MAF IS BACK! And we’re super excited to share with you the programme lineup for our first ever hybrid edition of MAF. It provides an opportunity to access the world’s greatest animated content both in person and online.

Panels, masterclasses, work in progress events and studio talks will take place online from 14-30 Nov 2021, with dedicated screenings hosted at Manchester’s HOME Cinema between 14-19 Nov 2021. Further information can be found at with tickets on sale from Now!!!

We have a fantastic programme to announce with lots of special guests and surprise announcements, but before we do, we want to share with you this year’s very special 2021 sting designed, directed and animated by Matthew Lee….

We wanted to also say a big thank you to our 2021 supporters for helping us make MAF2021 a reality. If you or your company is interested in joining and helping us deliver the festival, please get in touch! There’s still plenty of time to get involved.


This year at MAF we have a brand new feature film competition, which has given us the chance to showcase the skills of an international array of filmmaking talent across four dedicated titles. From animated documentaries to AI nightmares, we’re proud to present an eclectic mix of animated features for both in person and online screenings.

The official feature selection screenings include:

Flee, a documentary from Riz Ahmed and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, is the critically acclaimed and extraordinary true story of a man, Amin, on the verge of marriage which compels him to reveal his hidden past for the first time. After playing at the Sundance, Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals, Flee could become the first film to be nominated in animated, documentary and international feature at the Oscars, so we’re very excited to have it screening at MAF!

Absolute Denial, directed by Ryan Braund, tells the story of an obsessive, genius programmer who sacrifices everything in his personal and professional life to build a computer of unprecedented power. After weeks in isolation and watching his life crumble around him, he must now confront the ever-increasing problem of a machine that is much smarter than himself.

My Sunny Maad from director Michaela Pavlatova follows Herra, a Czech woman, as she falls in love with Nazir, an Afghan man. Herra has no idea about the life that awaits her in post-taliban Afghanistan, nor about the family she is about to join. Based on the novel ‘Frista’ by Czech journalist Petra Prochazkova, My Sunny Maad is Pavlatova’s third solo feature and certainly not to be missed!

My Favourite War is the critically acclaimed film based on director’s (Ilze Burkovska Jacobsen’s  personal story growing up in Cold-War Latvia, USSR. It’s a coming of age story, beautifully animating a personal escape route from the mighty authoritarian regime’s brainwashing. The film emphasises the importance of an individual’s freedom being a democratic society’s fundamental right, exploring the relationship between the right to choose and happiness.


Headline events in the announcement include a behind-the-scenes look at Ron’s Gone Wrong – the debut film from Locksmith Animation, starring a spectacular array of voice talent bringing the characters to life. We go behind the scenes with the film’s Director JP Vine and Editor Dave Burrows and discover the animated secrets behind creating Barney and his malfunctioning B*Bot.

The programme also features a ‘making of’ event of the upcoming Netflix stop-motion musical special Robin Robin, which is currently in production at Aardman and will debut on Netflix in November. We’ll be joined by co-writer and directors Dan Ojari and Mikey Please who’ll give us an exclusive insight into the Aardman studios, as well as an intimate Q&A about the new special.

Last but certainly not least, we are delighted to be able to present an exclusive work-in-progress look at upcoming Netflix series The House, made by acclaimed stop-motion directors Emma de Swaef & Marc James Roels, Niki Lindroth von Bahr, Paloma Baeza and Nexus Studios co-founder and series producer Charlotte Bavasso! With a separate live Q&A, the event will give us all a sneak peak at what’s in store for the series, as well as giving you the opportunity to ask any burning questions.



This year, our annual MAF Fellowship Award for 2021 will be presented to the incredible Jorge R. Gutierrez and Sandra Equihua, the enormously talented duo behind The Book of Life and latest Netflix series Maya and the Three. To celebrate, we’ll be taking a look at their impressive work and film careers, with an exclusive Q&A with the unstoppable duo. A festival highlight to say the least!


Manchester Animation Festival’s Industry Day is back and bigger than ever with a brand new event – The Animation Keynote. As a festival first, Patricia Hidalgo, Director of Children’s and Education at the BBC will deliver the keynote speech titled ‘Ignite British Animation’ during the Industry Day on Thu 18 Nov, which promises to be an insightful affair. As always, our Industry Day presents an opportunity for the animation community to gather and share ideas on the future of our industry, break down barriers and offer access to animation business insiders.

Alongside MAF’s regular industry events and workshops, this year’s ‘In The Frame’ – part of our yearly investigation into the animation industry – will look into what access means to those behind the scenes and reveal the results of a survey commissioned in partnership with ScreenSkills and Visible in Visuals. Panellists include members of the D/deaf community and those with physical and non-neurotypical access requirements who will share their own experiences, as MAF investigates whether the industry is doing enough in order to provide a welcoming environment to the entire workforce.

The survey is still ongoing and we would encourage everyone to fill it in to help with the panel.


This year’s panels will feature two exciting Animated Answers sessions, including an exploration of NFT blockchains with ‘NFT WTF?’  and the impact of COVID on working from home in the industry with ‘WFH, ATM!’.

We will be looking at the State of the Animation Nation with a new yearly roundtable discussion that paints a contemporary picture of the animation industry with a wide range of hard hitting questions and honest answers as experts reflect on the challenges and triumphs that the industry has been subject to and what may lay ahead.


The Animated Short Film Screening competition is the heart and soul of MAF, which this year includes the categories of Short Film, Student Film and Commissioned Film screenings. We’ll screening 99 short films from 24 different countries, with all films in our competition and panorama being eligible for one of our magnificent awards designed by Mackinnon and Saunders.

This year, short films for children will now also be eligible for an award, showcasing some of the best family friendly short films from across the globe!


Our family day will also introduce audiences to animated features and short films from around the world, with a wide selection of animations to keep the bairns at bay. The event will also feature a sculpt-along with senior model maker Jim Parkyn, who has worked in animation for over 20 years with the BBC as well as being part of the Aardman family and a number of independent studios. There is much more fun to be confirmed so keep your eyes peeled for further announcements – we can’t wait to get stuck in!



We’re very excited to announce that The Young Animator of the Year Awards will be held at MAF this year, celebrating the work that talented young animators are making across the country. MAF are thrilled to be premiering this year’s super talented winning films, so tune in online on Sun 14 Nov to see some films by the future of British animation!


Lastly, join us for the climax to the festival as we hand out the coveted Manchester Animation Festival trophies and Industry Excellence Awards, crafted by master model makers Mackinnon and Saunders.



Tickets and passes are on sale NOW via the MAF website! Delegate passes are currently on an early bird offer of £40 until Fri 15 Oct when they’ll increase to £45, so book now whilst you can – what a bargain!


 Source:Maf 2021

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