To kick off this year’s Bradford Animation Festival (17–22 November 2014) we asked more than 2,000 people what they thought about female animated characters, as women in animation and gaming is a central theme of this year’s event.
The results revealed that audiences believe female characters in modern animation are more independent, adventurous and intelligent than female characters in the past, whose defining characteristics they described as pretty and romantic.
The top answers for the traditional view of female lead animated characters were: ‘Pretty’ (38%), ‘Romantic’(37%) and ‘Independent’ (33%). The modern view of female characters saw ‘Independent’ top the list (43%), with ‘Adventurous’ (39%) and ‘Intelligent’ (39%) equally matched in second place.
Princess Fiona from Shrek was named as the most popular female character (with 14% of the vote).
However it came as a surprise to nearly 80% respondents that the oldest-surviving animated feature (The Adventures of Prince Achmed, 1926) was made by a woman, Lotte Reiniger. At this year’s BAF we’re celebrating the creative excellence of Reiniger and other female pioneers, such as Joy Batchelor, one of Britain’s foremost female animators and driving force, along with her partner John Hallas, in the creation of Britain’s first animated feature film Animal Farm.
We’re also looking to the present and future with our lifetime achievement award winner, producer Claire Jennings, who has worked on titles such as Coraline and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Elsewhere festival regular Joanna Quinn, acclaimed animator and founder of Beryl Productions, is making a welcome return, and British animator Jo Lawrence has created the animated festival banner.
The survey also revealed something we’ve secretly suspected all along, as 80% of those questioned believe that animation is for everyone, not just for children (or bigger kids!). Our programme reflects this entirely, delving into all genres of animation, with documentaries, shorts, music videos, commercials, narrative films and more.
And just to show how popular animation is, from 2,006 people who stated they watch animation, a majority of 46% named animation as their favourite film and television genre, with 46% also watching an animated film or TV programme at least once a week.
Finally, in honour of Academy Award-winning Aardman Animations founder Peter Lord’s visit, and the recent online revival of his creation Morph, we asked which other TV animation the public would like to see make a comeback.
42% said The Flintstones, 35% would like to see The Wacky Races, and 33% said The Magic Roundabout. We’d love to see them all.