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The Animation Pimp: The Beginning of The End of The Beginning — Part 4: The Festival

The Animation Pimp looks back on his introduction to the life of the Ottawa Animation Film Festival.

Read the first The Beginning of The End of The Beginning, The Beginning of the End of the Beginning Part 2: Revolver and The Beginning of the End of the Beginning Part 3: The Tent.

Illustration by Andreas Hykade. Courtesy of Chris Robinson.

Ottawa felt good this year and I think Im finally beginning to understand what it is about a festival that generates so many emotions. Images, sounds, voices, faces continually surrounding you for five days. Its comforting somehow. Time feels like it stops at a festival. Everyone is gathered inside the big tent alone yet together bonded in darkness yet somehow still apart. A festival is life. We all come together and acknowledge and celebrate one another before we return to the darkness of anonymity.

For me the festival took off after the Friday night screening. That felt good cause those were my personal picks that night that was MY program and it was good. And to know people felt it made me feel very good.

The next night was the party. I hate parties. Too many people. Too much noise. Too sober. But for a while I sat quietly and watched as everyone danced so much joy and satisfaction came out of me at that moment look at all these people. Theyre so damn happy. We created something that made them feel this way. I stepped outside myself and let their exhilaration pour over me. A really wonderful feeling. It was almost too much. Im afraid of feeling good. I also felt like I didnt belong.

All I could think of was that the staff hotel room would be free tonight and Id have it to myself have my space back being on stage I can handle being in a crowd I cant. I am stop laughing an incredibly shy person. It makes being at the festival very hard for me, because there are always people approaching to talk. They mean well. Its not them, but Im uncomfortable with it. I cant small talk. I cant take compliments. I cant take complaints. Its like the family reunion I never had I guess.

A moment that will remain for me forever Lev Polyakov, a N.Y. teenager, who ended up winning the award for best secondary school film. His manic race to the stage and bear hug of a shocked jurist Michèle Cournoyer will not be forgotten anytime soon. The breathless stream of life and excitement and appreciation that exploded from him on stage lifted the audience to a peaceful, content place of oneness. He made us all feel good for him and feel good about ourselves.

The ego sometimes sees these things and notes that I do have an effect on peoples life; that I am helping to bring these people together. I (we) am actually giving them something but its not quite true these people are the ones giving to me and to the festival. They breathe life into each day of the OIAF.

Today (October 1) I feel like its time for me to leave. Its normal for this time of the year. Frustration with the trivial, the lack of funding, guilt that Im not as involved as I used to be, the bureaucrats in Ottawa whose vision never extends beyond the tip of their short noses. Just a general fedupness with the stress and the constant battle to keep this festival alive. And naturally my ego intervenes and says, You should only be writing, not doing this joe job shit. but then my dark mood passes and I realize that its okay, that this is life, the struggles, battles, doubts, insecurities, loves, hates, arrogance these are things that keep you moving forward, that keep challenging you and pushing you harder.

Still, the darkness that engulfs me post-festival is frustrating. The festival was well programmed this year. I was more connected than I was last year. No distractions. I had two books released and have deals for more. It is everything I wanted and yet why cant I find some happiness in it? Maybe its because I still overlook the reality that the joy comes with the process. I am most happy when Im writing (like now I can feel the darkness fading fast) or when I am programming the festival. My festival joy comes and goes long before the festival happens. Sure its nice to see if people enjoy the programs, but Im relatively confident enough in my skills to know beforehand what went right and what went wrong.

Its that little boy. He keeps calling for mommy and daddy. He wants them to notice, to be proud of him and tell him he did good. He still listens for the words he will never hear.

Nothing is more painfully penetrating than that silence.

Im too shy to admit and my face never reveals it, but I really do love these people of the tent.

Chris Robinson is little more than a man. In his spare time he cares for the elderly.

Chris Robinson's picture

A well-known figure in the world of independent animation, writer, author & curator Chris Robinson is the Artistic Director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival.