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Cheer and Loathing in Animation: Episode XXXIII - Class Clown Spots A UFO

Every Friday, Chris Robinson unleashes improvised and hastily scribbled cheer or loathing on the animation community to be digested, swallowed or... expelled. Today: A lot of loathing of the festival obsession with premieres.

Yale: Yeah, well I liked her first!

Isaac: I liked her first? What are you, six years old? Jeezus!

                                           - Woody Allen, Manhattan

The other day someone tried to tempt with a late entry by saying we’d have an opportunity to show the film before other festivals. They meant well, but I’m the last person to waste those words on. I’ve never give a damn about premieres. Within hours of the same proposal, I’m then told that a film that was submitted and selected cannot be publicly announced until another (live action, naturally) festival has done so first. Are you fucking kidding me? Are we really that pompous and juvenile? This “I showed it first” mentality is a ridiculous and antiquated concept that only insecure and immodest festivals cling to - all without really thinking much about whether it’s truly necessary. For the most part, audiences and filmmakers don’t give a shit about it. Many animators have told me that it’s a pain in the ass. They just want their films shown. A festival’s priority should simply be to program what they feel are the most interesting films for their audiences. You might come to Ottawa and have already seen a few films elsewhere, but I can guarantee that you likely won’t experience those films in the same manner because you will not see them in the same setting or order. It all boils down to the individual choreography of a festival. Let’s say I’m making you a mix tape. I could put…shit…I dunno… The Who’s “Magic Bus” on it…  You me and my aunt have heard that song many times, but when you pop in that old cassette and that Bo Diddley inspired strum greets you, you will not hear or experience in quite the same way you have before. And general audiences, such as they are for indie animation, just want to see interesting and inspiring work. I’m pretty sure my aunt and uncle don’t rush to see something because of a WORLD PREMIERE sticker. They’re going because of the story or maybe because of the filmmaker. To be fair, it’s generally live action festivals that still subscribe to this nonsense, but they’ve always been a bit off and full of themselves. You can’t blame those people for being unable to see when they’ve spent decades bumbling and stumbling through an unlit tunnel.

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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.