My Two Cents

October 25, 2017 

A special screening of the film will be held at the Art Gallery of Ontario on October 25 as part of Thomas King’s presentation on the new illustrated edition of THE INCONVENIENT INDIAN. I will be there, and will write more when it is complete.

 

October 12, 2017

October is kind of a slow month for festival acceptances or rejections.

In a wonderful development, Thomas King has expressed interest in showing the film at several of his talks in Toronto and Vancouver. That is the very best review I could ever receive. We are not sure yet if the screening will be part of the Toronto event. I’ll post updates as they occur.

 

October 8, 2017 

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  prestigious  sommets du cinéma d’animation where it is eligible for the Prix Guy-L.-Coté du meilleur film d’animation canadien. It will screen at the prestigious Cinémathèque québécoise in Montreal sometime between November 22nd and 27th, 2017…ironically, just when I am in Australia. What an honor this is, and the festival sounds incredible. I would absolutely love to go…but will have to receive reports on the event from friends.

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

 

September 26, 2017   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.