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Kyoto Animation, Laurence Ralph and Maria Trenor Honored With 2020 WIA Diversity Awards

Women in Animation has honored Kyoto Animation, Laurence Ralph and María Trénor with the organization’s WIA Diversity Awards for 2020 in partnership with the Spark Computer Graphics Society. The awards will be presented Thursday, Oct. 29, opening day for Spark Animation 2020, which will run virtually through Nov. 8.

Women in Animation established the WIA Diversity Awards four years ago to recognize individuals, film and organizations that have an impact in growing diversity with the animation community, either through their own work, by amplifying the voices of others or by creating initiatives promoting diversity in the industry and society.

“It is important that we recognize and celebrate the courageous efforts and forward progress for diversity that is happening in the world today. The WIA Diversity Awards is our way of shining a spotlight on some of the success stories, and having them stand as inspiration to others,” said WIA president Marge Dean.

Kyoto Animation was chosen by the WIA Board of Directors to receive the 2020 WIA Diversity Award for Corporate Achievement because of their commitment to inclusivity by creating a gender-balanced workplace. The Japan-based studio was co-founded and is run by married couple Hideaki and Yoko Hatta. It has encouraged women to join the animation industry, providing salaried positions and in-house training.

“It is our honor to award this important award to Kyoto Animation,” said WIA VP Jinko Gotoh. “As a Japanese producer myself, I’m particularly proud of the way Kyoto Animation shares WIA’s inclusive principle of hiring female artists, as well as their commitment to training artists. They have also displayed tremendous courage in the face of terrible tragedy.”

Last year, Kyoto Animation was the target of an arson attack that killed 36 people. A little more than a year later, the anime studio has released a new film, “Violet Evergarden: The Movie,” which was in production at the studio when the attack occurred.

Ralph, a filmmaker and an anthropology professor at Princeton University, is being honored with the 2020 WIA Diversity Award for Individual Achievement for his documentary short “The Torture Letters.” In his anthropology work, Ralph focuses on the ways police abuse, mass incarceration and the drug trade affect urban people of color. “The Torture Letters” illustrates Ralph’s first memories of an encounter with the police when a plainclothes officer harassed his family and traces the entrenched practices of torture by the Chicago police.

“I want to thank Marge Dean and the entire Women in Animation organization for expanding the diversity of voices in the industry of animation,” Ralph said. “This recognition means that my voice and vision as a storyteller deserves to be seen. I’m humbled that such an amazing organization believes in me and I’m honored to be a part of this community.”

Noted Dean: “It is our honor to award Laurence Ralph with this award. ‘The Torture Letters’ uses the medium of animation in the best way possible by telling a story that is not often heard but critical for the advancement of humanity. Additionally, Ralph’s academic work in medical and political anthropology is broadening the discussions and understanding of the changes needed for social justice in the United States.”

Trénor has been given the 2020 WIA Diversity Award for Short Film for “Where Were You?” The animated film explores the transversal and universal reality that is violence against women using real-life testimonies.

“It is an honor to accept the WIA Diversity Award,” Trénor said. “It also belongs to all the brave women from the Philippines, Spain and Mozambique who made this short film possible. All of them were victims of gender violence. While making it, I could feel more than ever the solidarity that exists among women regardless the age, ethnicity or nationality. This award will contribute to the visibility and denunciation of the universal violence against women. The best prize to be won is to save lives.”

Regarding Trénor’s work, Spark Animation 2020 festival director Marina Antunes said: “The festival jury was very taken with María Trénor’s Where Were You? which tackles the sad, universal reality of violence against women and challenges us to face not only brutal physical violence but also the daily, often subtle, indiscretions that affect more than half of the world’s population. It’s a beautiful, powerful, and necessary piece of work.”

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