Film / News

Bristol’s BAFTA triumph

By Robin Askew , Tuesday Feb 14, 2017

When stop-motion animation studio Laika won the BAFTA for Best Animated Film, it wasn’t just a triumph over three big hitters from the mighty Disney studio (Moana, Zootropolis, Finding Dory) but also a big win for Bristol. The director of photography on the splendid Kubo and the Two Strings was Bristolian stop-motion veteran Frank Passingham. Several other Bristol animators also worked on the film.

Frank’s feature film career began back in 1993 with that surreal adventure from Bristol’s bolexbrothers studio, Dave Borthwick’s The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb, on which he served as lighting cameraman. He went on to work for Aardman as director of photography on Chicken Run, Flushed Away and The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! In an interview with American Cinematographer, Laika President and Kubo director Travis Knight explained why Frank was recruited for the job: “He was the [lighting cameraman] on a couple of sequences I animated on Coraline, and he was an utter joy to collaborate with. I was enormously impressed with Frank’s keen eye, his superhuman work ethic and his encyclopedic knowledge of film. He demonstrated generosity and sensitivity to his crew and animators. He understands the ballet of light, camera and human performance that breathes life into a puppet.”

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Kubo has also been nominated for an Oscar in the Animated Feature Film category, where it is once again up against Moana and Zootropolis as well as Studio Ghibli’s The Red Turtle and Swiss stop-motion feature My Life as a Courgette.

Another BAFTA winner with Bristol connections was Lion, produced by Bedminster’s own Iain Canning, who bagged an Oscar for The King’s Speech. This walked away with Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (for Dev Patel). Iain has a chance to win a second Oscar on February 26 when Lion competes for Best Picture. It has also been nominated in five other categories.

Less successful was Naomie Harris, who trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre school and made her feature debut in the Bristol-set student drama Living in Hope. She was nominated as Best Supporting Actress at the BAFTAs for Moonlight but lost to Viola Davis. She gets a second bite of the cherry at the Oscars, where she is once again up against Davis, Nicole Kidman and Michelle Williams – plus Octavia Spencer, who’s nominated for Hidden Figures.

Read more: The definitive list of movies made in Bristol

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