Skip to: Site menu | Main content

What is Otafest?

In the Japanese education system, there exists a phenomenon known as the “cultural festival” or “bunkasai”. In most junior high, senior high and post secondary schools, once a year, student groups are given the chance to create and manage individual displays and performances showcasing that group’s talents to other students, parents, and members of the community. Dances, concerts and plays are performed by various school clubs. Classrooms are turned into impromptu cafes, run by students. Food and game stalls are setup around campus, again all student managed. So what’s all this got to do with Otafest?

As someone involved with Otafest every year since inception, beginning as a volunteer in 1999, and now finally appointed as Chairman for Otafest 2007, it strikes me how every year, Otafest becomes more and more like a bunkasai. Otafest started off as a one day Japanese animation film festival, allowing the DOA club of the University of Calgary to show various anime to the public. Through the years, the event has grown and expanded to the point where showing anime is only a part of what it is we do.

We have become an annual conference for anime enthusiasts. Otafest is a creative outlet for fans, an event where they can show their passion and appreciation of the hobby. We are an event where fans can show off the costumes they have made, the music videos they have created, and the art they have painted and drawn. Otafest is a forum for discussion and education. We host educational panels introducing others to the basics of the Japanese language, and tips on how to use computer programs to enhance music videos and CG art. In the past, we have hosted guests explaining the process of donning a kimono, and demonstrate the intricacies of tea ceremonies, and Iaido (the art of drawing a sword from a scabbard). We have invited individuals involved in the voice acting and animation industries to speak of their experiences. Otafest is a marketplace. We gather dozens of vendors together from all over Western Canada, to facilitate the best bargain hunting in town. And, of course, we haven’t forgotten our roots. Otafest is an anime festival.

We bring the latest shows and videos, as well as the fondest classics, and provide an opportunity for fans to see anime on the big screen, as well as a chance for the curious to see what it’s all about. Rather like a cultural festival, we are a chance for fans to get together and celebrate their hobby, and to share their passions with you.

We hope to see you this year!

Justin Lo
Chairman, Otafest 2009

Otafest Mandate

Otafest is a film festival that seeks to move beyond the traditional boundaries of the genre, providing the public with an East Asian cultural media festival.

The goal of Otafest is to highlight the intricate relationship between opposites, embodied in the Asian concepts of Yin and Yang.

The logo of the festival is designed to represent the symbiosis of Yin and Yang, life and death, black and white, past and present, East and West.

We hope that by attending Otafest the public will be as much educated as they are entertained, and may leave with a greater understanding of East Asian culture.

We welcome all ages!