GIRAF looks at vivid world of animated films
The 14th edition of the cutting edge Giant Incandescent Resonating Animation Festival (GIRAF), presented by the Quickdraw Animation Society, will look at the past, present and future of the ever-widening world of animation. Running Thursday to Sunday at the Globe Cinema and Quickdraw Studios, the festival will feature everything from debut films to a career retrospective on pioneering filmmaker Suzan Pitt. Eric Volmers asked Peter Hemminger, executive director of Quickdraw, to help us navigate the 60-plus films that will be screened.
An unofficial theme that emerged during programming this year is stop-motion animation, the laborious (even by animation standards) process of manipulating objects in tiny increments between frames to give the impression of movement. Much of that is thanks to Amanda Strong, this year’s visiting artist. The prolific Vancouver Michif animator uses 2-D and 3-D stop-motion techniques to tell stories that delve into Indigenous history, culture and language. She will be giving workshops on Saturday from 1 to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. and will screen a number of her films Sunday at 7 p.m., all at Quickdraw Studios (2011 10th Ave. S.W.)
The festival will also be screening This Magnificent Cake, a 45-minute, felted-wool stopmotion offering from Belgium filmmakers Mark James Roels and Emma De Swaef set in colonial Africa in the late 19th century. It will screen as part of GIRAF’s seven-film Stop-Motion Spotlight on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Globe Cinema.
American underground animator Suzan Pitt has been making surreal shorts since 1971, but is perhaps best known for her 1979 short Asparagus. This 18-minute film was considered unsettling enough to precede David Lynch’s horrifying live-action debut Eraserhead on the midnight movie circuit for years. The retrospective will be held Sunday at Quickdraw Studios.
Jan Svankmajer’s Alice found the Czech filmmaker bucking cinematic trends by leaving the dark, free-form weirdness of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland intact for his unhinged 1988 adaptation. It will screen Friday at 11 p.m. at the Globe Cinema.
“Since Quickdraw exists to advocate for animation as a medium, it’s important for us to try and share the whole context of that with our audiences,” Hemminger says.
“You can’t really fully understand where the medium is today without having the chance to step back and look at where it has come from.”
EXPAT FILMMAKERS RETURN TO QUICKDRAW
Since his stint as an instructor at Quickdraw in the 1990s, filmmaker Richard Reeves has become known as one of the masters of scratch or direct-to-film animation, where filmmakers draw or scratch directly onto the 35mm film rather than photograph or paint original images. This reputation is largely due to his 1997 film Linear Dreams, but GIRAF will be screening his 2018 film Twilight as part of Indie Animation Mixtape: Side B on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Globe.
Now based in Montreal, Brandon Blommaert founded GIRAF 14 years ago while a member of Quickdraw. His short, Alexis Inside, will be screened as part of Animation Mixtape: Side A on Friday at 7 p.m.
The recipient of Quickdraw’s 2016-18 Chris J. Melnychuk Scholarship, Mihaela Slabe’s film Tides will be a part of the festival’s Late Night Visions package on Sunday at 11 p.m. at the Globe Cinema.
Vic Someday’s Chakra is the late Calgarian’s final film, made up of hand-drawn, Post-it note animation. He passed away earlier this year. Chakra will screen as part of Indie Animation Mixtape: Side B on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Among the 17 countries represented at GIRAF this year is Iran with Ashkan Rahgozar’s featurelength film The Last Fiction, easily the most ambitious animated project to come out of the country. It’s based on the 1,000-yearold Persian epic poem, The Shahnameh by Ferdowsi. It will screen Saturday at 9 p.m. at the Globe Cinema.
Other feature-length films being screened this year include Slovenian filmmaker Milorad Kristic’s Ruben Brant, Collector, an “art heist” film with a significant twist. It screens Friday at 9 p.m. at the Globe Cinema.
A Man Is Dead is Olivier Cossu’s realist depiction of post Second World War labour strife in France and will screen Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Globe Cinema.
For a complete lineup visit girafffest.ca.
This Magnificent Cake, a 45-minute felt stop-motion film by Belgium filmmakers Mark James Roels and Emma De Swaef, plays Thursday at the Globe Cinema.