Films & Screenings
2021 Official Competition
This year the Ottawa International Animation Festival received a total of 2528 entries from 104 different countries. Of those, 107 short films, including Animated Series, and 7 feature films were chosen for competition. There are 5 projects in the running for Best Virtual Reality (VR).
In addition, 23 films were selected in the Canadian Student Competition and 48 panorama films were chosen to represent the efforts of the Canadian, international, and student communities.
OIAF 2021 OFFICIAL COMPETITION PRIZES AND AWARDS
The Official Competition section consists of works selected by the festival programming team led by Chris Robinson and Keltie Duncan.
During the festival, three official juries will judge the Short, Feature and Young Audience’s competition screenings. The Short and Feature jury members are chosen from the international animation community. The Young Audience jury is composed of children from across North America.
On Friday, October 1st at 7:00 pm, the Jury will announce the award-winning films during the OIAF’s online Awards Ceremony
A Best of Ottawa 2021 screening (a selection of the Festival’s award-winning films) will be offered on demand on October 2nd and 3rd.
THE OIAF AWARDS
The OIAF awards are designed by local artist Tick Tock Tom, with an animation originally created by New York animator George Griffin.
OIAF 21 Awards
Grand Prize for Short Animation
Grand Prize for Feature Animation
Bento Box Award for Best Student Animation
Virtual Reality Project
Young Audiences – Preschool
Young Audiences – Ages 6-12
Awarded to the best film of the short competition as selected by the audience.
Canadian Film Institute Award for Best Canadian Animation Film
Awarded to the most outstanding Canadian production in competition and Canadian showcase screenings.
Vimeo Staff Pick Award
Awarded by the Vimeo Staff Pick team, the winner receives a prize of $2500(USD) along with a Vimeo Staff Pick. The winning film will be released worldwide for free on Vimeo on Sunday, October 3rd.
Best Canadian Student Animation Film
Awarded to the most outstanding Canadian student animation work
FIAO 2021 : PRIX ET RÉCOMPENSES DE LA COMPÉTITION OFFICIELLE
La sélection officielle du Festival international d’animation d’Ottawa se compose d’œuvres choisies par l’équipe de programmation, menée par Chris Robinson et Keltie Duncan.
Pendant le festival, trois jurys officiels jugent les courts-métrages, longs-métrages et films pour enfants en compétition. Les membres des jurys des courts et longs-métrages sont choisis parmi la communauté internationale de l’animation. Les jurys des films jeune public sont, eux, des enfants sélectionnés dans la région d’amérique du Nord.
Le vendredi 1 octobre, à 19 h 00, le jury annoncera les films primés lors de la cérémonie de remise qui sera diffusé en ligne.
La sélection des meilleurs films du festival d’Ottawa de 2021 sera disponible par vidéo sur demande le samedi 2 octobre et le dimanche 3 octobre.
Les prix et récompenses de OIAF
Les trophées ont été conçus par l’artiste local Tick Tock Tom, à partir d’une animation originale de l’animateur new-yorkais George Griffin.
Prix de OIAF 2021
Grand Prix pour le meilleur court-métrage
Grand Prix pour le meilleur long-métrage
Prix par catégories
Le Prix Bento Box pour le meilleur court-métrage d’étudiant
film de commande
Jeune public – Tous petits
Jeune public – 6 à 12 ans
Prix du Public
Décerné par le public au meilleur court-métrage en compétition
Prix de l’Institut canadien pour le meilleur film d’animation canadien
Décerné à la production canadienne la plus remarquable parmi les films en compétition et hors-compétition.
Prix du choix des employés de Vimeo
Décerné par l’équipe du choix des employés de Vimeo. Le gagnant recevra un prix de 2500 $ (USD) ainsi qu’un prix du choix des employés de Vimeo. Le film gagnant sera lancé mondialement et sans frais sur Vimeo le dimanche 3 octobre.
Prix pour le meilleur film d’animation d’un étudiant canadien
Décerné au travail le plus remarquable d’un étudiant canadien
Short Film Competition Screenings
Get your tickets in the OIAF Virtual Cinema (Passholders: Login with Eventival).
Be sure to join us in Camp OIAF (passholders only) at 6pm EDT to hang out with filmmakers and animation fans alike before each Short Competition Live Gala, and stick around for the live Q&A with the competition filmmakers after the screening (you can ask your Qs in the chat!)
All films in competition are eligible for the Public Prize. Remember to cast your vote within 24 hours of the live gala screening!
Screening Type | Venue | Date | Time
Original Title (English Title) | Runtime | Director | Country | Company or School | Category
Directors • Runtime • Year • Countries • Category
Synopsis: Film Synopsis goes here.
The Best of the Best!
OIAF 2021 Awards Ceremony
Friday, October 1, 7:00pm
Get your ticket
The moment you’ve been waiting for! Who will take home the top prizes at OIAF21? Join co-hosts Joel Frenzer and Chris Robinson as they partake in plenty of mischief that may or may not feature guest appearances from animation’s past.
Then we move on to what really matters when our juries announce this year’s winners from the OIAF21 competition selections. And as always, we’ll have our adorably unharnessed kid’s juries on hand to spice things up.
Best of Ottawa 2021
October 2 – October 3
Been hearing about those absolute must-see films all festival? Check out the Best of Ottawa Parts 1 & 2 – two programmes that showcase audience favourites and winners from the OIAF 2021 Official Competition.
2021 Panorama Screenings
Behold the films of the 2021 Canadian, World and World Student Panoramas!
RISD’s track record and alumni is astonishing. Not only have they produced acclaimed indie artists like Fran Krause, Caleb Wood, Jesse Schmal, Leah Shore, Michael Langan, Max Porter, Emily Pelstring, Julie Zammarchi, Candy Kugel, Willy Hartland, the late Karen Aqua and many others. They also gave us the creators of Superjail (Christy Karacas), The Last Airbender (Michael Dante Dimartino) and Family Guy (Seth MacFarlane). There’s also well known media artists like Takeshi Murata and Ara Peterson. One graduate even went on to become an artisanal cheese maker. That’s just a few names. RISD films are consistently thoughtful and technically adventurous. Even their failures are frequently bolder than the best films from many schools. This three part screening will celebrate over 40 years of innovative, groundbreaking student work from one of the finest animation schools in the world.
Le bilan de la RISD et ses diplômés est ahurissant. Non seulement cette école de design a-t-elle produit des artistes indépendants de renommée comme Fran Krause, Caleb Wood, Jesse Schmal, Leah Shore, Michael Langan, Max Porter, Emily Pelstring, Julie Zammarchi, Candy Kugel, Willy Hartland, la défunte Karen Aqua et plusieurs autres; elle nous a aussi donné les créateurs de Superjail! (Christy Karacas), The Last Airbender (Michael Dante DiMartino) et Family Guy (Seth MacFarlane). On y compte aussi des artistes des médias bien connus, comme Takeshi Murata et Ara Peterson. Un de ses diplômés est même devenu un fromager artisanal. Il ne s’agit ici que de quelques noms. Les films de la RISD sont toujours réfléchis et aventureux sur le plan technique. Même leurs échecs sont souvent plus audacieux que les meilleurs films de nombreuses autres écoles. Cette projection en trois parties célébrera 40 ans d’œuvres étudiantes innovatrices et révolutionnaires de l’une des meilleures écoles d’animation au monde.
Read the full essay
On the Weave of Construction: RISD Animation
By Chris Robinson
The Rhode Island School of Design’s (RISD) track record in animation is pretty damn impressive for its success, longevity and range. RISD animation (which began in the late 1970s) gave us the creators of Superjail (Christy Karacas), The Last Airbender (Michael Dante Dimartino and RISD illustration major, Bryan Konietzko) and some animated series called Family Guy (Seth MacFarlane). There’s also well-known media artists like Takeshi Murata and Ara Peterson along with an array of acclaimed indie artists like Fran Krause, Caleb Wood, Jesse Schmal, Leah Shore, Michael Langan, Max Porter, Emily Pelstring, Pilar Newton, Julie Zammarchi, Candy Kugel, Willy Hartland, the late Karen Aqua and many others familiar to the animation festival circuit. One graduate even went on to become an artisanal cheese maker.
Led by the initial teachings of Yvonne Anderson and later, Amy Kravitz, RISD animation films are consistently thoughtful, eclectic and technically adventurous. The program has gone on to be recognized with numerous awards and critical acclaim. Over time, as the program grew, elective courses were added covering specialty areas of the field. Students can study character animation, character design, 3D CGI, Digital Compositing, Lighting, Directing, Sound for the Screen, and more. RISD also has a well-‐developed puppet program.
With RISD films, you know you’re going to get something different; work that takes risks, eschewing temporary trends and mainstream whims. Emphasizing concept over technique, there is a lo-fi feel to many of the films. The films are intimate, flawed, explorative and routinely engaging. Even the missteps are frequently more interesting than some of the best films from other animation schools. While it’s misleading to lump RISD films into easy bake categories, there does tend to often be a split between dark or absurdist comedies and freewheeling experimentation.
Experimentation has long been a tradition at RISD, but the road towards a more absurdist-tinged tone arguably started in the late 1990s (at least that’s about the time of my first memories of RISD films). Films like Space War (Christy Karacas, 1997), Mr. Smile (Fran Krause, 1999), Sub (Jesse Schmal, 2000), Atlas Gets a Drink (Mike Overbeck, 1999), Brisket (Joel Frenzer), and Red Things (Max Porter, 2003) were well received at festivals and clearly influenced future RISD students like Ryan Ines (Violet, 2015), Talking Cure (Felipe di Poi, 2016), Toto’s Tusks (Mehr Chatterjee), The Great Divide (Brent Sievers), Masashi Yamamoto’s films and of course, arguably the greatest tragic comedy of them all, Lesley The Pony (Christian Larave, 2014).
While the earlier films were seemingly broader, the later films serve up a darker psychological comedy. You can’t help but feel a strong breeze of sadness blowing nearby, even while you’re laughing at Violet (about a series of misfortunes upending an individual’s life) and Lesley (about sexual assault) and even elements of Yamamoto’s work (Our Future, When You Touch Me).
Comedy aside, RISD has consistently created some imaginative work that leans more towards the non-linear narrative or abstract side. On The Weave of Construction (Greg Buyalos, 1993) Made in the Shade (Takeshi Murata), Edgeways (Sandra Gibson), 12 Ball (Ara Peterson), Little Wild (Caleb Wood), Ripple (Conor Griffith), Toro (Lynn Kim), Doxology (Michael Langan) and more recently, Endless Forms Most Beautiful (Meredith Binnette) all demonstrate the long standing willingness to encourage students takes risks with their work, which let’s them explore and stumble as they experiment with concepts and techniques. It’s a logical approach that too few schools seem brave enough to embrace. For many, this might be their only opportunity to create their own work unhindered by outside pressures. It ain’t cheap, so why not let out what is within you, rather than wasting time trying to impress someone else?
