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LIAF 2016: Judges – The Inside Scoop

Each year we search for the most diverse, open-minded, objective, and generally well-versed panel of Judges: educators; independent animators; producers; affiliates of prominent organisations (all with animation at their core); authors; curators and more… all are experts in their field and all possess the ‘shining’ when it comes to an informed and exploratory eye for the finest animation. LIAF 2016 welcomed 3 Judges who more than fulfilled the above criteria. This highly experienced trio diligently cast their eyes and ears over our International Competition Programmes and debated/lost sleep over which films would gain LIAF laurels. A further 2 Judges were specifically enlisted (again they exceeded our own criteria) to judge our Abstract Showcase.

Whittling down over 120 animations to a select few… and refining that selection further to find our Winners, is not an easy task. Team LIAF – in particular our Festival Director Nag Vladermersky would like to extend a very warm handshake (and a not so formal bear hug!) to all of our LIAF 2016 Judges – for the noble donation of their time and expertise to these awards. Below you’ll find out a little more about our Judges, and excerpts from their many ‘animated’ discussions about the animations that ultimately swung them to vote ‘Aye’.

LIAF 2016 Judges

Mark Collington – International Competition Programme Judge

Mark completed his animation studies at the Royal College of Art.  His MA films, and subsequent Arts Council England funded commissions, have been screened on television and at a number of international animation festivals.  He began his career as a traditional 2D animator has worked on a sitcom pilot series, fashion illustration and brand development, and with numerous London-based clients

Mark is the BA Animation Course Leader at the CASS, and the External Examiner for BA Animation at Plymouth College of Art.  He established and ran the BA Animation course at University of Bedfordshire between 2006-2013. Previously Mark worked as a senior lecturer at the Arts University Bournemouth, where he helped gain Creative Skillset accreditation of the BA Animation Production Course.

His personal work primarily explores relationships between architecture and animation. Recent projects include projection mapping animated images onto Surbiton Station, and developing an animated visual essay to accompany Animation in Context – A Practical Guide to Theory and Making (Bloomsbury).

Carla MacKinnon – International Competition Programme Judge

Carla founded Rich Pickings in 2009 – which specialises in events bringing filmmakers together with practitioners in science and the humanities. In 2013 she completed an Animation MA at the Royal College of Art. She’s currently a PhD candidate at Arts University Bournemouth and is conducting practice-based research into animated documentary. Carla is also developing and producing film and animation projects as an independent artist and producer.

Her 2013 animation Devil in the Room screened in prominent Festivals all over the UK (including LIAF) and internationally, and won ‘Best Documentary’ at Cineglobe Film Festival, Switzerland.

Edwin Rostron – International Competition Programme Judge

Edwin is an artist, animator, writer and curator based in London. He studied Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University and Animation at the Royal College of Art.

His work has been shown in exhibitions and film festivals around the world including: Ann Arbor Film FestivalPictoplasmaFourth Wall Festival in Cardiff; and Eyeworks Festival of Experimental Animation. He has taught Animation at Kingston University, and is currently a visiting lecturer at the Royal College of Art. He curates Edge of Frame – with the aim of stimulating artistic discourse around experimental animation, focusing on work at the intersection of animation, experimental film and artists’ moving image. Beginning as a blog in 2013 and extending into screening events in 2016 (many of which have screened as part of LIAF 2016), Edge of Frame seeks to celebrate this incredibly rich and vibrant, yet often marginalised and hard to define art form.

Richard Wright – Abstract Showcase Judge

Richard is a visual artist who has worked in animated media for over twenty years, including many early pioneering digital animated films and interactive installations. He holds a PhD in the aesthetics of digital cinema and has published nearly forty papers, articles and book chapters. Recent projects include working on ‘decorative surveillance’ – a live video project that uses the flow of people through urban spaces as an animation tool. Richard has also donated his knowledge as a panellist on the LIAF Animation Industry Event: Bit Players – Coding for Creativity?

Martin Pickles – Abstract Showcase Judge

Martin studied for his MA in Animation at the Royal College of Art, and gained a further MA at Middlesex University in Computing in Art and Design.

