The 12th annual SPARK ANIMATION Film festival has moved online in 2020 with an expanded program running over 11 days from October 29 to November 8. The virtual festival ― produced by Vancouver-based Spark Computer Graphics (Spark CG) Society ― is powered by Eventive, a technology platform designed by independent film lovers specifically to enhance virtual cinema screenings.
The SPARK Computer Graphics Society (Spark CG) has partnered with Women in Animation (WIA) to present the fourth annual WIA Diversity Awards, which recognize and honour individuals, films, and organizations that have made a significant impact in expanding the diversity of voices in the art and industry of animation.
The awards presentation ceremony is available to view online during the 12th Annual SPARK ANIMATION Film Festival from October 29 to November 8. The awards program is available as part of the $25 Festival Pass.
Laurence Ralph honoured for The Torture Letters
The WIA board of directors voted to award the 2020 WIA Diversity Award for Individual Achievement to filmmaker and Princeton University Professor of Anthropology Laurence Ralph for his animated documentary short, The Torture Letters. Fuelled by his own personal history of harassment by the Chicago Police, Ralph’s well-researched short connects the drug trade, police abuse and mass incarceration to the disease, disability, and premature death impacting urban residents of colour.
WIA President Marge Dean is pleased to honour Ralph with this “Best of Show” award, noting that “The Torture Letters uses the medium of animation in the best way possible by telling a story that not often heard but is critical for the advancement of humanity.”
SPARK CG Jury selects Maria Trénor’s short Where Were You?
Spain’s Maria Trénor’s film Where Were You? was awarded the 2020 WIA Diversity Award for Short Film, a juried award presented by SPARK CG. Where Were You? tackles the universal issue of domestic violence against women. The film mixes testimonies from women in different countries with the visual impact of animation, supporting the authenticity of many, often brutal, real-life experiences.
SPARK ANIMATION 2020 Festival Director Maria Antunes calls the film “a beautiful, powerful, and necessary piece of work.” She adds, “Where Were You? tackles the sad, universal reality of violence against women and challenges us to face not only brutal physical violence but also the daily, often subtle, indiscretions that affect more than half of the world’s population.”
Japan’s Kyoto Animation celebrated for inclusivity
The WIA Board of Directors voted for Kyoto Animation as winners of the 2020 WIA Diversity Award for Corporate Achievement. The husband-and-wife team of Hideaki and Yoko Hatta were recognized for creating “an inclusive studio that is based on the principle of creating a gender-balanced workplace.”
WIA Vice President Jinko Gotoh explains, “As a Japanese producer myself, I’m particularly proud of the way Kyoto Animation shares WIA’s inclusive principle of hiring female artists, as well as their commitment to training artists.”
Award-winners recognized from around the world
From the United States, Brian Horn received the festival’s Cinematic Award for his commissioned work Hearthstone Win or Lose. The Director’s Prize went to Canada’s Roy Stein for his short film Too Late.
The winner in the Regular Shorts category was Anton Dyakov from the Russian Federation for his film BoxsBallet. Winner of the Music Video category was Kim Kyoung-bae from the Republic of Korea for Seoulsori. The Student Shorts award went to the French team of Grégoire de Bernouis, Jawed Boudaoud, Simon Cadilhac, and Hélène Ledevin for My friend who shines in the night.
SPARK ANIMATION 2020 Festival highlights
This year’s showcase of the world’s leading animators includes anniversary-themed celebrations of film.
"The Women of Toy Story" honours the 25th-anniversary of this beloved film from the perspectives of the women who helped in its creation. Hollywood Producer Bonnie Arnold, who was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Spark CG Society in 2019, will be joined by other women from the production. The session will be moderated by author, film historian, and filmmaker Mindy Johnson.
To mark the 20th anniversary of the Academy Award-winning short film Father and Daughter, an “In Conversation” session with London-based Dutch Director Michaël Dudok de Wit will be moderated by educator and film historian Keith Blackmore and will include a screening of this masterful short film.
Popular films and programs returning in 2020
Female filmmakers’ talents are on display during the "Mothers of a Medium" program.
Films by Canadian filmmakers are celebrated with a “Made in Canada” showcase.
The “Spotlight on France” includes award-winning French shorts and features.
Experimental films provide fuel for “Late Night Snacks” screenings.
The SPARK ANIMATION 2020 CELEBRATION features award-winning film selections by this year’s
prestigious jury of producers, directors, educators, and independent studio founders
Programming highlights in 2020 also include an online presentation by Irish animator and illustrator Tomm Moore, co-director of the Apple TV+ upcoming film Wolfwalkers. Reviewing the film at the Toronto Film Festival, Variety magazine’s Peter Debruge writes, “'The Secret of Kells' collaborators Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart blend ancient Irish folklore with empowering contemporary values in this visually stunning cartoon.”
Festival passes are on sale now at Eventive for $25, plus taxes and fees.
2019 Festival Coverage
A multi-stream event, SPARK ANIMATION thrives on bringing together industry experts with newcomers, and that principle extends into the festival which provides a showcase for both established filmmakers and fresh new talent. Since opening the festival to submissions in 2014, SPARK ANIMATION has attracted top animation from around the world and many of the projects recognized at the festival have gone on to win numerous awards — including Oscars. Notable titles include “The Dam Keeper” (Academy Award nominee), “We Can’t Live Without Cosmos” (Academy Award nominee), “Bear Story,” (Academy Award winner in 2015), “Dear Basketball” by Glen Keane and most recently this year’s Oscar winner, Domee Shi's "Bao."
With an eclectic mix of styles, languages and a world-class jury, SPARK ANIMATION has become the premiere animation festival in Western Canada.
THE 2019 SPARK ANIMATION JURY MEMBERS ARE:
ABOUT SPARK ANIMATION 2019
SPARK ANIMATION 2019 furthers the art and craft of animation by championing the work of animators, filmmakers, and all artists who use this beautiful art form to tell a story visually. In its 11th year, SPARK ANIMATION 2019 runs October 24 to 27 in Vancouver, Canada. The event includes a film festival, career fair, and two-day conference (October 26 and 27). For more information visit http://sparkfx.ca/
ABOUT SPARK CG
Founded to promote and foster Vancouver’s computer graphics community, Spark CG has organized the SPARK ANIMATION and SPARK FX (visual effects) conferences and festivals since 2008. In addition to the two annual signature events, Spark CG also hosts events that attract internationally renowned speakers and local industry professionals. To serve and support the dynamic local animation and computer graphics community, Spark CG is constantly highlighting leading artistic and technological advancements through conferences, film festivals, and events that provide insight into the evolution and latest techniques in animation and visual effects. Since its inception, the SPARK CG Society has been committed to equality and better inclusion.
SPARK ANIMATION 2019 SPONSORS
Creative BC supported by the Province of British Columbia, Animal Logic, Capilano University, BRON Animation, DHX Media, Emily Carr University, MPC Film, Vancouver Film School, Arcana Studios, Bardel Entertainment, Campbell River Creative Industries Council, CMPA, Consulate of France in Vancouver, Foundry, Ziva Dynamics, ACM SIGGRAPH, VES Vancouver, YVRFF, Women in Animation and Vancouver ACM SIGGRAPH.
2018 Festival Coverage (Archive)
2018 Festival Jury includes the following industry luminaries:
2020 Call for entries (Archive)
Festival Regulations and submission via FIlmFreeway
Deadline: 21 August (regular), 11 September (Extended)