OCAD University mounts significant presence at TIFF


Oscar-nominated animator Michael Fukushima joins as University’s first Executive Producer-in-Residence

OCAD U LiVE on the red carpet

OCAD U LiVE’s Elmer Bauman-Enriquez on the red carpet (at right) interviews writer-director James Michael Chiang (centre) and producer Aasttha Khajuria (left) of the short film, Xie Xie, Ollie at a TIFF press event in August celebrating Canadian films at the festival this year.
OCAD U LiVE’s Elmer Bauman-Enriquez on the red carpet (at right) interviews writer-director James Michael Chiang (centre) and producer Aasttha Khajuria (left) of the short film, Xie Xie, Ollie at a TIFF press event in August celebrating Canadian films at the festival this year.

Toronto, Sept. 06, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — OCAD University is pulling out all the stops at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) by showcasing its Experimental Animation program and OCAD U LiVE, which are both housed at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, along with co-hosting the opening reception as a community partner before the international premiere of The Boy and the Heron.

“We’re excited to participate at this year’s festival, which coincides with our announcement that renowned animator and filmmaker Michael Fukushima is joining the University’s Experimental Animation Program as its first Executive Producer-in-Residence,” says OCAD U President and Vice-Chancellor Ana Serrano. “As Canada’s leading arts and design university, OCAD U is driving positive impact for the creative economy through partnerships like the one with TIFF by giving students opportunities to gain employable skills to thrive in a range of creative industries.”

OCAD U’s showcase at TIFF includes:

  • On Sept. 7, joining with Gold House as a community partner to co-host the opening night reception prior to the international premiere of The Boy and the Heron directed by acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki;
  • On Sept. 8, participating in the panel discussion, CONNECTIONS Activating Grassroots Movements with Gold Housewith OCAD U President Ana Serrano as moderator;
  • From Sept. 7 to 10, inviting the public to the OCAD LiVE tent to watch programs produced OCAD U LiVE student content creators as well as films by students in the Experimental Animation and Integrated Media programs; and
  • OCAD U LiVE conducting interviews on the red carpet during TIFF that will air on the Toronto Downtown West BIA’s social media channels and on OCAD U LiVE and as part of the OCAD U LiVE TIFF Special – Filmmaker on Filmmaker.  

OCAD U’s presence at the festival builds on the partnership with TIFF announced earlier this year that is providing student content creators for OCAD U LiVE, a 24/7 digital streaming channel, with access to professional equipment at a dedicated street-facing studio at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. The University’s Experimental Animation program holds classes in dedicated learning studios at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. As a result, these students are gaining valuable conceptual and technical skills.

Michael Fukushima produced more than 200 films, including three Oscar-nominated animation shorts, during his 30-year career at the National Film Board (NFB) of Canada. He has had an immense impact on the landscape of Canadian cinema, including co-founding Hothouse, the NFB’s flagship apprenticeship program for emerging filmmakers. An avid storyteller and relentless advocate for Asian and other marginalized filmmakers, Fukushima played a key role in diversifying animation by helping to make the NFB one of the first animation organizations to achieve gender parity. He received an honorary doctorate from OCAD U in 2022 in recognition of his achievements.

In the 2023-24 academic year, Fukushima will be working with the Experimental Animation Thesis team (Lecturer Gustavo Cerquera Benjumea, Associate Professor Wrik Mead and Assistant Professor Veronika Szkudlarek) to mentor thesis students as they develop their animation projects, participating in critiques in the fall and winter terms. 

OCAD U has a long history of graduating successful animators in art and film. In the 1940s, legendary NFB animator Norman McLaren recruited Ontario College of Art students George Dunning, Evelyn Lambert and Grant Munro right out of school. They went on to play a key role in animation in Canada and abroad. For example, Dunning directed the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. Later, graduate and acclaimed animator Richard Williams directed the animation in the groundbreaking Who Framed Roger Rabbit. In the fall of 2022, art director and graduate Karen DeJong released Ron’s Gone Wrong, a computer-animated feature that has generated over $60 million in box office sales since its premiere in the United Kingdom. In September 2022, the University welcomed its first cohort of undergraduate students in the program, which focuses on animation as an artistic practice with strong involvement with industry.

Launched in October 2020, OCAD U LiVE is a 24/7 digital streaming channel featuring content produced by students. In this experiential learning program, students get hands-on training in all facets of media production and valuable experience to contribute to Canada’s booming content creator economy. OCAD U LiVE is also growing as a production house for brands and organizations to hire OCAD U students to create their video content. Now in its seventh season, OCAD U LiVE has hired more than 130 student content creators, produced more than 60 multi-episode series, presented over 500 original videos and broadcasted over 100 hours of programming. 

OCAD University, Canada’s largest and oldest art and design university, is a world-famous hub for art, design, digital media, research, innovation and creativity. We embrace collaborative and interdisciplinary approaches to change-making through art, design-thinking curriculum and research making OCAD U a local, regional, national and global leader in art and design.Alongside a diverse and supportive team of instructors and peers, our students gain employable skills. Graduates work in different sectors such as film, animation, content creation, gaming, publishing, urban planning, environmental design, visual arts and arts administration. 

Gold House is the leading cultural ecosystem that unites, invests in and champions Asian Pacific creators and companies to power tomorrow for all. Our innovative programs and platforms include membership systems and events to fortify relationships among the Asian Pacific community and with other marginalized communities (#StopAsianHate); first-of-its-kind ventures to propel the next generation of top Asian Pacific founders, creatives, and social impact leaders (Gold House Futures, Gold House Ventures); and industry-leading research, consulting, and marketing to promote authentic and affirming storytelling (Gold Story Consultation, Gold Open, Gold List, A100 List). To learn more, visit www.goldhouse.org or follow @GoldHouseCo on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

TIFF is a not-for-profit cultural organization whose mission is to transform the way people see the world through film. An international leader in film culture, TIFF projects include the annual Toronto International Film Festival in September; TIFF Bell Lightbox, which features five cinemas, learning and entertainment facilities; and innovative national distribution program, Film Circuit. The organization generates an annual economic impact of $200 million (CDN). 


CONTACT: Karen McCarthy OCAD University 437-779-0597 [email protected] 

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