Back in September, all three of my kids were judges on the kids’ panel at the Ottawa International Animation Festival.
If you’re interested, by the way, it isn’t too hard to get in – get yourself on their mailing list, and they’ll let you know in August when it’s time to apply. Applying means your kid needs to pick an animated short, TV show, or movie, and write one paragraph about why they like it. I forced my three kids to do this as a summer homework project – some had more enthusiasm than others – and yet all three were picked. I think it’s a fairly open-arms kind of atmosphere, and it was also very fun and a fantastic experience, so I recommend it to all. Oh, I should probably mention it’s for kids aged 8 to 12.
Anyway, I went with the older two to their panel which was Animated Shorts for Kids, and then later I went with Little Miss Sunshine to her panel, which was Animated TV Shows For Kids. Both were great, but I especially love seeing the shorts – they are always so charming and inventive and sweet. I feel sad when it’s over that most animated shorts will languish forever on someone’s hard drive, hardly being seen.
So here’s three of our favourites from this year’s festival – call the kids, they’ll love them too.
First up, The Diary of Ochibi by Masashi Kawamura. Ochibi is a favourite comic-strip character in Japan, with adults and children alike, and when you watch this, you’ll see why. It’s just so charming – this one was my favourite. We were lucky to meet Masashi at the festival and it was fascinating to hear him talk about how this short was made (all stop motion, no computer animation – he has 1000 mugs back in his office in New York). It took a whole year of his life for seven enchanting minutes and I hope it somehow finds a massive, worldwide audience. There’s no talking at all, so this one is perfect for all ages.
Second, A Lion’s Life by Yu Nagasaki – this was one of the award winners at the event and it’s just. So. Weird. Weird, yet fabulous. It’s about a pet pig whose family takes him on vacation to Africa and, as one does, dresses him up in a lion costume. So obviously he gets lost and then must live life on the Savannah as a true lion. My kids laughed at this one until their sides burst (in Japanese with subtitles).
Lastly, the one that took home the overall animated short award is, sadly, not available in full on the internet, but you can watch a one minute clip of Compte Les Moutons (Counting Sheep) by Frits Standaert below. It’s the story of a boy who can’t fall asleep, so his father recommends counting sheep – but when his room is suddenly full of actual sheep, he has a problem on his hands. The showing at the Animation Festival was actually the world premiere, so hopefully someday, after making the festival rounds, they’ll put the whole thing online. In the meantime, this short has led to my son making very effective use of the phrase “deux se cache sous le lit” in everyday conversation.
Even if you can’t commit to the judging panel, it’s worth it just to get tickets to see both of these next year – we also went to a “meet the makers” panel and got to see Hotel Transylvania 2 a week before it was released, so fun all around. Worth it!