For a relatively new event (this will be its 8th edition, with its first back in 2015), Manchester Animation Festival has cemented its place as a highlight of the UK festival scene. Driven by a passionate team, MAF offers its audience a unique opportunity to celebrate the world of animation through screenings, panels, workshops, masterclasses and more. Returning in-person for the first time in two years, the event runs in various locations throughout the city, from Sunday 13th to Friday 18th November and with over 100 events Festival Director Steve Henderson has declared this their “biggest and most exciting edition yet”. With that in mind, we took a dive into the programme and selected our highlights from all the event has to offer.
The 7 ‘Must Watch’ Short Films of MAF2022
Although we’re intrigued by the complete MAF programme and I could probably spend the whole of this article discussing Alberto Vázquez’s unique feature Unicorn Wars, with an impressive 10 screenings dedicated to shorts – Short Films for Children, Animation Mixtape: Part 1, New Animated Voices: Part 1, Oska Bright Animation Showcase, Animation Mixtape: Part 2, Skwigly Screening, Short Film Panorama, New Animated Voices: Part 2, Student Films Panorama and MAFter Dark – we may be a little biased, but it’s this part of the line-up we’re always the most excited by. Every single one of these screenings will be worth checking out, but these are the individual titles that we’re championing as the standout films:
Black Slide – Uri Lotan
Synopsis: Eviah, a timid boy on the brink of puberty and his best friend Tsuf, sneak into the Black slide, the most terrifying ride in Aqua Fun. There he will gain insight to prepare him for events about to unfold back home.
Why to Watch: A funny and relatable short film with a killer aesthetic, Uri Lotan’s Black Slide is a real calling card for its creator, showcasing a flair for both story and style.
Drone – Sean Buckelew
Synopsis: A malfunction at a CIA press event causes a Predator drone installed with an ethical AI personality to go rogue as it attempts to understand its purpose in the world.
Why to Watch: A filmmaker we’ve followed on DN for almost 10 years now, Buckelew continuously looks to push the boundaries of animation and surprise audiences with every new film he releases.
Mr. Pete & the Iron Horse – Kilian Vilim
Synopsis: The diligent soldier Mr. Pete does everything to meet the high standards of his baroness. To satisfy her insatiable lust for speed, he shovels madly on her new iron horse’s voyage.
Why to Watch: Having made a name for himself with a series of standout shorts (Ooze being a personal favourite), Vilim returns with another crazy tale that feels both contemporary and classic in equal measures.
Juice (Saft)- Mona Keil
Synopsis: A bunch of round succulent and moist creatures smear each other contentedly with an oozy juice. They share their world with pesky little bugs, but one day, they squash them all. In response the creatures start to run dry.
Why to Watch: A strange and unsettling short, Juice uses strange silicon puppets to create a world of meaty creatures unlike anything you’ve seen before.
Salvation Has No Name – Joseph Wallace
Synopsis: A troupe of clowns gather to perform a story about a priest and a refugee but as their misguided tale unfolds, the boundaries between fiction and reality begin to fray.
Why to Watch: I’m an absolute sucker for stop-motion and I don’t think you’ll see a better example than Joseph Wallace’s (another long time DN alum) outstanding Salvation Has No Name this year.
Scale – Joseph Pierce
Synopsis: Driving along the motorway, Will loses his sense of scale. As his crippling drug addiction deepens, he struggles to unpick the sequence of events that led to his predicament, before he’s lost forever.
Why to Watch: One of the first filmmakers I talked to in my TheyAreAnimators series, Pierce returns to the world of animated shorts after a 10 year break, with one of the best short films of 2022.
Steakhouse – Špela Čadež
Synopsis: The steak has been marinating for a few days now. The pan is heated. Franc’s stomach is rumbling. But Liza’s co-workers surprise her with a birthday party. Will she be home on time?
Why to Watch: With Čadež’s previous film, Nighthawk, a favourite of the festival scene, fans were eagerly awaiting her follow-up and it doesn’t disappoint, having already won awards at Anima, Annecy, Clermont-Ferrand, Locarno, Ottawa and Zagreb.
You can find more unmissable films, like the ones playing Manchester Animation Festival, in our Best of Fest collections.