2011 Ottawa International Animation Festival: Student Films

I had the pleasure of attending the 2011 Ottawa International Animation Festival this year. For me, Ottawa is one of the most refreshing events of the year. It helps you refocus by getting you away physically from your daily routine, showcasing unexpected and inspiring films with fantastic screening conditions, and creating a great environment to meet other animators and talk about the industry.

The short films are screened in blocks that mix narrative, experimental, commercial and student work. It’s a nice way to see the wide range of work, and there’s always at least one or two films per screening that blow your mind. Though not every film may match up with your taste, the sheer experience of sitting in a theater where you are totally focussed on a filmmaker’s work is a refreshing change of pace from the way we often consume films (amidst checking e-mail or even animating something ourselves). Personally, it brings me back to the school screening environment, where even if you don’t love the weekly screenings, there’s always something to take away from every piece, be it a small visual idea or maybe a different take on how to tell a story.

We’re kicking off our 2011 Ottawa remembrances with the student film selections. In the competition were many student shorts previously featured on Motionographer, including One Minute Puberty by Alexander Gellner and Stay Home by Caleb Wood.

Two standouts I hadn’t seen before were I’m Fine Thanks by Eamonn O’Neill and The Renter by Jason Carpenter. Unfortunately, neither is online at the moment, as they’re still in the middle of their festival runs, but their trailers are available below. The trailer for I’m Fine Thanks gives a good taste of the visual style, as well as the Hertzfeldt/O’Reilly-influenced descent-into-madness storyline. The Renter is a little bit harder to translate into the full experience, as it’s more of an American gothic slow build, but CartoonBrew has a good interview with Carpenter that gives additional insight.

Another surprising short was Hinterland by Jakob Weyde and Jost Althoff. Initially, it seems like a straightforward stop-motion piece, but as the protagonist tumbles further from his comfort zone, the mixed-media style strays further and further as well. A making-of reveals how ambitious these student filmmakers were in their process.

Each of the short competition blocks opened with a high school animation. Yes, high school. It’s a fun way to start off a screening, and often results in the thought, “I can’t believe a seventeen-year-old is already making stuff this good.” I’m Sorry by Bowon Kim, E-sun Jung and Dasom Yoon is pretty darn impressive for a high school short, on both the narrative and art direction fronts. I especially like the nighttime sequences. My only complaint is the soundtrack — it’s a shame that they leaned so heavily on Yann Tiersen’s Amelie score.

Just like the overall short film competition, the student work can stray to more experimental content and mediums. Check out a taste of Magali Charrier’s 12 Sketches on the Impossibility of Being Still below.

Sprinkled throughout the non-competition showcases are even more student gems. I love the tiger in Chang Dai’s Vigour. He’s like a dense mass that’s so heavy he distorts the camera lens and pulls the environment around him. Nelson Boles’ Little Boat, on the other hand, is all about steadfastness. The charismatic, resilient little boat stays in the dead center of the frame while moving across vast distances of time and space.

Due to the limited number of hours in the day and overwhelming number of screening options, I wasn’t able to make it to a special presentation by Anne Brotot, managing director of Supinfocomgroup in Valenciennes, but I’m sure their shorts looked fantastic on the big screen. Also in the school reels competition were online favorites like Eran Hilleli’s Between Bears and Yoav Brill’s Ishihara, as well as lesser-known shorts like the lovely Bor Sood by Anna Shevchenko.

Below is the full list of student work screened at Ottawa. I tried to link to the films or trailers when I could, but googling can only get you so far. If you have a link to a film but it’s not here, e-mail it over.

2011 Ottawa International Animation Festival: Student Films

Graduate Films in Competition
One Minute Puberty, Alexander Gellner (HTW Berlin, Germany)
Paint Showers, Miguel Jiron (USC, USA)
Swimming Pool, Alexandra Hetmerova (FAMU school, Czech Republic)
12 Sketches on the Impossibility of Being Still, Magali Charrier (Royal College of Art, Animation Department, UK)
Hinterland, Jakob Weyde and Jost Althoff (HFF Potsdam, Germany)
Idea ga tsukamaranai (Uncapturable Ideas), Masaki Okuda (Tokyo University of the Arts, Japan)
Françoise, Elsa Duhamel (EMCA, France)
Galeria (Gallery), Robert Proch (Fine Arts Academy in Poznan, Poland)
Mannimmann, Alexander Gellner (HTW Berlin, Germany)
Animal Kingdom, Nils Hedinger (HSLU Design+Kunst, Switzerland)
I’m Fine Thanks, Eamonn O’Neill (Royal College of Art London, UK & Ireland)
The Renter, Jason Carpenter (California Institute of the Arts, USA)

