Carrie Hawks‘ (they/them) is a gender non-conforming artist, designer, animator and filmmaker based in New York, US. They work with a wide span of media and methods of making such as performance, doll-making, drawing, animation, motion graphic design and multimedia design.
Hawks’ film titled ‘Black Enuf*’ explores expanding Black identity by interweaving personal stories from their great grandmother’s autobiography, interviews with friends and family, and hand-drawn visualisations of their own memories. The 22 minute film offers a mix of media and is experimental in style; it uses hand-drawn elements alongside scanned textures and digital artwork.
Hawks summaries the film as follows : ‘A queer oddball seeks approval from Black peers despite a serious lack of Hip-Hop credentials’ (via).
‘I am interested in the concept of skin and race, and what they imply; the ideas and theories sown into our flesh that change with the arc of time’ – Ng’endo Mukii (via)
Ng’endo Mukii holds a Master of Arts from the Royal College of Art (2012) in London, and a Bachelor of Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design (2006), USA. She is an award-winning filmmaker and is currently Professor of Practice at Tufts University, School of the Museum of Fine Arts. She is a writer on Netflix’s Mama K’s Team 4 series, and is one of 10 directors selected for the upcoming Disney+ and Triggerfish animated anthology, Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire.
Mukii describes ‘Yellow Fever’ as an exploration of the international fashion and beauty industry and it’s racist hierarchy. Her focus is the impact this has on the psyche of African women:
‘I believe skin and the body are often distorted into a topographical division between reality and illusion. The idea of beauty has become globalised, creating homogenous aspirations and distorting people’s self-image across the planet. In my film, I focus on African women’s self-image, through memories and interviews, using mixed media to describe this almost schizophrenic [sic] self-visualisation that I and many others have grown up with.’ (via)
“‘Hold Tight’ explores the importance of Carnival across the UK and how it’s celebrations provide an important lifeline to heritage and identity for younger generations of the Black Caribbean diaspora in Britain. It is a journey into the feeling of belonging, through the rituals of Carnival attendance and the power of bass.” – (via)
Ashman’s short animated documentary is a 2018 film which attempts to connect Caribbean people to their heritage, and celebrate London’s diversity. Using spoken word narration and hand-drawn 2D animation, layered with pixilation, Ashman illustrates the vibrancy of Carnival.
‘Hold Tight’ was part of a six-part series of micro-animated films titled ‘Untold Tales’. The project was commissioned by Anim18 and Animate Projects with the aim of creating films which would explore Britain’s culturally diverse communities.
Approximately a minute in length, the film has a vibrant aesthetic. The shaking lines echo the sound of the carnival bass, the mix of hand-drawn animation and pixilation footage gives a collage feel, further emphasizing the filmmaker’s personal relationship to the subject.
‘Our earliest childhood memories, often episodic, are one of our most intimate experiences’ – Mary Martins (via)
Mary Martins is a London-based animator and filmmaker. She is experimental in her practice, attempting to push boundaries of animated documentary and explore innovative new ways to portray reality. Martins was the 2017 winner of the Procreate Project Mother Art Prize and her films have been screened at multiple festivals around the world.
Commissioned by BFI and BBC4, ‘Childhood Memories’ by Mary Martins is a multi-layered film which utilises stop-motion and 2D digital animation, as well as 16mm colour film footage from 1970s Lagos, Nigeria. This autobiographical short explores childhood memories and cultural backgrounds.
Martin’s reflected upon the starting point for the film, linking it to her earliest child hood memory: “… when I accompanied my mother to Lagos, Nigeria in 1987. I was 4 years old. I was too young to remain in London with my Father and my two older sisters.” (via)
Watch ‘Childhood Memories’ here. (Available only in the UK)
Here at AnimatedDocumentary.com we are trying out a new podcast format as part of our mission to offer information, promotion, and critical discussion around the animated documentary form. We’re planning to release an occasional podcast featuring discussion on animated documentary with filmmakers, academics, programmers, commissioners, and commentators.
In this first episode, team members Alys Scott-Hawkins, Carla MacKinnon and Alex Widdowson discuss Chris Landreth’s seminal short animated documentary Ryan (2004), as well as Laurence Green’s film Alter Egos, a live-action making-of documentary released the same year, which tracks Landreth’s filmmaking process and exposes problematic elements in his approach.
Animators Alys Scott-Hawkins, Carla MacKinnon, and Alex Widdowson discuss their thoughts on Chris Landreth's seminal short animated documentary Ryan (2004) and Laurence Green's film Alter Egos, a live-action making-of documentary released the same year, which tracks Landreth's filmmaking process and exposes problematic elements in his approach. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Both Ryan and Alter Egos are free to watch online at the links below.
Osbert Parker‘s short animated film ‘Life On The Move’ is a collaborative production which explores the complexities of immigration by using real life experiences and research. The stop-motion animation plays alongside a script created by two researchers who conducted interviews with migrants, refugees and returnees in Somaliland.
‘Life On The Move’ is innovative in the way that it explores how artists and researchers can collaborate to generate knowledge that can reach wider audiences about complex issues such as immigration. The film makes this information and these testimonials more accessible to public audiences, and the team worked with the aim of inspiring more researchers to collaborate with artists.
“It illustrates how complex research findings can be disseminated in a clear and accessible style suitable for many public audiences. Visualising internal and external migration routes, it disrupts mainstream media coverage of migration as a problem, presenting a more holistic narrative.” – (via)
The figures used in the stop-motion sequence are all based on 3D scans of real actors from a variety of backgrounds to reflect differing cultures, focusing especially on unique facial features. Over 1800 individual images were used in the film to create the smooth animation. The film was a collaborative project which also involved PositiveNegatives, the Migration Leadership Team, artist Karrie Fransman and, of course, animator Osbert Parker. Research and field work was funded by the International Organisation For Migration.
