The London International Animation Festival is due to launch at the end of the week and it lasts ten days (December 02nd to December 11th). There are over 200 films getting screened and many of them are Japanese. The titles are spread across competitions and special screenings and there is a wide variety of Here’s a preview based on a press release and information from the festival site:
03rd of December Abstract Showcase
Mirai Mizue represents Japan in this section. His animation is normally abstract and experimental and his latest, Retro Future (2015, Dir: Mirai Mizue, 7 min) looks to push boundaries since it is set in a futuristic world imagined in childhood – what will the buildings look like?
The competition section of the festival received 2,400 entries from many talented animators from around the world but, as usual, Japanese animators have a significant impact and make a strong showing in the various parts.
04th of December International Competition 4 – Japanese Shorts
This section is full of shorts between three and fourteen minutes long and the works come from many familiar names such as Mirai Mizue and Kawako Sabuki. Other names have cropped up in festivals I have covered such as Annecy.
06th of December International Competition 7
Saties “Parade” (Dir: Koji Yamamura, 14 min) is in International Competition 7 and its subject matter revolves around French composer Erik Satie’s essays on the music he composed for the 1916 ballet “Parade”. Here’s a trailer:
11th of December The Longing of Michael Dudok de Wit
(Netherlands, 2016, Dir: Maarten Schmidt, Thomas Doebele 54 mins )
This is billed as a documentary portrait of the Oscar-winning Dutch animator and director Michael Dudok de Wit who’s debut feature The Red Turtle made waves after its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2016 where it won the special jury prize. It is included in this list since it was co-produced by Studio Ghibli, and it is their first-ever international co-production.
Directors Maarten Schmidt and Thomas Doebele followed Michael and his team for more than two years, during the making of the film and they captured many different facets of a character described as a perfectionist used to creating his hand-drawn animated films himself but having to work with a team of 30 animators from all over Europe for The Red Turtle.
Here’s a trailer for The Red Turtle which I wrote about when it appeared at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
04th December Momotaro, Sacred Sailors
桃太郎 海の神兵 「Momotaro Umi no Shinpei」
Release Date: April 12th, 1945
Running Time: 74 mins.
Director: Mitsuyo Seo
Writer: Mitsuyo Seo (Original Story/Screenplay)
Starring: Machiko Kyo, Mitsuko Mito, Kinuyo Tanaka, Masayuki Mori, Eitaro Ozawa, Kikue Mori, Shozo Nanbu
Mitsuyo Seo was a Japanese animator, screenwriter and director of animated films who made propaganda for the Japanese government during World War II. Momotaro, Umi no shinpei (Momotaro, Sacred Sailors) is one of his most famous and influenced the next-generation animators including major figures like Osamu Tezuka. After the war American forces confiscated and destroyed many propaganda films but a negative copy of this film was found in Shochiku’s Ofuna warehouse in 1983 and was re-released in 1984. It was shown at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Synopsis: A propaganda animated feature film made during WWII with the funding by the Ministry of Navy. This is an updated take on the Japanese fairy-tale, Momotaro (the guy born from a peach who rolled with a monkey, dog and pheasant killing ogres). Here he is depicted fighting for the Imperial Japanese Navy defeating European colonisers and taking the fight to America.
The film has been licensed for release by Funimation in the US and Anime Limited in the UK.
The film will be shown with the short Spider and Tulip (1943, Dir Kenzo Masaoka, 16 min ) which, according to the Barbican website, was v, oted the fourth best anime short of all time by Japanese magazine Animage. The story is about a spider’s attempts to trap a young ladybird but she isn’t fooled by his cunning ploys.
That’s it for the festival this year. Another great line-up which is sure to provide viewing pleasure for audiences.