Animated documentary events at Encounters Festival 2016, Bristol, UK

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AnimatedDocumentary.com is getting ready to cover the Encounters Short film and Animation Festival. The festival runs from the 20th to 25th September across a number of Bristol’s cultural venues. Friday 23rd September looks to be an exciting day for Documentary Animation fans:

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At 12 noon the 5th Animation programme, A Look Inside, will be screened at the Watershed, focusing on the aspects of medicine, emotional and psychological conditions. The programme explores topics like memory, ageing and perception. It features recent films from Samantha Moore and George Sander-Jackson, familiar names in UK the UK ahi-doc scene.

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On the same day Animation Therapy will also be running a workshop from 10am-4pm under the ‘Animation on Prescription’ banner. The workshop is focused on the theme of compassion and is aimed at health professionals, dentists and vets. Documentary animation directors, Tim Webb and Em Cooper, will be teaching along side the occupational therapist and director of Animation Therapy, Helen Mason.

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Later that day at 4.30pm there will be an Animation on Prescription screening and networking event featuring examples of films created in a therapeutic context. Great Ormond Street Hospital, Aardman Animations and TPO Uganda are just some of the institutions featured.

Alex Widdowson from the blog team here at AnimatedDocumentary.com will be attending the entire festival looking for other ani-doc snippets. Click on the event links for details about booking tickets.

‘Silent Signal’ by Animate Projects

“Silent Signal is an ambitious project that brings together six artists working with animation together with six leading biomedical scientists to create experimental animated artworks exploring new ways of thinking about the human body”

Image copyright Samantha Moore ‘Loop’ 2015

Image copyright Ellie Land ‘Sleepless’ 2015

The six animations are currently on a year long tour, with the latest exhibition at Wellcome Genome Campus, Cambridge until September 2016.

You can watch all of the films online on the silent signal website, alongside artist interviews and a useful science guide. Check out the every expanding events section to find out about screenings, public talks and workshops that support the tour.

http://www.silentsignal.org/

‘That Dragon, Cancer’ by Numinous Games

Ryan Green’s infant son, Joel, is dying from cancer. A developer of apps and indie-games by trade, Ryan and his wife Amy have chosen to tackle their active sorrow head-on by creating a game about their son’s life and suffering. Initially funded by a successful KickStarter campaign, the game launched on 12 January 2016. The painful honesty of this project has made it stand out amongst other gaming experiences. I would go so far as to argue it has more in common with the animated documentaries covered on this blog than with the conventional gaming market.

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I first heard about That Dragon, Cancer on the Reply All podcast. Further investigation revealed an enormous amount of online media coverage. Wired Magazine has published an extract from the first scene that Ryan conceived, viewable at this link. It is a close reconstruction of a terrible night Ryan spent with Joel. He was forced to accept his limited ability to help his son. From this came the idea of a gaming experience where the player is not necessarily granted influence over the outcomes in the story. The significant absence of control leaves the player with no option other than to accept their fate, and that of Joel.

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Christianity strongly influences the Green family’s perspectives regarding Joel’s plight. The game is very much rooted in the tension first articulated in the Book of Job. In essence this ancient text asks why do the innocent suffer? The world being Godless, might seem to be a conceivable answer to a bourgeois atheist like myself, but it is clear that the Green family’s faith and prayers are vital tools that are helping them through this ongoing tragedy.

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From an outsider’s perspective, I would argue that there is something more tangible than prayer helping this family; the power of catharsis. This game is the method chosen by Amy and Ryan to address their pain. Every ounce of personal tragedy evident in the game play, is suffering that they are not going through alone; suffering that they have had to pick apart and understand in order to make it communicable to others. I cannot begin to understand what it would be like to watch your child battle with cancer for three years, but this game is the best that Ryan and Amy Green could do to show me.

That Dragon, Cancer is available for purchase and download here.

‘Dock Ellis and the LSD No No’ by James Blagden

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Ah! the experimental seventies! This funny short animated doc gives an account of what its like to play baseball under the influence of mind altering drugs. Towards the end of the animation the simplified frame rate comes into its own as a means to expose the narrators experience of judgement.

http://www.shortoftheweek.com/2009/11/24/dock-ellis-the-lsd-no-no/

Navigations with Alec Finlay and Iain Gardner – an Animate projects event

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‘On Tuesday 4 February, Alec Finlay and Iain Gardner will premiere two new animated works that have been developed over the last year in a special, free event for World Cancer Day at the Science Museum’s Dana Centre, London.

Navigations is a project about the brain, cancer, and the respective approaches of medical science and art to how we understand the impact of terminal illness.

On the night, Alec and Iain will join a panel of speakers to talk about their experiences of the project and engaging in a dialogue with the medical team and researchers about their respective disciplines. Facilitated by the writer, broadcaster and blogger, Dr Kat Arney, the panel also includes Professor Anthony Chalmers (Chair of Clinical Oncology, Beatson Institute for Cancer Research & Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, University of Glasgow) and Mairi Mackinnon (Clinical Nurse Specialist at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre).

