We have always had a special passion around here for documentary animation. LIAF probably shows more of this kind of work than any other generalist animation festival. It can be surprising to encounter resistance to the idea that there could even be such a thing as documentary animation. Surprising not just because animation is an obvious way to tell any kind of story but because documentary animation has been around from the earliest days of cinema. Just check out Winsor McCay’s 12-minute short ‘The Sinking of the Lusitania’ made in 1918.
Here are 10 of the best animated documentary films we have screened at LIAF over the years – big audience favourites with a few of our own personal choices.Together they form a compelling argument that animation can help the documentary form push boundaries and pose a network of challenging, existential questions.
Me and My Moulton – Torill Kove, Canada/Norway
A seven-year-old girl asks her hopelessly unconventional parents for a bicycle. But what kind of bike can you expect from a father who sports the only moustache in town and a mother who makes dresses out of curtain fabric? A charming look at adult obliviousness to childhood desires and the difficulty of being honest with your loved ones.
2014 14’00 min
In Dreams – Samuel Blain, UK
A group of people swap their heads to help illustrate their most recurrent or memorable dreams.
2011 3’00 min
The Velvet Underground Played at My High School – Anthony Jannelli & Robert Pietri, USA
On December 12th 1965 The Velvet Underground played their first concert in a New Jersey high school. They were the opening act and played three songs for an audience of 15 year-old students. Most of the audience walked out after the first song. Those that stayed were never the same again.
2018 7’50 min
Abuelas – Afarin Eghbal, UK
In a small apartment in Buenos Aires, an old woman eagerly awaits the birth of her grandchild and all the joys of becoming a grandmother. However, horrific circumstances means she will be forced to wait over 30 years.
2011 9’15 min
Bike Trip – Tom Schroeder, USA
Two bikers travel 500 miles to ask a question about beer.
2016 10’35 min
Bloomers – Samantha Moore, UK
The story of a lingerie factory in Manchester. Workers recount the history of Headen & Quarmby, UK manufacturing, and traditions of making.
2019 9’35 min
Pitch Black Panacea – Tom Hardiman, UK
An attempt to cure a pair of strangers of their lazy eyes leads to introspection, emotional realisations, and a whole lot of hallucinations.
2020 7’20 min
Lies – Jonas Odell, Sweden
Three perfectly true stories about lying. We get to meet the burglar who, when found out, claims to be a moonlighting accountant, the small boy who confesses to a theft he didn’t commit and the woman whose whole life has been one long series of lies.
2008 13’30 min
Old Man – Leah Shore, USA
Animated to snippets of phone conversations with helter-skelter serial killer Charles Manson, this reaffirms his ‘down to the bone’ madness.
2012 5’45 min
I Met the Walrus – Josh Raskin, Canada
In 1969 a fourteen-year-old Jerry Levitan, armed with a reel-to-reel tape machine, snuck into John Lennon’s hotel room in Toronto to record an interview that contains the distillation of the musician’s message of peaceful protest. It went unheard for 40 years.
2007 5 min
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