Of course, RISD animation is much more than these two streams. There have been broad based comedy (Life of Larry, Seth McFarlane) and more diversity driven storytelling (e.g. Mimi, Lotus Lantern, New Everyday).
Overall, what separates RISD films from many animation schools is a burgeoning sense of playfulness and curiosity that thrives throughout the films, an almost naive willingness to explore and experiment with styles, tones, techniques. Let’s just go in there, muck around and see what happens. This is not undertaken without purpose. You never feel that RISD students are necessarily rolling the dice or using techniques and tones just for the hell of it. Within each film you sense a unique and genuine identity within. In some cases, it’s an attempt to locate that identity or voice and let it out, to let the world know…hey, this is me (or some fragment of me), warts and all.
The RISD Animation program is part of the Film/Animation/Video Department (FAV), which is under the Division of Fine Arts. The first animation equipment was purchased in 1971 and the first films were made by groups of students from other departments.
“When I was at RISD there was absolutely no one, no interest in animation,” recalls
Candy Kugel, one of the earliest RISD students with an eye towards animation. “During my first semester there, I saw there was someone giving a lecture up the hill at Brown University about his animation studio. I attended the talk and screening and had an epiphany that that was what I wanted to do.”
The head of the Design and Illustration Department, Tom Sgouros, was Kugel’s advisor:
He agreed that I could do an animation independent study the following year. He then convinced the head of the film department, Ronald Banks, to allow me space in the film building (the Auditorium, where I commandeered the janitor’s
closet) and order the necessary animation supplies. And I was allowed use of the
title camera when the film students weren’t using it (but with no instruction)!
The following year (Kugel had left for Italy), RISD hired an animation teacher. After a year, that instructor departed and Yvonne Anderson took over. It was a decision that would have a lasting impact on RISD animation.
Anderson had already been running animation workshops for children (Yellow Ball Workshop) since the 1960s. The workshop had grown to the point where Anderson and assistants were giving animation workshops in Public schools. In the mid-1970s, Anderson was giving a presentation at the Art Director’s club in Providence. She was then invited to do a talk and screening at RISD for the film and video students.
In 1977, Anderson received a call from FAV (Film, Animation, Video department) instructor Peter O’Neill:
He said there was a vacancy in the animation program at RISD for the next year. Would I be interested in applying for the job? I asked him how much it paid. He mentioned the price, and I told him I would be home in a week, and would come over to discuss the situation.
Anderson ended up teaching two animation classes a week for beginners for five years before gradually increasing to 6 or 7 classes a year.
New York animator and artist, Willy Hartland (The Viscera, 1984), recalls the limited options for animators in those early days:
In 1981, RISD students who wanted to study animation had two options: either major in illustration or in film/video and take animation courses”, recalls animator, Willy Hartland (The Visera, 1984). “I opted to be an illustration major. However, film at RISD was very cool, 16mm and all about the Oxberry animation stands, the steenbeck, and the many Bolexes they had. (some of which were owned by Yvonne) There were only a few animation courses to take in those early days: Animation 1, which was 2 semesters, and focused on 2d animation techniques in the fall, and in the spring, 3d puppet animation and clay techniques were covered. Both courses were taught brilliantly by Yvonne Andersen.
Anderson’s teaching had a profound impact of many students including award-winning animator, director and RISD teacher, Julie Zammarchi (Portrait of Woman with Tomatoes, 1982):
Yvonne’s classes were completely hands on and engaging. Her motto was ‘It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece; it just has to be done.’ Everyone’s head was down and all hands were busy. I worked as her assistant for a while and that’s when I really learned. In her no nonsense, practical way she had all of us helping each other and working together on our student projects. The tiny studios on the 4th floor of the auditorium building were always buzzing with energy.
Willy Hartland was equally influenced by both Anderson and Kravitz’s teachings:
I was very fortunate to be there in the early 1980’s, and to study with Yvonne and Amy. They had vastly different approaches to teaching animation. Yvonne focused more on the craft and technique, while Amy’s pedagogy was very spiritual and metaphysical and all about guiding her students on a path toward finding their inner vision as artists. Animation in her view was not for entertainment but for personal expression. ‘If you’re making people laugh,’ she would say ‘then you are not making a film for yourself, you are making a film for an audience.” She also instilled in us something very important. She would make us realize that the animated film you are making now, is the most important thing in your life, because long after you are gone, your film will live on, and will be your legacy. To this day, I can’t make a film any other way.
Anderson was without doubt the primary architect of the direction of the RISD animation program. As Amy Kravitz, Steve Subotnick and Agnieska Woznicka wrote in a 2016 article about RISD animation for the Melbourne Animation Festival, “Adept at finding simple solutions to complex problems, she believed in academic decisions by democratic rule, and she always did whatever needed to be done – whether that was cleaning up trash, repairing a camera, or writing reports. She was able to harness the creative and divergent energies of the FAV faculty into a powerful department.”
It was around this time that another figure who would become an integral figure in RISD animation history. Amy Kravitz had started making films at age 11. “I was in a summer program in Newton, MA. Yvonne was teaching that program. I loved it so much I started classes at Yellow Ball Workshop (which was actually Yvonne’s home in Lexington, MA). I started assisting in classes when I was 14 at both places.”
After graduating from Harvard in Social Anthropology, Kravitz became a teaching assistant for Dennis Pies in Harvard’s animation program. In 1980 (or thereabouts, memories are foggy), she received an invitation from Yvonne Anderson to teach her own class at RISD:
Yvonne had begun the program and the interested students needed a way to continue – there were only a few (about 5 students). The program grew and one advanced class grew to another advanced class and a “degree project” class. I had been exposed to a lot of new ideas from working with Dennis Pies – Yvonne and RISD gave me a lot of freedom to develop curriculum. Yvonne encouraged me to diverge from what she did in the introductory classes.
In 1984, Kravitz took a two year hiatus from RISD to get her MFA at CalArts. She returned to RISD in 1986 armed “with more ideas and experiences. The courses I teach now have been in development since that time – I am constantly refining them. I still give some assignments that were the first ones I developed but I also add new ideas each year and my understanding continues to develop.”
The third addition to the holy animation trinity at RISD arrived in the late 1980s. Steve Subotnick met (and later married) Kravitz while studying at CalArts. Later he started teaching part time at RISD. “I started as an administrator running their computers,” says Subotnick. “Then I started teaching part time at RISD and the museum school in Boston. I think we had 8 students graduating then.”
Subotnick was soon taking on more courses at RISD as the department continued to grow. Kravitz became full time in 1991. “Animation was the backbone of the department,” adds Subotnick. “There was a big jump in the 1990s when studios started making features. It grew gradually from the late 80s to early 90s. We went from about 16 grads a year and then it jumped to 24 and pretty much stayed there.”
For years, it was the trio of Anderson (until her retirement in 2003/04), Kravitz and Subotnick overseeing RISD animation.
Where RISD animation differs from other animation schools is through the encouragement of multidisciplinary study and the mandatory freshman foundation year. “No matter what you’re studying, everyone starts off with the freshman foundation year. All doing the same drawing and design courses.,” says Subotnick. “You don’t enter a department until the second year. You’re obligated to take whoever wants to come into the department. The students choose.”
Once in the animation program, students are then required to study live action filmmaking, video making and animation. “When students explore animation they have a deep artistic vocabulary with which to work – their thinking is not insular,” says Kravitz. “Animation itself is a relatively small set of courses, however students bring inventive, energetic thinking, and rich skill sets to it thereby achieving excellent results. The classroom is an active laboratory and failure is seen as a necessary element of a successful journey.”
The student voice is central to the program’s success. “We try to have as little influence as possible,” adds Subotnick. “We do try to encourage experimentation and the idea that each one of them has a unique voice.” Subotnick believes the freshman foundation is a key part of this process. “It’s a really rigorous program, an art boot camp. It really stretches their minds and makes them think about what they can do in new ways. They arrive with an idea about themselves and by the end of the first year they’ve given that up and opened their mind to all sorts of possibilities.”
Now, while there’s no arguing that Anderson, Kravitz and Subotnick have had a huge influence on the quality of films emerging from RISD, there have been other important voices through the years. “Brian Papciak is a passionate filmmaker who really pushed us to use our ‘voice’ in our work and make creative decisions with great intentionality (even if that intention was difficult to verbalize— as long as it made sense in the context of the film),” says Michael Langan (Doxology, 2007). Dan Sousa and Jeff Sias were also gifted working animators who supported that culture of thoughtfulness and innovation.”
“Bryan Papciak is also a huge influence on the quality of work coming out of the school,” adds Oscar nominee and current RISD instructor, Max Porter. “I remember that Bryan screened The Passion of Joan of Arc [dir. Carl Dreyer] and brilliantly deconstructed how this complex narrative was built off of a sequence of simple close-ups. He hammered home that even if animation has its own language, it’s still part of a larger cinematic vocabulary. He pushed us to dig deeper and challenged our assumptions about what we were doing.”
Another element of RISD’s success is the exposure of all types of international animation to the students. This is done via annual visits to the Ottawa International Animation Festival, guest talks and an impressive collection of films accessible to all students. “Amy has a collection of the best animations films in history, open for viewing,” says Caleb Wood (Little Wild, 2010). “When I was there, I felt like I was exposed to everything that really matters in the animation world. I believe Amy has figured out the right moments in each student’s development in which they are ready to see a certain film from the shelf. She waits to see a spark in your work that correlates to one of the films on her shelf. Then she shows you, and you become a little bit more enlightened.”
While a (very) few have expressed concerns about RISD’s lack of industry training, most welcomed it. “RISD was great for keeping me sheltered from the professional world, says Fran Krause, who now teaches animation at CalArts. “I can’t really recall any guest lecturers that were professional working studio animators. We were able to develop our styles and films without really worrying about getting jobs. This was very helpful, as I see a lot of students only working on animation in order to get a job in the industry, and that’s a very depressing and unfulfilling way to approach animation.”
Noah Gallagher (Papa Sun, 2020), crossed the U.S. to attend RISD. “My high school art teacher, Carlotta Maggi, introduced me to RISD,” says Gallagher. It was a leap of faith that took me from California to Rhode Island to study art. I then picked the animation department, based on my interest and curiosity of moving drawings.” Before that, Gallagher tried animation in high school but found it overwhelming and discouraging. The experience at RISD was the polar opposite:
RISD’s animation department really gave me a space to make ‘bad art’. Once I stopped taking myself and the medium so seriously, I started to really fall in love with animation. I was able to try a plethora of creative mediums while being surrounded by incredibly creative minds. I was learning from my peers just as much as I was from my professors. The professors took time to individually understand and know each student. They wanted us to bring our visions to life, and they provided the necessary tools and resources to do so.
