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Festival Fever: TIFF 2021, More Fantasia Titles and Ottawa International Animation Fesitival


The past 18 months have seen numerous film and animation festivals cancelled or moved to a virtual format. As vaccines are rolled out, in-person events are starting to happen again whilst others are taking a more cautious approach. News has been announced for three of North America's biggest film events, all of which take place in Canada. All three will be taking place at least partially online again this year.

Toronto International Film Festival or TIFF is probably Canada's most prestigious film festival. Animation frequently debuts at the festival, for example, it has hosted the world premiere of Cartoon Saloon's films, with Wolfwalkers following that tradition in 2020. This year's event is in a hybrid format, with both in-person and digital screenings taking place.  TIFF 2021 will take place September 9-18, and the full schedule is et to be unveiled towards the end of August. The festival has revealed their initial line-up of gala and special presentation films and among them is the animated drama Charlotte.

No relation to the anime of the same name, Charlotte (pictured above) is a based-in-fact story of German Jewish artist Charlotte Salomon living in the south of France during World War II. It follows her efforts to defy incredible odds and produce a masterpiece. The French/Canadian/Belgian production is directed by  Eric Warin (director of French feature Ballerina, known in the US as Leap) and Tahir Rana and written by Erik Rutherford and David Bezmozgis.

Charlotte boasts an impressive voice cast that includes some who are rarely heard in animation. Keira Knightly voices to title role and is joined by Brenda Blethyn, Sam Clafin, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan, Pippa Bennet-Warner, Marion Cotillard and the late Helen McCrory.

Boasting a much bigger slate of animation is the Fantasia Festival in Montreal, North America's leading genre film festival. Animated films at the festival are eligible to compete for the Satoshi Kon Award For Excellence In Animation. Most of this year's selection, which is spotlighting Japanese animation has already been announced. The final titles have now been added for this year's event, which will take place online August 5-25,

Newly announced is anime fantasy The Deer King, from the world-renowned studio Production IG. Directed by anime veterans Masashi Ando and Masayuki Miyaji, the film is adapted from the book by bestselling Japanese fantasy author Nahoko Uehashi. 

Accompanying the premiere of the documentary Satoshi Kon: The Illusionist will be a streamed event called Konversation: Takayuki Hirao Meets Pascal-Alex Vincent. French documentarian Vincent will be in conversation with director Hirao, who cut his teeth working under Kon on Paranoia Agent and Millenium Actress.

The festival will award a Lifetime Achievement award to stop-motion/ FX titan Phil Tippett, whose personal masterwork Mad God, some 30 years in the making will receive its North American premiere at Fantasia. It will be accompanied by new doc Worse Than The Demon, a profile on Tippett made by his daughter, Maya Tippett. Fantasia will also screen a line-up of short films from around the world in  Circoto Animato 2021. Things That Go Bump In The East is a supernatural-themed line-up of shorts from East Asia, both animated and live-action.

Fantasia also revealed the line-up from this year's jury, who will vote for the winner of this year's Satoshi Kon Award. The Jury this year includes President Hefang Wei- Director,/Artistic Director/Co-founder, Weila├» Productions, Ashkan Rahgozar- Director,/Writer/Founder and CEO, Hoorakhsh Studios and Kalp Sanghvi  -Director/Writer/ Co-founder, Ghost Animation Collective.

The screenings will be region-restricted to users in Canada. For full details and tickets, visit the official festival website.

Last but by no means least is North America's biggest animation focussed event- The Ottowa International Animation Festival. This year's OIAF will take place online September 22-Oct 3.

The official selection has been revealed, with guest speakers, workshops, panels and other events to be announced soon.  From a total of 2528 entries from 104 different countries, OIAF has selected 107 short films and seven features to screen in competition.

The features selected are Canadian films Archipelago and Mount Fuji Seen From  A Moving Train,  American film Blood Of The Family Tree, Brazilain feature Bob Spit: We Don't Like People, China's Chicken Of The Mound, Elulu from Chile and Japan's Fortune Favours Lady Nikuko. The 107 shorts comprise of Canadian Student films, Commissioned films, TV series and narrative and non-narrative short films.

The festival will also feature the out of competition Panorama selection, featuring Canadian and international shorts and international student films.

Retrospectives will also take place for filmmakers Jodie Mack, Wong Ping, Mike Maryniuk and Mariusz Wilczynski, as well as special presentations celebrating the Rhode Island School Of Design and New Tool, Who Dis?  celebrating "films and filmmakers who achieve an analogue grit in the age of synthesized imagery."

Check out the full line-up here.


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