A little corner of the film world

This weekend, the KW region will be exposed to an underappreciated style of storytelling. On Thursday, The Waterloo Festival of Animated Cinema is set to arrive at The Gig Theatre to help spread an appreciation of animation as an accredited film style.

According to curator Joseph Chen, the festival seeks to show that animation is a way to tell stories; it is not simply a genre of its own. It is commonly overlooked because dominant companies such as Disney, Dreamworks or Pixar take over and present animation as simply “child-friendly.”

“Disney has really imprinted on our popular consciousness that animation is for kids,” said Chen.
The purpose of the Festival for Animated Cinema is to alter this notion and bring attention to the fact that animation can be used to discuss all sorts of topics, not just those pertaining to children and families.

The festival is an opportunity for audiences to view alternate films than the kinds of animation normally screened in theatres. Chen explained that an audience has the ability to relate to animation, not because it is realistic but because it is vibrant, alive and full of spirit.

The selection of animated films in the festival is extremely diverse; however, they are mostly
international movies, as the primary criteria are that the films are not easily accessible.

In fact, these films are downright near impossible to get your hands on. As Chen states, “We follow premier festival rules. We don’t play things that are on home video. If it is easily accessible, we do not play it.”

The festival also aims to focus on storytelling.

Many films are produced without a plot because it is assumed that the animation will attract. Chen further explains that the narrative of these unseen films demonstrates the variety that exists within the genre.

“That makes us a little bit distinct from a lot of other film festivals in this region and actually everywhere in the world – that we are trying to pursue something at the very top of the animation world,” he said.

“We see ourselves as a little bit of a discovery festival.”

Chen explains that instead of showing films that people read about and then make the decision to view, at this festival, individuals are able to watch films that they would have probably never heard about unless they were somehow directly involved within the industry.

Within the festival’s selection of movies is Japanese animation. Chen believes the genre is so fascinating to an abundance of people because Japanese animation includes topics pertaining to science fiction, fantasy and imagining the future – subjects that are under-represented in North America.

Chen explains that the animation world is such a small pocket in the film industry. For this reason, the festival is so pertinent in the region of Waterloo. “We try to bring all this into a little corner of the film world, that which is animation.”