I could go on and on about RISD’s history and successes, but we have to stop somewhere, so why not end with a darkly comic, yet utterly loving quote from animator and RISD grad, Jesse Schmal (Sub, 2000) that fittingly matches the absurdist tone of a number of RISD animation films:
Yoda gets thrown around often as a descriptor for their instructional style, and disagree I would not. Someday, I plan to off either Amy or Steve–whomever puts up less of a fight–to be faculty there; I would miss Amy or Steve of course, but carrying on the RISD way of independence and vision would be a noble workday.
See the film list
RISD Programme 1
|Portrait of a Woman with Tomatoes||Zammarchi, Julie||1982||0:02:49|
|Atlas Gets a Drink||Overbeck, Mike||1999||0:03:30|
|Little Wild||Wood, Caleb||2010|
|Lotus Lantern||Shen, Xingpei||2017||0:06:30|
|Ingrid’s Song||Newton, Pilar||1993||0:03:29|
|Carnal Ground||Sousa, Dan||1994||0:04:21|
|Toto’s Tusks||Chatterjee, Mehr||2015||0:02:53|
|New Everyday||Okokon, Africanus||2012||0:06:11|
|When You Touch Me||Yamamoto, Masashi||2016||0:02:35|
|Terra Firma||Wiggin, Ted||2010||5:21:00|
RISD Programme 2
|Life of Larry||McFarlane, Seth||1995||0:10:19|
|On the Weave of Construction||Buyalos, Greg||1993||0:05:52|
|Red Things||Porter, Max||2003||0:09:50|
|Balance and Swing||Beal, Anne||2012||0:03:20|
|Made in the Shade||Murata, Takeshi||1997||0:03:15|
|The Ant Who Loved a Girl||Gentile, Steve||1988||0:06:07|
|Strange Wonderful||Swart, Stephanie||2013||0:04:13|
|Heavy as a Hill||Neilson, Emily||2015||0:04:51|
|The Box||Durst, Joshua||2012||0:01:07|
RISD Programme 3
|Mr. Smile||Krause, Fran||1999||0:08:19|
|Two Parts||Premo, Mac||1995||0:05:28|
|The Divide||Sievers, Brent||2014||0:03:51|
|12 Ball||Peterson, Ara||1997||0:04:14|
|Talking Cure||DiPoi, Felipe||2016||0:04:22|
|The Journey of Bangwell Putt||Frey, Margaret||1988||0:04:44|
|The Viscera||Hartland, Willy||1984||0:09:24|
|Our Son||Ko, Eric||2013||0:04:30|
|Space War||Karacas, Christy||1997||0:03:09|
|We Are Alone||Minchello, Matthew||2020||0:05:05|
|Lesley the Pony has an A+ Day||Larrave, Christian||2014||0:04:08|
“Let me go back to the start again,” sings a voice in Mariusz Wilczynski’s hand-drawn animated feature, and OIAF20 Grand Prize winner, Kill it and Leave This Town.
Imagine if you could have your family, loved ones, assorted heroes, and idols all come together and reside snuggly within the comfort of your memories, no matter how fictionalized or misremembered (as Paul Auster once wrote, “memory is a story told a second time”).
Themes of nostalgia, loss, and mortality run throughout Wilcynski’s body of work. Before Kill it, he made several short films (Times Have Passed, For My Mother and Me, Unfortunately, Kizi Mizi, and music videos (Allegro ma non tropp, Death to Five), all of them carrying themes and elements that are later found in Kill it and Leave This Town. The past, in particular, appears to carry great weight in Wilcynski’s films to the point where you wonder if it’s a case of struggling to let go of the past or whether diving into it, it better informs our next steps.
« Laissez-moi revenir au début, » chante une voix dans le long métrage animé dessiné à la main de Mariusz Wilczynski, Kill it and Leave This Town, lequel a remporté le premier prix du OIAF20.
Imaginez si vous pouviez rassembler votre famille, vos êtres chers, vos quelques héros et idoles, et qu’ils vivraient tout douillet dans le confort de vos souvenirs, quelques fictifs ou mal souvenus qu’ils soient (comme l’a déjà écrit Paul Auster, « un souvenir est une histoire racontée une deuxième fois »).
Les thèmes de la nostalgie, de la perte et de la mortalité se retrouvent à travers les œuvres de Wilcynski. Avant Kill it, il a fait plusieurs courts métrages (Times Have Passed, For My Mother and Me, Unfortunately, Kizi Mizi, et des vidéos de musique (Allegro ma non tropp, Death to Five), qui ont tous présenté des thèmes et des éléments qu’on retrouvera plus tard dans Kill it and Leave This Town. Le passé, en particulier, semble porter un grand poids dans les films de Wilcynski, au point où l’on se demande s’il s’agit de se défaire difficilement du passé ou, si en y plongeant, on éclaire nos pas.
Read the full essay
Ghosts of a Different Dream – The Films of Mariusz Wilczynski
By Chris Robinson
“Let me go back to the start again,” sings a voice in Mariusz Wilczynski’s hand-drawn animated feature, and OIAF20 Grand Prize winner, Kill it and Leave This Town.
Imagine if you could have your family, loved ones, assorted heroes, and idols all come together and reside snuggly within the comfort of your memories, no matter how fictionalized or misremembered (as Paul Auster once wrote, “memory is a story told a second time”).
Kill it and Leave This Town does just that. Seeking safety after the death of his parents along with a close friend, an unnamed man (let’s face it, we are in Wilczynski’s memories) hides in the land of his memories where time pauses and everyone returns to life. Along the way, we meet an assortment of anonymous characters scattered about the Polish town of Łódź (where Wilczynski grew up). Eventually, the man realizes that even his subconscious river of misrememories can’t stop time and aging and that he must swim back to the shores of reality.
Eschewing a traditional narrative, Kill it and Leave This Town takes the form of a free-flowing dream, a collage of memories real, imagined, and reconsidered. With its bluesy, soulful guitar-driven soundtrack and assorted non-sequiturs, you feel like you’re sitting in a smoking bar, slightly drunk, as the band plays through overlapping disconnected voices of the equally tipsy patrons. The result is a beautiful, messy, grotesque, heart-wrenching and ultimately loving ode to a time and place no more, to people now gone.
Themes of nostalgia, loss, and mortality run throughout Wilcynski’s body of work. Before Kill it, he made several short films (Times Have Passed, For My Mother and Me, Unfortunately, Kizi Mizi, and music videos (Allegro ma non tropp, Death to Five), all of them carrying themes and elements that are later found in Kill it and Leave This Town. The past, in particular, appears to carry great weight in Wilcynski’s films to the point where you wonder if it’s a case of struggling to let go of the past or whether diving into it, it better informs our next steps. “I think that childhood and youth are the time where we all experience our most vivid relationships in terms of emotions, like our most emotional friendships,” says Wilcynski. “We discover everything for the very first time, everything has a different taste. The first cigarette, the first shot of vodka, the first adventures and events… everything is new. We feel it as strongly as possible because we’re quite afraid of that and at the same time we enjoy it… These are the primal, the strongest, archetypical first impressions. Maybe this is the reason why I come back to them so often in my films – these things have such a strong, honest, deep flavour.”
Despite the predominance of a past gone by in his work, Wilcynski is adamant that while you can certainly learn from the past, you should never become a prisoner of your past. “You need to move forward and keep your mind open. I started drawing Kill It and Leave This Town to close the chapter on my past and get rid of it, to keep my mind open, and to come back to real life. I think I managed to do it. I settled the story with my parents, I finished my conversations with them, I finished my conversations with Tadeusz Nalepa (whose music is heard throughout the film), and thanks to that I don’t suffer that much anymore. I don’t have this kind of reminiscence where I would feel that I hadn’t settled something with my mom, because I drew it in my film. My mom sees this, or at least I believe so. So I don’t think that history teaches us something, but we sometimes need to take a look behind.”
In a sense, we need to “take a look behind” so that we might let go and forget… a difficult task most days, but maybe especially during a rather chaotic period like the one we’re all living in at the moment. Being present in reality is a challenge most days, but during this COVID Pandemic, most are seeking any route that takes us away from the here and now. And as much as making Kill It and Leave This Town was a way of remembering to forget, Wilcynski admits that coming back to “real life” is a challenge: “Making this film, I did want to forget somehow and to come back to real life. I did not forget, but I sorted everything out, but the truth is that I dislike this ‘real world’ so badly that I want to escape it by drawing another film. I am already working on it, and as soon as this activity, the festivals, and all the promotion-related arrangements around my current film settle down, I am ‘escaping’ into my next film for some eight years again.”
Wilcynzski’s films, with their raw minimal backgrounds and design, along with the non-linear narratives all have a ghostly quality to them, as though they’re a border or bridge between past and present, between conscious and subconscious. “I find it more of a magical element,” says Wilcynski. “This is why Kill It and Leave This Town takes place at a magical hour. We worked on this quite risky thing with Paweł Edelman, an extraordinary DOP, who worked with Roman Polanski and Andrzej Wajda. To Ewa Puszczyńska’s (the producer) horror, we were making the picture increasingly darker, because I strived for the effect of the magical hour when what is real starts slipping into the unreal, and what is unreal starts to become real. That’s an amazing moment and I consider it a very important quality for me.”
Silent films, notably Chaplin, Murnau, and von Stroheim, breathe throughout Wilczynski’s oeuvre, but if you struggle to pinpoint his animation influences, you’re not alone. “I have to admit, honestly, without playing a hero, that it was my decision not to follow or look at what other animators are doing. When I was supposed to make illustrations for the TV programme about books, I drew 60 pictures, because I’m an ambitious person – it was about a minute and a half on the film, and when the pictures came alive, I got crazy and left behind every other art activity. The only thing I longed to do was draw and try to find my way to animation. And when I said I refused to watch anyone else or learn the technology, or read books, I meant it. I even remember quite a funny situation. When I started my work at Łódź Film School, where I am a professor now, Piotr Dumała was (and still is) my colleague. He started talking about something and making references to some of his films. I told him: ‘Piotrek, I don’t know, I’m sorry, but I haven’t seen them’. He was extremely surprised and said: ‘How come you’ve never watched my films?!’ The truth is that so far I have only seen some fragments of Piotr’s films. There were a few films I saw and liked very much. It won’t be very original, but I watched Tango by Zbyszek Rybczyński and to me, this is a masterpiece. It is also incredible for me that such an artistic film received an Oscar. Most of the Oscar-awarded films I saw are very safe and smoothened out, with a linear narrative. In general, I feel that I do not get influenced. I can also mention that, apart from Tango, I like Bruce Bickford’s animation in Frank Zappa’s Baby Snakes. He was a real crazy man. In Baby Snakes, his animation resonates with Zappa’s artistic genius in an incomparable way. On the other hand, I saw some other animations by Bigford and I felt quite bored.”
Given the abstract or, let’s say, “magical” elements of his films, it’s surprising that there is not much improvisation involved in Wilcynski’s creative process. “I do improvise during drawing. Sometimes a dot, a splat appears, I follow it in a way. The matter starts to become a narrative, that’s true, but there must be some plan. If I were to compare this kind of work to something, it would be like a jazz concert. We know the main themes and we come back to them from time to time. We can improvise in between them, but we still stick to the somehow given direction. It’s not like we can fly into the open space, say ‘To infinity and beyond’, and go wherever the road takes us.”
