Preview – Animation for Peace – Hope and Action

Posted on: Friday 17 June 2022 2:47pm by Steve Smith

Animation has always been a medium through which animators try to do good, teach morals, tell the uncomfortable truth, and generally make the world a better place. From Windsor McCay’s 1918 epic ‘The Sinking of the Lusitania‘ to Marjane Satrapi’s ‘Perspolis‘ (2007), via Brad Bird’s ‘The Iron Giant‘ (1999) and Jimmy Murakami’s ‘When The Wind Blows‘ (1986).

But now that the world is faced with ever-widening ideologies and a war in Europe, how is our industry reacting? In this CMC video animation director and producer Steve Smith (Beakus) talks to broadcasters and animation practitioners about recent work and films that attempt to counter this destructive division in our social politics.

We discuss the inclusion of war-themed CGI short ‘Mila‘ (Cinzia Angelini, 2021) in RTE’s offerings with Suzanne Kelly, and how the channel has responded to the Ukraine war. Mosaic Films MD Andy Glynne talks about his work in animated documentary, covering subjects like refugees, HIV, displacement and school absenteeism. “Worthy” filmmaking, he remarks, needs a broader home within broadcasters remit and some serious investment. Kath Shackleton from Fettle Animation takes us back to the creation of her lauded ‘Children of the Holocaust‘ series. Developed in-house and funded by the BBC the shorts tell the epic stories of holocaust survivors escaping Nazi occupation and finding themselves in the UK.

Animation can transform. Of course it can entertain, but it can also educate and be transformative for the younger viewer, opening minds with brave and lyrical imagery and messaging. For Andy Glynne telling a difficult story through animation enables the creator to show subjective experience in ways that stretch beyond live-action, using metaphor and simile, poetry and metamorphosis. It also offers the storyteller anonymity, protecting them from the impact their story might create. But even greater than these is the impact on the viewer t see themselves and identify with the animated character’s story. It reflects on the viewer like a mirror, or leaves space for them to engage deeply with the messages of the film.

Rounding off our speakers we talk to Olga Cherepanova, founder of Ukraine production company Glowberry, whose production, ‘Brave Bunnies‘, was itself interrupted by the war. Ironically the animated pre-school show’s founding theme is the understanding of difference. Perhaps the next generation will behave a little differently towards people who aren’t exactly like them. We can hope and, through animation, we can act.

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Steve Smith

About the author

Steve Smith

Beakus, Producer

Steve is the founder of Beakus, an animation studio based in Lewes, East Sussex. Established in 2010 Beakus creates animation for a wide range of clients including BBC, Sky, Disney, Science Museum and English Heritage. Steve has directed and produced commercials, shorts and full broadcast shows including Olobob Top and… Read more