November 14, 2005
Looking for something to do next weekend? Take a plane, train or automobile to the 5th annual Waterloo Festival of Animated Cinema (WFAC). Unlike many other animation festivals, which tend to focus on animation shorts, WFAC concentrates on feature films.

Each year the festival is a little more ambitious than the prior one, and is growing at a steady and healthy rate. Five years of patient work have paid off: this year's selection is even more jaw-dropping than the last. Knowing they would have to beat the 2004 lineup, which included guest speakers, Canadian and North American premieres and screenings of the new Appleseed, Rock & Rule, Kaena: La Proph├ętie, Steamboy, the first animated African feature Legend of Sky Kingdom, and Hair High among others, the organizers have managed to outdo themselves:

Thursday, November 17th, 2005
The Place Promised in Our Early Days (Japan)
Terkel In Trouble (Denmark)

Friday, November 18th, 2005
Frank and Wendy (Estonia)
The District! (Hungary)

Saturday, November 19th, 2005
Alosha Popovich and Tugarin the Serpent (Russia)
Fragile Machine, free admission (USA)
Mind Game (Japan)

Sunday, November 20th, 2005
Strings (Norway)

Wait! That's not all! Emru's heart probably stopped when he read that the festival includes a Kihachiro Kawamoto retrospective. One of the Japan's greatest animators will be featured, including a screening of the anthology Winter Days, although you'll be able to see shorts throughout the festival before other feature screenings.

Most people would have stopped here. Probably long before.

WFAC will have the honour of receiving Mike Nguyen for a special lecture and a screening of his work-in-progress My Little World. For free.


The reasons to attend are many. If you still need more: there will be other guests; The District! and Mind Game were among my favourite cinematic experiences of the year; it's easy to get there (okay, if you live in Quebec, Ontario, Michigan, upstate New York or New England); it's affordable to check out the entire festival or just one or two films.

The best reason to go is to support this incredible undertaking, and to ensure that there is a festival next year. I need to find what they'll do in 2006. Revive Walt Disney and Osamu Tezuka for a celebrity death match? Based on their track record, if they announced it, I'd believe it.

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That festival had the world premiere of Kakurenbo and the NA premiere of Otherworld in 2004. In 2003, they had the world premiere of Wonderful Days (Sky Blue), digital cinema no less; also the premieres of My Beautiful Girl Mari, Corto Maltese, Princess Arete, a preview of Legend of the Sky Kingdom, Officer Down, and some other stuff.

I'm not sure what they'll do next year, but it's bound to be interesting!

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