See the film list
Allegro ma non Troppo
Times Have Passed
From the Green Hill
Chop, Chop, Chop, Chopin
In the Stillness of the Night
For My Mother and Me
Death to Five
Film strips, weeds, concert posters, maps, boarding passes, jewellery, photo negatives, envelopes, dollar store gift bags, beads, books, blankets., puppets, floral patterns, fabrics of all shades and colours, computer memory boards, junk mail, and even a horse’s kidney stone. All stuff you might stumble upon in a bizarro garbage heap, not animation films.
The ultimate recycler, experimental animator, Jodie Mack, a sort of animated Dr. Frankenstein, finds beauty and repurpose in life’s leftovers as she breathes new life into the forgotten, discarded and unconventional. Mack’s collages clash and collide along the way towards a semblance of harmony and unity. With rapid fire creativity fueled by unfettered delight and rampant curiosity, Mack has created an eclectic and joyful body of work that bridges contemporary art and animation with an utterly unpretentious – to borrow from music -, lo-fi, D.I.Y. approach.
Bouts de pellicule, herbes, affiches de concerts, cartes, cartes d’embarquement, bijoux, négatifs de photos, enveloppes, sacs cadeaux du magasin du dollar, billes, livres, couvertures, marionnettes, motifs fleuris, tissus de toutes les teintes et couleurs, mémoires d’ordinateurs, courriel indésirable, et même un calcul rénal de cheval. Voilà des trucs qu’on trouverait dans une drôle de pile de déchets, pas dans des films d’animation.
Recycleuse par excellence, l’animatrice expérimentale, Jodie Mack, une sorte de Dr Frankenstein de l’animation, voit de la beauté et une autre fin aux restants de la vie, alors qu’elle donne un autre souffle à ce qui est oublié, jeté ou non conventionnel. Les collages de Mack se confrontent et se percutent en chemin vers un semblant d’harmonie et d’unité. Grâce à une créativité féconde nourrie par un plaisir sans retenue et une curiosité débridée, Mack a créé une collection d’œuvres éclectiques et joyeuses qui lient l’art contemporain et l’animation sans aucune prétention et – pour emprunter à la musique – d’une approche basse fidélité et bricolée soi-même.
Read the full essay
A Factory of Raw Essentials: The Films of Jodie Mack
By Chris Robinson
Film strips, weeds, concert posters, maps, boarding passes, jewellery, photo negatives, envelopes, dollar store gift bags, beads, books, blankets, puppets, floral patterns, fabrics of all shades and colours, computer memory boards, junk mail, and even a horse’s kidney stone. All stuff you might stumble upon in a bizarro garbage heap, not animation films. The ultimate recycler, experimental animator Jodie Mack, animation’s Dr. Frankenstein, finds beauty and repurpose in life’s leftovers as she breathes new life into the forgotten, discarded, and unconventional. Mack’s collages clash and collide along the way towards a sense of harmony and unity.
With rapid fire creativity fueled by unfettered delight and rampant curiosity, Jodie Mack has created an eclectic body of work that bridges contemporary art and animation with an utterly unpretentious – to borrow from music -, lo-fi, D.I.Y. approach.
The comparison to music is not random. If there is a common thread between Mack’s films beyond the obvious unharnessed joy emanating through every frame, it’s music. “A lot of shorter films that I have are kind of secret music videos for these songs I was really into at the time. I always joke that I make films, but I really just wish I was a musician. And I actually do, but a live musician. Not someone that needs to worry about the recording. But someone that just like performs!”
Mack’s passion for music seeps through every pore of her work, whether it’s straight up music videos (e.g. A Joy, Twilight Spirit, August Song, Curses), musical documentaries (Dusty Stacks of Mom, which features Mack’s playful and eclectic interpretation of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon), or animated musicals (Yard Work is Hard Work). Mack sings or performs in a number of her films. She’s performed both Dusty Stacks of Mom and Unsubscribe #4 live, and her short, Rad Plaid, involves live audience participation.
It will then surprise no one reading this text that music was Mack’s doorway to art. “I loved to learn things on the keyboard by ear as a kid and I really got into singing as a child,” says Mack. After her family moved from London, England to Florida, Mack became involved in choirs and performing arts at school. While Mack’s passion for singing was strong, she didn’t pursue it professionally because of the often suffocating ‘rules.’ “Singing was fun until you want to do it for real and then it’s like you can’t smoke, you can’t cry, you can’t yell, you can’t do anything fun. And you just have to really live a different lifestyle than I was headed for I think.”
After some interest in theatre (which occasionally incorporated silhouette and cut-out animation), Mack took Film and Media Studies at the University of Florida. One of Mack’s teachers screened the likes of Len Lye, Norman McLaren, and Harry Smith and encouraged experimentation. “We had access to some old 16mm films that we would soak in bathtubs full of bleach and experiment with,” says Mack. “My first point of entry into the idea of animation really was a painterly one. I thought of the film strip as a canvas. I’d work on the film strips sideways and then all of the sudden you put it another way and you see all the individual frames. You’re just fumbling around chasing your tail until it makes sense. And there were definitely a lot of discovery moments that way.”
After graduating with a B.A in Film and Media Studies, Mack headed to the Art Institute in Chicago for Graduate Studies. There, she encountered animators Chris Sullivan and Jim Trainor. Oddly enough, Mack didn’t take any animation classes in Chicago. “I was a teaching assistant for a couple of classes and just kind of independently studied my way through. I did work with Chris and Jim. Chris worked it out so I could shoot on the animation stand there and Jim gave me a Bolex camera and a little copy stand that I still use. There was a lot of kindness there.”
It was in Chicago that Mack created one of her first films, A Joy (2004), a commissioned piece for the band, For Tet. “I made it with this stained glass contact paper that was on the window of this apartment I was living in and the landlord wanted to take it off. So I was chiseling it off and was like, ‘Oh this is so cool’ and ‘let’s save this old, gooey crap for years, deteriorating in a bag and you know, glue it to film.’ That was all really exciting, but then it became ‘Woah, what do you do with this?’ and it’s all of the sudden a photographic medium as opposed to a painterly something.”
Even though she was making cameraless films, Mack had an inherent interest in found materials that went back to high school. “For one project, I needed to make all these palm trees on a big backdrop piece of paper and I happened to find all these old telephone books. I started ripping out the pages to use as material to make the trees. Collage was definitely a place I went as soon as I started using the camera. I was really excited by people like Lewis Klahr, Martha Colburn, and Stan Vanderbeek and seeing a lot of crude animation.”
Mack also found camera-less filmmaking a bit restrictive. “I felt really bound early on by the limits of what we knew as abstraction. I was experiencing a kind of roadblock with camera-less filmmaking. It was cool, fun, and exciting, but what is actually possible here? “I think one of the things that was central to my actual experiments with camera-less filmmaking were the materials themselves, using colour pieces of plastic and often trying to scavenge those materials.”
Much of the materials Mack uses in her films are from her own hoarding tendencies. “I think it started with, like, trash, and then I moved to domestic decorative objects which kind of evolved to, like, decorative objects in general.” When she moved from Chicago to start teaching at Dartmouth, she realized she had a lot of fabric. “I took inventory of all my stuff under the camera to see if I could make a film. Once I saw that there was something there, I tried out different things.”
All of Mack’s films start with stuff. New Fancy Foils (2013) emerged from a package she received from animator George Griffin. “One day this beautiful book of foil samples showed up and he was like, ‘I think these will come in handy one day.’” A couple of years later, Mack went back into the book and turned out a film. After exhausting the fabric road, Mack turned to other unusual materials like dollar store gift bags. “The gift bags were in a phase where I was moving to 3D. I started shooting all of this 3D stuff and made a film for special 3D glasses and did some live action. That was a moment where I was really interested in light, how it plays out in these different things.” Of late, Mack’s interest has turned to plants and computer chips. “I’m on a utilitarian kick. Things, like computer chips, that are useful, but not necessarily beautiful or decorative.”
This willingness and desire to tinker with almost anything tangible is what make Mack’s work so unique and refreshing. She eschews the standard paper-based cut-and-paste form (e.g. using old photos, magazine clippings etc.) in favour of an assortment of unconventional materials and even a somewhat different approach to the notion of collage. “At some point, I moved from a collage that’s within a frame to a collage that’s like a relationship, a temporal relationship with the film itself. You know I kind of went further out, back to Robert Breer and Scott Stark, who does a lot with flicker. He made this film with actually medical images of vaginas, and trees, and stuff. Again, using flicker, and of course with afterimage all these things take on these impressions. I’m really fascinated by this idea of a composite image that is only perceived. It’s not really there, it’s kind of a time collage.”
Though technological advances have made collage (like all of animation) less time consuming, Mack says she’s sort of shunned digital technology to a small degree. “I’ve partially ignored it in some ways as far as the direct capture and projection of my films is for the most part on 16mm. I definitely feel like the Bolex is my instrument and I love working with it. I love not being able to see what I’m doing for 4,000 frames at least.” That hasn’t stopped Mack from embracing some aspects of digital technology. “I started in the 2000s. Video has always been a part of the equation; with every film, there’s a video, there’s many sound files, video edit, effects.”
Mack’s work has also addressed our iffy relationship with technology. Glitch Envy (2010) is a playful parody of the changing notion of ‘junk mail’ in a social media era. “It was a time when new media was taking over and that’s where the funding was, in new media, and in many ways I saw the new techniques of new media: dealing with the data of a video or something like that as completely parallel to camera-less filmmaking. You know, like, camera-less video-making in some way. As my films moved on, I became interested in technology replicating what already exists. Like your razor-blade icon looking like the razor-blade that actually cuts film.”
Sing-songs and pretty fabrics aside, there are socio-economic and political undertones throughout much of Mack’s work. The rapid flash-clash of patterns and materials hints at the volatile nature of capitalism and consumer waste. We produce, purchase, and toss without much thought about the consequences or real need, but also beyond that, Mack also finds some sort of beauty in a lot of leftovers. Her use of these found objects often leads to musings about cultural appropriation, technology, human labour, domestic economics, and well, the implications of consumer culture in general.
Jodie Mack’s films are brimming with jubilance, yet tinged with a hint of sadness. While Mack’s films resuscitate the discarded and abandoned items of a wasteful hyper-capitalist society, it is a joy that is short lived. The materials will still end up tossed and forgotten on some garbage heap. “Some of my films are little eulogies for materials. I think one reason that I’m really interested in animation is, for one reason or another, I’m obsessed with the idea of death and wanting to make that impossible. And so this idea of resuscitating what’s about to go in the trash can to reveal its energy, and to give it you know, a celebration.”
