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Aardman Animations

Aardman Animations, Ltd. is a British animation studio based in Bristol. Aardman is known for films made using stop-motion clay animation techniques those featuring Plasticine characters Wallace and Gromit. After some experimental computer animated short films during the late 1990s, beginning with Owzat, it entered the computer animation market with Flushed Away. Aardman films have made average $147 million per film. All of their stop motion films are among the highest-grossing stop-motion films, with their debut, Chicken Run, being their top-grossing film as well as the highest-grossing stop-motion film of all time. Aardman was founded in 1972 as a low-budget project by Peter Lord and David Sproxton, who wanted to realise their dream of producing an animated motion picture; the partnership provided animated sequences for the BBC series for deaf children Vision On. The company name originates from the name of their nerdish Superman character in that sequence. After creating a segment called "Greeblies" using clay animation, became what was the inspiration for creating Morph, a simple clay character.

Around the same time Lord and Sproxton made their first foray into adult animation with the shorts Down and Out and Confessions of a Foyer Girl, entries in the BBC's Animated Conversations series using real-life conversations as soundtracks. Aardman created the title sequence for The Great Egg Race and supplied animation for the multiple award-winning music video of Peter Gabriel's song "Sledgehammer", they produced the music video for the song "My Baby Just Cares For Me" by Nina Simone in 1987. Aardman produced a number of shorts for Channel 4, including the Conversation Pieces series; these five shorts worked in the same area as the Animated Conversations pieces, but were more sophisticated. Lord and Sproxton began hiring more animators at this point. Of the five Lip Synch shorts, two were directed by Lord, one by Barry Purves, one by Richard Goleszowski and one by Nick Park. In 1991, Park's short, Creature Comforts, was the first Aardman production to win an Academy Award. Park developed the clay modelled shorts featuring the adventures of Wallace and Gromit, a comical pair of friends: Wallace being a naive English inventor with a love of cheese, Gromit his best friend, the intelligent but silent dog.

These films include A Grand Day Out, The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave, the latter two winning Academy Awards. In December 1997, Aardman and DreamWorks announced that their companies were teaming up to co-finance and distribute Chicken Run, Aardman's first feature film, in pre-production for a year. On 27 October 1999, Aardman and DreamWorks signed a $250 million deal to make an additional four films that were estimated to be completed during the next 12 years. Along with the deal their first project was titled The Tortoise and the Hare. Intended to be based on Aesop's fable and directed by Richard Goleszowski, it was put on hold two years because of script issues. On 23 June 2000, Chicken Run was released to a great financial success. In 2005, after ten years of absence and Gromit returned in Academy Award-winning Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit; the following year Flushed Away, Aardman's first computer-animated feature, was released. On 1 October 2006, right before the release of Flushed Away, The New York Times reported that due to creative differences DreamWorks Animation and Aardman would not be extending their contract.

The deal was terminated on 30 January 2007. According to an Aardman spokesperson: "The business model of DreamWorks no longer suits Aardman and vice versa, but the split couldn't have been more amicable." Unofficial reasons for departure were weak performances of the last two movies, for which DreamWorks had to take writedowns, citing the article, "Aardman executives chafed at the creative control DreamWorks tried to exert with Flushed Away..." The studio had another film in development, Crood Awakening, announced in 2005, with John Cleese co-writing the screenplay. With the end of the partnership, the film's rights reverted to DreamWorks. On 10 October 2005, a serious fire at a storage facility used by Aardman and other Bristol-based companies destroyed over 30 years of props and scenery built by the Bristol-based Cod Steaks; this warehouse was used for storage of past projects and so did not prevent the production of their current projects at the time. In addition, the company's library of finished films was undamaged.

