The Toronto Animation Arts Festival International (TAAFI) is returning to in-person celebration of all things toon this month, running online from February 13-15 before taking over the Hot Docs Cinema Feb. 16-18. The festival has unveiled a program presenting over 100 films and their creators.
Among the many highlights will be a special screening of Red Iron Road on Saturday, February 18. Audiences will take a harrowing trip down 200 years of European horror fiction as four episodes of the animated anthology are presented in a special program entitled the Red Iron Road Retrospective (tickets here). Episodes of Red Iron Road have been electrifying festival audiences and racking up accolades around the world since the project premiered at Fantasia Film Festival last year.
Created by Aljosha Klimov and Iouri Stepanov, Red Iron Road showcases 12 directors’ interpretations of 12 authors’ terrifying tales. Stepanov and his studio Lakeside Animation have co-produced the series with Studio Metrafilms.
“Lakeside is thrilled to give Toronto animation fans a sneak peak of our new series,” said Stepanov, “We are immensely proud of the series and all the hard work all the directors and creative teams have put into it. Audiences will never forget their journey along the Red Iron Road.”
This exclusive event will be one of the last opportunities for animation and horror fans to see these episodes on the big screen in advance of the series’ wider theatrical and streaming release later this year. The screening will include:
- The Ratcatcher’s Daughter – Directed by Adam Jeffcoat & Jim Bryson, of Studio NX (Canada)
- The Undertaker – Directed by Sergei Kibus of Nukufilm (Estonia)
- The Forest King – Directed by Lubomir Arsov (Canada)
- VRDLK: Family of Vurdulak – Directed by Sam Chou of Look Mom! Productions (Canada)
Red Iron Road Retrospective will be attended by directors Sam Chou (Crime: The Animated Series), who will be honored with TAAFI’s 2023 Kaj Pindal Award for individuals who have made a significant impact in the world of animation, and Jim Bryson, creative producer Matthew Lyon, series producer Courtney Wolfson and voice cast including Kevin Hanchard (Orphan Black), Dan Beirne (Ginny & Georgia), Gwynne Phillips (Templeton Philharmmonic) and Lawrence Bayne (Nikita). A Q&A with the creative teams will be held after the screenings.
This year’s TAAFI Film Festival will present both cunningly curated short film programs and an eclectic selection of feature films from around the world screening both in-person and online. The fest will open with DreamWorks Animation’s Oscar-nominated Puss in Boots: The Last Wish will screen at TAAFI’s opening night gala (Thursday, Feb. 16), which will be followed by a Behind the Scenes talk with co-director Januel Mercado.
TAAFI audiences can also catch The Amazing Maurice by Toby Genkel, Unicorn Wars by Alberto Vázquez, Eyeballs in the Darkness by Albert Birney (online), Unicorn Boy by Matt Kiel, Interface by Justin Tomchuk (online), double feature of 31-artist collaboration Popcorn Time & Let’s Go Wongos by Dan Forke, Michael Van Swearingon and Peter Steineck, and U.K. sci-fi indie RIFT by Haz Dulull (online).
Additional program highlights include a Cartoon Party with Gary and His Demons; studio spotlights on Brown Bag Films, Guru Studio and Mainframe Animation (online only); and making-of sessions for Sonic Prime and Pinecone & Pony (online only).
Passes for TAAFI 2023 are available from taafi.com, where you can find the full even program.