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GIRAF animation festival celebrates 10 years

By Jason Herring, November 20 2014 —

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Calgary’s Giant Incandescent Resonating Animation Festival (GIRAF) aims to showcase the versatility of animation and exhibit a selection of local and international animated films.

Quickdraw Animation Society, a non-profit centre in downtown Calgary that promotes animation through screenings and workshops, hosts the annual festival.

With over 800 films submitted, this year’s festival will be the biggest yet, says Quickdraw executive director Peter Hemminger.

“It started out in 2005 with a really local and experimental focus,” Hemminger says. “Over the years it has become more international for sure. [This year] we actually ended up with submissions from over 60 different countries.”

The festival’s headlining feature is The Tale of the Princess Kaguya by celebrated Japanese filmmaker Isao Takahata. Similar to other films by Studio Ghibli, which produced the critically-acclaimed Spirited Away, the entire film is animated by hand.

“There has only been two screenings of it in Canada so far, so we’re really happy to bring it to Calgary,” Hemminger says.

Also showing is The Boy and His World, directed by Brazilian artist Alê Abre, a vibrant and visually stunning movie about a young child whose family moves from the Brazilian countryside to a metropolis.

Despite the growth of the festival, Hemminger says GIRAF ensures local art is screened throughout the weekend.

The festival closes on Sunday with a series of small, intimate screenings at the Quickdraw studios.

“We’re just trying to make it feel a bit more like the first year of the festival, making it feel less like you’re just going and watching something and more like you’re actually a part of something,” Hemminger says.

During the festival, there are workshops that focus on a diverse range of animation styles such as shadow puppetry and the creation of GIF images.

While animation is gaining more respect in Western culture as a serious art form, Hemminger says there are still misconceptions surrounding the medium.

“I think the idea that animation isn’t just for kids is still something that people have a hard time wrapping their heads around,” Hemminger says.

Hemminger makes a point of distinguishing animation as a medium, not a genre. The word genre places limitations on animation, while calling it a medium recognizes it as an art form that can stand alongside live-action films, music or any other kind of art.

The festival takes place Nov. 27–30 at the Globe Cinema.

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