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Both feature and short animated films highlighted at GIRAF animation festival

By Rachel Woodward, November 15 2016 —

From Nov. 24–27, Calgary will welcome a wealth of animated talent to the Globe Theatre with Quickdraw Animation Society’s GIRAF International Festival of Independent Animation, now in its 12th year.

Animated films of various lengths and origins will take centre stage at the festival all featuring animation as a medium.

While Calgary is no stranger to annual film festivals, Quickdraw programming director Ryan Von Hagen says that a festival with a specific focus on animation is important for the community.

“I think animation is an amazing art that lives with independence. Independent artists are always telling and creating these very unique stories,” he says. “Animation isn’t classic narrative. It can be, but it’s also experimental in the sense that it’s dealing with colour and light and strobing, so it breaks down into the medium of animation as well as storytelling.”

With a total of 45 films showing as feature-length films or in packages of shorts, the festival will offer stories that appeal to a vast demographic.

Many animated shorts make up the festival’s schedule. The “Late Night Shorts” pack promises wacky and unique content. There will also be a group of shorts falling under the “Newgrounds Retrospective” category which focuses on the Newgrounds online, platform and the role it played in bringing animated video to the internet.

“Newgrounds is pretty exciting because it was pre-YouTube and Vimeo and that was the first chance for independent animation to be seen by millions of people,” says Von Hagen. “We even had the creator of Newgrounds record an intro that we will play in front of the shorts pack.”

Feature length films such as Nick Diliberto’s Nova Seed are highly anticipated this year. Von Hagen says Diliberto made this film as a challenge.

“He just Googled how long it would take to make an animation and it popped up that it takes four years to make a feature-length animation, so he gave himself four years to work on it. He had over 70,000 frames that he drew himself,” Van Hagen says.

One of the shorts featured in this year’s “Late Night” package is created by Calgary-based Alberta College of Art and Design student Gina Veres. Box Party shows a boy who is helping someone move but starts to explore what might be in the boxes.

“It combines black and white hand drawings, claymation [and] rotoscoping, which is a technique where you draw over live footage,” Veres says. “This is definitely the best thing that I’ve made so far. I made it last January and it builds on a character that I developed before for one of the very first animations I made and I went a little bit farther. It’s definitely the one I’m happiest with.”

Veres says that GIRAF plays an important role in the community by demonstrating the intricacies of animation and allowing a space for the medium to be viewed and celebrated.

“It’s really important for people to see local talent and animation with techniques that have maybe been forgotten in a commercial world,” she says. “I think it’s important to see that people are interested in it. It’s still a very valuable medium.”

This year, animator and filmmaker Amy Lockhart will give a workshop to festival attendees as a visiting artist.

The GIRAF festival will run from Nov. 24–27. Tickets and passes are available online.

For more information, visit giraffest.ca

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