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BFI launches vast free online archive of animation, exploring a century of British cartoons

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The British Film Institute has launched Animated Britain, a vast online archive of animation exploring a century of British cartoons, available to watch for free via BFI Player. The collection includes over 300 films covering a huge breadth of styles and animation techniques, from hand-drawn to stop motion, and is packed with nostalgia featuring classics such as The Clangers, Bonzo the Dog and Superted.

“Since the early 1900s a disparate array of artists in Britain… have drawn, sculpted, snipped, stamped, posed, clicked and scratched their art into celluloid life,” says the BFI. “These films cast the evolution of British animation in a new light, frame by painstaking frame, ranging from the earliest experiments to the latest pioneering contemporary features made by UK animation studios today for Aardman, Wes Anderson, Tim Burton and others.”

The collection spans Latest News’ animated titles in 1904 to works by Halas & Batchelor, Bob Godfrey, George Dunning, Cosgrove Hall and Larkins Studio, and includes a focus on female artists such as Alison De Vere, Nancy Hanna, Vera Linnecar and Sheila Graber. It also covers government commissioned public information films, wartime propaganda and adverts for the likes of Guiness, Horlicks, Cadbury’s, Shell and BP.

This launch is part of a year-long focus on animation for the institution, and features animations from the BFI National Archive and Regional and National Film Archive Partners. A three-part cinema programme of 35 newly remastered classic animations is also being released, currently previewing at BFI Southbank and available for UK-wide cinema bookings from April. A free exhibition, British Animation, is on display at BFI Southbank until 8 April.

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