OIAF Review: Short Competition 2

Rollin' Safari
Short Competition 2 is comparatively the weakest of the five competitive programmes to screen at this year’s Ottawa International Animation Festival, but any suffering it gains by comparison to other sections simply demonstrates what a great offering of short films the festival had this year. There are a handful of great and entertaining films here. Short Competition 2 even boasts a pair of festival award winners—and a pair of worthy ones at that!

Among the award winners is Diane Obomsawin’s promotional animation 50e anniversaire de la Cinématèque Québécoise. The Canuck short provides a lovely tribute to the legacy of cinephilia fostered by the institution. While Obomsawin’s film acknowledges the history of film, the programme’s other award winner bodes well for the future of animation. The other of the award winners to screen in the programme is the winner of the prize for undergraduate animation, Rollin’ Safari (Kyra Buschor, Constantin Paeplow & Anna Habermehl), which is arguably the standout film in the programme. A hilarious advert for a symposium, Rollin’ Safari highlights some of the best 3D computer animation at the festival. The filmmakers provide a creative ride through the safari and give OIAF viewers a chance to see some rare exotic balloon animals they have never laid eyes on before. The hilariously round and plump animals roll through the safari with a laugh-inducing bounce and wobble as their little legs can barely keep their rotund bodies in balance. It is a gag that never wears thin no matter how many times it is repeated throughout the film.

More funny animals visit Short Competition 2 in the impressive high school animation Colorphant (Sujin Im, South Korea) and the unusual, yet endearing ugly duckling tale Palmipédarium (Jérémie Clapin, France). There’s also the enjoyable love song There Must Be Some Other Cat (Mark Kausler, USA), which gives a smart vintage ’toon of a love-struck pussy as he whistles his way through nine lives of heart break. Crow’s Nest (Robert Milne, UK), finally, ends the programme with a fun dual between two birds that brings Short Competition 2 to an enjoyable finish.
Grand Central Diary
In between the entries from the animal kingdom are several idiosyncratic shorts that animate ideas with a varying range of success. Futon (Yoriko Mizushiri, Japan) is a conceptual play with form that never really pays off in execution. On the other hand, Subconscious Password (Chris Landreth, Canada) is a wild mind-bender through the creative genius of animation, while Plug & Play (Michael Frei, Switzerland) has a flash of genius with the concept of the Human Centipede. Finally, Grand Central Diary (Andy London & Carolyn London, USA) is an amusing take on the greatness of New York City as seen through the eyes of the fixtures of the city’s Grand Central Station. Diary is an unexpectedly comic observation on the daily role of the transit hub as a converging point for interaction and social exchange. It makes the mundane feel new and it expresses the thrill of being a tourist in one’s own city.

The energy of exchange can be seen in the ideas and themes that build and bleed throughout the programme. History is written in classical style in films such as Obida (The Wound) (Anna Budanova, Russia) and the visually arresting, if dull, Kojiki Hyuga hen (Koji Yamamura, Japan). But it is the fresh ideas and the innovations in transforming old things anew that make Short Competition 2 worth seeing. Whether it’s googly eyes on a garbage can or globular kitties, Short Competition 2 injects some fun revolutions in animation into the festival.

Please visit www.animationfestival.ca for more info on OIAF.