I was extremely tired during the Ottawa Festival, so I've decided to only talk about films that I enjoyed even in my exhausted state. It's quite possible that a second viewing would lead me to different conclusions for films I didn't like, so rather than say things I'll later regret, I'll stick to what I liked. I've also reconciled myself to the fact that my taste and that of festival organizer Chris Robinson differ. It's pointless to criticize this year's selection as it was consistent with previous years and will no doubt be consistent with coming years so long as Robinson is making the selection.
The Ottawa Festival is one of the most heavily scheduled events I know of; every time slot now has four events running concurrently. While that pretty much guarantees there will be something of interest every waking moment, it's also a guarantee that you miss things you'd like to see. For the record, I saw three of the five competition screenings, one of the two screenings of films for children, one of four UPA retrospective screenings, and two of the three features. I also attended two panels (one of which I spoke at) and a master class.
I've already praised Perspeolis and Golden Age. In the competition, another favorite film was Lapsus by Juan Pablo Zaramella of Argentina. It's a graphically simple film, black and white with no half-tones, where a nun confronts a dark space. The film is highly inventive and funny, doing a lot with little. You can watch a brief clip of the film here.
Zhiharka by Oleg Usinov of Russia is a fairy tale about a girl trying to avoid being eaten by a fox. The film had great humour and fantastic energy. I'm constantly amazed by the lack of timing in modern animation. This film was expertly timed and really carried the audience along as a result. If you can read Russian, you can find more about the film here. If there's a link to a clip, somebody please let me know.
The UPA screening I attended was the one dedicated to directors. I think that Bobe Cannon is underrated as an animator and as a director. His animation in Robin Hoodlum very stylish and got me thinking about what we've lost in animation. There's no shortage of original design work visible at the Ottawa Festival, but I don't think that there's much in the way of original motion. Certainly, there's little where the quality of movement itself is entertaining in the way that Bobe Cannon routinely animated. I'm pretty sure that he did the fox and the knight here as well as the fox drinking his first cup of tea.
Christopher Crumpet, but here it is again. Christopher's walk and his first transformation into a chicken are both fun in and of themselves. Bilgewater's stylized way of moving from pose to pose with no inbetweens is also fun to watch, as is the mother tripping and landing at the dinner table. These things don't take money to do, they just take imagination, but I don't see enough of it these days.