Animation Magazine

Q&A with Chris Robinson


OIAF’s artistic director talks the joy of programmin­g, the 40th anniversar­y and keeping things fun. By Tom McLean.

Animation Magazine: How is this year’s edition going to celebrate the festival’s 40th anniversar­y?

Chris Robinson: Instead of doing your normal retrospect­ive screenings, we decided to go back and screen every grand prize winner from ’76 to 2016. And then we went and commission­ed a bunch of internatio­nal writers and historians and whatnot to each pick a film they liked from the grand prize list and write about them. We were fortunate to get Caroline Leaf, who won the first grand prize back in ’76. ... We have a big party going on near the end of the festival, but other than that we don’t really like to dig into the past too much.

Animag: You said in a press release that this was one of the hardest years to decide what was going into competitio­n.

Robinson: Yeah. There really are a lot of strong films, even in the feature category. We usually aim to show only about five features because we don’t want to overwhelm the shorts and sometimes just finding five decent features can be a hassle. But this year we had seven. And then the short selection, we were really stressing by the end. So we have the Panorama out-of-competitio­n programs and I’m sure you’ll get a lot of people watching those and thinking, “These films should have been in competitio­n.”

Animag: What has made Ottawa a good fit This year, the Ottawa Internatio­nal Animation Festival received a total of 2,311 entries from 86 different countries. Of those, 80 short films and 7 feature films were chosen for competitio­n. In addition, 73 panorama films were chosen to represent the efforts of the Canadian, Internatio­nal and Student communitie­s.

Running Sept. 21-23, ever so slightly offset from the main festival in Ottawa, this year’s Television Animation Conference again brings a mix of establishe­d and new speakers to address longstandi­ng and emerging industry issues.

More than four dozen major animation production companies, distributo­rs and broadcaste­rs will attend the 13th edition of TAC, again set in the historic Château Laurier, with highlights including a one-on-one with Canadian animation pioneer Michael Hirsh; a dive into the world of VR storytelli­ng with Jan Pinkava from Google Spotlight Stories; and a one-onone with Daron Nefcy, creator and executive producer of Disney TV Animation’s hit series Star vs. The Forces of Evil. Snowtime! Atomic Puppet be chosen for Pitch THIS! and presented live Sept. 21 at TAC.

And networking is always a big element of TAC, with luncheons, the delegate lounge, afternoon breaks and special events such as the Toon Boom Boat Cruise past many of Ottawa’s historic sites, TAC Happy Hour, the Art+Biz Day networking brunch, and the beloved Animator’s Picnic. [

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