Martin is a London-based freelance animator, designer and editor, specialising in hand-drawn, character-based animation using Flash, PhotoShop, AfterEffects and Final Cut Pro. He makes ads, title sequences, medical films, explainers, corporates and sequences for documentaries and feature films. He’s made around thirty short films, teaches and organises monthly events for animators via the London Animation Club.

Best of the Festival Award: Before Love (Igor Kovyalov)

LIAF, London International Animation Festival, 2016, Best of the Festival Award

“Visually this film has the richness of a Bilibin folklore illustration or set design.  Visually and also narratively it has the sophistication of a piece of Soviet montage by Vertov or Eisenstein.  There is an authorship akin to the animations of Norstein that is poetic in its visualization of the human condition.  All comparisons aside, Kovalyov has perfected his own inimitable craft and vision to produce a sublime filmic experience.”

Mark Collington

“A very ambitious, subtle and textured film.  Impressive scale and beautifully executed.  Great lighting, composition, set and sound design.”

Carla MacKinnon

“An expertly crafted, compelling and immersive vision from a great artist.”

Edwin Rostron

Best British Film Award: Johnno’s Dead (Chris Shepherd)

LIAF, London International Animation Festival, 2016, Best British Film Award, Johnnos Dead, Chris Shepherd

“Chris Shepherd takes his craft to the next level with his trademark ‘tell it like it is’ eclectic mix of gritty live action and often-absurd animation.  Once again he employs playful integrity to engage the audience with some of the darkest aspects of the human psyche.  Quintessentially British, and quintessentially Chris Shepherd!”

Mark Collington

“Bold, impactful storytelling with great pace and momentum, as well as a deep streak of human compassion and black humour. A strong sense of the wider storyworld. Strikingly expressive imaginative detail.”

Carla MacKinnon

“Powerful and unsettling.”

Edwin Rostron

Best Abstract Film Award: Sai Gon (Oerd van Cuijlenborg)

LIAF, London International Animation Festival, 2016, Best Abstract Film Award, Sai Gon

“Sai Gon is a meditative abstraction of place, tugging at our perception with its choreography of translucent planes. It gently and skilfully evokes the tones and rhythms of a place we have never been.”

Richard Wright & Martin Pickles

Best Sound Design Award: Otto – Nicola Ariutti (Salvatore Murgia & Dario Imbrogno, Italy)

LIAF, London International Animation Festival, 2016, Best Sound Design Award, Otto, Nicola Ariutti, Salvatore Murgia, Dario Imbrogno

“The sound in this film seemingly had equal status to the image in driving its development and execution.  To that end, this is a film that is as fun to experience with your eyes shut, as with them open.  There is excellent depth, crispness and bass, and clever combinations of image and sound.  This is a great example of why a dedicated sound designer is so important to a film.”

Mark Collington

“Punchy sound, which brings character and a strong dramatic narrative to seemingly neutral objects.”

Carla MacKinnon

“Very distinct and effective sound design.”

Edwin Rostron

Best Performance (Acting) Award: Jukai – Gabrielle Lissot

LIAF, London International Animation Festival, Best Performance (Acting) Award, Jukai, Gabrielle Lissot

“Aside from high quality production values and cinematography, Jukai was a very strong performance piece, with animation focused not only on a female character (often a challenge for animators), but also one who was pregnant!  Further, understated body language was combined with expertly nuanced facial expressions, to communicate deep layers of emotions and thoughts in the character – a master-class in naturalistic acting for animation.”

Mark Collington

“Lovely fluid physicality brought to life through great design, innovative technique and excellent ‘acting’ – breathing an exceptional humanity into the character and creating a viewing experience almost like watching a dance.”

Carla MacKinnon

Thank you Official LIAF 2016 Judges! And a word for our LIAF audience Judges (that would be every single LIAF attendee) you and your votes are incredibly important to Team LIAF. Each year you tell us your favourites – as well as take the time to explain to us why a certain animation has ticked your personal boxes, in our voting forms. We read them all and take on board your comments – these comments are fundamental to helping us make informed decisions as to how we programme our Festival and celebrate the whole spectrum of animation, so take a bow.