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Manchester Animation Festival 2021 Line-Up Announced.

Manchester Animation  Festival, the UK's largest festival of its kind, previously announced that they would be holding a hybrid event for 2021, featuring a mix of in-person and virtual events. Last year's all-virtual MAF was a great success, but this year, with the situation improved, those who are able to (and feel confident enough) can attend several events held at the festival's traditional venue of Manchester's HOME Cinema.

The virtual component of the festival will run from November 14- 30, with the in-person screenings and events happening between November 14-19 at HOME.

For the first time, the festival will have an award for Best Feature this year. The films selected for the feature selection are:

  • Flee, "the critically acclaimed extraordinary true story of a man, Amin, on the verge of marriage which compels him to reveal his hidden past for the first time. Documentary from Riz Ahmed and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who also voice the lead roles. After playing at the Sundance, Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals, Flee could become the first film to be nominated in animated, documentary and international feature at the Oscars (if selected)."
  • Absolute Denial "An obsessive, genius programmer sacrifices everything in his personal and professional life to build a computer of unprecedented power. After weeks in isolation and watching his life crumble around him, he must now confront the ever-increasing problem of a machine that is much smarter than himself. Directed by Ryan Braund"
  • My Sunny Maad "from director Michaela Pavlatova which follows Herra, a Czech woman, falls in love with Nazir, an Afghan man, she has no idea about the life that awaits her in post-Taliban Afghanistan, nor about the family she is about to join."
  • My Favourite War," the critically acclaimed film based on director’s (Ilze Burkovska Jacobsen’s)  personal story growing up in Cold-War Latvia, USSR. It’s a coming of age story, a personal escape route from the mighty authoritarian regime’s brainwashing. An anti-war film, emphasising the importance of an individual’s freedom being a democratic society’s fundamental right."
The heart of the festival has always been the selection of short films and continues to be. Shorts will screen across several programs. International inc competition shorts will screen in two Animate Short Mixtape programs 'Side A' and 'Side B'.  Student shorts will screen across two New Animation Short Voices. Two programs of Shorts For Children will also screen, and for the first time, an award will be given for this category. All shorts programs will be available both as virtual and in-person events. The online exclusive Short Films Panorama " showcases the versatility and scope of contemporary animation" and Commercial Curiosities will screen the selection of Commissioned Films.

Directors of the shorts will also take part in a live-streamed Director Q&A (with a second for student filmmakers).  

Making Of sessions will take place as online events for Aardman's Robin Robin, DreamWorks' Spirit Untamed, LockSmith Animation's Ron's Gone Wrong and Netflix's stop-motion anthology The House. 

A series of in-person workshops are being held for the Industry Excellence Award (IEA) including IEA Storyboarding, IEA Character Design, IEA Character Animation and IEA Scriptwriting.   A virtual Masterclass will be held by Tonko House remotely from California, while Aardman's lead sculptor Jim Parkyn offers a virtual edition of his ever-popular sculpting workshop.

Recipients of 2021's MAF Fellowship are Jorge R Gutiérrez and Sandra Equihua (The Book Of Life, Maya And The Three) who will also host a live Q&A direct from the USA.

The F]festival will also have a dedicated Family Day as well as the Industry Day, which this year introduces the Animation Keynote, hosted this year by  Patricia Hidalgo, Director of Children’s and Education at the BBC and titled 'Ignite British Animation'.

Last but not least, the festival will also be bringing back its annual events The Skwigly Quiz and MAFter Dark, and of course the all-important Awards Ceremony.
Visit the festival website now for more details and to buy festival passes or tickets to individual events. A pass will cost £40 until October 15, after which they will go up to £45.