Manchester Animation Festival

Last week I went to Manchester Animation Festival and it was absolutely BRILLIANT! I saw some really great short animations, both commissioned and by students, and I also got to see some amazing feature length animations as well. There were some really interesting talks by various amazing people, and it was a great event!

I saw a talk with Seb Burnett, from Rumpus Animation discussed his befuddling adventures into Game Development with the release of his studios second episode featuring the peculiarly-nosed Victorian Explorator Bertram Fiddle. It was great to hear from someone who was working hard to create original content in the gaming industry with an animation, non-gaming background. Part interactive story, part animated feature film The Adventures of Bertram Fiddle plunge you into Victorian London as you have never seen before, and was really insightful.  

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I also got to see Oscar nominated visionary studio Cartoon Saloon’s Technical Director Mark Mullery give a behind the scenes look at the making of their new adaptation of The Breadwinner based on the book by Deborah Ellis. It was awesome to hear the development process, from start to finish, on how they went about bringing this amazing story to life!

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Claire Cook, Senior Producer and Curator for film and interactive projects at Nexus did a talk about interactive storytelling and how innovative animation studio Nexus made Rain or Shine, Wilderness Wiggle and Gruffalo Spotter. It was great to get a look at their inner workings and uncover how they create engaging stories that go hand in hand with craft and ingenuity. They have been making animation for VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) and it was really interesting seeing how they approached both and the problems they had to overcome to make each project a real success!

From the films i saw here are some of my favorites (full films where possible, trailers and excerpts for the rest):

The Common Chameleon

Tomer Eshed

The feeding habits of the common Chameleon as never seen before

I absolutely loved this animation. It is so funny and the style is faultless. The animation is absolutely stunning, as is everything else about this complete success of a film! Probably (definitely) my favourite of the whole festival.

Twin islands

Manon Sailly, Charlotte Sarfati, Christine Jaudoin, Lara Cochetel, Raphaël Huot, Fanny Teisson

Twin Island East and Twin Island West are two twin islands governed by two kings, where the inhabitants follow the cult of symmetry and everything goes two by two. But one day, the queen of Twin Island West gives birth to an only child…

I really love the style of this animation, and the symmetry used throughout. The story is well told and satisfying. I really liked the character and set designs.

Birdlime

Evan DeRushie
Birdlime is the name for a sticky substance, usually made from holly bark or mistletoe, which is spread on branches to trap wild birds intended for export or trade. The film observes one bird who barely manages to escape this industry, yet remains trapped in a cage and surrounded by unfamiliar sounds and un-birdlike creatures.

This stop-motion animation is super charming, and you cant help but love the little foam bird! The film rarely changes angles and you feel caged in a little – like the main character, the bird who is trapped in a cage throughout the film. Superb animation and a beautiful design, this is a very special little animation from an extremely competent animator/storyteller.

Chickens

George Wu

The friend zone… We have all been there! Wondering if that glance from your crush meant something and if you will ever muster the courage to do something about it? Meet Adam and Emma with their cute, but unavoidable, problem. Brought to life through the illustrations of Meng- Chia Lai.

Contact

Katy Wang

Stranded on a distant planet, a lonely astronaut sends out a signal in search of human contact.

Hybrids

Florian BRAUCH, Matthieu PUJOL, Kim TAILHADES, Yohan THIREAU, Romain THIRION

When marine wildlife has to adapt to the pollution surrounding it, the rules of survival change…

Absolutely beautiful 3D animation, with some amazing character designs.

Loving Vincent

Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman

Loving Vincent explores the life and controversial death of Vincent Van Gogh, told by his paintings and by the characters that inhabit them. The intrigue unfolds through interviews with the characters closest to Vincent and through dramatic reconstructions of the events leading up to his death.

This was a really moving piece of cinema, and was gripping from start to finish. A superbly told story where every single frame is a beautiful painting in the style of Vincent Van Gogh. This animation is a masterpiece.

The Breadwinner

Nora Twomey

The Breadwinner tells the story of Parvana, an 11-year-old girl growing up under the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001. 

When her father is wrongfully arrested, Parvana disguises herself as a boy in order to support her family. With dauntless perseverance, Parvana draws strength from the stories her father told her, and ultimately risks her life to discover if he is still alive. Equal parts thrilling and enchanting, The Breadwinner is a timely and inspiring tale about the transcendent power of stories, and their potential to unite and heal us all.

