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Festival hopes to draw crowds with screenings, workshops, and more

Photo: Courtesy of OIAF 2015 Press Kit

Whether you’re a budding animator, or just enjoy the occasional Pixar or Dreamworks film, the Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF) has something for you.

Beginning in 1976, the OIAF is North America’s largest animation festival and one of the oldest in the world. The festival features everything from film screenings to workshops and masterclasses with world-renowned animators. This year it will be held throughout downtown Ottawa at the Arts Court, Bytowne Cinema, and Château Laurier Sept. 16-20.

“We really try to fight the traditional perception of animation because anybody you talk to and say ‘animation,’ they’re going to say it’s something for kids,” said Chris Robinson, the artistic director of the OIAF.

“Since we were created in 1976, our mandate, our goal, has been to show the artistic side of animation and to show people it’s more than that. It’s very poetic. It’s personal. It’s provocative. It’s political. It’s an art form up there with the classics, much more than Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny.”

The core part of the festival weekend is the film competition, which features around 100 films chosen from 2,000 submissions from both experienced and up-and-coming filmmakers.

The competition screenings are the highlight for many of the OIAF staff, including Kelly Neall, a University of Ottawa alumna and managing director of the OIAF.

“It’s collections of the best new animation from around the world,” said Neall. “In these screenings, there’s five of them, you’ll see a bit of everything.”

The screenings feature different categories of animation, including films and videos made for children which are judged by children from the Ottawa area, and a specific category for students or recent graduates who were enrolled in school while creating the film. This year’s screening lineup even includes Oscar winners and nominees.

All of the film screenings will take place at Bytowne Cinema on Rideau Street, beginning on Sept. 16, the first night of the festival. Students can take advantage of the Animation Six-Pack for $65 which gets you six tickets to different screenings for the price of five.

Other than the competition screenings, the festival will also have previews of films from big animation companies.

Hotel Transylvania 2 is a Columbia Pictures film which festival attendees will get to view clips of, even though it won’t be released until Sept. 25. Pixar will also be attending the festival and showcasing their new short film, Sanjay’s Super Team.

One of the goals of the festival is to also to promote independent and experimental animation films.

One of the experimental filmmakers that the festival will be featuring this year is clay animation expert, Bruce Bickford. He is most well known for collaborating with musician Frank Zappa in the late 1970s on projects like Zappa’s films Baby Snakes and The Dub Room Special.

Many other filmmakers will also be participating in “meet the filmmaker” talks, where festival-goers can hear their favourite filmmakers divulge details on their work.

“It’s a one stop shop to get an idea of having a career in animation,” said Neall.

So whether you want to sit and watch a new short film, try your own hand at animating in one of the workshops, or talk to professionals from Disney and Nickelodeon, be sure to check out the Animation festival.




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