Pixar’s “Soul” continued its awards season dominance on Friday by winning seven Annie Awards, including feature. The jazzy look at the before-life also won for music (Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste), writing (Pete Docter. Mike Jones and Kemp Powers), character animation (Michal Makarewicz), FX (Tolga Göktekin, Carl Kaphan, Hiroaki Narita, Enrique Vila and Kylie Wijsmuller), storyboarding (Trevor Jimenez) and editorial (Kevin Nolting, Gregory Amundson, Robert Grahamjones, Amera Rizk).
“Wolfwalkers,” from Irish studio Cartoon Saloon and Melusine Prods. for Apple and GKIDS, took home five Annies, including independent feature. Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart picked up the Annie for feature direction and the film also won for character design (Federico Pirovano), production design (Maria Pareja, Stewart and Moore) and voice acting (Eva Whittaker as Mebh Óg MacTíre). Cartoon Saloon, along with Mother, also scored an award for its sponsored project “There’s a Monster in My Kitchen” for Greenpeace.
The top TV winner of the night was the Netflix series “Hilda,” which took home awards for TV/Media for Children, character animation (David Laliberté) and editorial (John McKinnon).
“Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal” from Cartoon Network Studios picked up nods for general audience series and direction for Tartakovsky. Winning the award for top preschool series was “The Adventures of Paddington,” from Blue-Zoo Animation Studio and Nickelodeon.
For 48 years, the annual awards presented by the International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood, have honored the top animated projects of the past year. This year, the virtual aspect gave way to uniquely entertaining show. ASIFA-Hollywood received recorded acceptance speeches from all the nominees, allowing recipients to get very creative within the two minutes they were allowed. And when the winners were decided, the org gathered those acceptance speeches and crafted a show that came in at just under two hours.
“Soul” directors Pete Docter and Kemp Powers and producer Dana Murray took advantage of the virtual aspect to accept their award for feature film in a very socially distant way, in different nature settings very far from a camera and microphones. And “Wolfwalkers” co-directors Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart and their team also got creative, with Moore appearing with wolf animation over his face when accepting for production design and Stewart accepting paper mache versions of the Annies statuette from various different places for some of their other awards. Tartakovsky accepted his awards from the shower.
Other winners included the popular live-action Disney Plus series “The Mandalorian,” which was honored for its live-action character animation, and “Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales” for character animation in a video game. The special production prize went to Magic Light Pictures’ “The Snail and the Whale” and the short subject winner was Blast Production’s “Souvenir Souvenir.” Voice acting in a TV show went to David Bradley for his performance as Merlin in DreamWorks Animation’s “Tales of Arcadia: Wizards.” DWA’s “Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous” picked up the prize for FX for TV/media. Disney TV Animation’s “Amphibia” won for TV/Media character design and Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” composer Kevin Kiner took home honors for TV/media music. Piccolo Pictures’ “Shooom’s Odyssey” won for TV/Media production design.
In addition to the competitive awards, ASIFA-Hollywood honored a number of individuals in the juried award categories.
Tonko House co-founder Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi was honored with the June Foray Award for benevolent or charitable impact on the animation industry. Tsutsumi, who was nominated for an Academy Award along with his Tonko House partner Robert Kondo, for their 2014 short “The Dam Keeper,” was chosen for the Foray Award for his work on the Totoro Forest Project, an art auction benefitting the non-profit Totoro Forest Foundation, and Sketchtravel, a sketchbook that passed from artist to artist through 12 countries over more than four years, benefitting various charities selected by the participating artists.
In accepting the Foray Award, Tsutsumi said: “I’ve been very inspired by the entire animation community that often goes above and beyond as storytellers and artists for a greater cause. I believe animation and storytelling can be powerful tools [to change the world]. Our stories can inspire the world to be whatever we want it to be. We can work together as one community to bring curiosity, inspiration and dreams for the next generation.”
Winsor McCay Awards, honoring lifetime achievement, were given to longtime animator Willie Ito, “The Proud Family” creator Bruce W. Smith and the late visual development artist Sue Nichols.
In addition to his work on “The Proud Family,” Smith directed Paramount’s “Bebe’s Kids,” co-directed Warner Bros.’ 1996 live-action/animation hybrid “Space Jam” and was supervising animator on Disney films “Tarzan” and “The Emperor’s New Groove.” He was also a co-director, along with Matthew Cherry and Everett Downing Jr., of “Hair Love,” which won the Oscar last year for animated short. He is currently supervising animator on Netflix’s upcoming stop-motion animated film “Wendell and Wild” and is also working on “The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder” revival at Disney Plus.
Smith accepted his award from his childhood bedroom. “I’m accepting this award in my mama’s house because this is where it all started for me as a seven-, eight-year-old kid right here in South Central, where I began to craft my love for animation.”
Ito, who learned to draw as a child when his family was held at an internment camp in Utah during World War II, began his career at Disney in 1954, working on “Lady and the Tramp.” He later worked at Warner Bros. and Hanna-Barbera, working on such projects as “The Flintstones,” “The Yogi Bear Show” and “Hong Kong Phooey,” for which he designed the title character, before returning to Disney, where he mentored young artists before retiring.
“I am truly humbled,” Ito said, thanking “my mentors, friends cohorts and especially my family for putting up with all my long hours at the studio.”
Nichols, who died of cancer last fall at 55, was a key development artist on many modern Disney classics, including “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” “The Lion King,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Hercules,” “Mulan,” “Fantasia 2000,” “The Emperor’s New Groove,” “Lilo & Stitch,” “The Princess and the Frog” and “Moana,” among many others.
