Returning for our ninth year, we’re delighted to unveil our programme for 2023! Between 12 – 17 November, we’ll be showcasing over 100 animation events ranging from screenings, panels, workshops, masterclasses, making of sessions and studio talks, taking place across the city of Manchester from HOME cinema to the Bridgewater Hall as well as ODEON on the Friday.

Our motto is Animation for All and this year is definitely that! To make the festival as inclusive as possible, we’ll be adding English descriptive subtitles to the majority of films in our programme, plus we’ll have BSL interpreters at intros/Q&As and we’re trialling relaxed screenings too.

Let’s take a look at this year’s incredible festival sting, created by none other than Will Becher, the Academy Award-nominated co-director of A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon.


Highlights of our feature film programme include the Manchester premiere of Netflix’s highly anticipated Aardman sequel Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget and an advanced three episode screening of Netflix’s upcoming series Scott Pilgrim Takes Off. Our international feature film competition includes:

  • Kensuke’s Kingdom – Based on Michael Morpurgo’s bestselling novel, Kensuke’s Kingdom tells the story of a boy swept overboard during a storm on a worldwide sailing trip with his family. Starring Cillian Murphy, Sally Hawkins and Ken Watanabe. The film is made by Lupus Films who received the MAF Fellowship Award last year.
  • White Plastic Sky – This powerful film introduces a post-apocalyptic Budapest in the year 2123. In this future without animals and plants where the price of human survival is high, a young man breaks every rule to save his wife. The film has screened at several Film Festivals and received a special mention at Animafest Zagreb.
  • Mars Express – Nominated for an Annecy Cristal Award, this futuristic thriller follows private detective Aline Ruby and her android partner who are hired by a wealthy businessman to track down a notorious hacker. On their journey, they uncover a secret that threatens to change the face of the universe.
  • The Peasants – Fresh from its world premiere this month at Toronto Film Festival, this hand-painted film adapts a Nobel prize winning novel about an early 20th century Polish peasant woman who creates havoc by marrying an older rich man. The film was also Poland’s entry for International Feature Film at the 96th Academy Awards.
  • Chicken For Linda – Following on from its win at Annecy Film Festival for Best Feature Film, this heartwarming comedy follows the story of mum Paulette who has promised to cook chicken with peppers for her daughter Linda, even though she cannot cook at all. But how will she find a chicken on the day of a general strike?

Event highlights will include exclusive “Making Of…” sessions, including a session with Aardman’s Suzy Fagan Parr on the creation of Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget. Comic book artist and animation producer ND Stevenson will join us to chat about their recently released Netflix fantasy adventure comedy Nimona, and producer Juan Pablo Reyes will shed insight on some of the behind-the-scenes magic from Walt Disney Animation Studios’ upcoming blockbuster Wish.

We’ll get to know the triple Academy Award-winning studio PASSION Pictures in a studio talk led by PASSION’s Executive Producer and Head of Production, David Park, and we’ll hear from Kugali CEO Hamid Ibrahim in an enlightening discussion about the trailblazing pan-African company.

Furthermore, in Magic Light Pictures at 20, the team behind such classics as The Gruffalo and Stick Man will give audiences an in-depth look at some of their impressive array of works.

Additional panels and sessions across the week will also explore The Art of the Music Video, as well as an in depth discussion on the BBC Children’s initiative: Inform, Educate, Animate. We’ll have Industry Excellence Award sessions on Storyboarding and Character Design, and Skwigly Online Animation Magazine will present a selection of films from its animation community, as well as the ever-popular Skwigly Quiz!

In addition to our usual numerous short film competition and panorama programmes showcasing the breadth of international talent in animation, this year we’re particularly highlighting Croatian animation with two programmes of short films from the nation: one contemporary and one classic. Audiences can also get to hear from filmmaker Kata Gugić of Bonobostudio who’ll join us for a talk focused on the Croatian-based studio.

MAF will also celebratethe richness and variety of an Animated Africa, with two collections of short films curated by creatives.

MAF’s Family Day makes a welcome return on Sun 12 Nov, including festival favourites such as the BBC Family Box Set, our Short Films for Children selection, and a wealth of dedicated family events. Claymation and Lego Stop Motion workshops will be the perfect activity for kids to discover and show off their creative talents. We’re pleased to be hosting the Young Animator of the Year Awards again, celebrating animators aged 11-18 from across the country.

MAF’s Industry Day has been renamed for 2023 to the Animation Nation Forum. Taking place on Thu 16 Nov, sessions will include a yet-to-be announced industry keynote, a focus on the state of play within animation from a panel packed with industry heavyweights, as well as a dedicated panel on AI. Networking and social opportunities, pitching surgeries and portfolio reviews will also be on offer; a fantastic opportunity to meet with industry professionals and receive feedback on ideas and skills.

Once again hosted by National Comedy Awards 2023 nominee, comedian and actor Amy Gledhill, we’ll hold our annual awards ceremony on Thursday 17 November. This year’s Film Awards will have categories of Best Feature Film, Best Short Film, Best Student Film, Best Children’s Film, Best Commissioned Film, Best Immersive Film and new for this year, Best British Film.

As previously announced, for the first time in 2023, the winner of the Short Film category will automatically qualify for Oscar Academy Award consideration. Across the festival there will be 103 different short films from 26 different countries representing the very best animated short films from across the world.

This barely scratches the surface of everything we have to offer for you at this year’s MAF, so head to our website to browse the full programme! And do stay tuned for further announcements over the coming weeks.

Manchester Animation Festival is presented with the support of the BFI (awarding funds from the National Lottery) and sponsored, partnered and supported by HOME, University of Salford, Blue Zoo, BBC Children’s & Education, XP-Pen Drawing Tablets and Leonardo Hotels.

Other sponsors include: Magic Light Pictures, Leeds Art University, Animation UK, Celsys’ Clip Studio Paint, Staffordshire University, Edge Hill University, Escape Studios, Giant Animation, Jellyfish Pictures, Marks & Clerk, Screen Skills, Reel Solutions, Skwigly Online Animation Magazine, Animation World Network and Peacock Sound.

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