Talk of the Toons: Scotland Loves Anime 2019 preview
Now the UK's buzziest animation event, Scotland Loves Anime returns for its tenth edition. Festival director Andrew Partridge talks us through its history and recommends some of this year's highlights, including the new film from the mind behind Your Name
An annual celebration of Japanese animation that takes place at Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh’s Filmhouse, the Scotland Loves Anime festival reaches a milestone 10th edition in October 2019. “It always feels like we're younger still,” festival director Andrew Partridge tells us. “My, how time flies when you're stressing about running a festival!”
Regularly showcasing the best new animation from Japan, alongside restorations of established classics and the occasional live-action adaptation of an anime or video game, the festival has gone from strength to strength in terms of audience, reach, influence and programming coups. What was once just a relatively modest attempt to get more Scottish cinema showings for anime – that aren’t just from Studio Ghibli – has become one of the key European animation events on the calendar.
“I started with the lofty goal of being a wider animation festival with a segment for anime,” says Partridge, who is also President of the Anime Limited distribution label launched in 2013. “But due to my experience, we ended up the biggest theatrical event for anime annually! Over the last year or two, it's been fascinating to see fans from outside of Scotland complaining about why all the anime events have to happen in Scotland – which is quite the reversal on a decade ago!”
On why it’s so important to see the anime he programmes on the big screen, Partridge says, “it's about showing people there is more to animation than just kids’ content – that there are stories that can engage people of all ages in Japanese animation. We love showcasing that work regardless of whether it's 2D or 3D – especially in an age where hand-drawn has shifted to digital tablets for a part of the process at least. I admit I do have a fondness for traditional hand-drawn 2D, though, and that's because in a world of CG there's something very magical about that style. Variety and diversity are good, though, and ultimately, it's showing people stories that cater to a range of audiences that matters. Our challenge was and is always to persuade people it's worth that shot and to keep widening interest in anime.”
Alongside many other partners, Partridge attributes the support of GFT’s Allison Gardner and Filmhouse’s Rod White in taking a chance on the project to help make it a sustainable event in those early years. The festival is now a tourist attraction in its own way: “People plan week-long holidays up to see Scotland now, alongside the week of anime cinema. It’s things like that which are really heart-warming. Scotland's always been my home and I want to share it with people as much as I want to share the films.”
Scotland Loves Anime highlights
For any relative novices when it comes to Japanese animation, Partridge has a few recommendations in particular from this year’s programme, which includes various favourites from the last ten years of the festival alongside notable UK premieres, including director Makoto Shinkai’s Weathering with You, his follow-up to global hit Your Name, which will be Japan’s official submission for Best International Feature Film at the forthcoming Oscars.
“Weathering With You (2019) has so much in common with what made Your Name the hit it was that it's a natural starting point. Redline (2009) is also a great start as it's very 'anime' without being confusing – it's a straightforward Wacky Races situation with an amazing soundtrack and animation. If you watch one film with a beer in hand late night, make it this one at the GFT. And Ride Your Wave (2019) is the wild card option I'd suggest. The style is different but Masaaki Yuasa loves to tell a story and that translates well, regardless of if you're a journeyman in anime or a novice.”
Scotland Loves Anime’s 10th edition runs 11-13 Oct at GFT and 14-20 Oct at Filmhouse. For the full line-up and screening times, visit www.lovesanimation.com