The British (Animators) Are Coming!

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The British (Animators) Are Coming!

Animation Festival in Seoul to Feature U.K.'s Finest

American and Japanese animation studios are recognized industry leaders, but over the past decade Britain has been quietly making inroads into the market, releasing several notable animated feature-length and short films.

And while in Korea British animation is not readily accessible, the British Council Korea, in cooperation with Seoul Animation Center, is planning to host its first British Animation Festival, due to open Friday through Dec. 15 at the Seoul Animation Center, located in Yejang-dong.

The festival will include lectures, workshops, exhibits and the screenings of some 32 films. Chung Kui-lae, a representative from the Seoul Animation Center, views this festival as a means of promoting animation and broadening the perspective of Korean animation firms. "It's a chance for people who love animation to gain a better understanding of what is happening to this art form on the world scene," Mr. Chung said.

Participating institutions include the Aardman Studio, television stations Channel 4 and S4C International, the National Film and Television School and the Royal College of Art. The National Film and Television School focuses on directing. Among its Oscar-winning graduates are Alison Snowden and Nick Park. The Royal College of Art specializes in frame-by-frame animation. Jayne Pilling and Mike Booth, two animation experts from the Britian, will be leading the seminars and lectures.

"Chicken Run," one of the feature-length films, will be previewed prior to its official Dec. 16 release in Korean theaters. In the film, a gaggle of chickens make a desperate attempt to escape a pen, before they can be fried, filleted or fricasseed. Leading the flock is a British chicken named Ginger and an all-American rooster named Rocky. Production took almost two years, and more than four tons of plasticine was used to make five hundred animated characters. This technique is known as stop-motion clay animation, or "claymation."

Aardman Animations, the makers of "Chicken Run," has received seven Oscar nominations since it was founded in 1972 by David Sproxton and Peter Lord. The most recent nomination came in this year for "Humdrum." The studio, best known to American audiences for creating "Wallace and Gromit," employs many of Britain's young directors, and produces commercials, television series and short films.

"Chicken Run" features the voices of Mel Gibson, Julia Sawalha, Imelda Staunton, Jane Horrocks and Miranda Richardson. The screenplay was written by Karey Kirkpatrick and Jack Rosenthal, and based on a story by Nick Park and Peter Lord. The screening will be held Friday at 5 p.m.

"Rigoletto" retells Giuseppe Verdi's opera using life-like clay characters. Rigoletto is a hunchback court jester who leads a double life. He is both a ribald entertainer in the Duke of Mantual's court, and an overprotective father. At court, he ridicules someone who places a curse on him. Tragedy ensues.

This Operavox film is an evocative visual experience. Animation director Barry Purves and producer Clenn Holberton worked together on commercials for several years before they collaborated on "Rigoletto." Mr. Purves's film "Next" has won awards at animation festivals in Britain, Japan and Portugal. The film will be screened Saturday and next Friday at 2 p.m.

In "Flatworld," directed by Daniel Greaves, Matt Phlatt is one of the inhabitants of Flatworld, a city constructed of drab paper and cardboard. When Mr. Phlatt is not working as a road mender he watches television, along with his fat cat, Geoff, and greedy pet fish, Chips. One day at work, Mr. Phlatt cuts through the main cable of the information superhighway, accidentally creating a gateway to Flipside, a parallel cartoon universe of stereotypical television formats. When Flatworld collides with Flipside, Matt must save the day. Screenings are Saturday and next Tuesday at 3 p.m.

Mike Booth, one of the festival's two scheduled lecturers, was born in England in 1971. He directed "Saint Inspector," and "Little Dark Poet." Mr. Booth's three-day seminar, "The Techniques of British Animation," targets Korean animation students and animators. Classes start next Friday with viewings of various films and discussions. Lectures on replacement animation, wire puppet animation, clay animation and a project that includes the building of models for animation follow on ensuing days.

The other scheduled lecturer, Jayne Pilling is a freelance film/animation consultant. Ms. Pilling most recently served as the chairman of the jury at the Hiroshima Animation Festival 2000. She will hold two seminars, "History of British Animation" and "Modern British Animation."

Other festival highlights include animated Shakespeare plays.

"Shakespeare - The Animated Tales 1" features three films. In the five-minute-long "Next" an actor, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Shakespeare, goes to an audition. The puppet animation makes clever allusions to the Bard's most famous plays. Directed by Alexei Karayev, "As You Like It" is a 25-minute-long romantic comedy. The third feature, "Hamlet," uses paintings on glass for its special effects. Screenings are Friday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m., Monday at 3 p.m. and Dec. 14 at 3 p.m.

"Shakespeare - The Animated Tales 2" features two films, "The Tempest" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream." "The Tempest" uses puppets while the later film uses cell animations. Screenings are Saturday at 4 p.m., Dec. 13 at 2 p.m. and Dec. 15 at 3 p.m.

For more information, call the British Council Korea, at 02-3702-0612.

by Joe Yong-hee

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