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Cheer and Loathing in Animation: Episode XXI - The Finest Joke is Upon Us

Every Friday Chris Robinson unleashes improvised and hastily scribbled cheer or loathing on the animation community to be digested, swallowed or... expelled. This week: do we need film festivals need competitions?

We all know it’s a joke, right? You know, the whole notion that films…or any art in general can compete against each other like race horses. It’s absolutely absurd that each week, month, year, animation festivals (let’s stick with them, ok?) serve up competitive screenings with an assortment of trophies, papers and bits of cash and momentary applause. All of it decided by anywhere from 3-5 peers. The idea that you can say with confidence that, to use a few examples of winning films from the last year, Blind Vaysha, Before Love, Nighthawk or Impossible Figures and Stories II are better or worse than each other is ludicrous. There are things we love and dislike about each film, but it’s completely subjective, personal and fleeting. Oooooo but we’re supposed to be so impressed because a jury of professionals made the decision. Horsepoo. A general audience can – and often does-  make just as informed and stupid a decision. I bet I could grab a group of homeless people as jury members (or even to do selection) and it wouldn’t be all that much better or worse either. I’m not trying to diss juries or the masses or even the homeless… it’s just essential that animators realize this is all a big subjective crapshoot that doesn’t mean all that much. No one should get all precious about it. If you win, sure, enjoy it, but don’t take it too seriously. If you lose, fuckaduck, man at least you got screened. I suspect it’s harder to get selected for a competition than it is to win (maybe one of your math types can do the calculations). Do we even need the competitions? Isnt it enough to have been selected, to get to attend a festival, drink, eat and laugh with your peers and forget new relationships? That’s real stuff. That’s long term. Or hell…I know a solution…let’s decide the awards based on physical achievements. It would require training. It would ensure that animators put aside the coffee, booze and Dutch edibles so they can get in shape. In lieu of a dull awards ceremony, we rent out an indoor track and all the attending (sorry stay-at-homers) competitors race for the grand prize. Are you physically (or emotionally) challenged? No worries, you can either have a massive head start or you can pick a stand-in (human or animal).

We’d be improving lives.

We’d be saving lifes!

Say it with me: fuck aesthetics, love athletics!

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.