Animation Community Helps Save Ottawa Fest

As reported by AWN on July 3, 2002, the Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF) has regained its primary funding from Telefilm Canada through the end of the fiscal year 2004. OIAF received more than 300 letters of support from all over the globe, which were forwarded to Telefilm. Supporters included Canadian animation companies such as Funbag, Head Gear, Bardel Animation and Atomic Cartoons; U.S. firms such as Klasky Csupo, Pixar, Warner Brothers, DreamWorks and Walt Disney; and many individual animators such as David Fine and Alison Snowden (BOB AND MARGARET) and Oscar winners Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis. Upon receiving the deluge of mail, Telefilm decided to conduct more in-depth evaluation and consultations in the fall before coming to a final decision. Festival organizers hope to work with Telefilm to promote Canadian-made television, new media, short film and feature animation.

"Given that Telefilm has received criticism in the past for not responding to the needs of the industry, it was refreshing that Telefilm head Richard Stursberg actually re-evaluated the decision based on the feedback they received," said OIAF artistic director Chris Robinson.

The festivals managing director Kelly Neall added, "We hope that the value of our festival as an important meeting place for industry will be acknowledged. It is also important to recognize that our festival is an important showcase of Canadian animation. Our animators continually give Canada a presence at the Academy Awards."

The brouhaha started when Telefilm Canada's director of communications and public affairs, Danielle Dansereau, sent a letter on June 16, 2003 to OIAF stating that Telefilm Canada was "in a position to only support events that are primarily focused on screening feature films that are destined for wide distribution." This announcement was a huge surprise to the organizers that had received a funding increase the year before.

The biennial Ottawa International Animation Festival will next take place September 22-26, 2004, but first organizers must finish preparations on the Ottawa International Student Animation, which will run October 16-19, 2003. Programming and pass information is available on the festival website at www.awn.com/ottawa/safo03.

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