International Festival of Animated Objects announces lineup and new curators

The International Festival of Animated Objects has launched its lineup for this year’s event which runs from March 7 to 15 and announced that longtime curator Xstine Cook is handing over the reins to other well-known members of the arts community. Cook who started the festival in 2002 passed the curator torch — literally (yes there was flame throwing!) and figuratively — to Peter Balkwill and Bob Davis of the Old Trout Puppet Workshop saying they will move the festival forward.

As the title suggests the festival features "animated objects" of which the most obvious example is a puppet though Cook says one of the objectives is to "push the boundaries" of how one defines an animated object — such as the inclusion of a hoop dance by Sandra Lamouche called Sagowsko.

This year’s edition of the festival will involve 95 artists from as far afield as Israel and Belgium appearing in more than 30 events across five venues.

Cook describes the show from Israel The House by the Lake as "a funny yet extremely heartbreaking" piece of physical theatre about three sisters who are trying to preserve a shadow of their earlier lives while hiding out in a tiny room during the Holocaust. Belgium’s contribution In the Workshop is about a puppet that carves its own head.

However two-thirds of the artists are local. As to why Calgary is such a "puppet haven" Cook speculates it has to do with the city’s entrepreneurial spirit. The bevy of local performers include: Alice Nelson and her show Ms. Sugarcoat; a child-and-family-oriented piece also featuring Nelson called Pigs in a Canoe and Other Watery Stories; and for the first time in festival history Calgary’s Old Trout Puppet Workshop will be on the bill presenting a remount of Famous Puppet Death Scenes as well premièring a new work Trunk Puppet (pictured).

Physical comedienne Mooky Cornish will host the popular Dolly Wiggler Cabaret a night of short-form puppetry for adults.

As the festival is multidisciplinary there’ll also be several film screenings including three collections of shorts curated by Heather Henson (Jim Henson’s daughter) as well as a screening of shorts created through Quickdraw Animation Society’s Aboriginal Youth Animation Project.

A series of panel discussions and workshops round out the offerings.

Finally Cook also unveiled a new book Who’s the Puppet Now? comprised of some 100 portraits by photographer Sean Dennie of the various artists who appeared at the festival between 2002 and 2013.

Tickets and passes to this year’s events are now available. For details go to animatedobjects.ca.