I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter…

I’m going to try to update the site a bit more regularly. Right now, the big news is that A SHORT HISTORY OF INDIANS in CANADA completes its festival run on December 2, 2018, and it’s already online at two sites. You will find links to it on the Films page, My Two Cents, and here.   I am proud of the film, although it is not an easy one to watch, and honored to have worked with Thomas King, one of the most famous writers in Canada. I learned a lot about how First Nations were treated by the settlers while making this film, which actually only covers the period from between 1953 (when the horribly named Termination Act, getting people off reservations and into cities, was passed) and the present day.

I’m currently hoping to finish my other film, Old Tricks, sometime in the coming year.  It is currently in animatic stage, awaiting layouts, art direction, and animation posing I suppose it’s a good subject for a new year’s resolution (which I never make, but I will lie and say that I RESOLVE to post here more often. Ciao.

The Short History goes online

After  one year and two months on the festival circuit, the Short History of Indians in Canada is now online.

Its final festival screening was at the Kinofest (Manchester, England) on November 30 and December 2, 2018.

I am happy that more people will now see it online. I have also linked to Thomas King’s original story (posted as part of the YouTube link) so that you can see the adaptation (which I think he did brilliantly) and see the things that could not be portrayed in animation.


A Moving Picture’s Progress

Entering a film in festivals is a bit like watching seeds germinate after you have carefully planted them in a relatively small pot. Not all of the seeds sprout; some may be eaten by ants or birds; and a few, usually VERY few, start peeking their heads above the soil. They may be small seeds at first. Some of the larger ones take longer to get going.

I also once compared it to popcorn popping, but that would be mainly for the rejections. One friend had his project rejected from 100 film festivals! I had no idea that there were so many in the world. So far, A SHORT HISTORY OF INDIANS in CANADA is running at about 50% for acceptance…which is a much higher than usual average.

Due to the dramatic subject matter, the film has to be ‘placed’ into certain festivals and must avoid others. I was told to avoid entering festivals in an entire country simply because animation was strictly for children and this film definitely isn’t.

So here are two wonderful bits of news: it’s going to have its American premiere at the RED NATIONS FILM FESTIVAL  in Los Angeles, California sometimes between November 8 and 19, 2017. This sounds like an amazing event and I’m  sorry that I can’t attend (I will be in Australia). The other short films sound splendid.

Its Quebec premiere comes at the Cinematheque Quebecois prestigious  sommets du cinéma d’animation where it is eligible for the Prix Guy-L.-Coté du meilleur film d’animation canadien. I would absolutely love to go…but since it takes place between the 22nd and 27th of November, I will be in Australia so…can’t make it.

And so, the first green shoots of autumn are here.

Two Nights in Jail (and an Animation Festival)

I just came back from a three day trip to  the Ottawa Animation Festival, whose organizers generously provided some buses for Sheridan students (and one professor) so that we might travel to attend the festivities. I had not attended the Ottawa festival since 2008 and it’s gone through some mighty changes since then.

There were some new categories, such as Canadian Student Film and World Student Films, to give a better showcase to some of the most exciting work in animation today. I can truthfully say that I often find the student films more entertaining and interesting and original than the commercially produced work.

Truth be told I did not get to too many of the competition screenings due to conflicting schedules. I saw a really remarkable documentary about Evelyn Lambart   produced by the National Film Board of Canada, where she worked for many years with Norman McLaren. In fact, many of the films McLaren produced should be considered coproductions, and one ‘newly found’ film of his was actually created by Lambart. Once again, to its credit, the NFB gives Lambart credit on these films. In Begone Dull Care, she actually animated the last thirty seconds of the film, solo.

Evelyn Lambart was eventually allowed to make films in her own style, which is commendable of the NFB. Her cut paper animation of birds and creatures is superbly done and has a unique, disjointed style that was completely her own. So, I wonder, why is she not better known? She lived until 1999.

I guess I may already know the answer to that question, but I am glad that the documentary was made and still gladder that I saw it.

I stayed in the Ottawa Jail Hostel which has been described as one of the ‘spookiest buildings in the world’. I did not find the place too frightening; the bed was as wide as the cell, and the noises were strictly of this world. Other than having to yell “Be quiet, idiot!” to one loud person describing the cells’ history in the corridor at two in the morning, I managed to sleep pretty well. They have a decent breakfast, the showers and baths down the hall were not different from those you find in any other hostel,  and it was near all of the screening venues. When you are travelling solo, and don’t want to do  anything in your hotel BUT sleep and wash, it’s a fair bargain to stay here.

Of course there is the noose and ‘drop’ at the end of the hall on the eighth floor. People used to gather in the courtyard to watch the hangings; there is a big semicircular window where you could see the  convict led to the railing, then strung up; then as the trap was released, they would descend directly over a doorway for the amusement of the sometimes considerable number of people who assembled there to watch. I am glad that we now have our violence in cartoons; people used to watch hangings and lynchings for entertainment.

Ottawa can be 40 below zero at midwinter, and many people froze to death in the stone cells, where they often did not even receive a pallet bed or a blanket. I was feeling great sorrow for the sick people, who received no treatment and whose dead bodies were actually burnt in the courtyard where they held the student party.

But their spirits do not seem to have lingered. As I said, I slept well.

Ottawa is a nice city that I would like to visit again. As for the rest of the festival, I really did not see too much of it and so can’t report on much, except for the student films (which Sheridan students took a prize in). and the general organization, which was excellent. The career fair was over before I got there but I was able to chat with colleagues from Sheridan and see what the other colleges were offering.

Maybe my film will be there next year. In which case,  I will be back.