The evening will begin with a screening of Down with the Dawn by Run Wrake featuring music by Howie B, made in response to being diagnosed with terminal cancer and also include a reading of poetry written by Alec over the year. Copies of Today Today Today, a booklet of recently published poems will be given away on on the night.

From Thursday 6 February the works will be viewable on animateprojects.org.

The event is free, but booking essential
Call 020 7942 4040 or e-mail tickets@danacentre.org.uk
#WorldCancerDay

Navigations is supported by a Wellcome Trust Arts Award and is a collaboration between Animate Projects, Paintings in Hospitals, and Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre and Beatson Institute for Cancer Research.’

There’s also an interview with Iain Gardner here:
http://www.animateprojects.org/interviews/iain_gardner
and with Alec Finlay here:
http://www.animateprojects.org/interviews/alec_finlay

‘Centrefold’ by Ellie Land

Released over a year ago this animated docmentary looks at the current UK trend for labia surgery, a procedure which trims and tidies a woman’s labia.

Directed and designed by animateddocumentary.com’s co founder Ellie Land.

http://www.thecentrefoldproject.org/

‘The Story of Cholera’ by Yoni Goodman and Global Health Media

Animated public information film ‘The Story of Cholera’ explicitly depicts methods of transmission, prevention and treatment of the bacterial disease in a simple and informative manner. The commissioning body, Global Health Media, explains the film ‘follows evidence-based guidelines, has been field-tested, and reviewed for accuracy and content’.

The entire sequence is strikingly utilitarian, breaking the conventional codes of pace found in mainstream film and television in order to emphasise the crucial learning points; for instance twice the viewer is left lingering on an image of a someone washing their hands properly. This film does not pull any punches; diarrhoea and vomiting is frequently depicted and explained in plain descriptive language.

Largely in black and white, colour is used to illustrate the presence of the invisible bacteria. As Western viewers we might take for granted how public health campaigns and detergent advertisements have helped us visualise how disease is spread. At the film’s resolution colour seeps into the black and white palette. This visual metaphor, despite it’s incredibly simplistic symbolism, is suitably optimistic.

The absence of lip-sync indicates one of the crucial functions of this film. Already it has been dubbed into nine languages and there are more in the pipeline. Global Health Media claim the film has been screened in 175 countries around the world. Animated Documentary wishes the campaign further success.

‘Patients’ by Alex Widdowson

Continuing our promises of exciting new things planned for the blog this year we are extremely pleased and excited to welcome on board two very talented people; Alex Widdowson and Charlotte Kaye. They will both be our resident interns for the spring and will be contributing to the blog on a regular basis, so watch this space!

Both Alex and Charlotte are makers of animated films, Charlotte is an animator and sculptor, more about her work to come in the next few weeks and Alex is an artist animator.

Here we feature Alex’s most recent film ‘Patients’ a semi-autobiographic animated documentary about psychosis. It is a valuable and insightful piece of work which addresses the stigmas attached to mental health – in both a medical and a wider society context through personal experience.

https://vimeo.com/43970364

For more updated info on what Alex is up to you can follow his blog here: alexwiddowson.tumblr.com

‘Animation on Prescription’ event review by Ellie Land

This day long symposium was designed and delivered by Animation Therapy’s Helen Mason, at this years Encounters Short film and animation festival in September 2012.

‘Animation on prescription’ brought together health professionals, animators and artists at a day long symposium exploring the following themes: animation as a process in a therapy setting, therapeutic interventions as part of the design process and animated documentaries focussing on health issues.

The day started with a key note speech from co founder of Aardman animation’s  David Sproxton, who outlined Aardmans historical relationship and commitment with issue based animation.

It’s difficult to say what the highlight of the day was because of the high quality of each speaker and their project presented. The three I have chosen provide a good insight to the day.

Cleo Ellis, an occupational therapist who uses animation practice in forensic psychiatry, talked about the Animation Therapy model and how the process of animation was instructional to improving the life skills and therefore life chances of her service users.

‘Tree Fu Tom’ an animated series on Cbeebies for young children, was presented by Sally Payne an Occupational therapist who worked closely with the animation director on this production. The goal of this series is to encourage children to live less sedentary life styles, through actively participating with the animated character. The audience help Tom create spells, which advance the story. What was fascinating about this project was how the therapeutic models of the Occupational therapist were embedded into the design of the animation, in particular the narrative and the character design.

Two animated documentaries were screened, ‘Centrefold’ by Ellie Land and’ Mother of many’ by Emma Lazenby, both of which have featured on animateddocumentary.com. It was a really pleasure to watch Mother of Many again, it’s one of those films that feels like an experience. Emma went through some of the research and production processes and played us a live recording of a woman giving birth –which she said she listened to everyday during the 9 month production period!

I attended the previous Animation Therapy symposium 2 years ago, which was just as stimulating and thought provoking as this one. I think this proves that we still have a lot more to talk about and discover about animation in a therapy/ health setting and I cant wait for the next instalment.

‘Mother of Many’ by Emma Lazenby

Mother of Many from emma lazenby on Vimeo.

A BAFTA-winning short inspired the director’s mother, who worked for many years as a midwife supporting women through pregnancy and childbirth.

Made by Bristol production company Arthur Cox for Channel 4 Television.

https://vimeo.com/29311641