Swept up in the excitement of this year’s Oscar nominations? Grab yourself a piece of the decision-making pie by heading down to FACT…
It says a lot about the popularity of the British Animation Awards in previous years that for 2012, FACT took the decision to screen each of the three programmes twice, giving people double the opportunity to see the very best work in animation over the last two years.
The Baa’s, as they’re known, are a showcase bringing together a mixture of both emerging and established talent working in the industry in the UK today. With awards season gathering pace, what’s nice about this is the nifty public choice element to proceedings. This means that we, the humble masses, get to cast our votes over the films featured in the three programmes – a selection of animated shorts, music videos and, watch you don’t choke on this: ads.
In practice, what this means is you get a piece of paper and rate each film from 1-5 (1 being poor, 5 excellent) before the next begins. This is tougher than it sounds: “two seems harsh, but do you really think this was a three, that’s very nearly a four”…and so on!
In Monday’s programme of screenings, the thing that struck us immediately on leaving the cinema and mulling over the entrants is the disparity, not simply in quality, but in the budgets available to them. There was Bertie Crisp, for example (supposedly based on memories of childhood holidays), boasting the acting talent of Kathy Burke, Tamsin Greig, and, um, Mark Benton. Impressive right? Put that aside though, and this film is a charmless (verging on rather nasty), piece, which left one with the sense it rather wasted the voice talent at its disposal.
That said the majority of the entries in this programme were, at worst, agreeable (just one solitary film scored the minimum). At best, they were challenging, thought provoking and at times, thrilling examples of how to get the best from this form. Slow Derek, a film by RCA grad Daniel Ojari, tells the story of an office drone struggling to keep up with the pace of life. A breath-taking piece of stop-motion animation, incorporating clever use of sound, it’s a fine example of what can be accomplished in the right hands.
Also worthy of note is Barry JC Purves Tchaikovsky – an elegy (pictured) – a gorgeous and affecting piece, though hamstrung by a leaden voiceover, it charts the life of the composer through his relationships and music beautifully, you just find yourself wishing he’d stop talking.
As mentioned up top, there were also some music videos in the mix. It was difficult to know what to think about their inclusion, especially in the case of Stylo by Gorillaz. Directed by Pete Candeland and Jamie Hewlett, with the added clout of EMI, you can probably hazard a guess at its quality. Throw Bruce Willis into the equation, a narrative involving a car chase/ shootout and an appearance from the grim reaper, it becomes increasingly churlish to score it a four or less!
Pleasingly, and one feels, in the spirit of things, the best work on display here was an animation produced to sell a message rather than a product or song. Standing head and shoulders above a strong selection was Max Hattler’s Spin. Utilising a Busby Berkeley-style song and dance routine, with CGI toy soldiers as the players, Hattler succeeds brilliantly in blurring the lines between conflict and entertainment in a piece laced with satire. One foot wrong, and a film like this can quickly take the wrong turn into mawkish territory. But Hattler’s Spin triumphs were so many fail; engaging an audience and hitting them with the knock-out blow of a wake-up call.
The British Animation Awards continues:
Weds 1pm and 9:15pm
See FACT for details