There are two distinct styles in this deeply-moving film based on a book based on a true story. The first is for the real world and the other paper-craft style animation is for the stories the main character tells throughout the film. It’s a really beautiful animation and an instant classic!

Modulatorie

Alžběta Burešová

Animated slapstick comedy about malicious shadow and his miserable owner. What happens when a shadow doesn’t want to be a shadow anymore? Classic slapstick in the surprising environment.

A clever use of shapes and space which move and open in different ways, allowing the characters from different worlds to interact together in surprising and interesting ways.

Negative Space

Ru Kuwahata & Max Porter

My dad taught me how to pack.

A really charming and beautiful stop-motion animation about a sons relationship with his father.

Nocturne

Anne Breymann

At night the forest creatures gather to gamble, putting their innermost at stake.

A creepy and unsettling animation with hauntingly beautiful characters and set design. Reminiscent of Tim Burton’s style, but with a more grown-up adult edge.

Scrambled

Bastiaan Schravendeel

When 19-year old Esra misses her train she kills time playing a fast-paced, flashy game on her smartphone, but a vintage Rubik’s Cube gets her attention.

A really nice 3D animation, the little rubik’s cube is remarkably cute and really comes alive thanks to some masterful animation. Little unlikely that someone could complete a Rubik’s cube in so little time though, as it does seem like the first time they’ve ever come across one. But it’s still a fun animation.

The Big Bad Fox & Other Tales / Le Grand Méchant Renard et autres contes

Benjamin Renner, Patrick Imbert

From the creators of the Academy Award-nominated Ernest & Celestine comes another hilarious, heartwarming tale of animal misfits destined to become a classic.

The countryside isn’t always as calm and peaceful as it’s made out to be, and the animals on this farm are particularly agitated: a fox who mothers a family of chicks, a rabbit who plays the stork, and a duck who wants to be Santa Claus. If you think life in the country is a walk in the park, think again! Directors Benjamin Renner and Patrick Imbert adapt Renner’s own acclaimed graphic novel into a delirious, delightful triptych of interlocking stories, with a pacing and visual spontaneity that harkens back to classic Looney Tunes shorts and slapstick two-reelers. But underneath the gags, the three stories offer a sensitive and beautiful portrayal of family and the anxieties of modern life.

BONJOUR MADAME!

Adorable! There are three stories which make up a full-length feature film. I really enjoyed all three and thought the characters were masterfully done. The cinema was full of people laughing along. The style is really nice and the character designs are great!

The Bird and the Whale

Carol Freeman

A tale of a Bird and a Whale, who together struggle to survive, lost at sea.

Each frame is a painting. And each painting is amazing! I was floored by this beautiful and suspenseful film, and was on the edge of my seat throughout. Just incredible…

The World of Tomorrow

Don Hertzfeldt

The highly anticipated follow-up to Don Hertzfeldt’s World of Tomorrow finds Emily Prime swept inside the brain of an incomplete back-up clone of her future self, who’s on a mission to reboot her broken mind. Continuing the tradition of the first film, World of Tomorrow Episode Two was written entirely around candid audio recordings of Hertzfeldt’s five-year-old niece. 

Director Don Hertzfeldt is a two-time Academy Award nominee whose animated films include It’s Such a Beautiful Day, World of Tomorrow, The Meaning of Life, and Rejected. His work has played around the world, receiving over 250 awards, and made a special guest appearance on The Simpsons in 2014. Seven of his films have screened in competition at the Sundance Film Festival, where he is the only filmmaker to have won the overall Grand Jury Prize for Short Film twice. 

Indiewire called World of Tomorrow “one of the best films of 2015,” while The Dissolve named it “one of the finest achievements in sci-fi in recent memory.” The A.V. Club described the film as “visionary” and “possibly the best film of 2015.” Rolling Stone ranked World of Tomorrow #10 on its list of the “Greatest Animated Movies Ever.” 

This was awesome! Totally brilliant! Well worth the wait. The simplistic animation style somehow comes to life more than some more realistic ones. The stories were interesting and like something Douglas Adams would write. I thoroughly enjoyed World of Tomorrow!


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