If you want to be inspired to go beyond the flip book animation you drew while bored in class, or just taken away to different worlds only possible through images, you still have time to see world class animation throughout the capital. The London International Animation Festival (LIAF16) is in full swing, featuring over 200 of the best recent, historical and retrospective animated shorts and features from around the world at four funky London venues – The Barbican, the Whitechapel Gallery, Close Up Cinema and The Horse Hospital.
This year’s lineup wants to remind you there is life beyond Pixar. Not that Pixar isn’t amazing, but animation done from cut-outs, painted glass, even sand? Your mind will be blown.
There are three animated features at LIAF 2016 this year, all of them having their British premieres: Window Horses from Canada, crowd funded and directed by Ann Marie Fleming, The Longing of Michael Dudok de Wit, directed by Maarten Schmidt & Thomas Doebele) and from Japan, Momotaro – Sacred Sailors, directed by Mitsuyo Seo.
Window Horses is witty, crosscultural feature about a young Canadian poet, Rosie, who undergoes a life-changing experience when she attends a poetry festival in Iran. The film integrates different animation styles to express Rosie’s diverse experiences; it is a sweet tale of art, history, and growing up.
The Longing of Michael Dudok de Wit is a (slightly animated) documentary about the famous Dutch animator, and took over two years to make. De Wit is having a good year – his debut feature The Red Turtle won the Special Jury Prize at Cannes in May.
And if you like it old school, Japan’s first anime feature, 1945’s Momotaro – Sacred Sailors – is freshly restored and is required viewing for history buffs. Like animation’s Birth of a Nation, just not as racist.
And you can’t have animation without someone bringing up that other classic creator, old Frozen Noggin himself. The LIAF will screen a selection of classic Disney Shorts from the 1930’s and 1940’s, painstakingly restored to their full and original glory, and they will be projected from 35mm prints.
That all sounds adorable, awe-inspiring and even a little educational. Where’s the scares? At Pop Culture Beast we know you readers love you some horror, so head over to the weird Camden venue The Horse Hospital for the “Late Night Bizarre” screenings – if ever there was evidence that animation is a lot more than cute kids stories, this fearsome collection of the best truly haunted animated visions is most definitely it.
The festival ends with the Best of the Festival on Saturday December 10 (repeat screening Sunday December 11) featuring the best films of LIAF 2016 as chosen by their panel of industry judges, with contribution from your audience votes. The filmmakers will be on hand to accept awards.
The full programme is available online from at liaf.org.uk, and links to the specific venues are below. Some of these shorts take years to make and are wonderful unique labours of love – get a ticket and support these artists.
title image from the Estonian short Linnugripp (Bird Flu) by Priit Tender
A former ABC National, Dallas and Atlanta radio personality, Martina O'Boyle is now making movies and covering culture in London, Dublin, and as far in Europe as the cheapie flights will take her, for Pop Culture Beast.