See the film list
Screening 1 – Short Selection (69:46)
A Joy, 2005, 3:00
Lilly, 2007, 6:10
Blanket Statement #1: Home is where the heart is, 2021, 3:00
Unsubscribe #1: Special Offer Inside, 2010, 4:30
Posthaste Perennial Pattern, 2010, 3:38
Unsubscribe #2: All Eyes on the Silver Screen, 2010, 2:45
Unsubscribe #3: Glitch Envy, 2010, 5:45
Glistening Thrills, 2013, 8:00
Persian Pickles, 2012, 3:00
Let Your Light Shine, 2013, 3:00
Undertone Overture, 2013, 10:50
Wasteland #2: Hardy,Hearty, 2019, 6:40
Something Between Us, 2015, 9:30
Screening 2 –
Dusty Stacks of Mom: The Poster Project, 2013, 41:00
“Flashing, pop-like imagery; visual and auditory narrations that explicitly touch upon sex, politics and social relations; vibrant installations that extend into three dimensions the artist’s fantastical animation world – these are but cornerstones of Wong Ping’s practice that combines the crass and the colourful to mount a discourse around repressed sexuality, personal sentiments and political limitations. Hong Kong born and raised, Wong Ping’s observations of society, from teenage to adult-hood, use a visual language that sits on the border of shocking and amusing.” (Edouard Malingue Gallery)
« De l’imagerie aux effets lumineux et au style pop; des narrations visuelles et auditives qui portent explicitement sur le sexe, la politique et les relations sociales; des installations vibrantes qui présentent en trois dimensions le monde de l’animation fantastique de l’artiste – telles sont les pierres angulaires de la pratique de Wong Ping, qui combine le grossier et le coloré pour monter un discours sur la sexualité réprimée, les sentiments personnels et les limitations politiques. Né et élevé à Hong Kong, Wong Ping offre des observations sur la société, de l’adolescence à l’âge adulte, qui utilisent un langage visuel sur la frontière entre le choquant et l’amusant. » (Edouard Malingue Gallery)
Read the full essay
Peeping Wong Ping
By Chris Robinson
With their bright, popish colours, VHS tape-like glitchiness, and deadpan narration, Wong Ping’s films have an aura of playful innocence tossed with a dose of giggly absurdities (Ping’s Fables films mercilessly poke fun at the preachiness of Aesop and the like). Dive a little deeper though and you’ll uncover a disturbed, violent and disengaged world filled with corruption, fecklessness, alienation, selfishness, suppressed emotions and a whole lot of lunacy.
If the Hong Kong artists’ films seem unlike anything else on the animation circuit, it might be connected to the influence of stand-up comedy, rather than Disney, Miyazaki or anyone else in animation. Like a good comedian (say George Carlin, Bill Hicks, Doug Stanhope), Ping’s work makes you laugh at the uncomfortable. The best comedians are sharp social critics who expose societal shortcomings, inconsistencies and downright stupidity.
Ping embraces the fatalistic undertones of this kind of observational comedy. “I like dark humour and jokes,” he says. “It’s not intentional, it’s just my character.” He recounts that after one show, a critic was upset because he couldn’t understand why the audience was laughing at horrible moments in the animator’s film. “This is when I realized that I use animation because no one really takes it seriously. My work is always about honesty and I think animation relaxes me. It’s easier when no one takes you seriously.”
Certainly, there is evidence of this lack of seriousness everywhere in arts and culture. As obvious examples, some of the most caustic and uncomfortable scenarios in Family Guy or South Park would never have been permitted in a live-action setting. These shows get away with their parodies and alleged offensiveness because people, in their wisdom, don’t take animation all that seriously. Comedy is in a similar boat. One of Richard Pryor’s most memorable routines was about the time he set himself on fire while trying to freebase cocaine and rum (or something to that effect). Despite being seriously injured at the time, even Pryor found humour in the absurdity of the situation. Another comedian who comes to mind is Tig Notaro, who went on stage and performed a set one day after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
What can one do in dark moments? Sure you can cry, but that’s no fun. You can pray, but that’s rather pointless. Why not laugh? When I had cancer, I cried behind the scenes, but mostly I laughed (granted, it was ball cancer so I’m not sure how someone with the emotional maturity of a 15-year-old could stop from giggling at the prospect of losing a testicle). Some might deem humour in such tragic moments as a means of distraction or avoidance, but I see it more as a form of acceptance and recognizing the ephemerality of existence.
Like great comedians, Ping’s films don’t shock for the sake of it. Many of his works are rooted in a place of unharnessed honesty: Who’s the Daddy (2017) was inspired by the time Ping’s ex-girlfriend bitterly pranked him about being pregnant; Stop Peeping (2014) recounts a time when Ping spied on a neighbor. Modern Way to Shower (2019), hilariously deals with Hong Kong protests, S&M culture, and apathy in the face of peer pressure (Ping’s joke about leaving a suicide note in a self-help book is pure gold), Jungle of Desire (2015) touches upon all sorts of issues from impotence and voyeurism to prostitution and corrupt cops.
The honesty in Ping’s narratives have a range of personal and public influences. “I like stuff that’s surreal,” he says. “but that could be in our neighbourhood. So it’s real and surreal. The base is solid, but the story can go wild. I like that tension. Half of my stories come from my life and the rest come from the news and other places. Everything starts with my own experience.” A good example of this approach was when Ping was preparing for a show at the Guggenheim (yes, he’s part of the fancy art world, but we’ll revisit that later). Ping was biking around with no ideas for the show when he noticed a man throw a “large bag of mystery stuff” into a bin. “After he left, I went over and pulled out the bag. It was filled with a huge amount of vhs porn tapes. I thought, ‘why is he throwing this out now, instead of when dvds or PornHub took over?’” Ping immediately biked home and started writing about an elderly man, a story that later became Dear, can I give you a hand (2018), a sort of comic/tragic take on aging and conflicts between generations.
So, the Guggenheim.
You see, Wong Ping is a bit of a name on the contemporary art scene. For the last 10 years or so he’s had one foot in the gallery scene (he’s currently represented by two galleries) and another in the animation world. Not bad for a guy who doesn’t really like animation and rarely watched it as a kid. So, how did he get here?
Animation came into his life slowly and reluctantly. In the early 2000s, Ping headed to Australia to take a multimedia design course at Curtin University. “I picked it because there were no exams or tests, only assignments. They try to teach you a little bit of everything like Photoshop, After Effects, film, drawings, production design. When I graduated in 2005 and returned to Hong Kong, I couldn’t find a job. Hong Kong is very practical and you need to know the software to get into the animation industry. I couldn’t find a job for six months and my parents were quite angry.” To make peace, Ping headed to the local library, signed out a book about After Effects and devoured it. “I made some really crappy drama and retouched scenes. Then I sent it to a broadcast station and they hired me. I suspect they needed cheap labour more than any skills I might have”.
Unfortunately, this job was not a pleasant experience for Ping. “It was very depressing. It’s like we worked overtime in a cage almost every day. Imagine that everyday you’re adjusting an actor’s face, making a book or butt bigger.” In need of a hobby to distract him from his daily workplace horrors, Ping started writing. “They weren’t short stories. I don’t know what they were, but it made me calm.” Animation, or something like it, soon followed: “One day I used this software at work to make something move. Back then it was this new thing called motion graphics. I don’t even know if it’s animation but it was easier for someone with no animation background. I thought it was cool and many music videos and shorts were being made using it instead of traditional animation. It was just so easy for me to manage because I have no skills. And I needed a hobby so it was perfect.”
Ping’s stay at the broadcast studio ended after a couple of years. He ended up finding a job at Cartoon Network in Hong Kong. “It was quite interesting there,” says Ping. “At 10am, they’d give you a brief and by 5pm you’re supposed to have finished a 10 second piece. So each day you had a new job”. After a few years, he moved to Singapore. Ping was also doing some illustration on the side for the news in Hong Kong and after work hours, he started to make his own shorts (e.g. Peeping Tom) that he would post online for anyone to see. Some of those who saw Ping’s work were members of various Hong Kong indie bands. Three bands ended up approaching Ping, asking if he would make music videos for them. The third video, Under the Lion Crotch (2013), won an award and cash prize which changed the course of Ping’s life. Using the cash, he immediately rented a studio space. “I paid for two years of rent with the prize money. During those two years I had no job or income but I created some of my first shorts and that’s where it started getting attention from the art scene.” Soon, Ping was invited to do a show (Jungle of Desire) by an indie Hong Kong art space. One of the attendees was Edouard Malingue who owned a notable gallery in Hong Kong. He loved the show, took Ping on his gallery roster, and has been representing him ever since.
In terms of his creative process, writing is the trigger for every film. “I spend most of my time writing and thinking about a story. When I write, I don’t think about the animation or how it would look. I just write. When it’s almost done, then I move to character design and animation, but before that it’s like a luxury holiday because I can listen and watch stuff while I work. When I write I can’t do anything else. So I really enjoy the animation part. When I do it, I try not to think much about the story. I try to skip the link between the two. It’s not like I designed a character for this story. If there’s a depressed story, I don’t want to draw something to represent that depression. People can put it together at the end. It’s more interesting for me this way.”
The parallels between Ping’s work and the world of comedy are also evident in his process, as he often approaches each film in a way that resembles that of a stand-up comic. “I make hundreds of thoughts or fragments and then combine them to see if a story forms. Then I always try to improvise. I look for accidents when I am animating. I find the animation process very mechanical, long and boring, but it gives me time to think and improvise.”
Beyond process, some of the common features of Wong Ping’s work are deadpan narration (often a lot of it), vibrant, eye-catching colours, and a general avoidance (and this is music to my ears) of music. The toneless narration style came about simply because Ping couldn’t find anyone to do voice-over. “I care more about the text and I know how I want my written lines to be spoken so I decided to read them without tones. Not only is it cheap and easy for me to do it but I also think it works because I know the pacing I want. I think my voice is only background noise really. It works fine in an exhibition space where people can watch it again or online, but I think it can be tricky in a festival setting because it’s often too fast.”
The vibrant colour schemes, on the other hand, were birthed out of rebelling against what he learned in university. “I took this course where they teach you about colour combinations in advertising. Like red on black is easier for people to read etc… After one class I thought this was all bullshit. The colour wheel is for everyone. I mean, I understand that this class was for advertising or design, but I didn’t enjoy the limitations. Years later, I discovered Illustrator and could pick any colour I wanted. There were no rules. I just pick mostly colours that hurt the eyeballs.”
Given the brash, in-your-face use of colour and dialogue, it seems perfectly logical that Ping’s films are relatively quiet. “I use ambient noise, but I don’t have time to make music. I enjoy using sound effects but I am not a fan of using music to bring emotion to people. I find it comforting to just use a couple of ambient sounds. I also never know when I’d stop talking and when I’d use music to break it up, so I just avoid using it all together!”
