OIAF: Canadian Showcase

The Good Little Bunny with the Big Bad Teeth
My second day at OIAF consisted of the “Canadian Showcase.” All the films, naturally, are by Canadian filmmakers. In addition to being a great vehicle for homegrown talent, the Canadian Showcase also served as a great platform for the National Film Board, as six of the eighteen films of the series are NFB productions.  First in the series was the energetic Fiesta Brava by Steven Woloshen. Fiesta Brava uses scratch on film techniques to animate the running of the bulls in Spain. This celebratory rendering of the event would make Hemingway proud! Olé! 

Fiesta Brava
Up next is the The Good Little Bunny with the Big Bad Teeth, a delightful spoof of the furry critters that get along so well in Disney’s animal kingdom. The Good Little Bunny chronicles the mishaps of a good little bunny who tries to make friends with his fellow animals, but is ostracized because of his crooked, yellow, and by all regards disgusting teeth. It’s a satire worthy of The Happy Tree Friends or The Big Book of British Smiles. The bunny troubles multiply with the next film, A Tax on Bunny Rabbits. Made by Nathaniel Akin, A Tax on Bunny Rabbits ingeniously depicts a war between bunnies and the tax man using only the characters of a standard keyboard to construct the characters. The inventive visual scheme of the film proves that less is more.
Taking a decidedly different approach is the ambitious Auscultation of the Heart by Marjorie Lemay and Eric Vachon. The film gives an image of a wintry cabin and fills the peaceful shot with ghostly fleeting images. It’s a visually arresting film and one that probably yields more on a second viewing. Returning to the trend of animated animals, Sheared is a funny battle between a cruel farmer and an unruly sheep. The follies of Sheared are trailed by a trip to The Beach (La plage), a Triplets of Belleville-esque lampoon on vulgar tourists: if only we could get rid of them so easily!

Among the more impressive titles is Wild Life, the first NFB film in the series. Directed by Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby, Wild Life is a humorous and beautifully composed satire on the cultural myths upon which Canada was founded. Ipreviously saw Wild Life at theWorldwide Short Film Festival, and can happily say that it holds up to repeat viewings. Following Wild Life is the first of several films from the NFB’s Hothouse 6 series. The series features shorts made in the latest 3-D animation; unfortunately, though, the series was shown in 2-D. The shorts impress nevertheless, so one imagine how they’d look in their full dimension.
Dimanche (Sunday)
Up next is My Name is Mitch, which, like The Beach, suggests that many emerging filmmakers have been studying the work of Sylvain Chomet. My Name is Mitch still has a flair for originality, and offers a brooding story of one man’s struggle for self-acceptance. Amplifying the flair, however, is CMYK, which cuts together a barrage of cyan, magenta, yellow and black symbols (those coloured dots on packages, usually near the bar codes). The collage is dazzling, but made slightly annoying by a loud, clanky score. After CMYK comes another NFB ditty, Dimanche (Sunday). Dimanche is a playful and imaginative drawing of life in a small Quebec town as seen through the eyes of a young boy. The animation of Dimanche is very funny and charmingly drawn: this memorable fable by Patrick Doyon resembles a ten-minute animated relative of Mon Oncle Antoine.
While Dimanche recalls Mon Oncle Antoine, Rumbleseat should appeal instantly to fans of 2008’s Waltz with Bashir. Like Bashir, Rumbleseat uses an impressive mixture of animation techniques to visualize strange times in a violent world. Set against music by The Sadies, Rumbleseat easily stands out among its contemporaries. Slightly eclipsed, then, is Second Hand. Second Hand a cute story on the need to reduce, reuse, and recycle; however, while its green-thumb is admirable, Second Hand is a bit too didactic for its own good. A better lesson comes from 55 chaussettes (55 Socks). 55 Socks is an impressive story of Holocaust-era Holland and the sober silhouettes by Co Hoedeman tell the story in an appropriate, nostalgic tone.
Mulvar is Correct Candidate!
Enlivening the series after 55 chausettes, Mulvar is Correct Candidate! offers a hilarious political ad for Mulvar, your local candidate. Mulvar has a sharp eye on the inanity of contemporary campaigns, and a breezy, lively energy that surely garners votes with each screening. The series ends with another funny short, Death Budgie, which depicts Death as a budgie in puppet form. Like Mulvar, Death Budgie is fearlessly creative.

There could easily be a Genie nominee (or winner) among this batch of Canuck shorts, but my vote goes to Dimanche as best in the Canadian Showcase.