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Untold Tales Series #1 – Hold Tight, by Jessica Ashman

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Today we begin our coverage of Untold Tales – a six part micro-commissioned series that sees seven renowned British animators bring voice to untold stories of life in the UK, and to explore diverse communities. Each animator brings their distinctive voice and animation style to these bitesize treats.

The Untold Tales project, commissioned by Anim18 and Animate Projects, sought out animators from a broad range of backgrounds, whose stories explore the UK’s rich and culturally diverse communities. The brief was relatively open, and could include anything from folklore traditions, to current issues or contemporary communities.

Today’s animator, Jessica Ashman, is a London based, award winning (BAFTA Scotland) animator, artist and arts educator. Her work has been exhibited in festivals internationally (Berlinale Film Festival, B3 Media, Animate Projects); with commercial work spanning the BBC, Channel Four and Sky One. Jessica’s arts education practice has seen her work with ICA, Wellcome Trust and Tate, and she teaches at both Goldsmiths and the University for the Creative Arts. (You can follow Jessica’s work on Twitter, Instagram, and her website.)

Hold Tight explores UK based Carnival celebrations as a way for the Black Caribbean diaspora to reconnect with their heritage. It is a journey into the feeling of belonging, through the rituals of Carnival attendance and the power of bass. Using spoken word narration by the artist, the short features scenes of people getting ready, inter-cut with point of view, visceral shots of experiencing carnival. The film was made using hand-drawn 2D animation layered on a multi-plane mixed with pixilation created from video recorded during the carnival weekends.

I made Hold Tight as a love letter to the Caribbean carnivals in the UK. Within my friendship group of African and Caribbean descended folk, Notting Hill Carnival in particular is a cultural highlight of the year. Yet the event is often disproportionately demonised in the media i.e reports are fixated on crime, yet more people are arrested at Glastonbury…

I wanted to shine a light on how carnival acts as a cultural homecoming for so many black and POC people in the UK, disconnected from their heritage via distance, immigration or merely generational circumstances. I feel carnival is celebratory resistance and I wanted to showcase that in all it’s glory.

– Jessica Ashman

Look out for the films on Instagram (both anim18uk and animateprojectsuk) or Vimeo (animateprojects), and check back on Skwigly for the remaining films in the series.

Untold Tales were commissioned by Anim18 and Animate Projects, and are supported by Lottery funds from Arts Council England, British Film Institute and British Council. #untoldtales #anim18

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