The Soulful Sketches of the Students.

Today I found myself sat in the Cubby Broccoli cinema at the National Media Museum, where I was attending the 19th Bradford Animation Festival. Held every year at the National Media Museum, the festival runs for five days and provides its audiences with a vast and varied selection of events and screenings. Here I was, sat in this quaint and dignified cinema, about to watch a selection of short films, created and animated by students from all around the world. What an experience; what a prospect. I sat back and prepared to witness a diverse selection of creative work.

Over an hour, nine films were screened and I couldn’t help but wish it was more. I was taken aback by the professionalism of the films. The heart and passion that filled the screen eventually moved me to tears. Here are my thoughts on the five animated stories that impressed, moved and charmed me the most:

Kuhina (Swarming) – 2011, Dir. Joni Männistö [Finland]
This charming and inventive piece of work captivated me from start to finish. The imagination of the whole film reflected the childlike atmosphere of the story it was telling. I found the transformations that were undertaken by our protagonist to be slightly disturbing but very amusing. Overall, this film held my interest and charmed me with its innocence and its humble aesthetic. Find out more about this film.

Bear Me – 2012, Dir. Kasia Wilks [Germany]

This film displayed more visual comedy than any other piece. It made me chuckle, aloud, on several occasions. Like Kuhina, this film’s childishness was displayed in the way it was drawn. I found the characters to be very sweet and the film’s overall feeling of silliness was very infectious. A simple story told in a simple way. This film didn’t try too hard to be anything special which, in the end, made it particularly special, in my eyes. It’s about a girl who lives with a bear, and that is that. Find out more about this film.

Nyosha – 2012, Dir. Liran Kapel [Israel]

If I had to pick a favourite film it would be Nyosha. Based on a true story of Holocaust fear and suffering, this film moved me more than any other. I couldn’t get my head around how a film could be so disturbing and yet, at the same time, so beautiful. This film is something unique; a film whose memory, I suspect, will stay with me for some time. The combination of a variety of different styles of animation keeps this film captivating, although the story is captivating enough on its own. A haunting masterpiece. Find out more about this film.

El Castigo – 2012, Dir. Nelson Fernandes [Spain]

It was El Castigo‘s style and technique that fascinated and impressed me. The film centralises around a girl, alone in her room, watering her plant with her own tears. The use of torn paper forms this film, visually. It felt very different to anything else I had seen and was without a doubt the most imaginative and ambitious piece I watched. It was also the shortest film, being just over three minutes long. A film that proves that cinematic impact can be found in all areas of cinema, however brief. Watch an extract of this film.

Carn – 2012, Dir. Jeffig Le Bars [France]

The final film that was screened was the suspenseful and captivating Carn. This French vision reminded me of Michel Ocelot’s Tales of the Night due to the use of silhouette and the contrasts of light and dark. A very dramatic piece of work that moves at a very quick pace. A film that leaves you wanting more and that sprints towards its shocking climax. The film is almost like a nightmarish fairytale and the moral message is delivered through the fantasy and imagination of the film. Watch an extract of this film.

The combinations of horror, heart and humour that these films displayed created the most intense atmospheres throughout the screening. I applaud the programme’s variety and diversity. Not only did I get to see films with different themes, stories and characters, but I was able to discover and sample so many different types of animation technique. It was a wonderful reminder as to how much vision, originality, creativity, ambition and soul remains in the world of animation, even today. An area of film that is constantly re-inventing, developing and transforming; animation can bring out your inner child or your inner fears. It is hard to believe that today’s programme of stunning animated films were made by students. The care behind the work caused the superb quality of the work to be projected onto the screen for all to see. It is just a shame that more people weren’t there to witness this staggering showcase of animation, but then I realised, the films will be screened numerous times throughout the festival so take a look at the B.A.F Diary before you miss out. You will be dragged to the lowest points of human injustice before soaring up to the highest moments of childhood naivety. Bradford Animation Festival, I tip my hat. I look forward to returning to the festival later in the week.
Thanks for reading and let’s all keep supporting our beloved film industry.

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