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Animation on the BFI Player

Just off the South Bank of the River Thames under Waterloo Bridge can be found the British Film Institute or as it is known the BFI. I first went there over 10 years ago with a colleague after a meeting in London for an exceptionally good hot chocolate. As my interest in film, animation, the people behind these productions and film criticism grew I visited it to actually watch stuff - it is where I first saw Ghost in the Shell projected on a big screen at one of their anime weekends.

After joining the BFI a few years back (for early access tickets to see Mark Kermode Live in 3D) I started to go to the London Film Festival - mostly to see the animation which was always for families. The mix of seeing new films and hearing from the creatives behind them was a real treat and privilege. With the announcement of Japan 2020 and the restriction on travel at the moment (it is May 2020) I took the plunge and signed up the BFI Player their streaming platform. What a box of goodies that is!

There is a plethora of streaming services out there with most of us signing up to the well-known ones like Amazon Prime or Netflix. With the cinemas closed leading to streaming home-release more of these services are making their way to a wider audience like MUBI, Curzon Home Cinema to name but two. Now you can add the BFI Player to this list of services. It is £4.99 per month but this service hosts a significant amount of free content including animation.

A quick search for animation gives 526 results which spans everything from advertising to propaganda. It features animation from the 1900s right up to the present day, many of them shorts but some of these items are documentaries about animation or are features which have some animation in them. The filter system implemented is pretty clear for you to look at what is on offer and clearly shows what is free to access, what is paid for rental content and what is available through subscription only.

I'm really looking forward to getting into the animated content that is up on the BFI Player - first up might be The Beard as the art style really appeals or The Victor from 1985. The breadth of content taking in many different forms of animation, country of origin and year of production is something I find quite exciting to get into. I find I can get comfortable in what I watch but at times need something to broaden my taste and experience and this will certainly do that!

As for Japan 2020 at the moment the season is live action classic films from Kurasawa and Ozu but the coming months the animated content will be announced and made available. Given the breadth of content they currently have I'm hoping to see some things I have never heard of or have never had the chance to see but only read about. Fingers crossed!