Bradford Animation Festival 2012

BAF 2012 13-17 November 19th Bradford Animation Festival

So another BAF has gone by with the usual cavalcade of talks, interviews, curry, a bewildering array of short films, lovely people and Black Sheep Ale.

Here are some of my highlights of the festival:

The brilliant Joanna Quinn of Beryl Productions ran a life drawing class. She had a lot of good advice and it gave me a rare chance to study action and emotion in figure drawing rather than the usual reclining nudes. The class was also attended by Chuck Jones‘ granddaughter Valerie Kausen amongst others. Illustrious lineage!

I got right down the front to see Aardman‘s Will Becher talking about his work animating on The Pirates In an Adventure with Scientists. I was just close enough to jump from my seat, wrestle the Pirate Captain puppet from his hands and run from the cinema shouting “I got the booty! Avast! AVAST!!”. He showed some of their video reference – it seems that Peter Lord and the animators act out the entire film over the course of the production. I like this because I use a lot of video reference too. he also demonstrated the armatures and replacement faces they used. I now know how to wiggle a miniature pirate’s beard with an allen key. Invaluable knowledge. There was some time to chat to Will after the presentation and I had been curious to know who had voiced the Pirate Captain before it was re-recorded with Hugh Grant. Hugh Grant had mentioned in interviews that the old voice was great and that he had been brought in to re-do it pretty much because they needed a really big star on the posters. So I asked Will and he said… drum roll please… … that he couldn’t tell me. Dammit. E-mail to the usual address if you know. I promise not to blog it all over the interwebs. Scout’s honour.

One of the surprise highlights was the retrospective of Robert Morgan‘s work. Mr Morgan seems to trade exclusively in gruesome horror. His stop motion films are eery tales of isolation and alienation often containing live maggots and/or copious quantities of splattering Vaseline. What’s not to like? His latest (and best) film is called Bobby Yeah, he made it by accident. It is relentlessly uncomfortable, revolting and hilarious with pitch-perfect sequences of suspense and manic release. Impossible not to psychoanalyse with its smorgasbord of of phallic creatures and hideously mis-shapen births. Not a great date movie all told. Here’s the trailer anyway:

Another of my favourite films was Oh Willy by Emma De Swaef and Marc James Roels, a film made mostly of wool and felt by the looks of it. Like most films, it deals with grief in a nudist camp. It’s beautifully crafted, with lovely lighting and a rare clarity of vision. I just wanted to crawl inside this film and roll around.

If you see Oh Willy win an award then you’ll also be treated to a brilliant acceptance video that will make you want Emma De Swaef and Marc James Roels to be your friends. email to the usual address if you want to be friends.

Possibly the most straightforwardly joyful film at this Year’s BAF was the winner of Best Music Video “The Living Things” by the Spinto Band with animation by Phil Davis. One of those rare times when a video doubles the worth of the music it illustrates:

Other notably great films were:

Edmond Was a Donkey by Franck Dion. In which workplace bullying triggers a creaturely self discovery.

Tram by Michaela Pavlátová. A 2D public transportation sex fantasy fresh from winning the Crystal Award at Annecy. Rude!

The Pub by Joseph Pierce. Visually striking drawn animation over treated video exploring the frequently troubling characters that you might have to deal with if you’ve ever done bar work.

Una Furtiva Lagrima by Carlo Vogele. Stop-motion animation where a real dead fish sings opera. Really impressive work, extracting great pathos from its subject through movement. Svankmajer would surely approve but, as a vegetarian, I’m not totally sure how I feel about it. I suppose I feel similarly to how I feel when I get chips from a fish and chip shop.

Just as good as those were: Bon Voyage by Fabio Friedii, Bite of the Tail by Song E Kim, Snowflake by Natalia Chernysheva, Aux Gambettes Gourmandes by Clemence Bouchereau, The Gruffalo’s Child by Johannes Weiland & Uwe Heidschotter, Tom & the Queen Bee by Andreas Hykade, A Different Perspective by Chris O’Hara… That’s still not even half the brilliant films from BAF this year. Next year’s should be a belter as it’s the 20th BAF so hopefully there will be some extra special goings on.

I’ll leave you with another creepy pub-based very short short called Bob on Sport by Enjoy!