Facing It, an animation graduation film directed by Sam Gainsborough, produced by Jimmy Campbell-Smith and co-written by Louisa Wood has won ‘Best Student Film’ at the World Festival of Animated Film, ‘Animafest Zagreb’ in Croatia.

The award follows hot on the heels of the success of two other NFTS graduation animation films – Poles Apart directed by Paloma Baeza which won the ‘BAFTA for Best Short Animation’ earlier this year, and Inanimate directed by Lucia Bulgheroni which won third prize in the ‘Cinefondation selection’ at Cannes Film Festival and has been shortlisted for the upcoming ‘BAFTA Student Film Awards’ in LA.

Facing It mixes stop-motion with live-action and explores the psyche of character Sean, who is forced to confront his own unhappy memories and relationships in an evening that will leave him changed forever.

Director of Facing It, Sam Gainsborough at Animafest Zagreb

'Animafest Zagreb’, created in 1972 in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital, is an exclusively animation festival promoting upcoming filmmakers and showcasing animation in all its different forms – from traditional drawings, to stop motion, CGI, to experimental cross-media films.

The second oldest film festival completely dedicated to animation, ‘Animafest Zagreb’ festival brings the best of animation from all over the world, with over 300 films, 200 international guests and more than 20 000 visitors. Festival awards include prizes given in the Short Film Competition, Feature film Competition, Student Film Competition, Children Films, Site-specific competition and Croatian competition.

Co-writer of Facing It and Screenwriting MA graduate Louisa Wood says: “It was such an honour to have Facing It recognised by ‘Animafest Zagreb’. I'm very proud of Sam and the team for all the hard work they've put in to make this wonderful film. It was lovely to read the Jury comments about the characters being emotive and expressive. Sam's animation technique is perfect for externalising the internal. We decided early on not to have any dialogue and let the faces tell the story, so it was therefore extremely important that we got the character Sean's emotional journey absolutely spot on at the writing stage so that Director Sam could use the detailed beats during the animation process. It was a fun project to be involved in, right down to having my hands covered in red paint and my face replaced by spinning Plasticine!”

Sam Gainsborough, graduate of the Directing Animation MA, says of the eight-minute animation: “I really wanted to make a film that people of different backgrounds could relate to. The film is about celebrating the imperfections we all have, rather than trying to repress them. I’m so pleased that the audience connected to the experience of the main character, Sean.”

He continues: “It was amazing to win the award at ‘Animafest Zagreb’. The selection of films at the festival were beautiful, thought provoking and hugely inspiring. It was fantastic to have people respond to Facing It in such a positive way.”

The selection Jury at ‘Animafest Zagreb’ were made up of Animator and Assistant Professor Darko Masnec, Vimeo Curator Meghan Oretsky, Animator and Sound Designer Natko Stipaničev, and Painter/experimental animator Chi-Sui Wang.

Jury Comments said of Facing It: “We were immediately pulled into the wondrous world of our student film winner, Facing It, which was built with an incredibly creative and unique visual technique. Each character's face was vibrantly expressive and emotive, and the story of social anxiety as a common obstacle for all people (especially artists) a comforting and sweet one.”

Producing MA graduate Jimmy Campbell-Smith adds: Facing It was a massive leap into the unknown for the whole team so it’s absolutely thrilling to be recognised at ‘Animafest Zagreb’. Above all, credit goes to Director Sam and the creative team for the countless hours (and ridiculously large amount of plasticine) that went in to bringing this to life. They deserve it!’

Facing It has also been selected for the ‘Graduation Films in Competition’ category at Annecy Festival and the ‘Mclaren Award for Best New Animation’ at Edinburgh Film Festival later this month.

Facing It Credits: Sam Gainsborough, Director/ Animator/ Co-Screenwriter; Jimmy Campbell-Smith, Producer; Louisa Wood, Co-Screenwriter; Bruno Grilo, Cinematographer; Demian Lovett & Lilla Vindics, Assistant Directors; Fiona Guest, Production Designer; Garry David Frost, Production Manager; Jenny Martin, Production Co-Ordinator; Mdhamiri A Nkemi, Editor; Adam Woodhams, Sound Design & Dubbing Mixer; Jack Newton, Composer; Oliver Buus, Lead Compositor; Daniel Quirke, Compositor; Laura Jane Dart, Colourist & Online Editor.

Applications for the NFTS Directing Animation MA are open until the 5th July 2018 (the two-year MA course starts in January 2019) – for more information and to apply, please visit www.nfts.co.uk/animation