The unapologetically weird Jack And The Cuckoo Clock Heart screens at T.O. Animation Arts Fest.
Animation has come an awfully long way since Gertie the dinosaur.
Settling in at Corus Quay and George Brown Waterfront Campus on Dockside for four days of screenings, workshops, panels and a weekend artists' market, the Toronto Animation Arts Festival reaches back to the origins of the form and looks forward to what comes next.
For the opening night gala at Harbourfront's Studio Theatre, Pat Thornton presents Gertie The Dinosaur: 100 Years Later, a celebration of Winsor McCay's seminal cartoon, followed by the Canadian premiere of Jack And The Cuckoo Clock Heart, an unapologetically weird Belgian-French CG musical directed by Stéphane Berla and musician/author Mathias Malzieu.
Set in Scotland at the turn of the 20th century, it's the tale of a young man (voiced by Orlando Seale) whose frozen heart was swapped out for a mechanical clock on the day he was born. Sheltered for most of his life, Jack must never lose his temper or fall in love, because it will throw off the clock's timing - edicts that become awfully challenging when he meets a young woman (Samantha Barks) and sets out on a series of adventures.
The plot doesn't make a lick of sense, and tonally it's all over the place, but there's a certain demented integrity in Malzieu's obsession with surgical mutilation and the looming threat of dying young. So maybe leave the little ones at home.
I'm intrigued by the Comedians In Animation panel (Saturday, 1:30 pm, Corus Atrium), where Thornton will discuss voice work with Séan Cullen, Laurie Elliott, Nick Flanagan, Terry McGurrin and Amanda Brooke Perrin, and the screening of Chris Landreth's Subconscious Password followed by a conversation with the animator Sunday at 6:30 pm in the Corus Atrium.
But those are just two events in a very busy program.