Festivals 25 Sep 2006 04:15 pm

A Fine Festival

- I arrived at the Ottawa Animation Festival a day late. I’d also have to leave a day early, so I found out after-the-fact that my film, The Man Who Walks Between The Towers, won the award for Best Children’s Short Film. A bonus treat.

This Festival is one of my favorites, and I enjoy attending it so that I can catch up with a lot of friends I see too infrequently, meet some filmmakers whose work I admire, and even catch up with some New Yorkers I don’t see often enough. This Festival is not too large, like Annecy, where you end up exhausted running ragged unable to keep up, nor is it too small that you spend much time trying to find things to do.

There are parties every night. Usually, I go and leave quickly. The thumping music, large crowds, dark lights, flashing spotlights and pulsating sound pushes me out. I understand the attraction, but I’m getting old. Give me some quiet conversation. This year an alternate to the parties was “Chez Ani” set up in a local bar filled with Constructivist Art posters and a manageable sound level with just the right crowd capacity to make things light but engender talk.

I met up with a lot of old friends I see too rarely. Some of these included: Amid Amidi, Mark Mayerson, Suzan Pitt, Jerry Beck, Emru Townsend, John Halfpenny, Janet Perlman, Skip Battaglia, Tamu Townsend, and Chris Robinson, himself.
There were new people to meet: Sabine Hitier, Julie Zammarchi, Peter Barg, David Nethery, Andrew Menter, John Libbey, and Konstantin Bronzit.
And there were the New Yorkers I see too infrequently: David Levy, George Griffin, Jeff Scher, Chris Boyce, and Pilar Newton. (I met too many people to mention, so please forgive if you don’t see your name.)

I always like the film selection at this Festival. It’s a touch on the dark side, which is generally to my taste. Some of the films I’d seen for the first time and enjoyed included:
Sabine Hitier’s Step By Step, Svetlana Filippova’s Sarah’s Tale, Regina Pessoa’s Tragic Story With Happy Ending, Simon Narath’s Leviathan, Run Wracke’s Rabbit, and Michaela Pavlatova’s The Carnival of the Animals.
Films I’d seen before but enjoyed revisiting included: George Griffin’s It Pains Me To Say This, Suzan Pitt’s El Doctor, Skip Battaglia’s Crossing The Stream, those United Airline ads, and Pes’ Game Over. Actually there were too many good ones to include.

All in all it was a fine Festival with many highlights. I’m glad I went and I can’t wait to get my hands on the award. Thanks to Dave Levy for accepting it for me; I couldn’t have found a better surrogate.

Here are some snaps I took. Excuse the focus problems. I bought the camera on Wednesday and still haven’t quite figured it out.

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1. The National Arts Center is the center of the Festival after Friday. Most screenings, meetings, and events are held here.
2. Chateau Laurier is the hotel where the Television Arts Conferences are held. Daily meetings and talks about the business side of animation.

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3. On Friday double-decker busses took us to this tent on the outskirts of town for the picnic. A lot of people are occupied with carving pumpkins for competion.
4. Inside, two lines of food are set up: sandwiches, chili, cake, beer. What more could we need?

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5. David Levy and Chris Boyce, with whom I ate, finishing their cake and beer.
6. In the mornings there’s a Q&A for filmmakers about their films. Tom Warburton and Kihachiro Kawamoto appear out of focus (a bad photographer) but their answers were sharp.

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7. Amid Amidi signs books on Friday night in the lobby of the National Arts Center.
8. Dave Levy and Chris Robinson sign books on Saturday evening. Chris’ publisher, John Libbey, confers with him.

9. Jerry Beck and Robert Marianetti wait nearby for the start of the final shorts competition screening on Saturday.
10. The road from my taxi as I left on Sunday at 3:30 am. Long customs lines, stopovers in Philadelphia, lost and missing luggage all contributed to the Festival experience.

10 Responses to “A Fine Festival”

  1. on 25 Sep 2006 at 5:03 pm 1.Jason said …

    Congrats on winning Michael! Kazaa!

  2. on 25 Sep 2006 at 5:12 pm 2.David N said …

    Congratulations , Michael ! Your film received sustained (and deserved) applause. The subject is fascinating to begin with, but I have to admit the ending choked me up; really packs an emotional wallop I didn’t expect.

    I wasn’t able to see the earlier screening of “The Man Who Walked Between the Towers” because I had to work at my companies booth in the “trade show” area , so I was really happy that it won and I was able to see it at the final Awards show.

  3. on 25 Sep 2006 at 9:32 pm 3.Mark Mayerson said …

    Congrats, Mike. A very deserved win. Great to see you again.

  4. on 26 Sep 2006 at 8:23 am 4.Paul said …

    Congratulations on the award! It sounds like Ottawa was as enjoyable as it could be at the time.
    I see you’ve also picked up a camera. I hope that means we can see some photos on your blog in the near future.

    See ya soon

  5. on 26 Sep 2006 at 11:09 am 5.Janet Benn said …

    I was in the audience when your win was announced by a wonderful young girl, part of the 4-person jury of children who awarded the children’s category prizes! (That is one jury arrangement that I think should be done more often.) The audience erupted in warm congratulatory applause, including mine. What a high! I am sure the children felt the emotion you conveyed so well in the film. Your choice of camera angles in the rope-walking shots makes me giddy every time I see the film.

    New Yorkers did alright in this festival, with Marianetti/Wachtenheim winning for best adult TV cartoon, and Tom Warburton for best children’s TV show, the latter awarded by that same young jury. It was a fabulous ending to a wonderful festival. It not only was a good time (I admire your stamina to even get through the door of those parties!) but a great inspiration to me to make more films!

  6. on 26 Sep 2006 at 11:37 am 6.Michael said …

    Thanks all for the comments. Thanks, Janet, for a report of what I’d missed at the awards ceremony. I appreciate it.

  7. on 26 Sep 2006 at 12:28 pm 7.Ray said …

    Congratulations, Michael. The film is beautiful and rewards many viewings. It’s an important film today and a landmark film for tomorrow. Long after September 11 is no longer a fresh wound but a historic day, this film will live on as a powerful story and a fitting tribute.

  8. on 26 Sep 2006 at 12:52 pm 8.Ward said …

    It was a great pleasure to finally meet you, Michael! Wish that we had more time together to chat and talk shop. And I was very excited to see that you won that night! Big congrats your way from me.

    By the way, your images for #1 and #2 are switched. You have them marked correctly for the image addresses, but not the positions.

    Hope to see you whenever I make it to NYC some day.

  9. on 26 Sep 2006 at 3:08 pm 9.Michael said …

    Thanks for all the comments. I had rearranged the pics correctly but guess I didn’t save it. It’s now correct.

  10. on 27 Sep 2006 at 4:31 pm 10.Nadia said …

    I’ll add to all of the comments again as well. Congratulations Michael.

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