Using these elements, Ping’s films also frequently reference a Hong Kong society in a flux. Natives try to silence the echoes of a colonial past under British rule, while facing the usual daily economic and social struggles and dealing with the dark cloud of mainland China that continues to trickle into the Hong Kong atmosphere. The threat from mainland China is particularly disconcerting and Ping admits that he is worried about Hong Kong’s future. “A lot of friends are leaving. I don’t see a better future in Hong Kong as China takes more control. People are scared and I think if this continues I would have to leave.”
Through all of his work, whether for galleries or animation audiences, Ping uses provocative imagery and raunchy narratives to uncover deeper psychological and societal issues of desire, shame, obsession and alienation. By telling these stories with deadpan humour, animation, and unflinching honesty, Ping humanizes difficult subject matters while asking us to consider why these are taboos in the first place.
See the film list
OIAF21 Wong Ping retrospective screening list (75min approx running time)
Wong Ping’s Fables 1, 2018, 13:00
Modern Way to Shower, 2019, 12:00
Who’s the Daddy, 2017, 9:15
The Other Side, 2015, 8:02
Jungle of Desire, 2015. 6:50
Dear, Can I Give you a Hand, 2018, 12:00
Prada Raw Review, 2015, 0:28
Wong Ping’s Fables 2019, 13:30
Born above the fertile filmmaking soil of Winnipeg, Canada and raised in rural Manitoba, director and cinematographer Mike Maryniuk is a self-described “self taught film virtuoso” boasting a rich catalog of hand-altered celluloid to back up the claim. Mike’s films serve as a boiling scrapbook for an overlooked subset of the Canadian prairies, giving big importance to small-town concerns and promoting an appreciation of many wilderness-adjacent interests.
Delivering contemporary imagery through the enamel of age, the home brew films of Mike Maryniuk are a carefree nod to good old-fashioned prairie life, leaning on electric visuals and dynamic sound as the key ingredients to understanding the value of country living. Dig out your toque and let ‘er rip.
Né sur le sol fertile en cinématographie de Winnipeg, au Canada, et élevé dans le Manitoba rural, le réalisateur et cinéaste Mike Maryniuk se décrit comme étant un « virtuose du cinéma autodidacte », qui présente un catalogue riche de celluloïd modifié à la main pour appuyer cette affirmation. Les films de Mike servent d’album-souvenir débordant pour un sous-ensemble ignoré des prairies canadiennes, donnant une grande importance aux problèmes de petites villes et promouvant l’appréciation de plusieurs intérêts liés à la nature sauvage.
Offrant de l’imagerie contemporaine au moyen de l’émail de l’âge, les films concoctés maison de Mike Maryniuk sont un clin d’œil insouciant de la bonne vieille vie de prairie, s’appuyant sur des visuels électriques et des sons dynamiques comme ingrédients clés afin de comprendre la valeur de la vie de campagne. Sors ta tuque et lâche-toi lousse!
See the film list
Cattle Call, Melatonin
The Lytics ‘Toot Your own Horn’
The Riverton Rifle
The Yodeling Farmer
Home Cooked Music
Asleep at the Wheel
No Cultural Value intro
Goose Droppings (excerpts from The Goose)
Paul Learly ‘Gary Floyd Revisited’
With computers driving many production workflows to at least a small degree, it has become a challenge to retain or create a sense of texture and tactility in the finished piece. This programme celebrates films and filmmakers who achieve an analog grit in the age of synthesized imagery.
Comme les ordinateurs gèrent la plupart des flux de production jusqu’à au moins un certain degré, il est devenu difficile de conserver et de créer un sens de texture ou de tactilité sur un produit fini. Ce programme célèbre les films et les cinéastes qui réussissent à offrir un grain analogue en cette ère d’imagerie synthétisée.
Read the full essay
New Tool Who Dis? Tactility in the Digital Age
By Keltie Duncan
Technique is the super power that sets animation apart from its equally successful (but not-quite-as-fun amirite) counterpart, live action. It’s the secret sauce that turns that pretty alright-tasting, totally nourishing fried fish sandwich (look, there’s nothing wrong with live action, I swear I respect it) into the most delicious, pillowy-bunned Filet O’Fish you’ve ever goddamn had. Though the line between the two has long been blurred thanks in part to advancements in special effects, and heavier and heavier image processing, I would argue that animation still holds the title of Most Constructed Image.
Within animation, technique is itself is on as large a spectrum as they come, one that operates within its own special Cartesian system where the X, Y, and Z axes all somehow intersect each other at various points, even though that’s not possible but just further serves to demonstrate the absolute magic that is animation.
The films in this programme are rooted in the digital realm, created at least in large part with computers but in what is an increasingly commonplace way that hides or at least more seamlessly incorporates the tool as opposed to forefronting its use. Computer-generated images have typically been associated with a highly synthesized aesthetic, but this collection of films represent what I think is a new era of computer animation, one which shows a more diverse expression of what was once a pretty homogenous-looking tool, differentiated fairly cleanly between 2D and 3D without any real question which was which. These films are multi-layered in their aesthetics, each in their own way presenting a more grown-up and evolved version of computer animation.
Early computer imagery was highly sterile, often made of primitively smooth geometric shapes like those seen in one of the earliest 3D computer outings, The Simpsons ‘Treehouse of Horror VI’. The more smooth the better, creating a clean surface on which to reflect light sources and to integrate with other new benefits of the technique. Shows like Reboot created more of a suggestion of texture with more sophisticated models, but it was still pushing the tools to their limits.
This wasn’t limited to 3D computer animation, either. An example of early 2D computer animation, Dr. Katz, created some grit and added texture with its application of line quality. Much like early 3D computer, the 2D computer aesthetic could be equally flat, but Dr. Katz was able to bring more edge through the visual jaggedness of the line work while still working with the coolness of the computer aesthetic. The tight boil also added some energy to what would be a fairly cold still frame.
While those examples use methods found within the soft- and hardware capabilities to rough things up a bit, another path emerged bridging the gap between computer production and analog feel. Almost immediately after its pilot episode, if I may stay in the U.S. T.V. realm, South Park moved it’s production pipeline into the much cheaper, much faster computer environment while retaining its cut out paper look. Getting the best of both worlds, this approach hides the technological aspects of using a computer behind a facade of analog warmth.
The continued normalization of computers as a tool in independent animation means it’s being explored in new and more experimental ways. Where once computers were prohibitively expensive and difficult to master, they’ve had a few decades now to become another tool in the box of animators, and one for which the novelty has worn off in a way that makes it more of a team player than a new and exciting super star. Computers are now as versatile as any tool, where you can choose to lean in to the ‘digitalness’ of it all, or simply use the flexibility of process and hide its presence in the image. Computers as an artistic tool are now in their adolescence and I can’t wait to experience the next stage of its life cycle.
Each short in this collection has its own special formula and approach to using a computer as an artistic tool. That, and each of the films are fantastic, enjoyable to watch, and wonderful examples of independent animation at it’s finest.
All that is left to do now is enjoy them, so get at it! We’re all here for the films, afterall.
See the film list
The End of an Era
A Comprehensive Theory / 全面理论
Smell of Sound / Odeurs sonores
There Must Be Some Kind of Way Out of Here
March of the Ding Dings
The Cycle of Life
The sudden passing August 2021 of animator Jacques Drouin was a shock to many in animation, especially in the halls of the National Film Board of Canada where he was an influential and beloved fixture for decades.
Drouin will of course also be remembered throughout the animation community for his mastery of Alexander Alexeieff’s pinscreen device that left us with a unique body of work, including the widely acclaimed Mindscape (1976), Nightangel (co-directed with Břetislav Pojar, 1986) and his final film, Imprints (2004).
Revisiting Drouin’s career and his animation achievements are informative, but at the end of the day, what matters most is the quality of the person behind them. Drouin was a stellar human being known for his compassion, humour, humanity and modesty. The disbelief and deep grief that many are feeling over the loss of Drouin speaks volumes to his character.
Read more: Jacques Drouin, Master Of Pinscreen Animation, Dies At 78 (Cartoon Brew)
Sunday, October 3, 3pm & 4:45pm
Bytowne Cinema, 325 Rideau St, Ottawa
Félix Dufour-Laperrière • 72:00 • 2021 • Canada
A true animated film about an invented archipelago. About an imaginary, linguistic, political territory. About a real or dreamed country, or something in between.
Read the Interview in English
Where is Here: Felix Dufour-Laperrière’s Archipelago
by Chris Robinson
It’s only been two years since Canadian animator, Felix Dufour-Laperrière, debuted his critically acclaimed animated feature, Ville Neuve (2019). Incredibly, he’s already back with an equally multi-layered, mesmerizing and innovative new feature, Archipelago, which is all set to play at OIAF21.
Framed by the voices of an unknown woman (she might well be the voice of the river, or mother nature, or Quebec) and man (who frequently tells her “you don’t exist”), we travel along the Archipelago of Quebec, passing by many islands on the St. Lawrence river that make a large chunk of the Canadian province. Along the way, we encounter various sights and sounds from Quebec’s real and imagined past. Memory, history and dream are all rolled into one, just as they are in our daily lives, even if we’re not always cognizant of that (I look at family home movies and they don’t jive with my memories of some of those people,places and temperaments).
More visually and technically diverse and ambitious than Ville Neuve, Archipelago (which was made half on paper and half animated with TVPaint or under the camera) incorporates a number of impressive animation styles (courtesy of a couple of dozen animators including Malcolm Sutherland, Philip Lockerby, Jens Hahn, Eva Cvijanović) and techniques (drawings, scratch, paint, pastel, collage, stop motion, rotoscope) in addition to manipulated live action and archival scenes.
Made over a period of three years (the core part of production was completed just before the Pandemic greeted us) with a team of 12 animators and a modest budget of $625,000 (Canadian), Archipelago, is a poetic, personal and political work that plays with word, image, and sound, while circumnavigating a real and imagined collective and individual history.
Archipelago is an intentionally restless film. We’re never quite sure where or when we are or who is speaking (akin, undoubtedly, to what some Québécois – and even many Canadians – feel about their fractured history and identity). The freewheeling and fragmented narrative mixed with the diverse, and often rough, drawing styles gives the film a sketchbook diary sensation, as though Dufour-Laperrière has cracked open his head and invited us to rummage through the assorted discoveries and impressions.
Felix Dufour-Laperrière kindly endured yet another Zoom interview to discuss more about the creation of Archipelago.
Given the short time between Ville Neuve and Archipelago, I’m guessing you had this new film planned and scripted before Ville Neuve was even finished.
I started writing it in 2015 just a bit after the script for Ville Neuve was done. Honestly, it was a gift. It was fun to write. It was very close to me and it was easy to finance, which was surprising given the ‘experimental’ approach. It was damn fun to make. It was the kind of film that I wanted to make when I finished University but I didn’t have the money or maturity to be able to organize it. I just wanted to go inside a studio with people I like to work with and make images for two years. That was really the basic principle.
How was that different from the process of making Ville Neuve?
