Walt Disney Animation Studios along with filmmakers Nora Twomey and John Kahrs are the first recipients of Women in Animation’s inaugural WIA Diversity Awards, presented in partnership with the Spark Computer Graphics Society.
“Women in Animation’s mission is to affect change in the animation industry, and it is essential, in our view, to highlight and celebrate those organizations and artists who are making a difference,” says Marge Dean, WIA’s co-president.
Disney is being honored for its commitment to helping WIA achieve its goal of bringing change to the animation industry. The WIA says the studio, its leaders and artists have donated many hours a year to the organization and its causes, and the studio’s efforts to promote diversity are evidenced by their recent films “Zootopia,” which dealt with bias and stereotypes, and “Moana,” which featured a young Pacific Island girl as its hero. The award was voted on by select members of WIA’s board of directors.
Twomey is one of the co-founders of Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon, along with Tomm Moore and Paul Young, and the director of “The Breadwinner,” about a young girl in Afghanistan who masquerades as a boy to help provide for her family during Taliban rule. The WIA is recognizing Twomey for depicting cultural differences and gender gaps in today’s world through the animated feature. This honor also was bestowed by select WIA board members.
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Kahrs, who won an Oscar for his 2012 animated short “Paperman,” is being honored for his 2016 short “June: Life Is Better When You Share the Ride,” created for ride-sharing company Lyft. Kahrs’ honor was bestowed by Spark CG for showing how people can support each other regardless of age, gender, or race.
“We are so grateful to Spark CG for their partnership and to honor our honorees for their tremendous contributions to this cause,” says Dean.
The awards will be presented during Spark Animation 2017 in Vancouver. The festival runs Thursday through Sunday. Awards will be presented on the festival’s opening night.
Ahead of the festival, Spark Animation has announced that French animated short “Garden Party” has been named best in show.
Also at the fest will be former Disney animator Glen Keane’s new short with Kobe Bryant, “Dear Basketball,” making its Canadian debut. Twomey’s “The Breadwinner” will also screen at the festival. Kahrs’ “June” has been named the Spark fest’s best commercial, PSA & Self-Promotion.