An electrical fault was determined to be the cause of the blaze. Referring to the 2004 South Asia earthquake and tsunami, Park was quoted as saying, "Even though it is a precious and nostalgic collection and valuable to the company, in light of other tragedies, today isn't a big deal."From 2006 to 2007, the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan, had an exhibit featuring the works of Aardman Studios. Sproxton and Lord visited the exhibit in May 2006 and met with animator Hayao Miyazaki during the visit. Miyazaki has long been a fan of Aardman Animations' works. In April 2007, Aardman signed and in 2010 renewed a three-year deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment to finance, co-produce, distribute feature films; the next year, Aardman released a new Wallace and Gromit short film, called A Matter of Loaf and Death. The first film made in partnership with Sony was the computer-animated Arthur Christmas, Aardman's first 3-D feature film. 2012 saw the release of The Pirates! In an Advent

Chicken (2015 film)

Chicken is a 2015 British drama film directed by Joe Stephenson. It is based on the play of the same name by Freddie Machin; the film follows Richard, a fifteen-year-old boy with learning difficulties who lives in a shabby caravan with his older brother, Polly. Life for the siblings is harsh, with the nature-loving teenager yearning for stability. Richard finds himself on the wrong side of Polly's destructive violent moods. Richard finds it easier to communicate with animals -- none more so than Fiona, he forms a strong friendship with rebellious seventeen-year-old Annabel, whose family have acquired the farmland on which the brothers live. A growing conflict with the new landowners will lead to a situation that tests Richard's natural optimism, as the world of privilege collides with the brothers' precarious, marginalized existence. Scott Chambers as Richard Morgan Watkins as Polly Yasmin Paige as Annabell Kirsty Besterman as Mrs. Rickson Stuart Keil as Mr. Rickson Freddie Machin as Scrap Yard Owner Gina Bramhill as Tara Alf Raines as Pub Landlord Johnny Vercoutre as Pub Customer Adrian Bouchet as Bill Rose Williams as Lil Ben Mars as Kevin Michael Culkin as McClint Danny Steele as Electrician Alex Murphy as Bloodied Man Chicken had its world premiere on 27 June 2015 Edinburgh International Film Festival.

The film had its international premiere in competition at the 2015 Busan International Film Festival, followed by screenings at the New Hampshire International Film Festival, Giffoni International Film Festival, Cine A La Vista International Film Festival, Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, Schlingel International Film Festival and Dublin International Film Festival. It received a limited theatrical release in the UK on 20 May 2016, it was acquired by MUBI UK, had its British TV premiere on FilmFour April 2017. It received its DVD and Blu-ray release via Network distribution on 18 September 2017. Chicken received positive reviews and holds a 100% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 12 critic reviews. Leslie Felperin of The Guardian gave the film 3/5 stars and said "first-time director Joe Stephenson elicits lively, empathic performances from his small cast." Mark Kermode rated the film at four out of five stars stating that Scott Chambers' performance is "superb". Anna Smith of Empire magazine gave the film a rating of four stars, responding that the film is "an enjoyable, involving British Drama with and impressive turn from newcomer Scott Chambers.

With a three-star rating from Cath Clarke of Time Out, she commented that Chicken is "an impressively acted British Drama about a young man with learning difficulties." CineVue praised the film and mentioned that it is "the sort of British indie which restores faith in cinema". Grand Jury Award for Narrative Feature — Joe Stephenson Silver Griffoni Award for Best Film - Generation 18+ — Joe Stephenson & B Good Picture Company Award for Best Film — Chicken Scott Chamber's performance as Richard got a Special Critic's Circle mention The film was shortlisted for Best Director and Best Newcomer by the British Independent Film Awards. Chicken on IMDb Chicken at Rotten Tomatoes

Eleanor de' Medici

Eleonor de' Medici was a Duchess of Mantua by marriage to Vincenzo I Gonzaga. She was a daughter of Joanna of Austria, she was a family member of the famous House of Medici and the sister of Marie de' Medici the Queen of France. Eleanor, born Eleonora, was born in Florence, Italy, on 28 February 1567, as the eldest child of Francesco I de' Medici and his first wife Archduchess Joanna, her baptism took place the same year and was attended by Cardinal Innocenzo Ciocchi Del Monte an adoptive nephew of Pope Julius III. Cardinal Spinello de' Benci performed the ceremony on behalf of Pope Pius V; the baptism was celebrated with hunting excursions and parties. It was at first believed Eleanor would marry Francis, Duke of Anjou, son of Henry II of France and Catherine de' Medici. In 1570 it was feared Eleanor had contracted smallpox but this was not the case, she had only a fever from which she recovered, her parents and grandfather Cosimo sent her flasks of holy water. In 1574 when Eleanor was seven years of age, her grandfather Cosimo died so her father became Grand Duke of Tuscany.

