September 1, 2008

A Celebration of the Puppet Masters



Puppets take centre stage at this year's London International Animation Festival (Liaf). As well as a session showcasing puppet animations from the Russian Animose Studio, there will be a screening of the 2008 Academy Award-nominated Canadian short Madame Tutli-Putli. Plus there's an Icons of Puppet Animation strand, featuring films including The Hand, a dark political allegory about living under Communist rule, directed by Jiri Trnka.

"A lot of films are being made in Russia and Eastern Europe that are harking back to traditional ways of making animation," says festival director and Liaf founder Nag Vladermersky. "It is not exactly a backlash against computers, but this trend is showing that traditional ways of making animated films are still alive."

Most of the 220 shorts were chosen by Liaf out of more than 2,000 entries, except for the three feature films. These include the premire of Fear(s) of the Dark, a collaboration between 10 cutting- edge graphic artists. Kings of the Time is an animated documentary by the Estonian studio Nukufilm about its own industry. And Idiots and Angels, a comedy about a man's battle for his soul, has been hand-drawn entirely by Bill Plympton.

The Canadian film-maker Josh Raskin is a special guest this year. His I Met the Walrus, released earlier this year, is based on an interview with John Lennon in 1969. "Animated documentaries are becoming more popular. People are realising that animation is a very different way of making films. You can see what people are thinking inside their mind with animation," says Vladermersky.

The Psychedelic Film strand includes San Francisco Bay Area Historical. "We are screening insane films like Paradisia, directed by Marcy Page, in 1967," says Vladermersky. "It is a documentation of various bands that were playing in San Francisco at the time. She took the music and turned it into an experimental film."

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