BFI Player is shining a spotlight on new and emerging animators this Christmas, with a collection of 13 new shorts unwrapped online in December.
Animation 18, commissioned through a prestigious initiative by the BFI, BBC Four, and BBC Arts to find the most exciting and original filmmaking talent from across the UK, will be available for free on BFI Player.
Each film takes a different approach, using styles and techniques ranging from hand-drawn images to live action puppetry, stop motion, CG, 2D and 3D and covering a diverse range of genres from science-fiction to documentary, celebrating the medium of animation in all its breadth. Each animation received production grants between £2,000 and £10,000 towards the completion or creation of an original film.
In a unique collaboration with the BBC, marking the crowning achievement for the BFI’s year-long animation focus, BBC Four will dedicate a night to celebrating and showcasing the artistry of animation on 2nd December. At 9pm a new hour long documentary, Secrets of British Animation will take us on a journey through more than a century of British animation from the earliest pioneers to contemporary artists, offering rare insights into the creative and technical inventiveness of our leading animation talent.
Many of the films featured in Secrets of British Animation documentary can be seen in full via Animated Britain, a recently digitised collection of over 300 films available online for free via BFI Player. Surveying a stunningly rich century-long history of British animation with films taken from the BFI National Archive and Regional and National Film Archive Partners across the UK, this landmark collection casts the evolution of British animation in a new light, frame by painstaking frame, highlighting the extraordinary creative variety in domestic production, from the earliest pioneers including Dudley Buxton’s rare 15 frames of animation in John Bull’s Sketch Book (1915) to some of the best known, award-winning names in commercial and independent animation including works by Halas & Batchelor, Bob Godfrey, George Dunning, Cosgrove Hall and Larkins Studio.
Animation 2018 then be broadcast 10pm on Sunday 2nd December, introduced by three-time BAFTA-nominated director and animator Osbert Parker. The collection of shorts will then be available to view for free on BFI Player from Monday 3rd December. (Those outside of the UK can also explore a selection of these films via a playlist on the BFI’s YouTube channel.)
Here’s the full list of shorts:
The Penguin Who Couldn’t Swim – Tom Rourke
The Penguin Who Couldn’t Swim is an animation about a disabled penguin who lives on a rocky island in the
southern seas where she feels isolated from the rest of her colony. She is inventive, resourceful and tough
but frustrated about what she cannot do. This is an animation about disability, made by a disabled animator.
Outside the Box – Katherine Hearst and Maria Pullicino
Tody is a lonely bird slaving his life away in a packaging factory. He dreams of a better life in the sunshine
with someone there who actually cares if he’s tired or overworked. When a box arrives at his station,
destined for sunnier lands, Tody decides to make a break for it in order to find his paradise. The factory,
however, has other plans.
Quarantine – Astrid Goldsmith
In an English coastal border town, a small band of badgers live in the shadow of an animal quarantine
facility. As they struggle to keep their folk traditions alive, they try to ignore the strange sounds coming from
the compound. But when tragedy strikes, they are forced to seek help from the unlikeliest place. A postBrexit
dance fantasy, Quarantine is an exploration of the fears that drive anti-immigrant rhetoric, viewed
through the lens of British folk tradition.
Childhood Memories – Mary Martins
Combining 16mm colour footage of Lagos, Nigeria from the 70s with stop motion and 2D hand drawn
animation, this multi-layered animation explores autobiographical memory and the cultural elements of our
earliest childhood memory. Often episodic, this recollection of personally experienced past events often
emerge from as early as three years old. After the age of five, these memories become elusive. A journey
back to where it all began can be both beautiful and enlightening.
Meteorlight – Jonny Eveson
Meteorlight is a black and white 3D animated film set in a strange world plagued with darkness. The story
follows Spudling, a sheltered character whose parent runs the factory manufacturing light for the city’s
inhabitants. When finally granted permission to follow their parent into work for one day, Spudling discovers
the secret of what is really powering their world…
Uki – Ieuan Lewis and George Warren
A short stop frame animation following a lonely Inuit who struggles to survive after an oil tanker leaks oil off
the coast of Alaska, killing all the wildlife in the area. It’s a dark comedy about companionship, loneliness and
Frank’s Joke – Edward Bulmer
Frank told a bad joke at his new place of work. Nobody laughed. Now at 3am in the morning he is unable to
sleep as he obsesses and ruminates over this social faux-pas, leading him to ponder on the nature of
memory itself. This comedic look at how our brains can keep us awake at night uses a mixed media approach
of live-action puppetry and expressive hand drawn animation to convey the physical world and Frank’s
mental space respectively.
The Three Crow Boys – Tom Adriani
This animation takes place in a ravaged London street in the aftermath of war. Between mounds of rubble
and bomb craters stands the house of a lonely old blind man. Late one night he receives three unexpected
visitors. The Three Crow Boys is an original fairy tale, exploring the nature of monsters and madness. Not for
the faint hearted, this story follows in the dark footsteps of the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault and Angela
//_sleeper – Jordan Buckner
// _sleeper is a short animation set in a dying, industrial town both familiar and unfamiliar. This is neither
future nor past, but rather somewhere lost. Somewhere other. The film uses a mix of 2D and CG animation
to explore what happens to a lonely figure when a mysterious anomaly appears on the fringes of the
landscape. It aims to capture the strange sense of ennui, loss and anxiety that feels appropriate for our
Ladder to You – Victoria Watson and Chris Watson
Inspired by the loneliness experienced by older people in our society, Ladder to You is an insight into the life
of Eric, an old man dealing with the loss of his wife. We follow Eric’s day-to-day life and become immersed in
the solitude he is trying to overcome. Through his feelings and memories of better times we get to see what
it’s like for the thousands of old people who live every day without any human contact. Ending with a
message that love can beat despair, Ladder to You can also hopefully inspire people to give a little more time
to the older folk who live amongst us.
Hair – Ed Smith
Archie and Mary Harrison obsessively shave themselves. Archie hates hair, and Mary loves Archie. In an
attempt to please the love of her life, Mary suppresses her secret desire for hair. However, soon this desire
starts to surface and their relationship becomes toxic.
O, Hunter Heart – Carla MacKinnon and Hannah Peel
Inspired by the poetry of Edwin Morgan, where natural and domestic worlds collide and the hidden animal
instincts of humans rise to the surface, this poetic visual narrative features voices from interviews recorded
around the UK, woven into an evocative soundtrack. Stop motion puppets and live action footage combine
to tell a dark love story.
Slug Life – Sophie Koko Gate
We watch one young woman’s unconventional attempt to take control of her own love life by growing the
perfect partner – a beautiful giant slug. Both freaks of nature, it’s a seemingly perfect match; until the slug is
introduced to the outside world.