Like misfit toys, Canadian independent animators have been largely overlooked and unappreciated by the animation community. Canadian animation today is typically associated with either the short films of National Film Board of Canada (NFB) or the original TV productions of Nelvana and Cookie Jar (formerly Cinar), Cuppa Coffee and other assorted animation studios. Both have relatively easy access to something the independents don’t: an audience. As a result the work of the Canadian Independent animation community gets lost in the shuffle.

Most of these artists fund their films with a big chunk of change from their own pockets, but, in general, Canada is generous with its artists. The Canada Council and various provincial Arts Councils have played a vital role in nurturing independent production.

Many of these independent films are just as worthy as, for example, any NFB production, but because the NFB has a huge marketing and distribution office with ample resources, their films reach many more festivals than your average independent film. Indies are forced to be more selective about the festivals they submit too and, naturally, there’s no guarantee that their films will even be taken. As such, their opportunities for exposure are severely limited by comparison. And until North America’s two animation channels show a willingness to showcase festival-type short films, the possibilities will remain limited for the short filmmaker.

So why do they do it? Why make a film that might never be seen?

Beats me. Why live?

- Chris Robinson

This programme is dedicated to the Canadian animation pioneers who have toiled away on the outskirts for far too long.

Programme:
Thursday, September 22, 11:00 am
(National Gallery)
Saturday, September 24, 11:00 am (National Gallery)

   

The Menopause Song [1996]
Gail Noonan / Moving Images / Betacam SP / 4:00

Life before puberty is spent waiting for womanhood. Life after menopause is supposedly fraught with insanity and brittle bones. This song begs to differ.

   
Your Name in Cellulite [1995]
Gail Noonan / Moving Images / 35mm / 6:00

A tube of lipstick shoots up like a missile out of silo. A mascara brush drops with the resounding crash of a falling tree. Drastic and ridiculous efforts to create a perfect body image are presented in this hilarious animated film. A woman's attempts to keep up with fashion's impossible image of "perfection" leads her to pump up her bustline, clear-cut her legs, squeeze out that fat... Fiction is just a little too close to reality as the limits of bodyshaping are stretched.

   
Portrait of Lydia [1964]
John Straiton / CFMDC / 16mm / 9:00

The emotional life of a young art student is expressed in Freudian terms through a succession of images and symbols, constantly combining themselves into famous paintings and sculptures.

   
Horseplay [1972]
John Straiton / CFMDC / 16mm / 7:00

A half-horse, half-man pursues a young woman who turns herself into the same figure. Using a spare animation style, Straiton deals with a mythological subject that reveals his personal sense of humour.

   
The Little Forest [2001]
Gilbert Taggart / Moving Images / Betacam SP / 8:05

Mr. and Mrs. Beetle put aside their work to enjoy a little weekend entertainment. Taxiing down the runway on the back of a dragonfly and breaking even at the acorn racetrack are just a start to their adventures.

   
Atomic Dragons [1981]
James MacSwain / CFMDC / 16mm / 5:00

Using cut-out, live-action and photographic techniques, Atomic Dragons examines the disposal of nuclear waste.

   
About Face [2000]
Marilyn Cherenko / Moving Images / Betacam SP / 5:30

Another day... another dragon... another dance... About Face fathoms the emotional undercurrent of the daily work routine. Traditional hand drawn animation, scratch on film, line drawings and water colour renderings scanned into the computer deliver a dynamic and provocative message about procrastination.

   
A Loss of Character [2000]
Al Sens / Moving Images / Betacam SP / 4:00

A satirical look at animation production in an increasingly underfunded context. Al Sens describes how "to keep a cool and detached head" when creating animation with a budget under "the price of a pizza."

   
  So Far So [1992]
Ann Marie Fleming / Moving Images / 16mm / 2:10

An accelerated look at growing up delivers a new twist on storytelling which will leave viewers spinning with amusement. Consequential events such as birth, graduation, leaving home, and beginning a first career are crammed into this delightful animated short.

   
  AMF's Tiresias [1998]
Ann Marie Fleming / Moving Images / 35mm / 5:00

The question: who has better sex, men or women? Tiresias, a wise old man, turns into a young woman to find out the answer for himself.

   
Bon Vivant [1986]
Iris Paabo / CFMDC / 16mm / 5:00

A fanciful cut-out animation about a magic circle that suddenly appears in the middle of a street in the city. To the great surprise of the dapper little man who discovers this circle, it has the power to make things appear and disappear.

   
(winter)time [2001]
Dan Sokolowski / Betacam SP / 4:30

Rooted in the abstract jazz films of Norman McLaren, Sokolowski interprets George Gershwin’s Summertime (called winter time) using seven styles of animation. “I heard the jazz piece (winter)time by the Peter Togni Trio and it really caught my attention; mostly as a totally different take on a tune that has been done to death. Their description of it as opening with a trudge through a slushy street in Toronto really hit upon me that they had made a truly Canadian piece out of a really southern American classic. I thought that I could do my Begone dull care to this music.”

   
Lightyear [2003]
Dan Sokolowski / Betacam SP / 3:15

Divided into 12 sections based on the number of new moons, 12 is a continuing theme, with each section having 12 photographic images and then a corresponding animation that last for 12 frames, so that each segment lasts 1 second, and each moon 12 seconds. Shot on an animation stand and made without edits, this rhythmic hybridized étude celebrates the natural world and questions our aesthetic responses to it.

   
The Geometry of Beware [1998]
Rick Raxlen / CFMDC / 16mm / 7:00

One-minute of found footage of Mutt and Jeff from 1926 is literally reconstructed via paper prints from photocopies and pen and ink drawings.

   
Rude Roll [2001]
Rick Raxlen / Betacam SP / 4:30

How-to-dance-ska in three easy lessons...using the backs of three lps from the seventies, with photo-illustrations on how to dance ska, the animator uses all the tricks to heat up the visuals and pump up the volume...self-portrait, xerox, cut and paste, stock animation from how-to books...the track is by MOSSMAN and is inspired by dub reggae legends King Tubby and Lee Perry.