“Brave” director Brenda Chapman introduced the segment on Nichols, calling her “first and foremost my best friend. She was an incredibly talented designer, art director and story artist who left her indelible mark on many beloved films of the second golden age of animation.” Nichols’ husband JR Maciorowski, who accepted the award on Nichols’ behalf, thanked longtime Disney directors John Musker and Ron Clements for “their years of vision in appreciating and utilizing the wonderful talents Sue possessed to help create some of their most wonderful movies.” Maciorowski noted that even as she was undergoing cancer treatment “she still wanted to create and inspire. She gave her all on a shoestring budget, working her magic and creating wonders that made people happy.”
The Ub Iwerks Award for technical advancement was given to Epic Games for its development of its Unreal Engine, which is an advanced, open-source, real-time 3D creation tool used for previsualization and fully-rendered animation pipelines, And a special achievement award was given to the Stone Circle Pictures, filmmakers of the documentary “Howard,” about the late lyricist Howard Ashman, who with his composing partner Alan Menken wrote music and lyrics for such films as “Little Shop of Horrors,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin.”
The 48th Annie Awards were presented virtually on Friday, April 16, by ASIFA-Hollywood. A complete list of winners follows:
Soul, Pixar Animation Studios
Wolfwalkers, Cartoon Saloon/Melusine Productions for Apple/GKIDS
The Snail and the Whale, Magic Light Pictures
Souvenir Souvenir, Blast Production
There’s a Monster in my Kitchen, Cartoon Saloon, Mother
TV/MEDIA – PRESCHOOL
The Adventures of Paddington, Episode: Paddington Digs a Tunnel to Peru, Blue-Zoo Animation Studio and Nickelodeon Animation Studio
TV/MEDIA – CHILDREN
Hilda, Episode: Chapter 9: The Deerfox, Hilda Productions Limited, a Silvergate Media Company, Netflix Inc. and Mercury Filmworks
TV/MEDIA – GENERAL AUDIENCE
Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal, Episode: Coven Of The Damned, Cartoon Network Studios
La Bestia, School: Gobelins, l’école de l ‘image; Student directors: Marlijn Van Nuenen, Ram Tamez, Alfredo Gerard Kuttikatt
FX FOR TV/MEDIA
Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, Episode: Welcome to Jurassic World, Production Company: DreamWorks Animation; FX Production Company: DreamWorks Animation and CGCG Inc. Emad Khalili, Ivan Wang, Chris Wombold, Kyle Goertz, Kathy D. Tran
FX FOR FEATURE
Soul, Production Company: Pixar Animation Studios; FX Production Company: Pixar Animation Studios, Tolga Göktekin, Carl Kaphan, Hiroaki Narita, Enrique Vila, Kylie Wijsmuller
CHARACTER ANIMATION – TV/MEDIA
Hilda, Hilda Productions Limited, a Silvergate Media Company, Netflix Inc. and Mercury Filmworks, David Laliberté
CHARACTER ANIMATION – FEATURE
Soul, Pixar Animation Studios, Michal Makarewicz
CHARACTER ANIMATION – LIVE ACTION
The Mandalorian, Production Company: Lucasfilm; FX Production Company: Image Engine, Nathan Fitzgerald, Leo Ito, Chris Rogers, Eung Ho Lo, Emily Luk
CHARACTER ANIMATION – VIDEO GAME
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Insomniac Games; Brian Wyser, Michael Yosh, Danny Garnett, David Hancock
CHARACTER DESIGN – TV/MEDIA
Amphibia, Episode: The Shut-In!, Disney TV Animation, Joe Sparrow
CHARACTER DESIGN – FEATURE
Wolfwalkers, Cartoon Saloon/Melusine Productions for Apple/GKIDS, Federico Pirovano
DIRECTION – TV/MEDIA
Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal, Episode: Plague of Madness; Cartoon Network Studios; Genndy Tartakovsky
DIRECTION – FEATURE
Wolfwalkers, Cartoon Saloon/Melusine Productions for Apple/GKIDS; Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart
MUSIC – TV/MEDIA
Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Episode: Victory and Death, Lucasfilm Animation, Kevin Kiner
MUSIC – FEATURE
Soul, Pixar Animation Studios, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste
PRODUCTION DESIGN – TV/MEDIA
Shooom’s Odyssey, Picolo Pictures, Julien Bisaro
PRODUCTION DESIGN – FEATURE
Wolfwalkers, Cartoon Saloon/Melusine Productions for Apple/GKIDS; María Pareja, Ross Stewart, Tomm Moore
STORYBOARDING – TV/MEDIA
Looney Tunes Cartoons, Episode: Big League Beast/Firehouse Frenzy, Warner Bros. Animation, Andrew Dickman
STORYBOARDING – FEATURE
Soul, Pixar Animation Studios, Trevor Jimenez
VOICE ACTING – TV/MEDIA
Tales of Arcadia: Wizards, Episode: Our Final Act, DreamWorks Animation, David Bradley (Merlin)
VOICE ACTING – FEATURE
Wolfwalkers, Cartoon Saloon/Melusine Productions for Apple/GKIDS, Eva Whittaker (Mebh Óg MacTíre)
WRITING – TV/MEDIA
Big Mouth, Episode: The New Me, Netflix; Andrew Goldberg, Patti Harrison
WRITING – FEATURE
Soul, Pixar Animation Studios; Pete Docter, Mike Jones, Kemp Powers
EDITORIAL – TV/MEDIA
Hilda, Episode: Chapter 9: The Deerfox; Hilda Productions Limited, a Silvergate Media Company, Netflix Inc. and Mercury Filmworks; John McKinnon
EDITORIAL – FEATURE
Soul, Pixar Animation Studios; Kevin Nolting, Gregory Amundson, Robert Grahamjones, Amera Rizk