An International Gathering

London, 12-13 June. The Essay Film Form and Animation: Intersectionality in Motion (2-day Conference – CAPA – Kensington).

This has been a great two-day gathering! The delegates arrived early and full of beans. Coffee, Tea and a variety of pies, cakes and biscuits awaited the gang.



We opened with a fantastic paper by Nuria Simelio Sola (Autonomous University of Barcelona) and Maria Forga (University of Vic, Barcellona): ‘The Portrayal of Social Class and Gender and the Recovery of Historical Memory in the Spanish Animated Documentaries ‘Bunuel en el Aberinto de las Tortugas’ and ’30 Anos de Oscuridad’.



Next, we continued with Susan Young (Royal College of Art, London) with the powerful ‘Using Animated Autoethnography to Resist and Reframe Psychiatric Othering and Iatrogenic Harm’. And Laura-Beth Cowley with ‘Show me what you’ve got: The Making of Video a multi-sensory and multi-purpose research method.’




Sally Pearce (Wolverhampton University) presented the compelling paper ‘Subversive Claustrophobic Spaces in Woman’s Animated Autobiography’, and Sabina Shah (University of Manchester) the innovative paper ‘Representation of the Muslim Female in Animation: Intersectionality in Practice’.





We continued with the screening of the impactful films by Faiyaz Jafri, and his paper ‘The Illusion of Destruction’ (Parsons School of Design and Queens College, New York), and Samantha Langsdale (University of North Texas) with the compelling paper ‘ You are like me: Intersectionality Strengths and Weaknesses in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)’.





We concluded our first day with Marc Bosward (University of Derby) with the paper ‘Dark Fringes: Complexity and Emergence in Realist Collage’, and the screening of fantastic work by Andy Holden.


This was a brisk morning in London. Our second day started with a discussion led by the animators and scholars Samantha Moore (Manchester School of Art) and Lizzy Hobbs (Anglia Ruskin University and UAL), supported by producer Abigail Addison (Director of Animate Project Agency): ‘Dismantling the Happiness Machine’. Followed the screening of Sam’s and Lizzy’s amazing short films!



We had the great pleasure to have animator and experimental filmmaker Honger Lang with us, who presented the paper entitled: ‘Personal Artistic Narratives functioning as a basis for Antithesis to Consumerism, Capitalism, and Corporate Control’. We only wish we had more time to dedicated to his work, as the discussion that followed engrossed and inspired many of us!




We were so lucky to have our keynote speaker, Annabelle Honess Roe, with us during the entire conference! Annabelle answered an endless list of questions, provocations graciously, and debated several teasing arguments.
We could not have been luckier!
Especially interesting in her speech was her discussion of animation as a form and the references to critical theory in film studies, especially the work of Laura Rascaroli on the essay film.



We continued with two of the most intriguing and experimental papers presented. Frank Gessner (Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf) with ‘From Assisi after Padua * Atelier Berlin Manifesto’, and Richard Wright (Filmmaker and Digital Animator) with ‘Recording thought, Thinking about Records: Notes on Animation and Other Media in the Essay film’.





We completed the event with artist Andy Holden, who presented his new essay film. Bartek Dziadosz chaired the round table with Andy and offered us a great occasion to wrap up the two-day conference with plenty of further debating and reflecting on the essay film form and animation.



Thank you, everybody! It has been such a great pleasure.

More soon…




Lab CAPALogo_GEN-Horizontal BAFTSS


The Conference will be held on Wednesday 12th and Thursday 13th June 2019

at the Derek Jarman Lab, London – CAPA

146 Cromwell Rd, Kensington, London SW7 4EF



We are thrilled to welcome our fantastic Keynote Speaker!!

Dr Annabelle Honess Roe

Bella Honess Roe-1948

Dr Annabelle Honess Roe, author of the acclaimed Animated Documentary (Palgrave, 2013) and Programme Director for Film Studies at the University of Surrey. Bella’s Blog


Animation has been used in film form for its ability to illustrate, clarify, intensify, and focus the expression of feelings, emotions, processes, situations. In socially engaged films, animation supports and opens the debate of complex realities, which can be external or internal, like in I was the Child of Holocaust Survivors (Fleming, 2006), An Eyeful of Sound (Moore, 2010), Waltz with Bashir (Folman, 2008), and Tower(Maitland, 2012).

Paul Arthur notes “[g]alvanized by the intersection of personal, subjective and social history, the essay [film] has emerged as the leading nonfiction form for both intellectual and artistic innovation” (2003, p. 58). In this sense, essay films are hybrid, cross boundaries and often challenge our preconceptions of how to engage an audience. Essay films are also placed in a vital dialogue with how we understand the broader categories of ‘nonfiction’, ‘fiction’ and ‘documentary’, especially in relation to deeply individual stories that might nevertheless resonate across social categories like class, race, gender and sexuality.

The conference wishes to develop these dialogues in specific relation to how the animated form mobilises or challenges ideas of the essay film. We, therefore, encourage submissions that engage with how animation represents complex and intersecting social issues and power relations. Major axes of social division in a given society at a given time operate not “as discrete and mutually exclusive entities, but build on each other and work together” (Collings and Bilge, 2016, p. 4). It is very challenging to convincingly visualise and configure these phenomena and how they intersect. But animation seems perfectly placed to rise to this challenge, due to its hybrid, metamorphic and pervasive tendencies.

This conference invites practitioners and scholars to focus on the relationship between the essay film form and animation, and to look at animation as a set of communicative techniques which give voice to resistance to social discrimination and inequality, and more effectively address a range of human issues in all their complexity. Looking at the intersectionality of race, class, gender and ethnicity, as part of our engagement in the understanding of diversity in contemporary societies and historically, we aim to highlight the importance of the animated essay form to communicate these messages, and to ask questions.

London, as the location of the conference, emphasises the historical relevance of this major city in the debate on diversity, social cohesion and intersectional discrimination. The London conference is scheduled just before the Society for Animation Studies 31st Annual Conference (to be held in Lisbon, Portugal, 17-21 June 2019). This enhances the cultural reach of the SAS, and the debating of animation in the contemporary context, with opportunities for conversations begun at the London event to continue in Lisbon, as delegates travel there.

We welcome submissions on any topic related to the relationships between Animation, Essay Film and Intersectionality. Suggested areas (not an exclusive list):

  • Formal definitions of the animated essay film
  • Notions of intersectionality in animation: representing complex and overlapping social power structures
  • Animated documentary/nonfiction/essay film
  • Representations of social class, gender, race, ethnicity
  • Debates about animation and identity politics
  • Pervasive animation/personal stories?
  • Examining social complexity through individual essayistic approaches to animated form
  • Questions of the animator as a witness, participant, or onlooker to the event they depict
  • The notion of ‘Personal Camera’, the ‘diary’ and ‘first-person filmmaking’ and how they are manifested in animation
  • The use of animated landscapes in the essay film

We are looking forward to reading your work and meeting you in London.

Submission deadline:  20 April 2019

Please e-mail abstracts (250-300 words) plus author bios (100 words per author) to

The organisers: Professor Paul Ward, Dr Romana Turina and Dr Bartek Dziadosz