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Middlesex staff and students involved in Guantanamo animated short for The Guardian

Animators from Middlesex have helped to create a powerful animated short highlighting the plight of detainees on hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

Animators from Middlesex University have helped to create a powerful animated short voiced by David Morrissey and Peter Capaldi, highlighting the plight of detainees on hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

(Warning: Short contains scenes some viewers might find disturbing)

Animation Company Sherbet was commissioned to make the film through The Guardian’s multi-media news editor Mustafa Khalili and his colleague video producer Guy Grandjean.

The film is based on testimonies collated by human rights law firm Reprieve who have visited detainees held without charge or trial at Guantanamo. Some detainees have been cleared of any charge for over five years but are still held. 

Mustafa Khalili said, "I had long been eager to document the controversies of Guantánamo but recognised that it was virtually impossible to film anything worthwhile. Yet the transcripts Reprieve were managing to smuggle out were so evocative, so human, so powerful…getting to the inmates suddenly became a reality. The challenge was how do we do it? We thought of animation"

The animation team included Middlesex Animation course leader Jonathan Hodgson, as director, and four animation students. The students were Harriet Titlow, Stuart Beer and Hakim Ismail, who are all animation students entering their third year and Rebecca Balint who graduated in 2013.

Jonathan Bairstow produced the film at Sherbet, where Tom Senior was animation director and Ben Sayer managed editing, animation and compositing.

Jonathan Hodgson said, “Much of the animation I direct these days is of an ethical nature and the budgets tend to be quite tight. Jonathan Bairstow of Sherbet shares my interest in humane and sometimes challenging content and helps facilitate projects with varied production requirements. We often work with small production teams. The four animation students I chose to contribute to this film weren’t making tea and running errands. They worked alongside animation professionals during a six week period and played a meaningful role”. 

Jonathan Hodgson was invited to direct the project at Sherbet after directing an animation for Amnesty International and The Guardian as part of Amnesty International’s 2012 death penalty campaign in 2012.

Photo: Still from the Guardian animation

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