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Ottawa International Animation Festival offers darker side of the industry

Mainstream movie-viewers might see animated films as silly, gag-oriented or something they only watch with their kids.

But the Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF) shows a darker artistic side to the industry than what you watch on a regular Saturday morning. This year’s festival, Sept. 17-21, trends a little towards the sensitive side.

“You do really see these films that are really kind of deeply personal expressions,” said OIAF artistic director Chris Robinson. “We’ve got films that talk about alcoholism, mental illness, gun violence — pretty sensitive topics.”

About 25,000 to 30,000 cartoonists, filmmakers, producers and artists are anticipated for the week of experimental and narrative films, music videos and commercials from around the world.

David OReilly, who’s considered a superstar of the animation world (he animated a video game sequence in Spike Jonze’s Oscar-nominated "Her"), will attend the festival as a jury member and to show a retrospective of his films.

Needless to say, it might be best to leave the youngest kids at home for a few of these movies.

"Truth Has Fallen" is an American documentary about three wrongfully convicted Americans. Judging by the trailer, dark oil paintings and live action beautifully tell this story about the flaws of the criminal justice system.

"Requiem for Romance" is the Oscar-shortlisted* Shanghai-art inspired film about a modern-day love affair.

Another Canadian must-see is Seth’s Dominion, a documentary about a Canadian graphic novelist.

But it’s not strictly indie cartoons. Disney is bringing Feast, a six-minute highly acclaimed film about a hungry Boston terrier. OIAF will also celebrate the Little Mermaid’s 25th birthday with a special screening and party for kids. Directors Ron Clements and John Musker will be attending.

 The Little Mermaid will be playing at this year's Ottawa International Animation Festival.

The Little Mermaid will be playing at this year's Ottawa International Animation Festival.

For a more complete list of the OIAF lineup and screenings, visit

*An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Jonathan Ng's film was nominated, not shortlisted. We regret the error.

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