The film was the winner of the ‘best social media short’ at AHRC Film Awards in 2019.
Here at animateddocumentary.com, we want to celebrate Black History Month by highlighting some excellent animated documentaries by Black filmmakers and animators. Some of these films have been posted on the blog before, and some are brand new!
Each Monday this October we will share an animated documentary by a different Black filmmaker, four from here in the UK and one from the USA. We’d also love to hear about any of your favourite films by Black creators so feel free to share in the comments below.
The United Kingdom’s Black History Month was founded more than 30 years ago, in 1987, to recognise the contributions made by people of African and Caribbean backgrounds in the UK. Today, however, the remit of the project has expanded to include the history of Black people from all backgrounds. You can read more about Black History Month on bbc.co.uk.
Be sure to check out the official website for Black History Month in the UK, here.
Ana Mouyis is an animator, illustrator, filmmaker and educator based in Louisiana, US. In 2020, animateddocumentary.com’s Alys Scott Hawkins interviewed Ana about her film ‘Cambia Tutto’ which takes the viewer through the small Italian village of Canieza and emphasises how the town has changed over time. ‘Cambia Tutto’ was screened at multiple film festivals in Europe, the US and Brazil, and won Fisheye Film Festival’s 2021 Audience Award for best short documentary, and The Americas Film Festivals 2020 award for best experimental short.
Read Alys’s interview with Ana Mouyis:
How did the film come about?
The film was created as part of a residency opportunity in Canieza, Italy – musician Fox Schwach and I applied as a collaborative. The residency asked for work that connected to the location; a small village in Northern Italy. In our proposal we pitched the idea of creating a short film that would act as a portrait of the town, I would direct the animation and Fox would create a score. When we arrived we were so struck by the scenery of it all and wanted to make a contemplative piece that would highlight the beauty in the details of this small town.
Can you tell us about the motivation for / meaning of the film?
A lot of it had to do with the circumstances – we wanted to make a film about this small village but we had never been there so part of the process was getting there and immersing ourselves in the environment. For this reason we decided to work with replacement animation and hyperlapse as that would require us to explore and spend hours walking around photographing the surrounding area. One thing that became clear to us conceptually as we worked on this piece was that we were interested in building a portrait of this town through small/often-overlooked details. Photography (rather than video footage) allowed us to zero in on all these tiny details. For example, taking hundreds of pictures of different flowers from all over the village, we can put them together into a longer mesmerizing sequence, which would be different than just filming some flowers swaying in the breeze. In a general sense, both Fox and I, in our work, are interested in the sort of life and vibrancy that come from imperfections of hand-made/manual processes. Embracing some of the shaky/jittery processes of this kind of animation appealed to us for this project, so the viewer could get a feel for the human element that went into making it.
One aspect that really helped to inform the shape of the final film was the interview with Wilma Andrighetto, the mother of Paola De Martin, who is one of the residency organizers (and owners of the house we stayed in). Wilma has lived in that town her whole life. Her view on how the town has evolved over the years became a central conceptual element to how we put the film together. It was important to us to have some local perspective to keep it from just being a kind of travelogue
Where will it be screened or distributed?
We initially released it on Vimeo because of the pandemic, especially with how badly it was affecting Italy. With everyone in lockdown we felt it was a good time to put it online and share it freely, rather than only showing it at film festivals or galleries as we had originally planned. It’s been gratifying to share it with our friends and family and broader networks and hear that it’s helped people’s cabin fever in some small way. More recently it has screened at a number of film festivals and online showcases in Europe and the US.
What are you working on next?
This summer I will be returning to Cyprus, where I grew up and will be an artist in residence at Animafest Cyprus animation film festival. During the residency I will work on the production of an experimental documentary animation about the culture of Cyprus. By highlighting the commonalities between the customs and traditions of its divided peoples I hope to foster a greater understanding and empathy between the segregated communities in the North and South of the island. Fox and I will collaborate again on this project with him assisting me with audio recordings and sound design as well as composing an original score.
This animated documentary by students from the Lodz Film School in Poland is a protest film which protests the Polish government’s implementation of a stricter abortion law in October 2020. This film was brought to our attention by Thomas Martinelli, who interviewed two of the students and published an article over at Global Il Manifesto. We wanted to highlight here at animateddocumentary.com in light of the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade in the United States only last month.
#polish_women_resistance is a powerful piece which is made up of a multitude of voices. Many male and female students from Lodz Film School contributed to the 8-minute short film, and you can definitely see the distinct styles through the piece. Despite the variety of animated segments, the film is very cohesive. The black and red colours throughout are bold and striking, and the music by Pim Lekler gives a sense of urgency.
Martinelli’s article goes into further detail about the motivations and impact of the film, and explores how animation can be impactful when used to as a tool in social issues.
Nicola Destefanis‘ 33 second short ‘Quit Smoking’ is a personal project. Having had his final cigarette, Destefanis turned to animation to help distract from the cravings and symptoms that came along with quitting smoking. A loop of animation was made every week for nine weeks to help express how he was feeling. The result is a beautiful short which is expressive and vibrant.
The limited colour palette is bright and contrasting, and each reel is striking. Along with upbeat music, the film gives a sense of hope and triumph, despite the negative symptoms and emotions it conveys.
Watch the full film below, and see more of the behind-the-scenes process here.