Friday, July 16, 2010

The Best is Yet to Come

still of Bastien Dubois' Madagascar, A Journey Diary via The Animation World Network

Tonight I went to see a animated short program compilation from the Best of the Ottawa International Film Festival. It's been about ten years since I've attended one so I was looking forward to seeing the show. I can't say I was blown away. I can't even say I was awake. Most of the selections were idiosyncratic "experiments". I use quotes because typically, an experimental film offers innovation in some way, either in storytelling, or technique or even just stylistically. Yet most of these were using traditional techniques and weren't really that compelling on any other front.

From the fray, two or three films were head and shoulders above the rest. Easily the most entertaining film was "The Terrible Thing of Alpha-9!"

The Terrible Thing of Alpha-9

Another noteworthy piece was "Please Say Something" which, in an almost naive computer style, depicts the possible dissolution of a relationship. The only other bright spot, was a student short called "The Art of Drowning". Marv Newland's short was a better idea than a film (which is pretty much his wheel house).

still from "Please Say Something" via The Animation World Network

My favourite was a sort of wonderful travelogue, "Madagascar, A Journey Diary (Madagascar, carnet de voyage)". Below is a wonderful clip which doesn't really do it justice of an oddly ebullient funeral scene in a small village. The film has a fantastic subtlety of colour and movement and seems to blend hand drawn images with computer compositing really seamlessly.

Bastien Dubois' Madagascar, A Journey Diary

The rest of the program was like I said, dreck. It was a complete letdown to know that ten years on and the OIAF doesn't seem to have progressed much. Or at least that's what this would suggest. Independent animation used to be the place to see what was cutting edge and different. Based on this, "different" and "edgy" look pretty hollow and undeveloped. Maybe it's just the success of feature length and series animation that the best and brightest are working on mainstream productions rather than independently. Regardless of the reason, missing the Ottawa Animation Festival doesn't really feel like missing anything.

Here is the entire list of films shown:

OIAF 2009 Signal Film

Julian Grey, Canada | 2009 | 0:45

Love on the Line

G Melissa Graziano, USA | 2008 | 5:00

Mac the Horny Mac Daddy

Ian Miller, USA | 2009 | 1:07


Marv Newland, Canada & USA | 2008 | 5:02

Please Say Something

David OReilly, Ireland & Germany | 2009 | 10:00

The Bellow's March

Eric Dyer, USA | 2009 | 5:00

Chick (Laska)

Michal Socha, Poland | 2008 | 5:03

The Black Dog's Progress

Stephen Irwin, UK | 2008 | 3:15

Magic Cube and Ping-Pong

Lei Lei, China | 2009 | 4:07

The Art of Drowning

Diego Maclean, Canada | 2009 | 2:07

History of the Meat Packing District

Gary Leib, USA | 2008 | 1:01

MGMT 'Kids'

Christy Karacas & Ray Tintori, USA | 2009 | 6:11

The Terrible Thing of Alpha-9!

Jake Armstrong, USA | 2009 | 5:45

Madagascar, A Journey Diary (Madagascar, carnet de voyage)

Bastien Dubois, France | 2009 | 11:30

Inherent Obligations (Kaasündinud Kohustused)

Rao Heidmets, Estonia | 2008 | 10:00

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