I’m playing hooky today to attend the 12th edition of the Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema. I’d come across this festival years ago through an acquaintance’s Facebook posting, and I promised myself that I’d attend the following year. That didn’t happen. In fact, it took another couple of years before I finally got off my duff and trekked out to K-W.
When Joseph Chen, the festival’s organizer and curator, saw me with my camera, he pressed me into service, asking me to shoot everything and everyone. So I became one of the volunteers supporting the event, and I’ve been back every year since.
All screenings are prefaced with an address by Joseph. There’s not much he doesn’t know about animation in general, and the films he brings in in particular. There’s always some great tidbit of information about the making of the movie, the sacrifices and travails of the artists involved, or the business end of things. Often, all of the above.
Also, many of the movies are premiered at the festival; either Canadian or World premieres. Joseph explained it to me a couple of years ago: in order to be considered for Oscars and such, the film has to have been to a non-award fest. And now, WFAC has been around so long, it’s one of the few fests where animators can fulfill that requirement.
In addition to outstanding full-length animated features, Joseph and his crew also bring in all sorts of guests. This year, they’re hosting the Fantasy and Gothika Art Contest, curated by Miroki Tong; and they have live, local music at the end of each screening day.
Last year they had a couple of guys come in for pre-screening entertainment. One played the keyboard, while the other created live, animated art, on the spot. Kinda blew my mind.
OK, so I’m a sucker for this sort of rough-around-the-edges event. It’s a relief from the slick, lowest-common-denominator stuff you usually get at the movies or on TV. It’s very high quality, international content, brought to you by passionate people who do it for the love of the art. I am proud and delighted to be supporting these guys, year after year, and grateful for their work.