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Coming Attractions: Ottawa International Animation Festival

The Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF) is trying out some new elements this year, including a new venue (the Canadian Museum of Civilization), a new free shuttle bus between venues and new additions to programming, like a live art presentation by Daniel Barrow, who uses an overhead projector and narration to create something called "manual animation."

OIAF Artistic Director Chris Robinson previews Chainsaw by Australian animator Dennis Tupicoff.

The Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF) is trying out some new elements this year, including a new venue (the Canadian Museum of Civilization), a new free shuttle bus between venues and new additions to programming, like a live art presentation by Daniel Barrow, who uses an overhead projector and narration to create something called "manual animation."

OIAF artistic director Chris Robinson says that they're "trying new events with more of a performance aspect. We're expanding out rather than keeping things static."

Barrow's live animation art performance is scheduled for September 19 at Canada's National Gallery. Other such events include a visual/audio installation at Ottawa's SAW Gallery, opening on September 18, featuring works by Barrow, Lee Rinaldo and Leah Singer, Allison Hrabluik, David Shrigley, Theodore Ushev and Tic-Tock Tom. "Visual/Audio: Interpretations of Sound" aims to explore the use of sound in animation, ranging from live experimentation to commissioned videos.

OIAF Artistic Director Chris Robinson

Recognized as an Academy Awards competitive film festival, the OIAF is one of the largest animation festivals in the world, and the largest in North America. Robinson says that they set new records again this year, with some 2,150 submissions from 70 countries, with 109 making it into competition and 26 selected for non-competitive screenings. These will include 34 world premieres.

The OIAF will also be presenting retrospectives of respected and acclaimed animators, including Canadian-born Richard Williams. For the 20th anniversary of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the film will be shown on the big screen with Williams in attendance. In addition, Williams will be interviewed by Oscar winner John Canemaker at the already sold-out "Animator's Survival Kit" talk and DVD presentation on September 20 at the Museum of Civilization.

Other retrospectives will focus on the works of Christopher Mills, Jonas Odell and Skip Battaglia and Michael Sporn.

There will also be "meet the filmmakers" sessions with various creators every day at the Novotel hotel during OIAF from 9:30-10:30 am so their works can be discussed.

The OIAF wants to engage young animators and families too. Children are invited to the free animation celebration class, taught by Oscar-nominated and Emmy Award-winning artist Michael Sporn, on September 17, and a free family hands-on workshop on September 21, both at the National Gallery of Canada. Teens can participate in a free hands-on workshop at the National Gallery as well, on September 20. For those considering a career in animation, there will be an animation school fair on September 18.

There will be an animation book fair and various authors' book launches, including two for Robinson: Looking for a Place to Happen: On the Road with Canadian Animators and Ballad of a Thin Man: In Search of Ryan Larkin.

OIAF Managing Director Kelly Neall

The OIAF is also home to the Television Animation Conference (TAC) from September 17 to 18. "This is a major event that is entering its fifth year," Robinson says. TAC has scheduled A-list keynote speakers this year -- Brown Johnson (president of animation for Nickelodeon, MTVN Kids and Family Group), as well as Seth Green and Matt Senreich (co-exec producers, writers and directors of Robot Chicken, who are currently producing Naughty or Nice, a stop-motion animated holiday feature). TAC will also be offering panels, workshops, seminars and networking opportunities.

Networking is key at the OIAF, and animators will be able to kick back and drink in the creative atmosphere -- and more -- at various parties. For more information on all that the festival has to offer, visit www.animationfestival.ca.

-- Reported by Janet Hetherington.

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