Wednesday, 29 February 2012

New talent 2012

A while back the British Animation Awards announced their shortlist for the student film category. Let's take a look at the work on show from the country's up-and-coming animation talent...

The list contains three familiar titles: David Prosser's Matter Fisher, Matthias Hoegg's Thursday and Michael Please's The Eagleman Stag, all from the Royal College of Art. This is unsurprising, as they were all nominated for the BAFTA the year before last; time will tell if they will also all be nominated for the BAA.

Moving on to the films which haven't been similarly feted we have Overcast, made by James Lancett and Sean Weston of Kingston University. This will also familiar to many as it was showcased on Cartoon Brew last year. The film revolves around a man who leads an unhappy life because he is followed everywhere by a small raincloud; some solid, if understated, character animation from both the man and the cloud.

Also hailing from Kingston University is Grethe Bentsen's Ex Libris. It's a mixed media piece, short on narrative but quite sophisticated in technique, with paper cut-out creatures emerging from the books in a library when no-one's around.

London College of Communication student Natalie Young managed to make the shortlist not once but twice, with her films Spilt Milk and Cowboy Love.

Both films combine a naive drawing style with digitally-animated textures. Spilt Milk, about a shopkeeper serving a lobster, is a bit loose and meandering; but Cowboy Love, the story of two guys (who happen to be a bear and a cowboy) and their regret for poisoning a mouse, is a tighter and sharper bit of observational comedy.

For my money, one of the strongest of the lot and a definite contender for the final selection is When I was Young, by UCA student Kaori Onishi. A mood piece about a little girl who loves whales, the combination of minimalist line animation an clear, simple watercolour backgrounds make for a charming short.

And then we have You May Now, a satire on 3D cinema by University of West England students Daniel Keeble and Dane Winn. It's a one-joke cartoon, but at one and a half minutes it can afford to be. Like Overcast it's simple but well-made, relying heavily on applying character animation to an unusual object: not a cloud, this time, but some kind of pillow or sack.

Those are the films that I could find online. Others have trailers available for viewing: An Interrupted Story by Ania Hazel Leszczynska (Edinburgh College of Art); The Boy Who Wanted to be a Lion by Alois Di Leo (National Film & Television School); Confusion of Tongues by Emily Cooper (Royal College of Art); Damned by Richard Phelan (National Film & Television School); Dr Cecil’s Sound Surgery by Angus Dick & Frank Burgess (Kingston University); Ernesto by Corinne Ladiende (National Film & Television School); Henhouse by Elena Pomares (National Film & Television School); I’m Fine Thanks by Eamonn O’Neill (Royal College of Art); Safe by Ginevra Boni (London College of Communication); and Slow Derek by Daniel Ojari (Royal College of Art).

I can't find so much as a trailer for the others, although footage from Life Well -Seasoned by Daniel Rieley (The Arts Institute of Bournemouth), The Man who was Afraid of Falling by Joseph Wallace (International Film School of Wales), Bare by Helen Dallat (International Film School of Wales) and Out on the Tiles by Anna Pearson (Edinburgh College of Art) can be seen in the directors' showreels.

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