Framed Molecular Detail

So I’m bad with birthdays (sorry Robyn) and so it seems I’m belated with Blogs too here’s what happened a week ago:

Late to bed early to rise, the NFB was soon becoming my home for the festival. At 10am the Animation Master Class with Koji Yamamura began. I dedicated the entire morning to the Japanese Animator.

He explained that his English was not adequate to enough to convey the concepts and processes involved in his work so Nobi translated the session.

He began by paying tribute to the NFB animations that had inspired him. As well as Canadian he also sited Russian influence. His presentation showed his studio environment and equipment involved beyond his paper illustrations.  Five minutes of footage would generally involve six to ten thousand images drawn by hand.  His skills resisted the 80’s and 90’s computerisation.  Nowadays his original drawings are scanned and aided by Photoshop masks and the editing processes sped up by Final Cut Pro though the drawings are still hand drawn and delegated for colouring.  The stills shown in the making section of his talk were brought to life with a screening of Fig that was commissioned with others to show Tokyo.

Six years in the making with no sponsors, being fed by other projects such as picture books, Mt. Head tells the story of a cheap older man using the traditions of Rakugo story telling.

Shadowed effects give a 3D rendered quality but are all created manually.  Intricate details on objects and things closer to the front of the shot gives depth compared to background elements that have a simplistic quality.  The sub characters of the piece portray the strange people that fill the various cliques of contemporary Japan.

The next project in discussion was that of Franz Kafka’s A Country Doctor. An uncanny series of events and parallels led Yamamura to the project involving the Jewish Czech.  Perhaps reading too much in to coincidence the auteur stated that his birthday was the day after Kafka’s and that he had the idea for the project on his 41st birthday, the same year of age that Kafka died.  Mimicking the plot of the piece a journey is complicated.  During a visit to Prague his return flight to Japan was missed.  A subsequent suggested road trip to Poland for a connecting plane with an underpowered mobile phone and lack of English was assumed to be the guiding force of Kafka wanting to place him through the ordeal of the plot.  The supposed supernatural also impacted the animation when it called for Kafka to appear nude.  On three occasions equipment such as lighting failed and the production was halted. It was only when Yamamura prayed to Kafka insisting that the scene was vital that the scene was captured with out error.

After hearing the processes involved I was more that eager to see the finished animations which I didn’t have to wait long for as the next event was a screening of seven mixed length pieces spanning 20 years.

The biggest buzz for the festival came from Toilet. Having sold out in advance tickets well ahead I foolishly arrived quite close to the start time and with the rest of the long line didn’t get to see the movie. Slightly disappointed I wasn’t able to use the plethora of washroom puns I’d been preparing mentally.  I wondered if the hype and excitement was caused by Toronto being shown on the screen as herself instead of the usual anywhere or American disguise.  Something in the quirky trailer and plot of twenty-something aged grandchildren interacting with their non English speaking Grandmother who only summons emotions when leaving the washroom had captured people’s imagination.  I hope the full house attendance is repeated when the film appears outside of the festival circuit. The question and answer session with producers and cast was slightly confusing without seeing the film but the toilet humour and references made me chuckle.  It was also interesting to see how the marketing had begun with Toilet tours of the city sold as packages over seas.

Just like this toilet I was left out in the cold, unable to see the film.

Rice Dreams took up ultraviolet residence at the Rivoli on Queen Street West.  I followed the posters pointing the way through the restaurant bar to the glowing area at the rear.  The secret space felt sacred with the entire room decorated with screen prints and strobing structures.  At the very far end a stage had abandoned instruments.  The walls seems to come to life as the performance began with a gong clanging figure walking the length of the space before the local band Vowls took to stage.  The artist then took to the wall perched on the structure and played with the light of a projector dowsing the band on stage.