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By Deb Singleton on

20 years of memories of Bradford Animation Festival

Deb Singleton, Director of Bradford Animation Festival, looks back at some of the highlights of the last 20 years of BAF.

“It’s like cream, the best rises to the top and it’s all in here condensed.”
“A tantalising festival in a fascinating museum.”
“Just awesome.”
“A rare and delightful opportunity to learn, be entertained and inspired.”
“A fun, friendly, insightful experience for all ages.”

Just some of the reasons why over 800 animation fans descend on the museum every November to play their part in our annual celebration of all things animation and gaming.

Nick Park, Aardman Animations
Nick Park, Aardman Animations

BAF 2003 was my very first film festival experience—I’d just joined the museum and really had no idea what to expect from an animation festival.

Within hours of our festival jury and guests arriving, and my first festival screening, I became completely hooked and have spent the last eleven years being consistently enthralled, alarmed and astounded in equal measure by the films and people I’ve encountered.

From l-r: Ben Eagle, Deb Singleton, Tony Dalton, Ray Harryhausen, John Landis
From l-r: Ben Eagle, Deb Singleton, Tony Dalton, Ray Harryhausen, John Landis

I’m often asked, “what’s the best bit about your job?”, and it’s almost impossible to single out one single aspect as there’s so much that contributes. And it’s precisely this variety and scope which makes putting together the festival programme so enjoyable.

Paul Mendoza, Pixar
Paul Mendoza, Pixar

Every year we recognise some of the animation greats with our BAF Lifetime Achievement Award: John Coates, Geoff Dunbar, Tony Fish, Bob Godfrey, John Halas and Ray Harryhausen, to name a few.

From l-r: Philip Hunt (Studio AKA), Andreas Hykade (Film Bilder), Marc Craste (Studio AKA), Dave Burgess (Dreamworks)
From l-r: Philip Hunt (Studio AKA), Andreas Hykade (Film Bilder), Marc Craste (Studio AKA), Dave Burgess (Dreamworks)

Our screentalk and retrospective programmes have celebrated the achievements of leading contemporary animators like Marc Craste, Andreas Hykade, Peter Lord, Rob Morgan, Nick Park, Priit Parn, Barry Purves and Joanna Quinn.

John Coates and Joanna Quinn
John Coates and Joanna Quinn

We’ve gained invaluable and inspirational insights through our behind-the-scenes looks at award-winning animated features from Double Negative, Dreamworks, LAIKA and Pixar.

Mark Shapiro, Laika
Mark Shapiro, Laika

Watching the 800 short film submissions we receive each year, then selecting the 100 or so which we screen in competition while admiring the sheer determination, creativity and skill which has gone into them, is also up there among the best bits of my job.

Vanessa Boyce, Double Negative
Vanessa Boyce, Double Negative

Perhaps the most rewarding aspect for me is the palpable excitement and anticipation in the buildup to the festival and then, once everyone arrives, the real sense of community and the willingness by everyone—from those well established in the animation and gaming industries, to those just setting out—to seize the opportunities that our five days crammed full of screentalks, presentations, workshops and screenings offer. Everyone comes away from the festival with inspiration for their own work.

BAF volunteers - the BAFettes!
Our BAF volunteers!

I’m most thankful for the attendees, volunteers and festival supporters who return each year to do it all again. BAF 2013, our 20th birthday celebration (in the year of the museum’s 30th birthday, no less) is not to be missed!

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