Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Festival Season, pt. 1: TAAFI 2018 or is it 2019?

This year, the management of TAAFI decided to split the festival into two parts: the first was an industry day back in November 2018, which was filled with presentations and talks given by industry luminaries, and the second was three days of the animation screenings we know and love so well.

With it being the beginning of the year, I decided to forgo taking any vacation time off of work to see the sights in Toronto and just drive out on Friday morning. However, after checking in to my hotel, I had some time before the evening's opening ceremonies and first screening, so I quickly grabbed a late lunch at Monga Fried Chicken (if you've never been, I highly recommend it) and gathered lots of photo references at the Royal Ontario Museum all on my way over to the Hot Docs Cinema.

My goal at the ROM this time out was seeing "Zuul" as he was now on display. For those who don't know, Zuul is the name of the ankylosaur "recently" discovered in Montana and purchased by the ROM. Paired up in the display with a gorgosaurus model, apparently of the skeleton found near Zuul, along with examples of other ankylosaur bits for comparison, examples of man-made armor, and some videogames that were used to teach kids about how much damage an ankylosaur could do when it swung it's armored club of a tail.

"Zuul crurivastator - the destroyer of shins"
(or some of him... parts are a model)

However, before leaving the ROM, I snuck over to the geology wing while they were setting up for a fund-raising event and took some photos of a couple gemstones and minerals that I had missed back during September's visit.

Then it was off to the Hot Docs cinema where I spent the better part of the weekend talking to Lynn Dana Wilton, Pam Rose, and Lynne Slater while waiting for the screenings to start. And although there were some pretty solid short films during the TAAFI experience, for me, the high-point of the screening lineup was the two feature-length animated films: Ruben Bryant, Collector and MFKZ. Both films were surreal experiences in their own way -- Ruben through the incorporation of classic works of art into its visual style and MFKZ through the frenetic action and character designs that looked like they leapt off the pages of Metal Hurlant magazine. I had many a wistful thought of the Waterloo Festival since these were two movies that would undoubtedly been screened by Joe Chen.

The rest of the festival was a blur with some really creative short films, a pre-release screening of How to Train Your Dragon 3 -- complete with a post-screening Q&A from director Dean DeBlois and Hiccup voice-actor Jay Baruchel -- and time left over for mixing with colleagues and students.

I'm honestly not sure if TAAFI will stick to this format, but I personally appreciated it. I love both TAAFI events (industry and screening) for different reasons. Both events focus on the two parts of the Ottawa International Animation Festival that I enjoy the most: animation presentations and films. And now with the new format, I can enjoy them to their utmost without having to skip out on one to enjoy the other. For someone like me who travels five hours to Toronto, having TAAFI now being two festival events may be a little more pricey, but they're both worth making the trip.

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