The Georgia Straight
Spark festival puts focus on female animators
Instantly winning the hearts of attendees at this year’s Spark Animation 2019 conference, film festival, and career fair, “The Butterfly Affect” opens with an image of a Main Street sign and then cuts to a city block lined with Vancouver Specials. The rest of director Stephanie Blakey’s almost five-minute short—about 23-year-old Jesse, a worm “living in a world built for butterflies”—charms on its own considerable, pastel-coloured merits.
Because it’s the inaugural animation project of the Five in Focus initiative—a team effort designed by Women in Animation and Women in View to support gender equality in the industry—the film’s themes of inclusion and self-acceptance feel especially apt. Viewers can learn more when “The Butterfly Affect” gets its world premiere at the top of Spark’s Mothers of a Medium shorts program at the Vancity Theatre next Sunday (October 27), with Blakey in attendance along with her partners, Jen Davreux (writer), Amanda Konkin (producer), Kaitlin Sutherland (animation director), and Maisha Moore (art director).
As ever, Spark offers a feast of viewing, learning, and networking opportunities for the city’s evergrowing community of animators and VFX professionals, and the emphasis on women in the field is felt across the board. For Thursday’s gala opening (October 24), first on the docket is a lifetime-achievement award presented to Oscar-nominated producer Bonnie Arnold, whose credits include Toy Story, Tarzan, and the How to Train Your Dragon franchise. (A 20th-anniversary screening of Tarzan follows on October 26 at the Vancity Theatre, with directors Chris Buck and Kevin Lima in attendance.)
Among the other highlights of the four-day festival: the Canadian premiere of Anca Damian’s Marona’s Fantastic Tale (October 26) and Kat Alioshin’s profile of festival pioneers Spike and Mike, Animation Outlaws (October 27), both screening at the Vancity Theatre. The creator of Despicable Me, Sergio Pablos, will also be on hand to discuss his buzzy Netflix project, Klaus, with “Dear Basketball” director Glen Keane on October 24 at the Scotiabank Theatre. Closing the film festival at the Vancity Theatre on October 27 is the Hindilanguage Bombay Rose—a handpainted feature from yet another woman, actor Gitanjali Rao.
Presented by Spark CG Society, Spark Animation 2019 runs at various venues from October 24 to 27. More information is at www.sparkfx.ca/.