Quickdraw Animation Society has unveiled the program for the 15th GIRAF Festival of Independent Animation, taking place in Calgary, Alberta, Nov. 21-24. Highlights of the 2019 event include the launch of the Society’s On LGBTQ2S+ Animation publication and a spotlight screening of contemporary queer animation, an artist talk and Mad God screening with the legendary Phil Tippett, a mind-expanding selection of feature and short films from around the world, and more!
The 2019 festival’s artwork and signal film were created by Chad VanGaalen and Quickdraw’s summer designer, Ali Simpson.
GIRAF15 will present three feature films this year — two brand new ones, and a restoration of an underappreciated Hungarian classic.
- On-Gaku: Our Sound [dir. Kenji Iwaisawa] A summer day. Three outsider high school students who haven’t touched an instrument in their lives decide to form a band to express their teenage angst and impress girls. Does it matter that Kenji and his friends have never played an instrument before? Of course not — he’s got a guitar at home and his friends have a bass and drums so in the true spirit of punk, with blind confidence and absolutely minimal effort they start to make friends and influence people. Winner of the Grand Prize for Feature Animation at the Ottawa Int’l Animation Festival.
- Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles [dir. Salvador Simó] Paris, 1930. The infamous surrealist filmmaker Luis Buñuel is left penniless after the scandalous release of L’Age d’Or leads to a falling out with collaborator Salvador Dalí. On a whim, Buñuel’s good friend, sculptor Ramón Acín, buys a lottery ticket and promises to devote his winnings to fund Buñuel’s next film. Incredibly, Ramón wins the jackpot, sending the two friends to the remote mountains of their native Spain to film the documentary Las Hurdes: Land Without Bread. Driven by mad artistic impulse and haunted by childhood memories, Buñuel must confront the specter of mortality looming over the lives of his subjects –and his own.
- Feherlofia (Son of the White Mare) [dir. Marcell Jankovics] Few films in animation history are as striking as this 1981 classic. Created under the confines of Hungary’s Communist regime, the film manages to be stylish and subversive, while celebrating the folk tales of the steppes and the epic poetry of Hungarian writer László Arany. Epic as it is, the story plays second-fiddle to the bold visuals and remarkable animation — which has been lovingly and beautifully restored in 4K by the team at Arbelos Film Labs.
The 2019 festival will also present seven short film programs:
- Indie animation Mixtape (Side A and Side B) Your best bet for an eclectic mix of short films, featuring jaw-dropping stop-motion from Greece, pitch-perfect Portuguese pixillation, stunning storytelling on sibling rivalries, and plenty of other memorable movies culled from over 1,200 submissions from around the globe.
- Possible Worlds Anything is possible in an animated world, and the films in this collection are all the proof you need. From Zorg II‘s curiously collaged epic about a would-be alien movie star to the striking strangeness of Finity Calling‘s stop-motion realm, Possible Worlds is packed with sci-fi visions you’ve never seen before, and that you won’t soon forget.
- Late Night Shorts is where things get weird. And messy. And mature. And occasionally silly. Some of these films deal with heavy subjects. Others are just so strange that GIRAF wouldn’t know where else to put them. But that’s part of their beauty: By embracing their rough edges and ignoring any idea of limits, these films dig into your psyche and refuse to let go.
- Love Sweet Love The festival will wrap its 15th anniversary edition with a celebration of love in all its many-splendored forms. Like any good love stories, things in these films aren’t always straightforward. But they are beautiful, thoughtful, funny, and more than a little weird, too.
- On LGBTQ2S+ Animation [out of competition] With help from the Canada Council for the Arts, Quickdraw recruited a cabal of queer and nonbinary artists, illustrators, critics and scholars to share their stories and their expertise for On LGBTQ2S+ Animation, a short collection of essays and comics exploring this under-acknowledged topic. GIRAF15 will release this collection at its opening screening, alongside some stellar examples of contemporary animation from queer creators.
- Chris J. Melnychuk Scholarship Spotlight [out of competition] Named for a long-time Quickdraw member with a passion for inspiring others, the scholarship gives emerging Calgary artists the skills and resources to make their animated visions a reality. This year’s GIRAF will share a selection of scholarship films from recent years, plus work from the program’s namesake, the late Chris J. Melnychuk.
Stop-motion and effects animation master Phil Tippett (Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Starship Troopers, RoboCop) will be in attendance for a screening of his experimental, stop-motion trilogy Mad God (sponsored by Bleeding Art Industries). Set in a Miltonesque world of monsters, mad scientists and war pigs, the story follows The Assassin through a forbidding world of tortured souls, decrepit bunkers and wretched monstrosities forged from the most primordial horrors of the subconscious mind.
Tippett will also be giving an artist talk on his incredible career at the cSPACE King Edward School.
A local animators panel will discuss managing a career as an artist in Calgary, geographically distant as it is from the hotbeds of the mainstream animation industry. Participants are TBA, as are final details on a workshop with Sonya Reynolds and Lauren Hortie of MidKnife Films.
GIRAF15 is sponsored by Alberta Media Arts Alliance Society.
Learn more at giraffest.ca.