Saturday, November 19, 2011

Animaze 2011: Montreal’s Animation Film Festival Is Heavy Metal

If you live in Montreal and haven’t already heard, Concordia University is hosting Animaze this year and the line-up for the film festival is pretty sweet. Montreal’s Animation Film Festival started off last night at the Cinema Du Parc with Poland’s Jez Jerzy and the Japanese anime No Longer Human. The rest of the festival, which lasts all today and tomorrow at the Hall Building, will feature some classic cartoons from the 1980s, major animated features from around the world, some kickass anime, a student animated shorts contest and a Master’s class led by director Greg Ford.

If you ask me, the highlights of the event include the Saturday Morning Cartoon Charity Show, tonight’s main attraction and the final screening prior to tomorrow’s contest. While personally, I was a bit too young to appreciate Pee-Wee's Playhouse, I do remember watching it and certainly recognize it’s place among the ‘80s. That’s why this geeky gentleman thinks it’s really cool that Animaze is airing the 1986 CBS Saturday morning line-up as one of the “movies.” The reason for which is to celebrate the unofficial 25th anniversary of when Pee-Wee first aired on television.

In other anniversary news, Animaze is showing a 30th Anniversary Screening of Heavy Metal, which even has guest director Gerald Potterson sitting in on the event. VIP ticket holders got a kickass poster, which they could have autographed by the visionary animation director, as well as chat with him in a meet and greet. This movie is proof that cartoons have a place in big-budget movie theatres and not just for cashing in on parents trying to desperately keep their kids entertained and sitting still for 75 to 90 minutes. The animation is spectacular and the story weaving in each short is nothing short of amazing. It’s an incredible flight of fantasy and sci-fi, with plenty of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll thrown in. It gets its name from the famous magazine, but I bet Potterson knows his masterpiece is Heavy Metal in its own right, too. If you haven’t already seen it, you should rent or buy it immediately.

For me, the highlight of the festival is going to be tomorrow night’s screening of Redline. I missed my chance to see it at the Fantasia Film Festival this summer, where it and First Squad made their North American premieres (First Squad also played earlier today at Animaze). Both were a major hit back then and Redline became an even bigger hit at Toronto’s After Dark festival last month.

The movie can’t really be explained without watching the trailer, because I don’t have the words to describe how amazing the animation is. The soundtrack is perfectly in synch with the tone of the movie and the character development is just enough to keep you strongly engaged without being too melodramatic for what the movie is. What exactly is this movie? Basically, it’s what Speed Racer would be if Iron Maiden had made it using today’s animation technology. Well, not technically, but it is a racing movie that’s friggin’ metal. I highly recommend that you check it out tomorrow if you’re in town. If not, you can wait for the Region 1 (US and Canada) release of Redline to hit shelves on January 17th.


The above links direct you to the American Amazon site, so Canadians should click the following to take a look at First Squad, Pee-Wee's Playhouse, Heavy Metal and Redline.

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