34th Ottawa Animation Film Festival (October 20-24, 2010)
Ottawa Monogatari
by Ramin S. Khanjani

  The unrelenting chilly wind is harshly whipping my face. I check my calendar again; it is still late October, but I shouldn’t be amazed for here is one of the coldest capital cities in the world! I need to keep myself warm. Looking around, I take glimpse of the glowing sign of Bytowne Cinema right on Rideau Street, the beating heart of Ottawa. In front of the cinema, two lines have already shaped. In a blink of an eye, I find myself in the line flanked by people discussing the last animation project they were involved in. In theater, finally finding a refuge from the cold, I notice the guy in the adjacent seat is busy with his pen. I steal a glance at his notebook, but he is not writing anything, he is drawing a sketch! I have a comfortable feeling which cannot be plainly attributed to being indoors. I notice the presence of numerous young faces in the theater. Only later do I find out that many of them are filmmakers; when following screening of each movie their name is announced and they are asked to come to the front and stand in the spotlight - though some of them feel shy or humble. It is the opening night according to the published program, but contrary to my expectations for an official ceremony, everything takes place so simple with a brief speech delivered by Tom McSorley, the head of the Canadian film Institute followed by a funny mute imitation of a speech by art director of the festival, Chris Robinson. Now, my body is fully taken over by delightful warmth. Looking up on to the screen, I recognize a funny director-like figure struggling with a machine gun that doesn’t obey. (Machine gun? I should attend more screenings to realize the pertinence of this image!) Finally, the director manages to fix the problem and start shooting, but what springs out of the barrel is a rainbow of colors forming the poster of Ottawa Animation Film Festival 2010 on the wall. Now I realize where this cozy feeling flows from!

  Boasting to be the biggest Animation film festival in North America and one of the four major animation film festivals in the world, the 34th edition of Ottawa Animation Festival was an ensemble of several competitive and non-competitive programs, but its two major sections – which grant the festival its importance – are feature and short competitions. Each of the screening programs of short movies presented a blend of animations of different kind (narrative, experimental, promotional) and techniques which could satisfy spectators with varied tastes and preference as by the end of each screening, they were able find a few movies that appealed to them. Needless to say these movies were eventually judged in separate categories.
  The majority of promotion animations I managed to watch at the festival were made to address and warn about environmental crises. As the most challenging instance of this commitment, I should mention the British animation, Coalition of the Willing, an omnibus cooperative project each part of which was made by a director of the team and through a different technique. As an agenda, the film argues how the liberal spirit of 60s fell prey to its individualism and became subservient to capitalist culture and then suggests some collectivist modes to revitalize this spirit in order to tackle the crisis of global warming which the movie pictures as a direct consequence of consumerism.

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