Johnnos Dead
Johnnos Dead

The London International Animation Festival (LIAF 2016) returns to the Barbican with a whopping 10-day celebratory feast of forums, screen talks and over 200 of the best new, archive and retrospective animated shorts and features from around the world.

Guests at LIAF this year include world-renowned animators Chris Shepherd (UK) and Ann Marie Fleming (Canada) who will both take part in onstage discussions, career-spanning retrospectives and present world premiere screenings of their most recent films.

The uncompromising program promises to inspire and delight – and also challenge the notion that animation is merely for 3D-CG blockbusters alone. Independent animation continues to thrive and develop a breathtaking medley of styles, materials, techniques and productions. From hand drawn, paint on glass, collage and sculpture, to cut-outs, puppets, abstract and sand/salt. LIAF 2016 will showcase all this, plus some of the more interesting developments in CGI.

The opening night gala celebrates a giant of British animation, Chris Shepherd. One of the most cherished names in the UK independent animation scene, his work fuses comedy with commentary on the darker side of human nature and his numerous short films have won awards and screened to universal acclaim the world over. The gala will include the world premiere of Shepherd’s live-action/animated short film Johnno’s Dead, several years in the making and the sequel to the multi-award winning Dad’s Dead. Shepherd will attend the screening at Barbican, alongside cast and crew, to discuss his work and the making of Johnno’s Dead.

Three animated features make their British premieres at LIAF 2016.

Window Horses
Window Horses

Window Horses (Canada, dir. Ann Marie Fleming), a warm and witty film about a young Canadian poet, Rosie, who undergoes a life-changing experience in Iran. The film seamlessly integrates different animation styles to express Rosie’s diverse experiences in an extraordinary tale of art, history, and family. Ann Marie Fleming will take part in a screen talk following the premiere.

The Longing of Michael Dudok de Wit (Netherlands, dir. Maarten Schmidt/Thomas Doebele) is a searingly honest portrait of the Oscar-winning Dutch animator, Michael Dudok de Wit. His debut feature The Red Turtle made its premiere at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, winning the Special Jury Prize, and the film follows Michael and his team of animators during the complex creative process of making the film.

Momotaro – Sacred Sailors (Japan, dir. by Mitsuyo Seo) premieres in the Archive section, and offers a very rare chance to see a lost masterpiece, now fully restored, on the big screen. Made in 1945, it was Japan’s first Anime feature and presumed lost until the mid-80s. Now in a 4K scan of the original 35mm negatives, Seo’s classic lives again and remains a timeless achievement in worldwide animation.

Other screenings in the Archive program include classic Disney Shorts from the 30s and 40s. The creative output that poured from the Walt Disney Studio defined the very history of animation as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and other characters survive to this day. Disney’s ability to portray animated characters on screen was a revelation to all ages and LIAF is proud to present a rare opportunity to once again experience their beautiful magic, painstakingly restored to their original glory and projected from 35mm and 2K digital prints.

Over 2,400 new films were entered for LIAF this year and 128 of the best have been selected to screen across 9 International Competition Programs including British Showcase, Into The Dark – Scary Shorts, and New Japanese Shorts – Beyond Anime.

The Animated Documentaries program is a selection of stylish, persuasive and compelling short form narratives mixed with some of the most stunning visuals of the festival. The Abstract Showcase is animation in its purest form and LIAF’s annual collection of the most impressive and expressive experimental animated films from all over the world.

The festival will also present two programs specifically for children; Marvellous Animations (for 8-15 year-olds) and Amazing Animations (for 0-7 year-olds), where talking animals and fun adventures will spark young imaginations.

LIAF 2016 ends with the Best of the Festival on Saturday December 10 (repeated Sunday December 11) featuring the best selections from the panel of industry judges and audience voters. On this glittering occasion filmmakers will take to the stage to accept prizes and awards handed out by the sponsors – The Elf Factory (Peppa Pig), Toon Boom and The Matthew Martino Benevolent Fund.