With a ridiculous (and ridiculously long) name, it is no wonder that Calgary’s annual independent animation festival, the Giant Incandescent Resonating Animation Festival, is now better known by its acronym, GIRAF. But unlike its moniker, GIRAF has dramatically increased in size. This year, the festival has upped the ante by programming more films than ever, throwing more amazing parties and will be welcoming Peter Burr and Mikey Please, both international animators, to showcase their work and run workshops for locals.

GIRAF’s festival coordinator, Jolie Bird, explains that their lineup is wonderfully diverse with great content that will wow both young and old. The five-day festival showcases both mainstream and non-mainstream films, including a documentary called Persistence of Vision. The documentary will demonstrate the painstaking labour required for an animation – something we often forget about when watching a seamlessly put together work.

Though the festival’s evening shows are 18+ and licensed for people to drink in the theatres, most of the programming is all ages.

“There really is something here at this festival for everyone, regardless of what you think of animation,” Bird says.

While some still associate animations with Saturday morning cartoons, GIRAF will no doubt show you how sophisticated, intricate and mature the medium has become.

Bird, who is well known in the local film community for having run the now-defunct Bird Dog Video, believes the festival has really expanded her knowledge of animated films.

“I’ve been exposed to such a wide variety of animation since I’ve started here that it’s blown my mind a little bit,” says Bird. Bird, GIRAF programming director Laura Leif and Quickdraw Animation executive director Peter Hemminger sifted through hundreds and hundreds of films from around the globe for the program and chose two visiting artists: Peter Burr and Mikey Please.

BeatRoute wasn’t able to get in touch with London-based artist Please but Quickdraw’s Hemminger remarks that he is excited to have him come to town.

“I think he’s one of the most distinctive voices and one of the most creative guys working modern animation, ” Hemminger says.

Please graduated with a Master’s in Direction for Animation at London’s Royal College of Art. His thesis film, The Eagleman’s Stag, premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. It won many awards and was shown around the world, including GIRAF. On the other side of the coin, Please’s commercial work includes collaborations with Nike, Disney, Virgin and Universal Records.

GIRAF is also delighted to be welcoming Brooklyn-based video and performance artist Peter Burr who is interested in how special effects relate to the category of animation.

This will be Burr’s first time visiting Calgary. He will lead a workshop on computer-generated special effects and present his show, Special Effect – a multidisciplinary performance and screening.

Special Effect is a live television show inspired by Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1971 film, Stalker, and the short science fiction novel, Roadside Picnic, written by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky. Twenty different animators from Burr’s underground video label, Cartune Xprez, contributed to the show, including Calgary’s own Chad VanGaalen. The 30-second animations are structured into the performance as televised commercial disruptions related to places inspired by the Strugatsky brothers’ novel and Tarkovsky’s Stalker.

“It’s a live event that speaks to the role of television or one of the by-products of the functions of television,” explains Burr.

Special Effect becomes a live show through Burr who performs onstage during the screening, incorporating laser beams, green screens and a web cam.

Burr believes that his work still allows the audience to be fairly passive without having them be totally uninvolved. He believes that Special Effect offers a different potential than typical film screenings.

This past year, Burr has toured around the world showing Special Effect throughout Europe, Australia and North America.

GIRAF runs from November 6 to 10 at various venues across the city. For more information and to buy passes, visit

By Sheena Manabat
Photo: Peter Burr

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s