BFI Future Film Festival 2014: Focus on exploring and applauding animation
The closing chapter to the BFI Future Film Festival was its focus on animation day, full of screenings, talks, panel discussions and workshops for people of all ages and all levels of expertise with an interest in animation. Events ranged from the general to the specific, some designed to help young writers and animators onto the career ladder and some showcasing current talent.
Among the many sessions was Writing for Animated Films. It was hosted by Ian Long from Euroscript, a screenplay development organisation. After a brief introduction to animation as a film format, he showed clips of animated films – some familiar (The Nightmare Before Christmas) and some less well known, like a very early Tom & Jerry cartoon and shorts by Jan Švankmajer, an influential surrealist Czech animator. Long’s talk pointed out the infinite potential of screenplays for animated films, the complete freedom of imagination that the art form allows; it was an entertaining and erudite introduction for aspiring writers.
The focus on animation is a welcome one. As Long said in his seminar, “In the UK animation is not publicly regarded as a serious art form.” This is especially true in comparison to the US and its pioneering group of CalArts graduates who sparked an animation renaissance and produced some of the most beloved – not to mention highest grossing – animated films of recent years, such as Toy Story, The Lion King, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Aladdin, Finding Nemo…the list goes on. An even younger generation is already starting to take over, such as Pendleton Ward who created the stunning Adventure Time and Kirsten Lepore whose imaginative animations keep going viral.
But screening sessions, like the BFI Film Academy Showcase, demonstrated that there is plenty of keen, young British talent ready to forge a path in animation. A screening of shorts nominated for the Future Film Animation Award saw a huge variety of approaches – one film blended stop motion Lego with live action, another told an animated history of animation and a third showed the bewildering world inside a microwave.
Industry experts and creators hosted almost every session and covered the vast array of elements that contribute to an animated film. What is true of animators, and what stood out in the closing day of the festival, is that animation is never less than a labour of love, an endeavour born of obsession, imagination and, above all, passion.
BFI Future Film Festival was at BFI Southbank until 23rd February 2014. For further information about future events visit the BFI’s website here.