Recap of The 41st ASIFA-East Festival

Here it is! Photographic proof that I was at the ASIFA-East Festival held this past Sunday. That brown blob of pixels happens to be my cap, which I was thnkfully wearing otherwise you wouldn’t know that was me at all!

What can I say, it was a fantastic evening for all concerned. I arrived extra early in contrast to last year when I crashed through the doors at the last moinute. The house was slightly less than full, but most everyone was in agreement that it being Mother’s Day probably had something to do with that.

The caliber of the films was impressive to say the least. Not only were the student films amazingly creative, and, in the case of “Sam the Super Sticky” by George Thorman, quite hilarious in a silly way. The overall winner in the student category “Down to the Bone” by Peter Ahern, is one of the more interesting student films I’ve seen in recent times with some very interesting characters and a plot that certainly caught everyon’s attention.

The commercial category threw up an interesting video in the Beano’s very own Dennis & Gnasher, which I thought for sure I’d never see again having moved to the other side of the pond. The winner was “Don’t Miss It” by David Cowles and Jeremy Galante for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, a fantastic piece that asserts the drama of classical music to great effect.

For the sponsored films, we had en ecelectic selection with education mixed with entertainment. My favourites were the two based on Mo Willem’s books, “Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus” and “Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity”. I found both to be highly entertaining even though I’m at an age where I am considered a “mature” student.

For the independent films, there was a great mix of storytelling (such as Elliot Cowan’s “The Thing in the Distance”) as well as techincal fantasies (Tom Gasek’s “Off-Line”) to funny songs like Stephen Neary’s “Let’s Make Out”, which is shown below because I got a big kick out of it.


After all that with an unscheduled break inbetween, it was time for Best in Show, which went to Aaron Hughes and Lisa LaBracio’s “Backwards”. I’m not going to spoil the film (embedded below) but suffice to say it takes what could have been a very formulaic plot and turns it into a truly intersting, complex and surprising piece of storytelling that makes it stand out from the crowd.


Afterwards there was a the after-party where much socializing and debate occurred. Kudos must be given to the organizing committee who lobbied hard for more beer this year and whose efforts were very much appreciated.

It’s sad that such an event comes around only once a year, but thankfully, ASIFA-East puts on many more events throughout the year that I am more than happy to attend. The festival is a celebration of what animation has been made in the previous year and I know for certain that even as I write this, the next round of films are already being made.

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