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The 44th Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF), a leading animated film festival in North America, was held from 23rd September to 4th October as a digital online version for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, the festival received a total of 1,950 entries from 84 countries, and 98 titles out of them were selected for the competitions. The winners of each competition were announced on 3rd October and Kkum (director: Kangmin Kim) became the third film in the history of the festival that was awarded both the grand prize and the public prize of the year. We will introduce some of the awarded films below.

The Winners

Nelvana Grand Prize for Short Animation / Public Prize

Kkum (South Korea, USA) directed by Kangmin Kim

Bento Box Award for Best Student Animation

Naked (Russia) by Kirill Khachaturov

Grand Prize for Animated Feature

Kill it and Leave This Town (Poland) directed by Mariusz Wilczynski

Animation for Young Audiences Competition: Pre-School

Shooom’s Odyssey (France, Belgium) directed by Julien Bisaro

Animation for Young Audiences Competition: Ages 6 to 12

Matilda and the Spare Head (Lithuania) directed by Ignas Meilknas

Short Film Competition

We watched the full titles for the short film competition at OIAF for the first time. The selection included many films with strong visual characteristics such as having a unique design of the universe, memorable and impactful expression of visuals, camerawork that pulls the audience into the film, and a minimal, simple design that embodies the creator’s vision.

The artistic director of the festival, Chris Robinson, appeared in front of the (virtual) audience together with the directors of the nominated films for daily Q&A sessions. We thought the programme was valuable for all the audience to see the films in a new light after hearing the stories from the directors.

Below is a list of films with visual styles that we found noteworthy in aspects such as visual design, camera work, movement, composition, etc.:

  • Altötting (Germany, Canada, Portugal) directed by Andreas Hykade
  • Bye Little Block! (Hungary) directed by Éva Darabos
  • Kkum (South Korea, USA) directed by Kangmin Kim
  • Lizard Ladder (USA) directed by Ted Wiggin
  • Opera (South Korea, USA) directed by Erick Oh
  • Happiness (Russia) directed by Andrey Zhidkov
  • The Wellspring and the Tower (Hungary) directed by Melinda Kádár