Independent Australian animation outfit KAPWA Studioworks takes out top prize at Annecy 2019

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Independent Australian animation outfit KAPWA Studioworks takes out top prize at Annecy 2019

Independent Australian animation outfit KAPWA Studioworks’s TED-Ed “Accents” project took out the top prize in France, winning The Cristal at the Annecy International Animation Festival in the commissioned films category.


“Accents” was produced locally at the Sydney-based boutique animation studio KAPWA Studioworks, by a diverse crew of Aussie animators led by Academy Award shortlisted director, Robertino Zambrano. This is Zambrano’s fourth appearance at Annecy with a film in Official Selection.

The film won against stiff competition in its category, including international studio powerhouses Psyop, Buck, and Nexus Films. In a festival often dominated with winners from Europe, “Accents” – an Australian & USA co-production – was the only non-European associated film to win an award this year.

Directed by Filipino-Australian animator Robertino Zambrano, and written and narrated by New York-based poet Denice Frohman, “Accents” is a vibrant hand-drawn frame-by-frame animation based on Frohman’s story of her Puerto Rican mother’s accent. Commissioned by TED-Ed, “Accents” takes on issues of cultural heirarchy, immigrant dignity, and identity in an energetic animated spoken word format.

Says Frohman: “I wanted to write my mother out of a shame she didn’t deserve. I wanted to suvbert the cultural hierarchies which put English at the top, and every other language at the bottom.”

Zambrano recalls the process of developing the look and animation technique for the film: “I ended up developing a technique which was a cross between a raw scratch-on-film look, but would allow us the fine rhythmic control that would let me sync up the animation to Denice’s distinct style of verbal delivery. Using digital 2D animation, and drawing directly into the computer, we were able to achieve a dynamic and rhythmic animation style which served to support and dance with Denice’s performance.”

“Accents” also recently won a Bronze Cube at New York’s Art Directors Club 98th Annual ADC Awards, and was the sole Australian-NZ winner in the field.