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WIA 2020 Summit WIA 2020 Summit

Women in Animation (WIA) is in the habit of holding a symposium every year at Annecy Festival, and a pandemic isn’t going to stop that. This year’s summit, like the festival itself, will be held online for the first time.

The theme is “Reimagining the Future: Race, Solidarity and the Culture of Work.” It was adjusted in recent weeks, in response to the killing of George Floyd and subsequent global revolt against racism and inequality. Discussions will focus on the effects of this movement and the coronavirus on the animation industry, particularly its women.

The summit will be exclusively posted on Annecy Online on June 17, and will be available to watch until the festival ends on June 30. It will also be made available to WIA members, and more widely at a later date. A pass for Annecy Online costs 15 euros (USD$17).

Commenting on the theme, WIA president Marge Dean said: “The world discourse suddenly shifted when we all saw George Floyd brutally murdered by police in Minneapolis, U.S. We knew that we needed to pivot from our original program for the World Summit at Annecy to address the issues of work, race, and solidarity. We are using this global platform to give women of color the opportunity to talk about their experiences and how they see that the animation industry needs to change in order to be fully diverse, inclusive, and humane.”

The organization’s vice president Jinko Gotoh added: “Animation is a platform to share all kinds of stories and messages. In today’s world, we need authentic voices from people of color now more than ever. The Me Too movement finally broke the silence around sexual discrimination. I truly hope that the current movement for social justice does the same for anti-blackness and racism.”

WIA is the largest group dedicated to the advancement of women in the animation and vfx industries. It has ten chapters around the world. Last year’s summit saw the publication of “Increasing Inclusion in Animation,” the first study of its kind into women’s roles in the industry.

See below for the full program of this year’s event, with official descriptions:

Black Women in Animation: Looking to the Future (70 minutes)

Moderator: Jamal Joseph (professor of Film, Columbia University; producer/director/writer/activist)

Speakers: Jade Branion (writer), Camille Eden (vice president of animation recruitment and talent development, Nickelodeon Animation Studio), Misan Sagay (screenwriter, Netflix), Karen Rupert Toliver (executive vice president of creative, Sony Pictures Animation)

Panel description: Led by moderator Jamal Joseph, this panel is anchored in personal stories and experiences. The discussion will also address being colorblind versus color affirmative, the importance of finding voice on both the executive and creative side, and the overarching power of animation to make an impact, given the freedom of imagination to create more ideal and more representational worlds.

Intersectionality and Solidarity (60 minutes)

Moderator: John Agbaje (director of animation & development, FX Networks)

Speakers: Julie Ann Crommett (vp, multicultural audience engagement, The Walt Disney Studios; secretary of WIA), Erika Dapkewicz (lead editor, Sony Pictures Animation), Shari B. Ellis (production manager, Gaumont Animation), Kaitlyn Yang (founder, Alpha Studios)

Panel description: As we live through what seems to be the largest civil rights protest in human history, we see the value of intersectional solidarity in this movement, and that the shared experience of struggle in the system, support, and solutions can help each other thrive. This discussion will cover a wide range of life experiences, allyship in action, and lessons about effective solidarity.

Artists Creating from Home: A Series of Home Studio Visits (Preview/5 mins)

A collection of pre-recorded clips offering a glimpse into artists’ workspaces from around the world.

Producing in a Rapidly Changing World (60 minutes)

Moderator: Jinko Gotoh (vice president of WIA, producer for Netflix)

Speakers: Rita Mbanga (producer, Sandcastle Studios/Sunrise Productions), Carina Schulze (Chatrone partner; executive producer/writer), Osnat Shurer (producer, Walt Disney Animation Studios), Christina Lee Storm (founder, Asher XR), Niki Lopez (creator & co-executive Producer, Nickelodeon)

Panel description: Women leaders from various disciplines in the industry will share their perspectives and best practices in a world challenged by pandemic.

Artists Creating from Home: A Series of Home Studio Visits (75 mins)

A collection of pre-recorded clips offering a glimpse into artists’ workspaces from around the world.

(Pictured at top: WIA Summit participants include, l. to r., Karen Rupert Toliver, John Agbaje, Camille Eden.)

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