobab Studios is a narrative poem come to life as an animated VR experience that follows the journey of a man from his birth until death.
  • Vermillion: Realistic Virtual Reality Oil Painting | A VR oil painting simulator created by The Aviary that offers the unrivaled sense of accomplishment of creating something beautiful on canvas, without the messy living room, by bringing the full analogue joy of painting to the digital world.
  • Replacements (Penggantian) | Diversion cinema’s Replacements depicts a Javanese family routinely observing their neighborhood: day after day, generation after generation, replacement after replacement. It is a VR story about roots, time and change.
  • Once Upon a Sea | A poetic, interactive XR documentary from Blimey, Holy City VR and Intuitive Pictures that tells the tragic tale of the legendary Dead Sea. Through a physical exploration of the sea’s forbidden, moonlike landscapes, to intimate encounters with local characters, the user gets a rare glimpse into one of the world’s most dangerous, soon to be extinct, wonders.
  • She |An interactive film out of the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology about a boy pursuing his gender identity. The boy got a magic lipstick that helps him to discover feminine tendencies. As the boy goes through the family’s confinement and social isolation, viewers stand with the boy’s inner self and support him to regain his self-acceptance.

Brussels is underwater in the Anima 2022 poster, designed by comic-book artist Pieter De Poortere. The design features his character Dickie on top of the Flagey building, sunken under the sea, who does not notice the proliferation of a new, underwater world populated by emblematic characters. The 41st edition takes place Feb. 25-March 6, 2022

Anima 2022
Anima 2022

The Bucheon Int’l Animation Festival also unveiled its official poster for BIAF 2021 recently. Titled “The Eyes of the Summer,” the illustration was created by renowned Japanese director Ayumu Watanabe (Children of the Sea). “Through her frame, the little girl remembers what happened in the past. All of us see the world through a common frame … I have imbued these overlapping frames with hopes and dreams. I hope BIAF2021 makes a great film festival,” Watanabe says of the outerspace-y illustration. BIAF2021 is schedules for Oct. 22-26 in S. Korea.

Bucheon Int'l Animation Festival
Bucheon Int’l Animation Festival

Award Winners:

  • Festival REGARD (Quebec): The Passerby by Pieter Coudyzer (Best Animated Film)
  • VR NOW Awards (Germany): Kusunda – Speak to Awaken (Grand Prize/Best Immersive Cinema), H@ly Sh1t! (Special Prize), Puzzling Places (Entertainment), Dark Bay (Technology), Avatars (Industry)

Calls for Entries:

Save the Date:

  • Trojan Horse Was a Unicorn (THU) gets back to its main event in Tróia, Portugal in 2021 after a two-year sojourn in Malta. The 8th edition takes place 20-25.
  • The Oscar-qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival will hold its 17th edition in person 23-30 at the TCL Chinese Theaters, with Award Gala on Oct. 1.
  • The 29th Stuttgart Int’l Festival of Animated Film (ITFS) will take place as a hybrid event once again from May 3-8, 2022. Swiss artist and Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts teacher François Chalet is creating the official trailer, “The Principles of Animation / Black Is Back.”
  • The Kidscreen Summit will be back in person next year at the InterContinental in Miami, Florida, from 14-17, 2022.


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