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15th London Animation Festival Award Winners & Overview

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The 15th London International Animation Festival (LIAF) was possibly the best ever. There was a big focus on animated documentaries in 2018 with two programmes of that genre in competition, plus a screening and Q&A with one of the UK’s most admired filmmakers Jonathan Hodgson alongside the opening night gala event where documentary mingled in a comic yet meaningful and truthful way in the films of two of Scotland’s well known filmmakers Will Anderson and Ainslie Henderson.

Over 10 days at the Barbican, Horse Hospital and Close Up Cinema, LIAF 2018 presented the best animated films from all around the world proving that independent animation is thriving with a breathtaking medley of styles, materials, techniques and production – from hand drawn, paint on glass, collage, sculpture, cut outs, puppets, abstract, sand/salt, to some of the more interesting developments in CGI and almost everything else that you could possibly think of.

As well as a record number of filmmakers from all around the world, and many more British filmmakers closer to home who attended LIAF to present and introduce their films, there was also a special talk and screening from Estonian-born animator Chintis Lundgren, a self-taught filmmaker who has quickly gained attention in the animation world for her quirky music videos and short films featuring a light, absurdist tone along with distinct anthropomorphic characters.

There were some feisty and inspiring panel discussions, in particular the ones that followed the Animated Documentary screening, the Female Figures screening and the Aftermath programme.

Juries & Winning Films

Each year LIAF search for the finest panel of judges: educators; independent animators; producers; affiliates of prominent organisations (all with animation at their core); authors, curators and more. All are experts in their field and all possess the ‘shining’ when it comes to an informed and exploratory eye for excellence in the animation world. This year the Judging Panels who perfectly filled their criteria included:

  • Martin Pickles, Ellie Land and Mark Ashworth (International Competition Programme Judges)
  • Richard Wright, Emma Calder and Emily Downe (Abstract Film Award Judges)
  • Abigail Addison, Chris Shepherd and Shaun Clark (Music Video Judges)

They valiantly viewed, assessed and debated the finer points of every single one of the films selected for competition. Here are the judges notes for the films awarded at LIAF 2018:

Best of the Festival award

Egg by Martina Scarpelli – “From early on the judges were unanimous on how much they liked this film. We are now in a time when it feels like animated doc has proven itself as worthy as a means for documentary. In fact we can also say that there are certain formats associated with animated documentary, for example the use of voiceover interview as the indexical link, or the playful sketchbook films that are akin to observational documentary. Egg explodes these more conventional formats and allows the animation to do what animation does best, working on a metaphorical, even poetic level. Brilliantly executed in line drawing, reminiscent of Japanese woodcuts or even the art of Aubrey Beardsley. Stunning animated documentary as film poem, we felt as though the prose and visuals co-existed superbly.” 

Best British Film Award

Roughhouse by Jonathan Hodgson – “This is a film in which Jonathan revisits a painful memory and is the story of victimisation within a tight group of friends. It is a story we can all identify with and we valued his honesty and the personal touch that came through in the actual drawing-style and animation. Not only that, it was Jonathan working in a new genre for him: animated drama, with dialogue as well as narration, which laid bare the story in a deeply meaningful way.”

Best Sound Design Award

Finity Calling by Jasper Kuipers: Sound design by Senjan Jansen and Bert Aerts – “What is sound in film? We have three main disciplines – Music, foley and dialogue. Then we have this creative world in between: sound design. Foley is the sound of wind through the trees – the footsteps through a forest. Score is the musical and rhythmic expressions that compliment these sounds. Dialogue is the sound of human voices. Sound design is the crafting and manipulation of the audible cracks in between. Sound design, in its perfection, will sonically animate a universe. For this reason, we have chosen Finity Calling as our award for best sound design.

Moments of tension are built with what sounds like a swarm of insects and a cacophony of violent violins, increasing in tone and intensity. Room tones are perfectly attuned to the cold, shiny tiled room and give a sinister sonic air. The room has a clearly considered character. Layered drones give an intense, doom-filled atmosphere, but never intrude, just infiltrate our senses. At times every single bead, jewel and drop of blue-black goo has been noted and designed to perfection. Characters barely vocalise, but when they do, it’s a deeply affected and perfectly synchronised guttural grunt. There’s so much more going on, but we’ve given you some headlines – we hope you’ll listen out for a few and we hope that you agree that this film has sublime sound design.”

Best Abstract Film Award

Max Planck by Jonathan Gillie – “Freshness of vision and stimulating animation lead us into a complex, challenging film that suggest quantum visualisations, for scientific experiments on forces beyond our human experience. From random Brownian dots and iterating tessellations eventually tamed by Bézier curves and rhythmically fluctuating molecular forces. Stunning art and original film structure made it the winner.”

Best music video award

‘Tall Juan – Parking Attendant’ by Dante Zabella – “The playfulness and energy and colour captures the frustration of busking in a busy place. The film is both bold, messy and carefully crafted in its controlled use of animation.”

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Lewis Heriz
@themooks @skwigly Yeah! That's when it becomes << actual magic >>
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James Howard
@lewisheriz @skwigly That first time you see it move is such a buzz and then you add sound and it just enters a whole new stratosphere.
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Lewis Heriz
@themooks @skwigly I know it's kind of obvious, but I used to see it as 'important but secondary'. I don't see it as secondary any more.
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James Howard
@lewisheriz @skwigly Sound does bring it to life.
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