Search form

Women in Animation Announces WIA Diversity Award Honorees at Spark ANIMATION 2018

Women in Animation honoring Michael Fukushima of the National Film Board Of Canada, animation legend Brenda Banks, and director Alex Widdowson’s ‘Music & Clowns’ with its second annual WIA Diversity Awards at Spark ANIMATION 2018.

Director Alex Widdowson will be honored with a WIA Diversity Award for his short film ‘Music & Clowns’ for its portrayal of the challenges and joys of caring for individuals with Down syndrome.

LOS ANGELES -- As SPARK ANIMATION 2018 kicks off Thursday in Vancouver, Women in Animation has announced the second annual WIA Diversity Awards recipients. Awarded in partnership with Spark Computer Graphics Society, the recipients are Michael Fukushima of The National Film Board of Canada, Animation Legend Brenda Banks, and filmmaker Alex Widdowson for his short film, Music & Clowns. The awards will be presented Thursday night by WIA President Marge Dean at SPARK ANIMATION 2018 in Vancouver.

The WIA Diversity Awards were established to recognize and honor individuals, films and organizations that have made a significant impact in expanding the diversity of voices in the art and industry of animation, either through their own creative work, by fostering the work of others, or by leading diversity initiatives that enrich our industry and society. This year’s list of recipients are as follows, and were chosen on the following basis:

The NFB’s Michael Fukushima.

Michael Fukushima/National Film Board of Canada – Voted on by select members of the WIA board of directors, the WIA Diversity Award is being given to Michael Fukushima of The National Film Board of Canada for his role in making the NFB one of the first organizations to truly achieve 50/50 gender parity. After hearing about WIA’s goal to hit 50/50 by 2025 at the Spark Animation Festival in 2015, the NFB made a concerted effort to implement changes in their structure immediately.

“On International Women’s Day 2016, I was here in Vancouver to introduce a groundbreaking gender parity commitment ensuring that at least half of NFB productions are directed by women, addressing gender imbalance across a range of key creative positions,” said NFB film commissioner Claude Joli-Coeur. “More than two years later, we’re hard at work to ensure that we maintain these benchmarks, which I hope will also serve as a model for other organizations.”

Brenda Banks – Also voted on by select members of the WIA board of directors, Brenda Banks has been chosen as a recipient for her contribution in animation history as one of the first African-American female animators, having established an illustrious career in animation for over three decades. Banks worked on a wide range of film and television projects from the early ‘70s all the way through 2005. Some of her key credits include Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards and The Lord of the Rings, the TV series Heathcliff, The Smurfs, several of the Looney Tunes episodes in the late ‘80s, Jetsons: The Movie, The Simpsons and King of the Hill.

“Ms. Banks rose up in the ranks of animation when there were so few women. That took courage and persistence. While it’s important for us to make paths to the future, it’s equally important to shine a light on our heroes from the past,” WIA vice president Jinko Gotoh commented.

Animation legend Brenda Banks.

Taylor Shaw, founder and CEO of Black Women Animate will attend the festival and accept the award in behalf of Banks. “What an honor it is to accept WIA’s Diversity Award on behalf of Brenda Banks, a pioneer who deserves this honor and so much more,” Shaw said. “For women, she is a symbol of perseverance. For women of color, she is truly a remarkable dream of empowerment and possibility that Black Women Animate is dedicated to sustaining.”

Animation legend Floyd Norman added, “Although not always recognized, women have been an essential part of animated filmmaking since its inception. It’s only fitting that we stop and recognize the exceptional women who have contributed to this remarkable art form. Brenda Banks has earned recognition by her years of dedicated work, and I’m delighted to know she is receiving the WIA Diversity Award for her exceptional contribution to the art of animation.”

Alex Widdowson’s Music & Clowns – a juried award given by SparkCG, Widdowson’s Music & Clowns was selected for its portrayal of the challenges and joys of caring for individuals with Down syndrome.

“The jury was particularly impressed by Widdowson’s clarity and his frank and realistic characterization of the individuals and situation, never victimizing his subject but rather painting a full picture of people with disabilities and their families,” said Spark’s festival director, Marina Antunes.

“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,” said WIA president Marge Dean. “We are so grateful to Spark CG for their partnership and to our honorees for their tremendous contributions to this cause.”

Source: Women in Animation

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.