November has been an excellent month for examining the great work talented filmmakers and animators have been producing of late. Here is a selection of films that I’ve recently seen at two film festivals, Bradford Animation Festival and Underwire Festival, that are worth a watch.

Bradford Animation Festival

1. The Obvious Child – Stephen Irwin
A remarkable and disturbing contemplation of death and religion in the style of a children’s story. The use of colour, voiceover and the model backgrounds employed in this film is truly superb. (I had the privilege to have seen this film through it’s development, but actually seeing it on the big screen really showed how well this piece has been crafted).

2. The Bigger Picture – Daisy Jacobs
An intelligent animation that inventively fuses stop motion and wall painting to create a window onto the world of a family coping with ill health. Winner of the Best Student Film Award (and also Winner on the Under 25s at Underwire Festival).

3. Through the Hawthorn – Anna Benner, Pia Borg, Gemma Burditt
This Wellcome Trust supported film about schizophrenia looks at a conversation between a psychiatrist, patient and the patient’s mother through an innovative split screen technique that gives each animator an equal status in telling the story. This outstanding film was the deserved winner of the Best Professional Film Award.

4. Brutus – Svetlana Filippova
Brutus is a delightful charcoal on paper animation (a technique that I’m quite a fan of). The poetic tale is narrated by a dog called Brutus, who is one of the many pets of Jewish owners that had to be given up to the Nazis in the Second World War. Sadly there are no links to see the work online, but the image above gives you an idea of her artistry, and instead you can hear Svetlana speak about her work at Annecy in the interview below.

5. PeloMono: Cortocircuito en la Selva – Esteban Perles & Pedro Perles
This hip music video was a standout entry in the programme with its superb illustrative style and nod to the Western genre suits the music to a tee.

Underwire Festival

1. A Moment to Move – Georgia Parris
This film beautifully captures the awkwardness of social situations and the resistance of a mother of the bride to behave as she should. So refreshing to see a middle-aged woman’s defiance of her allotted place in life and so joyful the way she loses herself in a crowd of strangers. This film merited the XX Award for the best female protagonist.

2. Joyride – Eva Riley
A heartbreaking examination of the effect that mental illness can have on a family as we see a distraught mother drive her son and possessions to a cliff edge. With brilliant acting by Charlotte Randle and strong cinematography by Nanu Segal it keeps you guessing until the end. Here’s a little taster of what you can expect.

3. Crocodile – Gaëlle Denis
Wonderfully surreal look at how all-consuming grief can be, as a seemingly well to do headmaster becomes fixated about the crocodile that killed his daughter. The strikingly staged dreamlike episodes intermixed with the insomnia of his daily life builds to a dramatic battle with his nemesis. The trailer goes some way to capturing how atmospheric this award winning short is.

4. The Last Resort – Stephanie Blakey
A witty graduation film that uses the papercut animation technique brilliantly to tell a dark tale of blackmail, murder and the supernatural, penned by Gillian Park. There’s only a trailer online at the minute, but do look out for this droll film at festivals.

5. Anita – Geoff Bellhouse
Although directed by a male director, this film was selected for the XX Award for its sympathetic portrayal of the tenderness and affection that a young careworker’s exhibits on her last visit to a young man that she cares for. The relationship between the two characters is well crafted and makes it a truly moving piece. Here’s a short extract that shows the intimate camerawork of the piece.