OIAF 2015

Animation Magazine - - Spotlight -

NCanada’s cap­i­tal comes alive with cut­ting-edge artistry at the Ot­tawa In­ter­na­tional An­i­ma­tion Fes­ti­val,

Septem­ber 16-20.

orth Amer­ica’s largest ded­i­cated an­i­ma­tion fes­ti­val will once again prove one of the fall sea­son’s crown­ing jewels this year. The 2015 edi­tion of this Os­car-qual­i­fy­ing event will present 79 films rep­re­sent­ing 23 coun­tries, painstak­ingly cu­rated from over 2,000 wor­thy sub­mis­sions to the com­pe­ti­tion cat­e­gories. In ad­di­tion, the Show­case pro­grams will of­fer up an ad­di­tional 69 mul­ti­fac­eted an­i­mated gems. “This was with­out doubt one of the strong­est years I can re­call”, said Artis­tic Di­rec­tor Chris Robin­son upon the big pro­gram­ming re­veal. “The qual­ity of al­most ev­ery cat­e­gory was high. We could have eas­ily added an­other one or two com­pe­ti­tion screen­ings. An­i­ma­tors con­tinue to prove that an­i­ma­tion is the sum­mit of all arts. I’m really ex­cited to see how au­di­ences – and ju­ries – re­act to this year’s di­verse group of works.”

Some of the can’t-miss high­lights Robin­son tags for visi­tors are re­cent mas­ter­pieces from es­tab­lished film­mak­ers like Theodore Ushev ( Son­am­bulo), Adam El­liot ( Ernie Bis­cuits), Don Hertzfeldt ( World of Tomorrow), Ely Dagher ( Waves ‘ 98, win­ner of the Cannes Palme d’Or), Syl­vain Chomet ( Simp­sons Couch Gag and Stro­mae: Car­men) and Dutch cre­ative team Job, Joris & Marieke ( 2014 Os­car nominee A Sin­gle Life).

Poster-Per­fect This year’s color­ful, col­lage-in­spire poster de­sign for OAIF comes from the in­ven­tive minds at an­i­ma­tion col­lec­tive HUT. The ge­o­graph­i­cally dis­persed tal­ents of Caleb Wood, Der­ick Wy­cherly, Ted Wig­gin, Africanus Okokon and Dy­lan Hayes came to­gether at the fes­ti­val last year for live, on-site an­i­ma­tion pro­duc­tion -- the fruits of which can be seen in the Flukes and Tat­ters film in­stal­la­tion making its pre­miere at this year’s event.

Please, Judge Me Ot­tawa once again at­tracts an in­ter­est­ing mix of in­dus­try pros to the il­lus­tri­ous judges’ panel this year, plus a few eclec­tic sur­prises. NFB an­i­ma­tion pro­ducer Maral Mo­ham­ma­dian ( The Weath­er­man and the Shad­ow­boxer), Pixar vet­eran Saschka Unseld ( di­rec­tor, The Blue Um­brella; cre­ative di­rec­tor, Pas­sion Pic­tures) and fes­ti­val cu­ra­tor Yiorgos Tsan­garis ( founder/artis­tic di­rec­tor, Coun­try­side An­i­mafest Cyprus) are joined by di­rec­tor, mu­si­cian and writer Kas­par Jan­cis ( Weitzen­berg Street, Marathon, Croc­o­dile) and lo­cal an­i­ma­tor, di­rec­tor and ice sculp­tor Chris Dainty ( co-founder, Dainty Pro­duc­tions).

