Feel good about your information and become a local news champion today

The Flying Sailor didn’t win an Oscar, but Calgary animators were celebrated by the community

Last night’s Oscar watch party in Inglewood hardly went to plan for the dozens of Calgarians who gathered at Cold Garden Brewery on Sunday.

The party, which was held to celebrate local Inglewood animators Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby, didn’t end up with the Hollywood ending that everyone wanted. The pair’s film, The Flying Sailor, ended up being beaten by The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse.

Still, for many attending it was a chance to connect to the world’s most prestigious entertainment award, and to friends who have long been a part of the fabric of Inglewood.

“I’m a longtime friend of Amanda and Wendy’s, and I did a little painting artwork on their previously nominated film, Wildlife,” said Corrine Dixon, who organized the party.

“We play badminton together, walk dogs together, camping together. They’re good friends, in the hood.”

Dixon called the pair’s film, which depicts the 1917 Halifax Explosion, a potent work packed into eight minutes. A contender, she said, for the top honour in animated filmmaking.

Although the animation pair couldn’t be at the Inglewood party—first being at the Oscar presentation and then Elton John’s afterparty—Dixon wanted to have something of Forbis and Tilby at Cold Garden.

“We can’t take our picture with the stars, but the next best thing is the Flying Sailor,” Dixon said.

Dixon made a life-sized cutout of the film’s protagonist that attendees could pose with for pictures.

Corrine Dixon, left, and Rebecca O’Brien next to The Flying Sailor at Cold Garden in Calgary on Sunday, March 12, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Part of the community

Rebecca O’Brien, Executive Director for the Inglewood BIA, said that she was disappointed by the Oscar loss, but that overall she was excited for her friends to have been nominated in the first place.

“I am a 12 out of 10 excited. I’m delighted. This is so deserved, this recognition,” she said.

She likened the watch party to participants feeling like they were taking part in the Olympics alongside their local hometown heroes.

“I think it’s the same feeling you get,” said O’Brien.

“I played women’s hockey with them, I played badminton with them, I socialize with them. They dropped by my office and we have a chat and a cup of tea. They are people who are really on the street and part of the neighborhood and part of the fabric of the community.”

Part of that fabric was the Bleak Mid-Winter Film Festival that the pair held in Inglewood at the Lantern Church celebrating animation. She said that there was hope that festival would return from its hiatus for 2024.

As for the pair, O’Brien said that they hoped to be able to hold another party for the pair soon. Less a parade in honour, but instead to help celebrate Tilby’s 60th birthday which she missed as a result of the pandemic.

The Flying Sailor team is en route to the Oscars! Including Calgarians David Christensen, Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis. COURTESY NADINE VIAU/NFB

Inglewood is a place for the arts

Win or lose, O’Brien said having the pair garner their third and fourth Oscar nominations would continue to promote Inglewood as an arts destination.

“The city has so much talent in the arts, and people who were just quietly going about their business with immense talent and experience and knowledge that is right here, two blocks from where we’re standing,” she said.

“It’s something that Calgary has to be really aware of, and proud of, and continue supporting because when we read about Calgary being one of the 10 most livable cities in the world, we need to be a livable city for artists.”

That increased recognition would also likely continue to extend to other facets of the film industry, she said.

The Edwardian character of the neighbourhood has already been the centrepiece for multiple film and television programs, like Fargo and Under a Banner of Heaven. Even O’Brien’s BIA office has been scouted as a filming location.

“There’s just so many kinds of places in Inglewood where you’re like, ‘oh yeah, I saw that actor here’ or ‘I remember when Bruce Springsteen was in the antique store,'” O’Brien said.

Any extra attention that would enhance tourism to Inglewood, and would help to preserve the distinct village character, would be a good thing for the community, she said.