With Ville Neuve, I was trying to control more. I did all the layout and key frames myself. I might have tried to control too much. For Archipelago, it was fun. I only made some image, notes, excerpts and from these references, the animators would go off on their own for six months and we’d talk every other day or so.
In some ways Archipelago feels like an extension of Ville Neuve, except you maybe move more away from the personal towards more abstract and fragmented perspectives, as though you’re merging all kinds of voices from past and present into a single narrative.
It’s a bit of the same subject matter, treated differently. Formally it’s very different. Lots more colour. I wanted to get away from the grey of Ville Neuve. I wanted to have fun. It’s a film about what makes a home or territory but I put a lot of things that I love in the film from a Quebec writer, Hubert Aquin, to my grandmother and daughter. When we belong to a place or a community, country or family, it is real but there is also an imaginary dream space, something that you project onto that space. So there’s a concrete part but also an imaginary aspect. That is precious to me.
Yes, it seemed to me that while you certainly explore Quebec and this idea of, as a character says in the film, an “impossible province”, you are asking a more general question about what is home, what does ‘home’ even mean.
Exactly. Archipelago has the same political intuitions as Ville Neuve, but it’s treated differently. A lot of it came from the relation with the archives. We love old footage of, say, windmills. It’s loveable. It’s also false, imaginary and a politically problematic view of the past. Archival images can be sort of beautiful. You feel like a kid, like memories of childhood.
That’s so true. Every so often I will go onto the National Film Board of Canada website and watch some 1940s or 1950s films about, say, Ottawa. There’s something comforting and warm about these works even though they’re complete bullshit. Home movies are the same way. Everyone looks some jovial and loving and united in them, but the everyday reality was quite a bit different.
Yes, absolutely, they’re false. It’s theatre.
We’re also never quite certain who is speaking, let alone where and when those voices are from.
That was intentional. It’s linked to home, to something we belong to being part real and part imaginary. When we observe a situation, there’s a lot of real and imagined past that goes into our present perspective. It’s like a post-modern take on history. Everything is contemporary, past and present are living together. For me, it’s pretty important because It helps you name things that you feel and perceive.
Did you spend a lot of time rifling through archival footage?
Looking for the right archives wasn’t painstaking, rather an on-going process during the whole first year of production. Some of it was planned to be included at the very beginning, others come from family footage, friend’s film (actual footage and b-rolls). Some of it was shot in 16mm during the production (but appears as “archives”).
Surprisingly, the principal archive footage that is used to, in a way, structure the film (the islands of the Saint-Laurent, with the maps and footage from the 40’s), wasn’t planned. I found it while looking for other material.
This archive is used in various ways: as a quotation (giving images and words from the past), as a basis for the rotoscopy, and also “against itself”, meaning it is reworked and edited to criticize itself, to reveal that a part of it is false, politically oriented and that we can (or should) also take a different meaning out of it, so that a different historical narrative can emerge.
What does that phrase “impossible province” mean to you?
It’s Quebec’s political destiny. We are still in this limbo between being fully part of Canada and carving out our own destiny. Many do not accept Quebec fully being a province of Canada. There’s this unresolved tension. Jacques Ferron [a Quebec writer and doctor who is referenced in the film] had a phrase the “uncertain country”, so it’s parroting that a bit.
I sense that you would like to see Quebec be its own nation, but do you also feel frustrated over this indecision…. like “Can we just make up or mind? Either we’re going to be part of Canada or and we’re going to form our own nation.”
Yes. I think we sometimes have this grocer mentality where we calculate the advantages and disadvantages. That thinking just doesn’t shape a political destiny, so yes I get frustrated that we can’t seem to grasp something.
You could say this about Canada as a whole. It’s always been this uncertain nation where we frequently ask: Who the hell are we, or more famously there’s a quote by Canadian scholar, Northtrop Frye, “where is here?” Are we English? American? Where is this thing called Canada?
It was a surprise to me that the same uncertainty is shared in English speaking Canada.
Because of the experimental or non-linear approach and the different styles of animation, it sometimes felt like being inside someone’s sketchbook diary. Was there a lot of improvising going on?
Yes, a lot. From both me and the team. The team was really generous and involved. They had a lot of freedom but they gave a lot of themselves. There were 5-6 people who spent the whole two years with us.
Did you ever have any moments, because you were improvising, where you thought, ‘ where is this going?
Yes, every week!
It must have been liberating too.
Yeah, it was good to just step out of your ego and not try to be so controlling. It was fun to talk with people you like being with and to see the images they’d made. I did a feel a bit of anguish though about not having a film. I’m very precise with the editing. I recorded and edited the dialogue at the beginning so it’s very clearly placed. And I started putting the images over that. There was over twice the dialogue originally. So it was free yet precisely framed on the editing line.
How did you settle on these animators and what instructions did you give them?
It varied. For some sequences I was quite precise, but for others I gave them brief notes and then just said, “go and draw like you draw”. So your impression of it being like a sketchbook is right. Jens Hahn did some of the crowd sequences. It took me two years to convince him to just “go ahead man and do what you do.” I knew he was a painter, but he never shows anyone his work. He’s really good at free drawn portraits so I just asked him to do what he does. I had some ideas about what I wanted for certain scenes and approached animators whose work I thought would fit that. For example, I asked Phil Lockerby to draw the scene where people are drunk because I knew he was good at sketching people in bars.
Do you set out now to make a feature or do the concepts dictate that?
(laughing) It’s a bit of pride perhaps, but I do love having a screening to myself. It’s wonderful. I love the length and space that you get directing a feature. You can take more time. It brings animation out of its normal public. I appreciate that. I’ve often launched films in a non-animation context. Those audiences often seem surprised by this auteur side of animation and the beauty and strength of it.
(originally appeared online at Cartoon Brew)
Read the Interview in French
Où est ici : Archipelago, de Félix Dufour-Laperrière
Par Chris Robinson
Il y a seulement deux ans, l’animateur canadien, Félix Dufour-Laperrière, lançait son long métrage acclamé par la critique, Ville Neuve (2019). Incroyable mais vrai, il revient déjà avec un long métrage tout aussi complexe, envoûtant et innovateur, Archipelago.
Encadrés par les voix d’inconnus — une femme (elle pourrait bien être la voix du fleuve ou de mère Nature ou du Québec) et un homme (qui lui dit fréquemment « tu n’existes pas »), nous voyageons le long des archipels du Québec, en passant par les nombreuses îles du fleuve Saint-Laurent, qui forment une grande partie de la province canadienne. En chemin, nous rencontrons les divers paysages et sons du passé véritable et imaginaire du Québec. Les souvenirs, l’histoire et les rêves ne font qu’un, tout comme c’est le cas dans notre vie quotidienne, même si nous n’en sommes pas toujours conscients (p. ex., je regarde des films de famille tournés maison et ils ne correspondent pas aux souvenirs de ces personnes, lieux et personnalités).
Plus varié et ambitieux sur les plans visuel et technique que Ville Neuve, Archipelago (qui a été créé à moitié sur du papier et à moitié par animation grâce à TVPaint ou sous la caméra) incorpore un certain nombre de styles d’animation impressionnants (une courtoisie de deux dizaines d’animateurs dont Malcolm Sutherland, Philip Lockerby, Jens Hahn, Eva Cvijanović) et de techniques (dessin, grattage, peinture, pastel, collage, animation image par image, rotoscopie) en plus de scènes en direct manipulées et de scènes archivées.
Confectionnée sur une période de plus de trois ans (la partie la plus importante de la production a été terminée juste avant que ne s’impose la pandémie) au moyen d’une équipe de 12 animateurs et d’un modeste budget de 625 000 $ (canadiens), Archipelago, est une œuvre poétique, personnelle et politique qui joue avec les mots, les images et le son, tout en faisant le tour d’une histoire collective et individuelle réelle et imaginée.
Archipelago est un film intentionnellement tendu. Nous ne savons jamais dans quelle époque ou à quel endroit nous nous trouvons, ni qui parle (sans doute un clin d’œil à ce que certains Québécois — et même certains Canadiens — ressentent par rapport à leur histoire et à leur identité fracturées). La narration débridée et fragmentée, mélangée à divers types d’illustrations, souvent brutes, donne au film un air de journal de croquis, comme si Dufour-Laperrière s’était ouvert le crâne et nous avait invités à fouiller parmi les découvertes et impressions pêle-mêle.
Félix Dufour-Laperrière s’est gentiment soumis à une énième entrevue sur Zoom afin de discuter plus en profondeur de la création d’Archipelago.
Étant donné la courte période entre Ville Neuve et Archipelago, je suppose que vous aviez déjà planifié ce nouveau film et rédigé son scénario avant même que Ville Neuve ne soit terminé.
J’ai commencé sa rédaction en 2015, juste un peu après avoir terminé le script de Ville Neuve. Honnêtement, ce fut un cadeau. Ça a été le fun à écrire. C’était très près de chez moi, et c’était facile à financer, ce qui m’a surpris, compte tenu de l’approche « expérimentale ». Ça a été le fun en maudit à faire. C’est le genre de film que je voulais faire en sortant de l’université, alors que je n’avais pas l’argent ou la maturité pour être capable de l’organiser. Je voulais juste aller dans un studio avec des gens avec qui j’aime travailler, et produire des images pendant deux ans. C’était vraiment ça le principe de base.
En quoi était-ce différent du processus de création de Ville Neuve?
Avec Ville Neuve, j’essayais de contrôler plus de choses. J’ai fait toute la conception et les cadres les plus importants moi-même. J’ai peut-être trop tenté d’avoir le contrôle. Pour Archipelago, c’était le fun. J’ai juste fait des images, des notes, des extraits, et à partir de ces références, les animateurs prenaient six mois, et créaient leurs images de leur côté. Nous nous parlions tous les deux jours, environ.
Sur certains aspects, Archipelago donne l’impression d’être une extension de Ville Neuve, sauf que vous vous éloignez peut-être davantage du personnel, pour vous rapprocher de l’abstrait et des perspectives fragmentées, comme si vous joigniez plusieurs voix du passé et du présent en une seule histoire.
Il s’agit un peu du même sujet, traité différemment. Formellement, c’est très différent. Il y a beaucoup plus de couleurs. Je voulais m’éloigner du gris de Ville Neuve. Je voulais m’amuser. Le film porte sur ce qui fait un chez-soi, un territoire, mais j’y ai mis plusieurs choses que j’aime; d’un auteur Québécois, Hubert Aquin, à ma grand-mère et ma fille. Quand on appartient à un endroit, à une communauté, à un pays ou à une famille, c’est réel mais il y a aussi un espace de rêve imaginaire, quelque chose que vous projetez dans cet espace. Il y a donc une partie concrète, mais également, un aspect imaginaire. Pour moi, ça c’est précieux.
Oui, j’ai eu l’impression que, bien que vous exploriez certainement le Québec et cette idée de, comme le dit un personnage dans le film, « province impossible », vous posez une question plus générale sur ce qu’est un chez-soi, ou la définition même du mot « chez-soi ».
