The Ottawa International Animation Festival

Heads Online for its 44th Year

One of the world’s best known and loved animation events is moving its screenings and talks online for the 2020 event and the organizers are embracing the challenge. The extended event is running from September 23 to October 4.

“At first we wanted to mimic the live event as much as possible, but then the team started to think of ways we could take the things people love about the OIAF and make it more suited to an at-home experience,” says Managing Director Kelly Neall. “It’s a chance to get creative and try some new things.”

The team is researching the best platform to securely showcase the films for an international audience while also incorporating a social component. There will be artist talks, workshops and the chance to virtually meet with schools and recruiters. InGenius Jr for families will return as well as the NightOwl party. Activities are being extended past the event’s usual 5-day run so people can work it into their schedule.

Catch of the Day

Catch of the Day

The Animation Conference, OIAF’s industry event will move online as well. Director Azarin Sohrabkhani is working to involve decision-makers from around the world, “this is a great opportunity to meet with even more potential partners than the live event since travel has been taken out of the equation.”

This year the OIAF received 1950 entries from 84 different countries. Of those, 92 short films, including Animated Series and VR (those finalists will be announced in August) were selected for Competition. 6 films were chosen for the Feature Film Competition. In addition, 16 films were selected in the Canadian Student Competition and 41 Panorama films were chosen to represent the efforts of the Canadian, international, and student communities.

Highlights include:
It is stellar year for the National Film Board of Canada with 5 films in the Official Competition and 2 in the Canadian Panorama. The NFB selections range from the work of award-winning doc director Robin McKenna’s Thanadoula to the work of Atikamekw multi-disciplinary artist Meky Ottawa (The Fake Calendar) who is a graduate of the NFB’s Hothouse program.

The Feature Film Competition offers up a chance to see films that are truly out of the ordinary. Three among the six highly diverse and unusual films are Mosley, a family film with lots of appeal for everyone. This 3d animation labour of love comes from New Zealand director Kirby Atkins. Kill It and Leave This Town is animator Mariusz Wilczynski’s first feature-length film. A personal film that looks back at Poland in the 1970s. The film premiered at the Berlin Film Festival. There’s also the zen inspired minimalist hilarity of the South African feature: Bru & Boegie: The Movie.

The Competition also features an array of independent filmmakers including a trio of former OIAF Grand Prize winners Sarina Nihei (Polka-Dot Boy), Andreas Hykade (Altotting), and Hisko Hulsing (the acclaimed Amazon series, Undone).

The Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF) invites audiences to uncover something different for the 2020 online edition. This year’s four retrospectives put the spotlight on highly creative animation talent from the past and present, including work from:

Métis animator Terril Calder, an influential force of independent animation;
Mikrofilm, the dynamic and diverse Oscar winning Norwegian studio that just celebrated their 20th anniversary;
Emily Pelstring, Canadian animation’s fresh new voice with a nostalgic aesthetic;
The centenary of the pioneering late, great Estonian animator Elbert Tuganov.

“As much as OIAF is a celebration of the here and now, and the bright lights of animation’s future, highlighting the history of animation is also an essential part of the festival,” Says Chris Robinson, Artistic Director, who chooses all the festival selections and retrospectives. “That’s what these screenings are for: to unearth animators and studios whose work may otherwise be lost to the past.”

Métis artist and stop motion animator Terril Calder has won awards at film festivals all around the world, including Sundance, imagineNATIVE, and Berlin. She has lectured and taught art through the years with various organizations that include the National Ballet School of Canada, Art in the Park program, The University of Manitoba, and Indigenous Roots. Her films destabilize and haunt the viewer, tackling a number of difficult issues like identity, isolation, and the unspeakable horrors of residential schools.

The Norwegian studio Mikrofilm grew from a group of animators working in attics and basements into a powerhouse of animation. This studio’s body of work straddles industry and independence by mixing the commercial with personal passion projects, an approach that has resulted in a 2015 Oscar nomination for Me and My Moulton and a Best Animated Short Film Oscar win in 2007, for Torril Kove’s The Danish Poet. Mikrofilm’s co-founder Lise Fearnley is an OIAF jury member this year.

Emily Pelstring is as much a sound artist and performer as she is a visual artist and filmmaker. She is also a BFA graduate in Animation from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), holds her MFA care of Concordia University in Montreal, and is currently a faculty member in the Department of Film and Media at Queens University. Her interests and creative output make her a true multi-disciplinary artist. Emily has a film in competition this year and created the OIAF20 signal film.

The first in Estonia to use the term “animation”, Elbert Tuganov had made 38 internationally acclaimed puppet films by the time of his retirement in 1982. More of an architect than a poet, Tuganov was someone with a vision and a will to see it through. He was also a trailblazer until the end, helping to establish studios all over the former Soviet Union, holding workshops for children, and publishing books on what it means to bring puppets to life. For the modern viewer, watching Tuganov’s films is a call to change established attitudes.

OIAF special screenings are available to watch on-demand from September 23 to October 4 with the purchase of a pass or individual ticket, at the following link:

For the full line-up visit:

Moi Barnabe

Moi Barnabe



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