In 1578, when Eleanor was eleven her mother died, her father married Bianca Cappello. Medici was one of seven children. Another sister, died at the age of 14; the rest of Eleanor and Marie's siblings died during childhood. Medici married Vincenzo I Gonzaga on 29 April 1584, as his second wife after he divorced Margherita Farnese. Celebrations for the signing of the marriage contract on 4 April 1584 took place in Mantua, including bells ringing and fireworks being set off. Eight days after the celebrations, the couple traveled to Florence to meet Eleanor's father Grand Duke Francesco and her stepmother Bianca Cappello. At this point Vincenzo kept a portrait of Eleanor by his bed. On April 10, Francesco sent a letter to Philip II of Spain asking for permission for Eleanor and Vincenzo to be married, although Francesco wished for proof of his son-in-law's fertility before concluding marriage negotiations. On 3 May 1584, Eleanor arrived in Mantua. After arriving by boat, Eleanor disembarked at Miglioretto and was accompanied to Palazzo Te by Ottavio Farnese, Duke of Parma, her husband Vincenzo, many noblemen and women from Piacenza and Mantua.

After resting at Palazzo Te, Eleanor changed into a jewelled silver-brocade dress and made her entry into the city to salvos of arquebuses and artillery while riding in a semi-covered gilded carriage pulled by four white horses and accompanied by the Mantuan military, mounted arquebusiers, light cavalry and women in carriages. After arriving at the Castello di San Giorgio she proceeded to the palatine church of Santa Barbara and the Ducal Palace where she was greeted at the foot of the stairs by Duke and Duchess of Mantua, Guglielmo Gonzaga and Eleanor of Austria. After a meal she was accompanied by Cardinals Gianfrancesco Gambara and Giovanni Vincenzo Gonzaga di Guastalla by boat to Palazzo Te, where she was visited by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese and Duke of Parma. Eleanor had several portraits commissioned to be made of her deceased mother Joanna as well as her deceased siblings Anna and Filippo, but was unhappy with the length of time taken to paint the portraits. On 7 May 1586, Eleanor gave birth to her first child, a son named Francesco.

The following year, Eleanor's father-in-law Guglielmo died, Vincenzo becoming Duke of Mantua whilst Eleanor served as his Duchess consort. The same year, she gave birth to a second son, Ferdinando after a difficult pregnancy. In the following years, Eleanor had further children: firstly a son, Guglielmo Domenico in 1589, who died young in 1591 a daughter, who married Henry II, Duke of Lorraine, followed by a son, Vincenzo in 1594, who succeeded his older brothers, she suffered a miscarriage in 1596, four months into pregnancy and in 1598 she gave birth to a second daughter named Eleanor, who married Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor. In October 1600, Eleanor attended the wedding of her sister Marie to Henry IV of France. In 1601, Queen Marie gave birth to her first son, the future Louis XIII of France. In 1602, Vincenzo traveled to Flanders in search of medical treatment, he left Eleanor in control of the duchy. In this time she sent Ferdinando I de' Medici a list of men condemned to the galleys, in the letter she informed Ferdinando of her post whilst her husband was away.

During the winter of 1603–1604, Galileo visited the Mantuan court in an effort to obtain a position there, was offered a salary, but could not agree on the terms with Vincenzo, who instead presented Galileo with a gold chain and two silver dishes. In 1606, Eleanor accompanied her daughter Margherita to Lorraine for her marriage to Duke Henry. Eleanor fell ill in the first quarter of 1611 with a prolonged illness, but seemed to recover by April, she retired for two months to the Palazzo di Porto in Porto Mantovano, "one mile from the city and beautiful for its gardens and fresh water." With the arrival of hotter weather, Eleanor moved north to the hill-top fortified villa at Cavriana. There, on the day after the Feast of the Birth of the Virgin, her health declined and died on 9 September 1611, aged forty four. At the time of her death, her husband Duke Vincenzo was in Casale Monferrato. After her death, Ele