TGIM! The London International Animation Festival

Now in its 9th year, the London International Animation Festival keeps going from strength to strength. Quickly regarded in animation circles as “really rather spiffing good”, this year’s event line-up promises not to disappoint. Featuring almost 300 animated films, both home-grown and foreign, this festival is littered with the remarkable, the beautiful, the absurd and the joyful. Whether you are an ardent connoisseur of obscure Lithuanian stop-motion, or more likely, not, there’s enough content here to make this worthwhile to anyone.

The festival opens strongly on the 25th October with the documentary For No Good Reason, which features Johnny Depp exploring the life and works of British comic artist Ralph Steadman, who is principally known for his work with Hunter S. Thompson (author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas). Steadman himself will be present for a post-screening Q&A.

From there, the LIAF keeps on giving – for 11 days. The showings are split up into separate International Animation screenings, although there are specific programmes for children’s animation or technique focus. There will be a strong Japanese animation presence (of course) on the 27th October, and a special screening of the works of Keita Kurosaka, whose works include Worm Story, and the cheerfully titled Agitated Screams of Maggots, which we present here in all its mind-cussing glory.

On a personal note, my favourite part is when the little girl’s mother turns into a maggot-man, attempts to defecate on her, then proceeds to attack her with his face-penis. Which she bites off. Moving on then.

The LIAF will also feature previously-unseen pilots from Klasky Csupo Studios (animators of Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys), and Tomás Lumák, who will be screening his much-applauded work Alois Nebel. Drawn in black-and-white rotoscope, this beautiful and dark piece explores the political and social changes that came with the end of the cold war, through the experiences of an introverted Czech train dispatcher.

For fans of the truly odd, I recommend the Kurosaka video above, but failing that you may want to try the Late Night Bizarre on 2nd November, which features Rosette, a film about a world made of raw meat and Organopolis, a film following a day in the life of a young student from the perspective of their internal organs.

A Flipbook Challenge will also feature during the festival, giving punters the chance to pit their own artistic creations. The best will be filmed into motion and uploaded for all the world to see.

The festival will climax with The Best of the Festival on the 4th November, where the judges and the audience will pick their favourite animations from each session, the Best British animation, and of course, Best of the Festival.

The festival is so broad in scope that we suggest more than a single day. The medium of animation gives an artist the chance to explore recesses of the human mind that regular films can never reach. With only 2 out of the 37 or so events being aimed solely at children, the London International Animation Festival is proving that animators can get much darker and much more introspective than most people would think of cartoons. This Gothic and sepia-toned trend is set to continue in the world of animation, and this year’s festival does nothing if not highlight this. If you do get the chance, see as much as you can. With so many events spread over 11 days, you really don’t have an excuse, now, do you?

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