London International Animation Festival 2023

Animation Industry Event 3: Animated Documentaries - Drawing a Line over Reality

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LIAF presents the 2023 UK Animation Industry Event – 6 panels giving insider access to some of the hottest topics of the year. We’ve gathered together some of the most passionate, honest and insightful experts from a wide range of different areas and backgrounds who are ready to cover all manner of vital topics to give you much food for thought.

Animation doesn’t stand still; and debates and discussions with animators and creative experts are the best way to get in touch with what’s happening. This year we’ll be looking into the minds of some of the most creative forces currently working in the field of the animated documentary, discussing the intrinsic role of the Animation Producer and how do you get to become one, finding out whether animation can be a viable and satisfying career for people who are neurodiverse, looking back at the meteoric growth of the UK animation industry over the last 20 years and looking forward to how the next 20 years might develop in CGI, 3D and general technology.

The panels will be chaired by Saint John Walker, Dean/Director of Industry Engagement at Escape Studios and Julian Scott, animation consultant at Film London.

For anyone currently working in the film and animation industry, thinking of working in the industry or just plain curious, these 6 talks are indispensable. They are free to everyone and take place live and online on our streaming platform over the 2 days of December 2 and 3.

UK Animation Industry Event 3: Animated Documentaries - Drawing a Line over Reality

Animation isn’t the obvious medium for documentary making, but the two have always been combined, sometimes with startling effect. Animated documentaries can bring new voices to an audience. The Animated form can often go where the film camera can’t; from Windsor McCay’s Sinking of the Lusitania in 1918 to Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s Flee in 2021 animated documentaries can be another way of communicating your truth or perspective, and increasingly artists are defying and stretching genre borders.


In a ‘post-truth’ world can documentary animation create empathy and a greater understanding of issues to new viewers? Can it visualise often abstract or complex processes hidden from normal view and bring them to light? LIAF brought together a group of animators and directors to talk about the value of animated documentaries and how in an era of Deep Fakes and misinformation they may be more useful than ever.


Moderator: Saint John Walker, Dean/Director of Industry Engagement at Escape Studios

Saint works with key companies in UK and international animation and VFX sectors, often leading on new technology training for industry such as Unreal Engine, Virtual Production and generative AI. He is the author of the Core Skills of VFX Handbook and has designed and run courses and conference panels across the UK and Europe. He has been LIAF’s industry panel coordinator and chair for a decade and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. At Escape Studios he has chaired panel discussions for the annual VFX Festival, and has taken part in many Access:VFX activities online and in person.


Mary Martins - Documentary Animator

Mary is a British-Nigerian documentary animator. Her films focus on the experiences and stories of underrepresented groups. She produces multi-layered and abstract documentaries that combine traditional and digital forms of animation techniques that feed into local, national and global conversations. She is also a lecturer in Animation and Graphic Digital Design and a PhD candidate at the University of Westminster, where her research focuses on using documentary animation as a method of investigation, and as a living archive that explores the rich history shared between Nigeria and Brazil.


Alex Widdowson - Animated Documentary Director

Alex is an animated documentary director, researcher, and programmer. He has won 13 awards for his short films, he is researching animated documentary ethics for his Ph.D. at Queen Mary University of London, and is the director of Factual Animation Film Festival.


Samantha Moore - Animated Documentary Director

Sam has made work on diverse subjects, from competitive sweet-pea growing, to

cutting edge microbiology, archaeology, neuroscience, and her own experience

of having twins. Her latest film Visible Mending (2023), was commissioned by the

BFI Short Form Fund, produced by Tilley Bancroft and made through MediaActive

Projects. It was shot at Second Home Studios in Birmingham, and is proudly UK-

midlands based and all-female in key roles. She is Senior Tutor (Research) in Animation at the Royal College of Art, UK, and Visiting Professor in Animation at University College Volda, Norway.


Jonathan Hodgson - Animation Director

Jonathan Hodgson is an internationally renowned, BAFTA winning animation director based in London. He was the animation director of Wonderland: The Trouble with Love and Sex, the first full length animated documentary on British TV. His first professional commission was to co-direct The Doomsday Clock, a ten minute animation about nuclear disarmament for the United Nations. In 2007 he was the art director on the animated TV series Charlie and Lola and the following year was the animation director on the documentary feature The Age of Stupid. His short films have won numerous awards including a BAFTA in 2000 for The Man with the Beautiful Eyes and a BAFTA nomination in 2002 for Camouflage. He has presented retrospectives of his work in the UK, Brazil, Sweden, Israel, Spain, Belgium, Slovenia and Poland and in 2006 was invited by the National Film Board of Canada to present masterclasses in three major cities. Since the mid 1980’s he has lectured extensively in the UK and abroad and since 2008 has led the Animation degree at Middlesex University, London. He continues to combine teaching with animated filmmaking through his own production company Hodgson Films and is represented by Papy3D in France and by Sherbet in the UK.