Canadian animation filmmaker Shira Avni has been creating animated shorts with the National Film Board of Canada since 1997, and loves her teaching job as Assistant Professor of Film Animation at Concordia University.
Her current research explores the intersection of disability, identity and independence through a combination of animation and documentary media and collaborative, community-based animation films. Avni’s films address questions of disability and social justice in ways that gently break down the viewer’s habitual barriers. Her studio practice involves photography as well as clay-on-glass animation and painting, back-lit to create the shimmering effect of stained glass in motion. Presented in a cinema or darkened gallery space, the work engages the spectator in a highly personal, emotionally cathartic experience.
Her films, such as Tying Your Own Shoes (2009), John and Michael (2005), and From Far Away (2000) have garnered over 30 grants and awards, including the prestigious DOK Leipzig Golden Dove and the NHK Japan Prize, and have screened in over 100 festivals worldwide, as well as on CBC, PBS, CTV, and TV5 television networks.
Petra’s Poem (2012), filmed in stereoscopic 3D, follows Toronto artist Petra Tolley as she performs a candid soliloquy about what it feels like to be “in the middle.” Petra, who has Down Syndrome, draws from her emotional experiences of living and working in the flux between societal order and personal chaos to produce a distinctive take on the social self.