A personal note from Vivien Halas
In 1991, just after my mother Joy Batchelor died, my father took me aside to show me how much better he thought her drawings for the illustrated book of Animal Farm were than his own. He also asked me if I would mind having my name added to the company letterhead as a director, to replace my mother. I said fine, even though I was 5 months pregnant and living in Paris. When he died, in 1995, I found myself with the company and a considerable mess of litigation over Animal Farm, unsorted and missing films in all kinds of formats, as well as drawings, cels, books and trophies. By 1996, I realised that it was time to come back to England and form The Halas & Batchelor Collection Limited.
It took many years to sort through all the material but I felt it was important to preserve the legacy of work that is a unique and important part of the history of animation. And I have had so much fun meeting so many great animators, artists, technicians and archivists who have helped me preserve, protect and present the work. Without being an animator myself, I have been able to feel part of the 'animation family', for which I am very grateful.
Today most of the collection lives in the BFI, where it is magnificently housed and cared for. However, Halas & Batchelor retain the intellectual copyright to most of the films, with the exception of the early films made for the government and some of the films made for sponsors.
In 2017, the Halas & Batchelor Collection bought the world rights to Animal Farm (1954) from De Rochemont Films Inc. So although we have been the main distributor world wide since before my time, it is good to be certain that the film is entirely ours, still fully in copyright and not in the public domain.
Other news for 2020
Halas & Batchelor will celebrate 80 years since it was formed in May.
Sky Arts will be broadcasting a new documentary about the studio by Unity House.
In France Malavida will be re-mastering a new celebratory BluRay and DVD of Animal Farm with all kinds of extra bonus material.
We plan to take part in a major new arts festival Insiders/ Outsiders celebrating the contribution to British culture of refugees from Nazi dominated Europe.
British Animation Women Breaking the Mold
Vivien Halas was delighted to be interviewed for this upcoming documentary about the role of women in the animation industry - a celebration of female talent as well as a look at employment trends. You can view the trailer here.
Animal Farm in Portugal
22 January, 10pm
Mini-Auditorio Salgado Zenha at the Coimbra Academic Association
Part of a film cycle entitled 'Animation and Society'. The film cycle includes Portuguese and International works and is mainly dedicated to the discussion of film in an academic context, promoting film literacy.
Short films at Stroud Film Festival
27 February - 28 March
Halas & Batchelor films will feature at the Stroud Film Festival.
For details, see the Festival website
Animal Farm GCSE Study Day at BFI Southbank
10 March, 10.30am - 3.30pm
This event is linked to the AQA and Edexcel GCSE English specifications with the added appeal of using rare and archive materials from the Halas and Batchelor Collection in the BFI Special Collection. This morning will comprise a clip-based lecture looking at the original text by George Orwell and exploring how it was added by John Halas and Joy Batchelor.
Event for teachers and students only. For full details, see the BFI event page.
Automania 2000 in MoMA show
20 May - 7 September
MoMA New York
The Halas & Batchelor short film will be screened at MoMA as part of an exhibition of the same name.