Stop-motion animation season supported by Laika coming to BFI Southbank

We’re celebrating hand-crafted animation on the big screen, alongside a major exhibition showcasing the wizardry of Laika.

15 May 2024

Coraline (2009)

Stop Motion: Celebrating Hand-Crafted Animation on the Big Screen, supported by headline partner Laika, is our major new season taking place from 1 August from 9 October with free film screenings for children under 16. Running in parallel, a free exhibition at BFI Southbank, Laika: Frame x Frame, will showcase the art, science and innovative wizardry of the studio’s epic films. 

Titles playing on the big screen throughout the season will include King Kong (1933), Jason and the Argonauts (1963), Chicken Run (2001), Corpse Bride (2005), Coraline (2009), Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) and Anomalisa (2015), with special guests in venue set to include filmmakers Henry Selick (Coraline), Chris Butler and Sam Fell (ParaNorman), Guillermo del Toro (Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio), Peter Lord (Chicken Run), Nick Park (Wallace and Gromit), The Brothers Quay (Street of Crocodiles), Suzie Templeton (Peter and the Wolf), Barry Purves (Achilles), Osbert Parker (Clothes) and further names to be announced.

Anomalisa (2015)Paramount Pictures

Possessing a singular magic and charm, stop motion is a technique that hides its extraordinary craftsmanship in the space between each meticulous frame. A time-consuming process that demands patience, painstaking attention-to-detail and boundless creativity, the flow of stop motion and its illusion of movement helps to draw in audiences with a tangible sense of human interaction – where literal fingerprints are sometimes even visible on screen. 

Supported by headline partner Laika, and curated by BFI Southbank lead programmer Justin Johnson, the BFI’s Stop Motion season will offer free screenings for children under 16 and will include Laika’s five films to date: Coraline (2009), ParaNorman (2012), The Boxtrolls (2014), Kubo and the Two Strings (2016) and Missing Link (2019), all of which were nominated for the Academy Award for Outstanding Animated Feature. 

A major tentpole of the programme will be a 15th anniversary celebration of Coraline (2009), with writer/director Henry Selick and cast members in attendance for a screening and Q&A on 11 August ahead of the beloved film’s international theatrical re-release. Henry Selick will also join us for a special In Conversation event during the season, while ParaNorman (2012) directors Chris Butler and Sam Fell will appear at BFI Southbank for a Q&A following a screening of the film.

Accompanying the season will be Laika: Frame x Frame, a free, unique exhibition showcasing the artistry of the nearly one million hand-crafted frames that make up Laika’s five films. Visitors at BFI Southbank will get an exclusive look at puppets, sets and artifacts – some never seen before – from the studio’s vast production archives, along with a sneak peek at Laika’s highly anticipated sixth feature Wildwood (2025). Full details of Laika: Frame x Frame, running from 12 August to 1 October, will be announced in the coming weeks.

Chicken Run (2000)

British talent working in the stop motion space will be highlighted with a programme of classic shorts by filmmakers Suzie Templeton (Academy Award winner for Peter and the Wolf), Barry Purves (Achilles) and Osbert Parker (Clothes), followed by a Q&A panel discussion with the animators, while shorts by Paul Berry (Sandman) and Daniel Greaves (Academy Award winner for Manipulation) will also accompany feature presentations during the season. 

A programme of more recent British shorts will showcase work funded through the BFI Short Form Animation Fund and BFI NETWORK, awarding funds from the National Lottery, including Salvation Has No Name (Joseph Wallace, 2023), Visible Mending (Samantha Moore, 2023), Red Rover (Astrid Goldsmith, 2020) and Shackle (Ainslie Henderson, 2023), with many of the filmmakers appearing. Meanwhile, the quintessential British stop motion studio Aardman will be celebrated with special events including founder Peter Lord (Chicken Run) in venue for a career conversation, plus Wallace & Gromit creator Nick Park who will join us to discuss his celebrated work alongside Wallace & Gromit creative director Merlin Crossingham. Aardman titles playing in the season will include Chicken Run (2000) and the Academy Award winning Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005), along with many of the studio’s much-loved shorts. Classic children’s television will also feature, with the likes of Bagpuss, Morph, Pingu and The Pingwings appearing on the big screen.

Key directors who have championed the medium of stop motion animation throughout their careers are also featured in the BFI season, with Guillermo del Toro joining us on stage for a screening of Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (2022), plus Henry Selick’s Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), James and the Giant Peach (1996) and Wendell & Wild (2022), Tim Burton’s Vincent (1982), Corpse Bride (2005) and Frankenweenie (2012), and Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) and Isle Of Dogs (2018) all playing at BFI Southbank. There will also be a selection of films from the heady and dreamlike body of work of The Brothers Quay, whose new film Sanatorium is currently in production with support from the BFI Filmmaking Fund, with The Brothers taking part in an In Conversation event during the season. 

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

Elsewhere, while stop motion can bring the fantastical to life with ease, other titles included will speak to the artform’s ability to contend with the human experience, from Mary and Max (2009) and Anomalisa (2015), to My Life as a Courgette (2016) and Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (2021). European pioneers of stop motion will be celebrated throughout the season too, leading with a focus on Jan Švankmajer to mark the Czech filmmaker’s 90th birthday, along with work from puppeteer Jirí Trnka, filmmaker Karel Zeman, and Polish-Russian animator Władysław Starewicz. Finally, the BFI’s major season would not be complete without marking the contributions of two legendary animators: “Dynamation” wizard Ray Harryhausen with Jason and the Argonauts (1963) and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973); and special effects pioneer Willis O’Brien, who will be celebrated with classic screenings of King Kong (1933) and Mighty Joe Young (1949).

“We’re honoured to support the BFI’s stop motion season and offer visitors an insider’s look into the pioneering world of Laika through this exhibition,” says David Burke, Chief Marketing & Operations Officer at LAIKA. “Artists, scientists, and craftspeople at our Oregon studio pour their passion into telling these cinematic tales and fashioning immersive worlds. So, to create an experience that deepens the fans’ connection to Laika’s creative spirit is a great pleasure. We’re also thrilled that the BFI audience will be among the first to see the newly remastered 3D Coraline, which brings Neil Gaiman’s masterful storytelling into even deeper focus with stunning stereoscopic detail.”

“It’s impossible to overestimate the level of patience, vision and pure artistry that goes into making a great stop motion film,” says Justin Johnson, BFI Southbank Lead Programmer and curator of the season. “In this season, we present work by pioneers of the form throughout the years, in the company of some of the finest living stop motion auteurs who will share their knowledge in person on stage at BFI Southbank. With an incredible exhibition that unlocks the magic behind the films of Laika running in parallel, this is a unique opportunity for audiences to immerse themselves in every aspect of an art form that has thrilled people of all ages throughout the history of cinema.”

King Kong (1933)

Stop Motion: Celebrating Hand-Crafted Animation on the Big Screen, supported by headline partner Laika, takes place at BFI Southbank from 1 August to 9 October, with the free exhibition Laika: Frame x Frame open from 12 August to 1 October.

Tickets for August will be on sale to BFI Patrons from 1 July, BFI Members from 2 July and to the general public from 4 July, with tickets for September and early October on sale to BFI Patrons from 5 August, BFI Members from 6 August and to the general public from 8 August.