The World Fea­tured In ad­di­tion to five short film com­pe­ti­tions, plus the Cana­dian Stu­dent, Short Film for Kids and Se­ries for Kids con­tests, at­ten­dees can take in a quar­tet of unique fea­tures. Anca Damian’s The Magic Moun­tain ( Wed. and Sat., 7 p.m.) is a mixed-me­dia docu­d­rama that tells the true story of Adam Jacek Win­kler, a Pol­ish refugee who flees to Paris in the ‘60s and later finds him­self head­ing to war in Afghanistan ( Ro­ma­nia/ France/ Poland). Sam Orti’s clay-an­i­mated Pos­sessed is a darkly hi­lar­i­ous hor­ror-com­edy about a wid­owed fla­menco dancer and her de­mon­i­cally-in­clined son ( Spain). Si­mon Rouby’s first fea­ture Adama uses dream­like CG to weave the story of its 12-year-old hero who sets out from his West African vil­lage to find his older brother, trav­el­ing through war-torn Europe to the hell of the front­lines to free him ( France). And from Car­toon Net­work U.S., the il­lus­tra­tive beauty of Pa­trick McHale’s fan­tasy ad­ven­ture Over the Gar­den Wall is pre­sented to full ef­fect on the big screen -- be sure to take it in be­fore catching the be­hind-the-scenes talk at Pro­fes­sional De­vel­op­ment Day.

by Karel Ze­man

Surf­ing, sharks and sa­mu­rai are more than three ran­dom words from the same sec­tion of the dictionary to Tero Hollo, they are the keys to cre­at­ing Sa­mu­rai Sharks, the an­i­mated ac­tion-ad­ven­ture show he’s al­ways wanted to see.

“I think I’ve ac­tu­ally been de­vel­op­ing this property since I was a kid, and wait­ing for the right time to bring it to life,” says Hollo, founder and di­rec­tor of orig­i­nal IP for the Ot­tawa-based an­i­ma­tion com­pany Vic­tory Arts. “With our Air Crafters de­vel­op­ment at TVO Kids com­ing to an end, it was a blast to age up a bit and do the ac­tion show I’ve al­ways been dream­ing of.”

Sa­mu­rai Sharks is set on a dis­tant wa­ter planet full of bio-il­lu­mi­nated ocean crea­tures and aquatic life. To this world is trans­ported a pair of surf­ing-lov­ing boys from Earth, Kai and Fin, who in­stantly fall in love with a planet that has noth­ing but waves. They con­nect with en­ergy eels on the new planet, and they — along with their surf­boards — trans­form into he­roes with suits of sa­mu­rai-in­flu­enced shark ar­mor.

The se­ries has a comedic un­der­tone, with Fin and Kai’s re­la­tion­ship more aptly de­scribed as “fren­e­mies,” Hollo says. Hav­ing been tied in a surf­ing con­test when they were swept away from Earth, the pair are ex­tremely com­pet­i­tive and con­stantly try­ing to out­per­form and outdo each other — even when per­form­ing a res­cue. Ri­val surfers Kai and Fin must learn to work to­gether when they are zapped into a lush oceanic world and be­come its he­roes.

Into all of this comes an epic vil­lain, who wants to con­trol the planet and its huge wa­ter gi­ants and is try­ing to fig­ure out which planet his young surfer op­po­nents came from.

Be­fore writ­ing the pi­lot script or even de­sign­ing the char­ac­ters, Hollo de­signed the en­tire wa­ter world com­plete with un­der­wa­ter con­ti­nen­tal zones, civ­i­liza­tions and a work­ing ecosys­tem. He also cre­ated a fully co-hab­it­able col­lec­tive of crea­tures and broke out how each species works with or against the oth­ers.

Hollo says he’s definitely proud of the di­a­logue for the show. “It is fresh, unique and dif­fer­ent,” he says.

In­spired by watch­ing his daugh­ter and nephew smash to­gether Trans­form­ers and Bar­bie dolls in the back-yard pool, Hollo says he clearly en­vi­sions a strong toy el­e­ment to the Sa­mu­rai Sharks. “This is the cre­ative play fig­ure I never had and al­ways wanted as a kid,” he says.

Vic­tory Arts is serv­ing as the ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer on the show, planned as 26 halfhour episodes. There is early in­ter­est from a French-lan­guage broad­caster and high-pro­file pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies. Hollo also is meet­ing with broad­cast­ers, dis­trib­u­tors, in­vestors, pro­duc­tion stu­dios and toy and li­cens­ing agen­cies in search of the right part­ners.

“Find­ing the right toy com­pany is go­ing to be very im­por­tant as we want to en­sure there is a strong con­nec­tion with the toy and the se­ries to­gether,” he says. [

Saschka Unseld

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