CalArtians Win 2023 Annie Awards

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This past weekend, artists from all corners of the animation industry convened at UCLA’s Royce Hall in Los Angeles to celebrate achievements in the industry for the 51st annual Annie Awards. Among the evening’s honorees were works by CalArtians across several categories.

Current student Justine King (Film/Video BFA 24) won the Annie Award for Best Student Film for her third-year CalArts film “The Little Poet.” As the titular character grows enamored of a girl from a painting in a museum, he begins to imagine journeying with her through the “brushstroke worlds” lining the gallery wall. The film previously won the Walter and Gracie Lantz Animation Prize at the 2023 Character Animation Producers’ Show and was named a finalist for last year’s Student Academy Awards

Winning the award for Best TV/Media – Preschool was the Ghee Happy episode “Navagraha.” The 3D preschool series is helmed by Sanjay Patel (Film/Video 96), the founder of Ghee Happy Studio, and reimagines Hindu gods and goddesses as small children in a daycare for the divine. The series’ crew heavily features CalArtian talent:

  • Zac Moncrief (Film/Video BFA 92): Co-executive producer
  • Ryan Matias (Film/Video BFA 12): Character designer
  • Manaav Sandhe (Film/Video BFA 12): Animatic editor
  • Erin Kavanagh (Film/Video BFA 12): Storyboard artist
  • Mathieu Libman (Film/Video BFA 19): Color designer
  • Jonathan Chen (Film/Video BFA 22): Color designer
  • Alisha Liu (Film/Video BFA 22): Color designer
  • Aya Kneitner (Film/Video BFA 20): Storyboard artist

Winning Best TV/Media – Children was the Hilda season three finale “The Fairy Isle,” on which CalArts alum Emily Brundige (Film/Video MFA 12) served as a writer. The episode follows the titular character venturing into a fairy mound in search of her father, uncovering risky yet “surprising family secrets along the way.”

Another notable CalArtian presence at the ceremony was Bob Persichetti (Film/Video BFA 96), the executive producer of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. The film swept multiple categories, including Best Feature, Best FX – Feature, Best Character Design – Feature, Best Direction – Feature, Best Music – Feature, Best Production Design – Feature, and Best Editorial – Feature. Persichetti accepted the majority of the awards as the directors were representing the film at the BAFTAs.

CalArtians were also tapped as the evening’s presenters. Introducing the prestigious Winsor McCay Award, awarded posthumously this year to German film director and animation pioneer Lotte Reiniger, was School of Film/Video faculty Mindy Johnson.

Find the full list of winners at the Annie Awards website.

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PUBLISHED BY Taya Zoormandan

As digital content and social media producer, Taya enjoys lifting up the stories and accomplishments of CalArts' students, alums, and faculty. She fancies herself a visual artist but is really more of an overzealous collector of art supplies.

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