The face of animation is everchanging and the fields in which it is becoming prominent, are increasingly diverse. Now in its fourth year, the Montreal International Animation Film Festival (MIAFF), also known as Animaze, will celebrate animation in all its forms from August 17-20.
“If you think of animation at its most basic level, short cartoons, like Mickey Mouse, come to mind,” said MIAFF director Laurie Gordon. “But it is really an umbrella term because animation, whether hand drawn or 3D images rendered through a software, is used not only in television, films and gaming but also in research.”
The four-day festival includes features and short films from over 65 countries, talks and special events for both the public and industry professionals, as well as virtual reality cinema installations.
“The goal of MIAFF is to highlight animation while encouraging dialogue and giving visibility to emerging local, Canadian and international talent,” Gordon said. “We’re also very excited about technology, which is where animation really excels.”
The wide-reaching festival begins on August 17 with a screening of international student films, including the US short In a Heartbeat about a boy falling in love with another boy. The filmmakers, Esteban Bravo and Beth David, say they hope to challenge the lack of LGBTQ representation in media and animation.
A selection of Canadian short films follows on August 18, including Alisi Telengut’s Nutag-Homeland, about the Kalmyk people, an ancient community in Russia, who were deported to Siberia by Stalin during WWII. Born in Mongolia, Telengut came to study animation at Concordia University, obtaining her BFA in 2013. She created the dream-like film frame by frame, using oil pastels.
Also included is Roselynn Akulujuk’s The Owl and the Lemming, a live-action and puppetry short film based on a traditional Inuit tale. Akulujuk, born in Nunavut, studied in Toronto and now works with Taqqut Productions, an Inuit-owned production company based in Iqaluit.
Feature films include Release from Heaven, an Iranian film directed by Ali Noori Oskouei, about a female writer and teacher who, in wartime, must accompany her students on a life-changing journey.
On August 19 and 20, a Swedish virtual reality installation will allow participants to experience what it’s like to be a Syrian refugee trying to enter an unwelcoming Europe in the back of a truck. Part of the Migrant’s Journey series, the interactive documentary and game, by architect and filmmaker Neil Bell and game developer Simon Hultgren, portrays migrants on their way to Hungary from Serbia.
Also on the 19th, a panel discussion, VR Healing through 360, will focus on the use of virtual reality in medical research and therapy. Invited speakers include Samir Sangani, research associate at the Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital, whose expertise includes neuroscience, human-computer interaction and engineering. Sangani’s research focuses on using VR technology to obtain more precise feedback to recovering stroke patients and developing more sensitive tools for therapists.
Also on the panel will be Hannah Cohen of Osmos Academy. She uses virtual reality technology to help kids in hospital transcend their restrictive environments.
A Q& A (August 19) with Josée Payant, director of capacity building and operational development with the Canadian Red Cross, will follow a special screening of Junod, a feature film focusing on the life of Marcel Junod, the first foreign doctor sent by the Red Cross to reach Japan after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
“He was able to save thousands of lives,” Payant said, adding that Junod’s name is not well known outside of Japan, where he is revered. “We have delegates like Mr. Junod across the world,” said Payant, whose portfolio also includes disaster management. She noted that presently Red Cross volunteers support people devastated by the fires in Fort McMurray and by the spring floods in Quebec. “Dr. Junod is an inspirational model for us and it is important to celebrate and remember that there are people who dedicate their lives to save others.”
The festival wraps up on August 19 with Soumayaa Behrens’ Abina and the Important Men, set in Africa’s gold coast in the 1800s.
The Montreal International Animation Film Festival-Animaze takes place August 17-20 at the McCord Museum, 690 Sherbrooke W. and Moyse Hall, 690 Sherbrooke W. For a complete list of screenings and schedules visit animazefestival.com