I’ve been back from Ottawa for nearly a week now and the annoying cold I contracted while I was there is on its last leg, so I am finally getting around to reporting on the festival. This was the third bi-annual Ottawa International Animation Festival I have been to; I counted seeing 162 short films in just about three days and for the first time there was nothing that really blew me away. Which is not to say there weren’t lots of good films. Most of the winners were deserving (particularly Christopher Hinton’s Flux and Robert Bradbrook’s Home Road Movies), but I thought it especially unfortunate that Adriaan Lokman’s spectacular Barcode was overlooked for Best Non-Narrative Film. Some other good shorts overlooked: Das Rad, a German puppet film involving animated rock formations observing the effects of entropy over the entire course of human civilization; Tom Schroeder’s Bike Ride, a conversational narrative about a young man’s impromptu 50-mile journey to visit his girlfriend; and Paul Fierlinger’s Still Life with Animated Dogs, an autobiography through tales of the filmmaker’s various canine companions.
Last night I went to the Philadelphia Ethical Society in Rittenhouse Square to see Mark Eitzel and the beautiful, beautiful Low. I was previously unfamiliar with Mark Eitzel and I really enjoyed his performance: intense, occasionally humorous acoustic folk, and his voice reminded me of the late Mark Sandman from Morphine. Low was awesome. Given their somewhat extensive discography, the set was perhaps a bit uneven with material almost exclusively from their last two albums, but they sounded great. This week’s City Paper describes Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker’s harmonies as “unearthly,” and I think that’s pretty accurate.