Animation Domination: Quickdraw’s annual GIRAF event

Each year, the organizers behind GIRAF (Giant Incandescent Resonating Animation Festival) search the world high and low for the most inventive, unique, beautiful, experimental and mind-altering animated films. 

Presented by Quickdraw Animation Society, the festival showcases and celebrates experimental independent animation, bringing together some of the best animators from Canada and around the world.

Now in its 18th iteration, the four-day festival is back in person at the Globe Cinema for the first time since the pandemic altered the way it presented its films, according to Ryan Von Hagen, who is the artistic director at the Quickdraw Animation Society. 

“Every year we highlight amazing, artful, independent, animation produced from around the world as well as locally,” says Von Hagen who took over the role from longtime Quickdraw head Peter Hemminger. 

“What’s most exciting about this year is just being back in person and celebrating this together, which is really exciting. Being online (during the pandemic), our community definitely showed up … but nothing beats being in person.”

Von Hagen says being in person is the best way to experience the annual animation festival. 

“It’s going to be amazing to see the type of talent that has been continually making animation throughout the pandemic — and to celebrate that in person,” he adds. 

The festival celebrates the spirit of independent, underground and experimental animation, showcasing Canadian animators and presenting diverse animations from around the globe, and Von Hagen is particularly excited about this year’s lineup, which is still being announced through the organization’s social media. 

But a snapshot of what’s planned includes a Q&A for the animators and a vendor market for local creators to sell their products at the Globe.

“We’re really hoping for the community to show up in person and have that revitalizing energy in the lobby of the Globe and just celebrate what we’ve been making for the last two years and do that in person.”

Last year’s festival featured more than 80 animated short and feature-length films, and this year there will be dozens of diverse offerings for audiences to enjoy, including four features, an indie mixtape, and a late-night shorts pack that is usually loaded with “weird, unsettling, bizarre themes and characters.”

“We’re excited to share that in an audience setting because nothing beats the roar of the crowd for some of these really bizarre, emotive animations,” Von Hagen says. 

While the festival is back in person this year, there will still be an online component with Canadians having one week of access to stream programming after the in-person festival is over. 

“With being online for the last couple of years, we created a lot more partnerships outside of the city,” Von Hagen says. 

“What we noticed with our streaming platform is that people from around the country and also around the world wanted to see what animation was being made in our community and really celebrate programming.” 

The festival has already announced some visiting artists including Evan DeRushie, an artist specializing in stop-motion animation, Kade Masterson, who did this year’s GIRAF 18 festival promo and trailer video, and Alla Gadassik, who is presenting a curated short film package titled, Graphite Traces.

GIRAF runs online until Nov. 27.