Undergraduate Films in Competition
The Goat and the Well, Ben Cady (University of Wales, Newport, UK)
a.breeze.from.mt.Parnassus, Vitaliy Strokous (California Institute of the Arts, USA)
Stay Home, Caleb Wood (Rhode Island School of Design, USA)
Reddish Brown and Blueish Green, Samantha Gurry (University of the Arts, USA)
Passenger, Africanus Okokon (Rhode Island School of Design, USA)
Paso Doble, Jamie Metzger (Sheridan College, Canada)
Partition, Delia Hess, Eleonora Berra and Shami Lang-Rinderspacher (HSLU Design+Kunst, Switzerland)

High School Films in Competition
Birds Walking, Stephanie Delazeri (USA)
Paper Man, David Borish (Glebe Collegiate Institute, Canada)
Buddha Hand’s Up, Min-joo Hong, Ji-seon Kim and Dong-eun Jang (Korea Animation High School, South Korea)
I’m Sorry, Bowon Kim, E-sun Jung and Dasom Yoon (Korea Animation High School, South Korea)
Lil’ Aliens, Andy London & Peter Ahern (London Squared Productions, USA)

Student Showcase
Little Boat, Nelson Boles (California Institute of the Arts, USA)
Katuv B’Iparon (Written in Pencil), Yaron Bar (Bezalel Academy of Art & Design, Israel)
Befetach beity (On My Doorstep), Anat Costi (Bezalel Academy of Art & Design, Israel)
Scripta volant (Writings Fly Away), Ryo Orikasa (Tokyo University of the Arts Japan)
Na Cidade, Delia Hess (HSLU Design+Kunst, Switzerland)
Carpates Express, Doris Bachelier & Maeva Viricel (Georges Méliès, France)
Mighty Antlers, Sune Reinhardt (The Animation Workshop, Denmark)
Plumm, Andrzej Dybowski, Pawel Blakala, Krzysztof Jedrzejek, Jakub Kosakowski & Przemyslaw Patyk (Poland)
Language, Yewon Kim (Tokyo Polytechnic University, South Korea)
Abuelas (Grandmothers), Afarin Eghbal (National Film and Television School UK)
Hambuster, Paul Alexandre, Dara Cazamea, Maxime Cazaux, Romain Delaunay & Laurent Monneron (Supinfocom Arles, France)

Canadian Showcase
Auscultation of the Heart, Marjorie Lemay & Eric Vachon (Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema)
Sheared, Nikolas Ilic (Sheridan College)
La Plage (The Beach), Agathe Bray-Bourret (Concordia University)
My Name is Mitch, Michelle Yoon (Sheridan College)
Vigour, Chang Dai (Sheridan College)

SUPINFOCOM Special Presentation

School Competition: Bezalel Academy of Arts & Design
Befetach beity (On My Doorstep), Anat Costi
Boy, Hadar Landsberg
Yoamayim shel geshem (Two Days of Rain), Dotan Goldwaser
Ishihara, Yoav Brill
Bedea tzlula (In a Clear Mind), Eli Ben David & Ofra Kobliner
The Good Knight Story, Shoham Blau
Bor sood, Anna Shevchenko
Beyn dubim (Between Bears), Eran Hilleli

School Competition: Rhode Island School of Design
Stay Home, Caleb Wood
Carbon, Dylan Ladds 
Playing for Keeps, Dylan Hayes
Figure Throwing a Rock, Derick Wycherly
Passenger, Africanus Okokon
Undertow, Elise Fachon
Apartment 5A, Leo De Luzio
Star Cross, Ted Wiggin

GEIDAI – Tokyo University of the Arts
Hito no shima (Island of Man), Alimo
Imamura shouten (Imamura Stone), Aya Tsugehata
Yasashi March (The Tender March), Wataru Uekusa
Samayou Shinzou (Rootless Heart), Toshiko Hata
Scripta Volant (Writings Fly Away), Ryo Orikasa