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British Animation Awards 2012 (part 3)

'Thursday'. Oh, stop complaining, you can barely see it at this resolution.The story so far: British Animation Awards, once every two years, Public Choice screenings all over the UK in February, three programmes of short films, audience gets to choose their favourites. Here's a review of Programme 1, and here's a review of Programme 2. So this should be where I tell you all about Programme 3. Except there's a problem: I haven't really seen Programme 3.

If you're reading these pieces on the day they're published, then over the next two days you'll be hearing about the trip to São Paulo I made in mid-February. That trip, enjoyable as it was, meant that I was out of the country for both London screenings of Programme 3. I had a backup plan to try and get to the equivalent screening in Brighton, but that fell through. So I haven't been able to catch these films in a cinema, unlike the other ones I've written about so far.

But you've presumably noticed that I've tracked down oodles of web reference for all the films: the shorts themselves, or clips, or animator websites. So I've done the same for Programme 3, and will now attempt to review the films using just whatever information is available online. As long as you accept that as a caveat, hopefully we can do them all some justice, with apologies to the four or five films below where there's only a clip available on the internet rather than the whole thing. Let's go, shall we?

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British Animation Awards 2012 (part 2)

Brixton, THE FUTURE. As seen in 'Robots of Brixton', obviously.I've already explained what's going on here in part 1, but here's a quick recap. The British Animation Awards have a special section each bi-year called the Public Choice Awards, in which three programmes of short films are sent around the UK so that a general audience can vote for their favourites. You've missed those programmes, unfortunately, as they were touring in late January and early February 2012. But you can read what I thought about them here, and watch out for the official announcement of the winners on March 15th.

So, here we go with Programme 2.

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British Animation Awards 2012 (part 1)

Hamsters - one rapping, two toasting - in 'Kia Soul: This or That'It's that time of the bi-year again. Every two years, the British Animation Awards celebrate the best of what's been happening in the medium, covering the gamut from expensive studio features to tiny student films. And in the middle of it all are the Public Choice Awards, in which 50 or so shorts are toured around the country for a general audience to vote on which ones are best.

In previous years - 2006, 2008 and 2010 - I've written one big piece reviewing all the films up for the Awards, splitting them into the categories of narrative shorts, music videos and commercials. But for reasons which should become apparent shortly, this year I'm going to write three separate review articles, one for each of the programmes which went on tour earlier this month. Don't worry, you'll still get more links than anyone can reasonably handle, with every short accompanied by at least two websites with animator information, clips, or even the whole damn film in several cases. We start, inevitably, with Programme 1.

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Year Of The Monkey 2011: The Shenzhen Interlude

This Space For RentRegular readers of the Travel section will know by now that there are certain traditions that need to be upheld. Since 1993, I've been travelling to Hong Kong once every four years. The last time was in 2009, at the tail end of a journey that took The Belated Birthday Girl and I around a number of cities in mainland China. By all accounts, I wasn't expecting to be back in that part of the world until 2013.

But by all accounts, I also wasn't expecting to have a job that would have me working on four continents in 2011, culminating in December of that year with a week in Shenzhen. All my previous trips to China have been documented on this site: just because this one was paid for, it doesn't mean I can't document this one too. (Even if I am doing it over two months later... although, come to think of it, that's a tradition too.) 

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MOSTLY FILM: Whose Film Is It Anyway?

I Just Didn't Do It, Dear Doctor!The Japan Foundation's touring film programme has become an annual fixture, not just in the UK's arthouse cinemas, but also on this site. For the last few years - specifically, in 2008, 2010 and 2011 - I've been catching the tour on its opening London leg at the ICA, and I've been writing about the films here after the fact, for the benefit of the cities further on down the schedule.

But this year's going to be a bit different. I'll be writing about the 2011 programme - entitled Whose Film Is It Anyway? Contemporary Japanese Auteurs - for Mostly Film, now firmly established as Europe's Best Website. And because, unlike me, they have Proper Journalistic Credibility And All That Shit, I've been able to mooch some advance screeners from the Japan Foundation via them. Which means I can proudly bring you reviews of all of the films in the season several days before they hit the cinemas (the tour starts in London on Friday February 10th).

You can read those reviews on Mostly Film right now. If you'd rather just sit around and look at the trailers, though, then you're in the right place.

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Simian Substitute Site For February 2012: The Monkey King: Uproar In Heaven

The Monkey King: Uproar In HeavenMONTH END PROCESSING FOR JANUARY 2012

Books: Good God, this song is thirty years old. January saw the tentative return of Alexei Sayle to the comedy circuit, after several years away concentrating on books. Still, when the books are as ace as Stalin Ate My Homework, I'm not going to begrudge him the time off. A memoir of his childhood and teenage years, it describes Alexei growing up in 1950s/60s Liverpool with his Communist parents Joe and Molly. It's especially good when it covers his growing political awareness: initially happy to play along with the family's party line (especially when his dad's union connections get them special treatment on Eastern Bloc holidays), but slowly losing his faith as he enters his teens. It's only towards the end of the book that the teenage Alexei starts to discover his gift for retelling stories in a way that amuses other people:  "in the right hands events could be chopped and shaped and filleted until they came out exactly as you wanted them to come out, just like election results in the Soviet Union." Is there more of this particular set of events to come in future volumes? I hope so.

Movies: A belated kung hei fat choi to all our Chinese readers (ha!) as we enter the Year of the Dragon. The last time I said that in one of these pieces was two years ago, when I marked Chinese New Year by seeing the seasonal romcom All's Well Ends Well 2010. This year, I celebrated with All's Well Ends Well 2012, which has no thematic link whatsoever to the earlier film beyond the title. It's been entertaining watching the UK critics completely failing to understand the cultural context this film exists in: a bit of ultra-lightweight fluff that the whole Chinese family can enjoy during a holiday period when energy levels and standards are low. Eschewing the period setting of AWEW 2010, this edition consists of four modern-day love stories featuring a host of local stars goofing it up, like Donnie Yen in a silly wig playing a failed rock star, and Chapman To as a romantic novelist who everyone insists is ugly as sin. (But unlike co-star Louis Koo, at least he doesn't look like Gary Glitter.) It's full of contrived plotting, incomprehensible regional humour, and musical numbers which build towards an OTT finale which, bizarrely, steals its tune from the closing song from Fame. But it's entertaining enough, and I'd be happy to catch All's Well Ends Well 2013, which will probably be shot in 3D and set inside a video game, or something.

Music: It started off with me finding out about the existence of this and this. Which gradually led to the development of this. Which got me wondering: whatever happened to The Rubberbandits, the Irish guys who went viral in Christmas 2010 with their song Horse Outside? It turns out they've been busy, and have even got a London gig planned for March. In the last few months they've released a double album called Serious About Men, and they've shot a few of those Comedy Blaps things that Channel 4 have been spraying over the internet recently. (See also: Business Mouse, Viz.) Songs like the so-anti-racist-it's-actually-racist Black Man and the deeply emotional Spastic Hawk hold up to multiple listens and without the backup of the visuals, which is hella rare for comedy records these days. Let's just call them The Lonely Ireland and have done with it.

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