Exactement. Archipelago a les mêmes intuitions politiques que Ville Neuve, mais elles sont traitées différemment. Beaucoup d’entre elles sont fondées sur la relation avec les archives. Nous aimons les vieux enregistrements, par exemple, ceux de moulins à vent. C’est adorable. C’est aussi une vision du passé fausse, imaginaire et problématique sur le plan politique. Les images d’archives ont leur beauté. On se sent comme un enfant, comme les souvenirs de notre enfance.
Tout à fait vrai. Il m’arrive parfois de fouiller sur le site Web de l’Office national du film du Canada et de regarder des films des années 40 ou 50 sur, disons, Ottawa. Ces œuvres ont un quelque chose de réconfortant et de chaleureux, même si elles sont trompeuses. Même chose pour les films tournés maison. Tout le monde a l’air si jovial, aimant et uni, mais la réalité de tous les jours était pas mal différente.
C’est ça, absolument. Ils sont faux, c’est du cinéma.
Nous ne sommes jamais vraiment certains de qui parle, et encore moins de l’endroit ou de la période d’où viennent ces voix.
C’était intentionnel. C’est en lien avec le chez-soi, une chose à laquelle nous appartenons qui est en partie réelle et en partie imaginaire. Lorsque nous observons une situation, il y a une grande part de passé réel et imaginaire qui va dans notre perspective actuelle. C’est comme une vision postmoderne de l’histoire. Tout est contemporain; le passé et le présent coexistent. Pour moi, c’est plutôt important parce que ça nous aide à nommer ce que l’on ressent et perçoit.
Avez-vous passé beaucoup de temps à fouiller dans des enregistrements archivés?
Trouver les bonnes archives n’a pas été un dur labeur, mais plutôt un processus continu au cours de la première année de production. On avait prévu d’inclure certains d’entre eux dès le départ, alors d’autres venaient d’enregistrements familiaux, du film d’un ami (de vrais enregistrements et des rouleaux B). Certaines parties ont été tournées en 16 mm pendant la production (mais elles apparaissent comme des « archives »).
Fait surprenant : l’enregistrement d’archives principal, qui est utilisé pour, d’une façon, structurer le film (les îles du Saint-Laurent, avec les cartes et les enregistrements des années 40), n’était pas prévu. Je l’ai trouvé pendant que je cherchais d’autre matériel.
Cette archive est utilisée de multiples façons : à titre de citation (fournir des images et des paroles du passé), comme base pour la rotoscopie, et aussi « contre elle-même », c’est-à-dire qu’elle a été retravaillée et modifiée pour se critiquer elle-même, révéler qu’une partie est fausse, orientée du point de vue politique, et que nous pouvons (ou devrions) aussi en retirer une signification différente, afin qu’un autre narratif historique puisse en ressortir.
Qu’est-ce que l’expression « province impossible » signifie pour vous?
C’est le destin politique du Québec. Nous sommes encore pris entre le désir de faire partie du Canada à part entière et celui de façonner notre propre destin. Beaucoup de gens n’acceptent pas que le Québec soit réellement une province du Canada. Il y a une tension non résolue. Jacques Ferron [un auteur et médecin québécois que l’on mentionne dans le film] l’appelait le « pays incertain », et le film en fait écho en quelque sorte.
Je crois comprendre que vous aimeriez voir le Québec devenir sa propre nation, mais vous sentez-vous frustré devant cette indécision? Genre, « Est-ce qu’on peut se décider une fois pour toutes? Soit on fait partie du Canada, soit on forme notre propre nation ».
Oui. Je crois que nous avons parfois cette mentalité d’épicier qui calcule les avantages et les désavantages. Ce genre de pensée ne forme tout simplement pas une destinée politique, donc oui, ça me frustre que nous ne semblions pas capables de saisir quelque chose.
Vous pourriez en dire de même pour le Canada dans son ensemble. Ça a toujours été cette nation incertaine qui demande souvent : Qui sommes-nous vraiment? Ou mieux connue encore, la citation de l’universitaire canadien, Northtrop Frye, « où est ici? ». Sommes-nous Anglais? Américains? Où est cette chose appelée le Canada?
J’ai été surpris d’apprendre que cette même incertitude est partagée dans le Canada anglophone.
En raison de l’approche expérimentale, ou non linéaire, et des différents styles d’animation, on avait parfois l’impression d’être dans le journal à croquis de quelqu’un. Y a-t-il eu beaucoup d’improvisation?
Oui, beaucoup. Tant de ma part que de celle de l’équipe. L’équipe a été vraiment généreuse et impliquée. Ils avaient beaucoup de liberté, mais ils ont donné beaucoup d’eux-mêmes. Environ cinq à six personnes ont passé les deux ans avec nous.
Y a-t-il eu des moments, parce que vous improvisiez, où vous vous êtes dit « Où est-ce que ça s’en va? »?
Oui, chaque semaine!
Ça a dû être libérateur, aussi?
Ouais, c’était bien de sortir de son égo et de tenter de ne pas être si contrôlant. C’était le fun de parler avec des gens qu’on aime et de voir les images qu’ils avaient créées. J’ai tout de même ressenti un peu d’angoisse du fait de ne pas avoir un film. Je suis très minutieux lors du montage. J’ai enregistré et fait le montage du dialogue au tout début afin qu’il soit placé clairement. Et j’ai commencé à mettre les images par-dessus. Au départ, il y avait plus de deux fois plus de dialogue. C’était donc libéré, mais à la fois cadré précisément sur la ligne de montage.
Comment avez-vous choisi ces animateurs et quelles instructions leur avez-vous données?
Ça variait. Pour certaines séquences, j’étais très précis, mais pour d’autres, je leur ai donné de courtes notes et je leur ai dit de « laisser libre cours à leur talent habituel ». Votre impression de journal de croquis est donc juste. Jens Hahn a fait certaines des séquences de foules. Ça m’a pris deux ans pour le convaincre de juste « vas-y mec, fais ce que tu fais ». Je savais qu’il était peintre, mais il ne montre jamais son travail à personne. Il est très bon pour dessiner des portraits à main libre, alors je lui ai simplement demandé de faire ce qu’il fait. J’avais des idées de ce que je voulais pour certaines scènes et j’ai approché des animateurs dont le travail coïncidait avec ce style. Par exemple, j’ai demandé à Phil Lockerby de dessiner une scène où les gens sont soûls parce que je savais qu’il était bon pour dessiner des personnes dans les bars.
Voulez-vous maintenant faire un long métrage, ou bien ce seront les concepts qui le dicteront?
(rires) C’est peut-être une question de fierté, mais j’aime vraiment avoir une projection à moi. C’est merveilleux. J’adore la longueur et l’espace qu’on a quand on réalise un long métrage. On peut prendre plus de temps. Ça sort l’animation de son public habituel. Je l’apprécie. J’ai souvent lancé des films dans un contexte hors de l’animation. Ces publics semblent souvent surpris par ce côté auteur et sa beauté et sa force.
Best of OIAF ’21: Canadian Edition
Sunday, October 3, 1pm & 7pm
Bytowne Cinema, 325 Rideau St, Ottawa
That’s right kids, the OIAF actually has some in person events happening again. Join us for a special screening of some of the best Canadian animated shorts playing at this year’s OIAF. You might even get to meet some of the animators behind the films.
As usual, the screening features an eclectic mix of stories, techniques and themes ranging from powerful Indigenous tales, innovative music videos, the re-birth of Buster Keaton and a dazzling abstract musical piece that references the late Rob Ford for no apparent reason.
Screening rated 14+
See the Film List
Runtime: 78 minutes
June Night| 4:13 | Mike Maryniuk
Juxtaposing archival imagery with handcrafted animation, Maryniuk conjures up a shimmering utopian dreamscape, a post-COVID world shaped by the primordial forces of nature—haunted by the genial spectre of Buster Keaton.
Don’t Think About Her | 3:22 | Liza Desya
The spiraling journey of a man who can’t stop thinking about his ex-girlfriend.
Flying Lotus ‘Remind U’ | 2:44 | Winston Hacking
This is a stream of consciousness video collage – a lysergic puzzle of archive material. My hope is that kids will get it.
I’ll Be Your Kettle | 9:20 | Tobias Rud
When a woman finds her partner infatuated with their kettle, she is thrown into a desperate journey of self-transformation to try and keep the relationship going.
electric + | 2:40 | Brandon Blommaert
A slow sensuous dance gives way to a technical barrage of prismatic shards of love.
Angakuksajaujuq (The Shaman’s Apprentice) | 20:32 | Zacharias Kunuk
A young shaman must face her first test—a trip underground to visit Kannaaluk, The One Below, who holds the answers to why a community member has become ill.
Jollof Rice – More than a Dish | 2:03 | Ian Keteku
Jollof Rice is the most controversial African dish. Every West African has a unique relationship to the meal, and this is writer Ian Keteku’s story.
Forgotten | 4:23 | Mawrgan Shaw
A timely interpretation of one senior’s loneliness, sorrow, and deteriorating grip on reality.
‘What the Walls Feel as they Stare at Rob Ford Sitting in his Office’ | 9:27 | Guillaume Pelletier-Auger
The muted despair and confusion of Rob Ford or something like that.
Meneath: The Hidden Island of Ethics | 19:00 | Terril Calder
Convinced she’s soiled and destined for Hell, a precocious Metis Baby Girl receives teachings that fill her with strength and pride, and affirm a path towards healing.
Ottawa Art Gallery
Wednesday, September 22 – Sunday September 26
Ottawa Art Gallery, 2 Daly Ave, Ottawa
To complement its online programming, the OIAF will offer special free in-person screenings of Canadian animated works Meneath: Hidden Island of Ethics and Frank Horvat ‘What the Walls Feel as they Stare at Rob Ford Sitting in his Office’
Courtesy of Calder, puppets used in Meneath will be on display at the OAG outside of the screenings. This is a rare opportunity to see these works in-person. Playing on a loop alongside Meneath at the OAG is the animated music video Frank Horvat ‘What the Walls Feel as they Stare at Rob Ford Sitting in his Office’. Viewers can lean into the puzzling nature of Pelletier-Auger’s work by watching the animated music video on loop. Some may find that with each viewing they discover a new sensation, potentially a sense of comfort in the undefined.
Audiences can attend these in-person screenings for free at the OAG during regular hours from 10:00am to 6:00pm EDT. Book your free ticket.
Meneath: The Hidden Island of Ethics
Terril Calder • 19:00 • 2021 • Canada • Narrative Short Animation
Synopsis: Convinced she’s soiled and destined for Hell, a precocious Metis Baby Girl receives teachings that fill her with strength and pride, and affirm a path towards healing.
Frank Horvat ‘What the Walls Feel as they Stare at Rob Ford Sitting in his Office’
Guillaume Pelletier-Auger • 9:27 • 2020 • Canada • Commissioned Animation
Synopsis: The muted despair and confusion of Rob Ford or something like that.