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Cheer and Loathing in Animation: Episode XXXVI - Nightmare Jamboree

Every Friday, Chris Robinson unleashes improvised and hastily scribbled cheer or loathing on the animation community to be digested, swallowed or... expelled. Today: Chaos festivals

I’ve experienced my fair share of disorganized and downright shoddy festivals. Hell, even Ottawa has put on some craptacular ones in its time (including some under my own watch in the 1990s. One festival that I was at was about as organized as a riot (and I’ll spare names cause you know…i mean people are good… people aren’t trying to be disorganized. Often it’s just taking on a lot more than you can manage..,kinda like eating a whole space cake instead of just starting with a more manageable amount (I recommend 1/8th,) and embarking on a bad head trip for hours and hours. So…  yeah…I was at this live action festival where animated shorts were, naturally, just sideline attractions…like the salad on the McDonald’s menu... you know it's better for you but fuck it you're gobble down that Big Mac anyway that's just the way you've been programmed.  Ok... sidetracked.. back to business.. first, at no time were all the jury members together during the festival. One stayed two days. Another arrived for the last 4-5 days of the event. Personally…I think it’s weird. If a jury member cannot be in attendance at the entire festival, well, you don’t put them on the jury. I think it’s essential that they are all there experiencing the films and festival together. It’s an important social thing as well. New friendships are often formed. Lots of informal chats take place about the films. People get comfortable with one another. But..okay..whatever.. it is what it is…


what happened was that because of bizarre scheduling, it was impossible for the jury to actually see all four competition screenings (as it was one of the venues where we did see the works had terrible sound and was constantly disrupted by people walking in and out ALL THROUGH the free screening. I was sorta glad that there were no animators at this event cause I’m sure they’d have lost their minds to rage). The remaining option was to watch streaming links on a macbook or large screen tv in a jury room. Now THAT pissed me off. It’s not only a shitty way to see a film but it makes you wonder why they even bothered to organize a festival if everyone is just going to sit in their hotel rooms streaming the films. I’m also pretty certain a majority of those competition filmmakers would have been outraged to learn that that was how their films were being judged.

But… dear animators…I wonder now… would this situation really upset you or am I just showing my age now? Maybe the Vimeoagers wouldn't give a hoot how a jury saw the film so long it was seen.  It also made me curious to know how selective animators are about where they send their films. Do you do any research into a festival? Do you ever inquire about their venues? 

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe no one gives a shit about these things.

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.