This Festival is the oldest and largest festival of its kind in North America. It was founded in 1975 as a biennial event by the Canadian Film Institute with the co-operation of the Association Internationale du Film d’Animation/International Animated Film Association of France. The first festival was August 10-15, 1976. In addition to the Canadian Film Institute prominent figures in Canadian animation like Bill Kuhns, Fredrick Manter, Prescott J. Wright AND  Kelly O’Brian as well as institutions like the National Film Board, Radio Canada, CBC Television and Cinémathèque Québécoise played important roles. Ottawa was chosen because at that time it was home to the National Film Board as well many of Canada’s first animation studios. It probably didn’t hurt that Ottawa was also at the time home to Canada’s most prominent animator and film maker Norman McLaren who was later made the Festival’s first Honourary President.

In 1984 the Festival was moved to Toronto, then to Hamilton in 1996, before returning to Ottawa in 1990. In 1997 the Ottawa International Student Animation Festival was organized and held during alternate years to the O.I.A.F. events. In 2005 the two festivals were merged and the O.I.A.F. became an annual affair held in September.

The current (2020) award categories are: Feature Film, Independent Short Film, Student Animation, Commercial Animation, Animation Made For Young People, Virtual Reality, Animated Series (not intended for children).

Canadian Grand Prize Winners have been:

1976, The Street, Caroline Leaf.

1982, Crac, Fredric Back.

1988, The Man Who Planted Trees, F. Back

1992, Two Sisters, Caroline Leaf.

2004, Best Short, Ryan, Chris Landreth.

2014, Best Feature, Seth’s Dominion, Luc Chamberland.

2016, Best Short, J’aime les filles, Diane Obamsawin.


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