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Long-time NFB Animation Champion Hélène Tanguay Passes Away

The former Marketing Manager of the organization’s English Program Animation Studio, a passionate, tireless, and unwavering ambassador for animated films, died January 7.

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) has just shared the sad news that long-time NFB employee and animation champion Hélène Tanguay passed away on January 7, 2023.

Hélène joined the NFB’s Festivals unit in 1970, at the age of 17. In 1979 she began volunteering for ASIFA, the International Animated Film Association, working with the organization’s Canadian and international bodies. Named Marketing Manager for the NFB’s Montreal-based English Program Animation Studio in 1984, Hélène retired from the NFB in 2007, after almost 40 years of distinguished service in bringing the work of NFB creators to an ever-wider audience.

Following retirement, she remained deeply engaged with the animation world, and with countless artists and artisans who loved her. AWN co-founders Ron Diamond and Dan Sarto would always find time to meet Hélène for coffee or a meal at the Ottawa Animation Festival as well as in Annecy. She was passionately opinionated about all things animation, never shy in both supporting and questioning NFB decision-making or AWN’s coverage of artists and their films. She had a fantastic laugh, which paired especially well with her great sense of humor.

Julie Roy, Director General, Creation, Distribution and Marketing, and Chief Programming Officer, shared, “Hélène Tanguay was an outstanding and unwavering ambassador for animated films. Everywhere she went, she left her mark, always with a human touch. Both professionally and privately, she tirelessly travelled the world presenting and viewing films. She forged relationships and helped build an active community of animation enthusiasts. Her sense of humor, generosity, countless anecdotes, extensive understanding of the field and immense knowledge of animated film made Hélène an extraordinary individual. She was driven by one desire: to spread the word about these artists and their work.

Though filmmakers and producers generally get the attention, today we want to shine a spotlight on someone who dedicated her career to promoting creators, whom she so fervently respected and admired. To this extended family, she bequeaths her unconditional love of animated film, for which we are eternally grateful.”

Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis’ award-winning 2022 animated short, The Flying Sailor, now shortlisted for an Oscar, is dedicated to Hélène Tanguay.

Source: The NFB

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Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.