Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Animated realities - report

Paul Wells' key note talk
OK, so here's my report from the frontline of animated documentary research. This was the first academic conference on animated documentary, and it seemed that everyone who was anyone in animation research was there - the lineup was truly awesome. And intimidating.


There seems to be a convergence of thought, enthusiasm and questioning of the emerging genre of animated documentary (or "animadoc" as Annegret Richter from Dok Leipzig calls it) at the moment and this conference tapped into that. The impression I had from the conference was that something concrete and important is emerging from our joint attempt to pin down what it is we are looking at and talking about. 


The papers given were a combination of some fresh new perspectives, some re-hashed material, contributions from film-makers and practitioners, input from curators and programmers, work from people who are just beginning to engage with the issues animated documentary raises and from those who are further along that road.


One issue about the papers given was that the pool of reference materials available to draw upon was pretty limited and by necessity there was plenty of over-lap. Bella Honess Roe's unpublished dissertation emerged as a key text for citation and the Pauls (Wells and Ward) were also central to the academic material referenced (both of them, along with Sheila Sofian, were key note speakers). 


There were a few omissions from the conference; there were no documentary theorists there (apart from Paul Ward) and I didn't meet any practitioners or researchers who came originally from a documentary rather than animation background. Because of this I think that there is a danger that animated documentary will become a self-defined area without enough fresh air blown in from other arguments and perspectives. Hopefully this conference will be the opening of a window.

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