Hybrid programme includes screenings, masterclasses and studio talks

Manchester Animation Festival, the largest festival of its kind in the UK, has revealed its line-up of for 2021 with a mixture of online and in-person events. The festival, now in its seventh year, will give audiences the chance to experience the world’s best animation all in one place, running from 14-30 November online.

The varied programme will comprise panels, masterclasses and work-in-progress events as well as studio talks, with HOME hosting a choice selection of screenings and events between 14-19 November.

We’re also delighted that in 2021 we can finally launch an animated feature film award

Headline events include a behind-the-scenes look at Ron’s Gone Wrong (starring Zach Galifianakis and Olivia Coleman) and an event that explores the creation of notable animation studio, Aardman’s Robin Robin - a stop-motion short with voiceovers from Gillian Anderson and Richard E Grant that's coming to Netflix. The film is set to be the streaming platform’s answer to falsetto Xmas classic The Snowman

The 2021 Manchester Animation Festival Will Feature A Tonko House Qa
The festival will feature behind-the-scenes first looks and Q&As with notable animators

The cream of the animated crop

Elsewhere on the bill, festival-goers will be able to watch an exclusive work-in-progress first look at Netflix series The House, made by critically-acclaimed stop-motion directors Emma de Swaef and Marc James Roels with an additional live Q&A. The duo is known for their unique woollen characters, using animation in the past to explore topics including colonialism and environmentalism.

This year’s festival will also introduce two new categories including the festival’s first-ever feature film category which aims to showcase the skills of internationally recognised filmmakers across four dedicated titles. The must-see titles include Flee, Absolute Denial, My Sunny Maad and My Favourite War.     

The animated short film screening competition, which has been a central part of previous festivals will also return this year with categories that cover short film and student film. The winners of which will be announced on 25 November.

Manchester Animation Festival Will Also Be An Opportunity For Those Looking To Get Into The Industry To Ask Questions And Network With Notable Names
The festival's industry day will feature a keynote speech titled 'Ignite British Animation'

Keynote speeches and family-friendly screenings

A landmark of the festival programme will be the MAF Fellowship Award, this year set be presented to Jorge Gutierrez and Sandra Equihua, the duo behind 2014 animation feature The Book of Life (which was nominated for a Golden Globe) as well as recent Netflix series Maya and the Three. The two will be taking part in a Q&A with an event also looking back at their work.

Other highlights include the inaugural keynote speech, which this year will be presented by Patricia Hidalgo head of children’s and education at the BBC. The speech entitled "Ignite British Animation" will be the main event of the festival’s industry day, which provides an opportunity for those in the industry to come together to share ideas and break down barriers for those looking to get into professional animation.

Flee Will Be One Of The Notable Screenings At This Years Manchester Animation Festival Online And At Home Cinema
The critically acclaimed Flee is one of many notable features to be shown at the festival

The festival’s family day, meanwhile, will give animation fans of all ages the chance to watch animated features and short films from around the world as well as an interactive sculpting class with senior modeller and member of the Aardman studio, Jim Parkyn.

Festival Director Steve Henderson said:

“We’re delighted to announce our 2021 programme, featuring some brand new exciting additions and developments from last year, including an industry keynote! We have a brilliant mixture of live events where you can get involved with questions and comments and pre-recorded screenings for you to enjoy as and when you like. We’re also delighted that in 2021 we can finally launch an animated feature film award to bring these films to new audiences with four fantastic titles contending for the inaugural prize.”

Short Films Will Also Feature As Part Of Manchester Animation Festival 2021 Which Features Online And In Person At Home
Animated shorts and student films will be in competition at the festival

Last year saw Manchester Animation Festival’s biggest year to date with 126 festival guest appearances, an online viewership spanning 35 countries, 120 short films from 29 countries, 3 feature films including a UK premiere and 29,908 festival streams with this year set to be another exciting programme of events.

Manchester Animation Festival 2021 runs from 14-30 November. Tickets are available now with further information available on the festival website.

A closer look at this year's feature award selections:

Absolute Denial (Monday 15 November, 8.30pm HOME)

A tale of obsession and genius gone overdrive directed by Ryan Braund. A programmer sacrifices everything in his personal life in order to build the world’s most powerful computer. He must then confront the machine he has created, a machine that has become smarter than its creator.

My Sunny Maad (Tuesday 16 November, 8.30pm HOME)

The work of director Michaela Pavlatova, My Sunny Maad tells the story of Herra, a Czech woman who falls in love with an Afghan man. Little does she know about the life that awaits her in a post-Taliban Afghanistan and the culture clashes that await as she joins a new family.

My Favourite War (Wednesday 17 November, 8.30pm HOME)

A film based on director Ilze Burkovska Jacobsen’s youth growing up in Cold-War Latvia under the oppressive USSR regime. A coming of age story, the film covers attempts to escape propaganda and state brainwashing. First and foremost an anti-war film, the film explores in animated form, the integral right of freedom and individuality in society.

Flee (Thursday 18 November, 8.30pm HOME)

An animation chronicling the remarkable true story of a man, Amin, on the verge of a marriage that compels him to share, for the first time, his past of fleeing his home country. The animated documentary, exec produced by Riz Ahmed and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. If selected, the film could be the first film to be nominated for the animated, documentary and international feature categories at the Oscars.

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