Translated by The Asahi Shimbun from the website of Anime Anime Japan Ltd.
The Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF), one of the world’s four top animated film festivals, runs Oct. 20-24 in Canada’s capital city.
Of the 2,091 animations from 74 countries to be screened, 90 were selected for competition and 56 films chosen for showcase screenings.
As was the case at France’s Annecy International Animated Film Festival in June, Japanese animation artists or filmmakers are especially popular at OIAF this year.
Two of the five feature films nominated for competition are from Japan: Munehisa Sakai’s “One Piece Film Strong World,” which earned 4.8 billion yen ($56.54 million) at the box office last winter in Japan, and Keita Kurosaka’s “Midori-Ko.”
“Strong World” was also in competition at Annecy. It is rare for a mainstream Japanese anime to be selected for competition at two film festivals in a row.
Kurosaka has made many animated shorts of high artistic quality. “Midori-Ko” has attracted attention as his first feature-length film.
With “Strong World” aimed at the mass market and “Midori-Ko” an independent anime, the two films offer a great contrast. Having both nominated for competition demonstrates the wide variety found in Japanese animation.
Other feature films in competition are Phil Mulloy’s “Goodbye Mister Christie” from Britain, Brent Green’s “Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then” from the United States, and “The Illusionist,” a new piece by French director Sylvain Chomet, famed for his “The Triplets of Belleville.”
In the animated short category, Mirai Mizue’s “Playground” and Kei Oyama’s “Hand Soap” were selected from Japan. The two artists have achieved results at animation film festivals outside Japan, and they are expected to do well in Ottawa as well.
Following their success at the World Festival of Animated Film in Zagreb and the Annecy festival, particularly worthy of mention is the breakthrough by student films from the Graduate School of Film and New Media at Tokyo University of the Arts.
Of four Japanese pieces selected for the graduate school student category, three were created by students at the university: Masaki Okuda’s “A Gum Boy,” Akiko Omi’s “Gathering,” and Atsushi Wada’s “In a Pig’s Eye.” The remaining one is “The Undertaker and the Dog,” a piece by Tama Art University student Shin Hashimoto.
In the undergraduate student category, Hiroyasu Ishida’s “Fumiko’s Confession” was chosen for competition. Ishida is studying animation in the Department of Cartoon and Comic Art at Kyoto Seika University.
“Fumiko’s Confession” earned attention after being posted online and won various awards.
In addition, three Japanese anime pieces made their way into the student showcase, which is a collection of animated shorts chosen for the official selection but out of competition. The three shorts were made by students of the Graduate School of Film and New Media at Tokyo University of the Arts.
Japanese participants are involved not only on the creative side, but also as part of juries.
Atsushi Wada is one of three international judges for animated feature films. Wada is a young artist best known for his animated short, “Day of Nose.” The choice of Wada demonstrates the Ottawa festival’s focus on young people.
In addition, Maya Yonesho is one of the three international judges for the short program, student and commissioned animation categories. An artist of abstract animation, Yonesho earned wide recognition for her work outside Japan.
There are many film festivals dedicated to animation, but the Ottawa International Animation Festival is gaining increasing attention for its high quality in recent years. Great performances by Japanese participants in Ottawa this year are certain to gain the spotlight.
See the OIAF website at (http://www.animationfestival.ca/).
Copyright The Asahi Shimbun Company.