Well, it’s that time of year again. As surely as pumpkins ripen, the Ottawa International Animation Festival  is upon us. And what a festival it promises to be this year.
The line-up includes 5 competition screenings of short films, 4 feature films in competition, school competition screenings, kids competitions (aye, it’s going to be a long awards night!), 5 out-of-competition screenings, 3 retrospective screenings, and 7 (count ‘em! 7) special screenings with the likes of “Don’t Stop: Animating Hip Hop” and “Jerry Beck presents: Cartoon Fight Club”.
Between all the screenings, there are tons of special presentations to attend including three! masterclasses: Gil Alkabetz, Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis, and Koji Yamamura. If that’s not enough master training for you, there’s also John Canemaker presenting “Two Guys Named Joe”, a history of animation with Jeff Twiller and Randy J. Johnson, a presentation by Supinfocom Animation School on their masterful 3D process, and the making of and story behind Pixar’s "Luna" and "Winnie The Pooh".
If you’re too wired to sleep, catch the “Late Night Special” with Late Night TV’s favourite writers and creators discussing the development of shows, writing comedy, and pushing the limits (18+ only please so bring ID).
And they haven’t forgotten super hero and cartoon adventure fans. Check out “Ink and Colour: Comic Books in Hip Hop Culture”, and Pen Ward and Thurop Van Orman with “The Marvelous Adventures of Pen and Thurop”.
But that’s not all. (I don’t receive a residual, this is not a paid advertisement.)
There are half-a-dozen Professional Development events including panels on polishing your portfolio, surviving as an independent filmmaker, directing animation... the list goes on. And a bevy of animation schools are sending recruiters so if you’re looking for free pens and gum...
“Animators For Hire” is back again this year. Grab a coffee, spiff yourself up, and come meet the hiring teams from the majors. DHX, Nelvana, Disney, Toon Box and Entertainment are looking for newbie animators. Check out the job descriptions  (no salaries are posted - I checked) and book a face-to-face.
On the parties, I need not elaborate. Suffice to say there are opening night parties, closing night parties, student parties, the always fabulous animators’ picnic, and more.
For those who can and can’t make it to Ottawa this year, there are some nice resources on the OIAF’s website.
Choosing an Animation School  by Tom Knott is a great little article for those looking to find the right educational fit. I’ve known Tom for years and he’s a charming animation professional with lots of experience in recruiting and team building at the major studios.
Check out Careers In Animation , a short but valuable overview by Mike Valiquette, owner of Canadian Animation Resources.
The OIAF will host podcasts and videos during the festival on their Watch And Listen  page.
There’s Toon Apprentice , a resource for parents and educators, kids and teens.
Create Your Own Animation  has links to great animation crafts that can be done at home and in school.
Learn About Animation  is a terrific overview of animation; the history, the art form, the golden ages, computer animation... must reading for anyone curious about this often frustrating but delightfully charming form of filmmaking.
All in all I’d say the folks running the OIAF year in and year out (while we loll on the beach) have done it again. They’ve stopped at nothing to give us the very best of what’s current in animation. Every aspect of the industry is covered : TAC - check out the associated Television Animation Conference running the first 2 days of the festival, independent animation, studio animation, cutting edge animation... it’s all here. (And here’s the schedule  if you don’t believe me.)
See you in Ottawa!