The Toronto Animation Arts Festival International, or TAAFI, is the animation festival that welcomes a massive audience of talented professionals, students, studios and enthusiasts, year after year.
TAAFI’S Mission is to showcase incredible animation and the creators behind it. TAAFI is a local reunion for global animation.
TAAFI has evolved into a series of four “can’t miss experiences” in the international animation landscape with distinct events and audiences held throughout the year. We aim to showcase and invigorate the passion in animation. At this time of COVID-19, TAAFI is more determined to service the industry in providing quality content that will inspire our audience and their creativity.
We are a completely volunteer run not-for-profit organization that is crazy passionate about animation, cartoons, and the people who make them.
Our four main events each year are the Film Festival mid February, the Job Fair end of April, our outdoor family screening in August and our Industry Conference early November.
TAAFI has a volunteer board of hard working animation loving peeps. Through monthly board meetings, and sometimes weekly meetings leading up to the events, your TAAFI Board are some of the hardest working multitaskers this side of the Humber river.
Karen Jackson - TAAFI Chair
Karen Jackson is the newest Chair for TAAFI. As TAAFI's first female chair, Karen is excited to bring with her new ideas and efforts in increasing inclusion and diversity into TAAFI's events. Karen has worked tirelessly for TAAFI for many years and is proud to have the opportunity to continue building TAAFI towards further success. Karen currently works at Mainframe Studios and has over ten years experience in the Animation Industry bringing with her a strong background in managing teams, organizing events, building event and organizational pipelines and running the business.
Spencer Moreland - Programming
Based in Ottawa, Spencer is an independent animator and filmmaker. Since 2013, he has worked as an animator, writer, storyboard artist and director on a variety of projects big and small, with equal appreciation for the fancy big-studio projects, the weird, artsy stuff, and everything in between. Spencer's always got his radar up for new and exciting voices in animation, and he's eager to share his findings with the TAAFI audience in his new role as Director of Programming.
Matthew Celestial - Treasurer & TAAFI PR
Matthew Celestial is the Executive Director of Statement Strategies Ltd., a communications and public strategy firm, specializing in technology, animation, entertainment, and innovative lifestyle brands. Having led multiple campaigns for businesses in technology, entertainment and lifestyle across the globe, Matthew steers senior leadership teams and clients to find the right message for their organizations. He leads TAAFI's PR and makes it look easy.
Sabrina Zaczek - Social Media Director
After graduating from Loyalist College with an Advanced Diploma in Animation, Sabrina now works as a Production Assistant for Big Jump Entertainment. Sabrina brings her love of the industry and passion for bringing new people together to the role of Ambassador Coordinator. When she's not knee deep in a new project, Sabrina can be found reading, cooking, or 3D printing things she may or may not need.
Aliza Fagen - Communications
International Brand Manager at NELVANA. Aliza joined the board not long ago but is already mixing things up and bringing a fresh feel to everyone's favorite animation festival.
Emily Fata - Marketing / Public Relations
Emily Fata is a marketing strategist, PR consultant, project manager, and copywriter. Emily specializes in targeted marketing and grassroots promotions for technology, entertainment, and lifestyle clients across the globe. She has led PR initiatives for WGAMES, Nelvana, Kids Can Press, and others. Currently, she sits on the board of directors of Women in Animation Vancouver, where she leads a PR and social media management mentorship program. She also sits on the Board of Directors for the Algonquin Arts Council as their Marketing and Communications Lead.
Aslı Bulut - Sponsorship / Grants
I entered the VFX and CG production industry to explore my ambition for working eminent series and features on VOD platforms. Covid- 19 made me reevaluate my career path, and I decided to pursue my passion for 3D animated content development and production. I joined Industrial Brothers as a production coordinator in 2020. When I am not busy with PCing, you can find me at Reference Library burying under Mesopotamian Mythology books, skating on frozen lakes, spinning and camping under the stars.
D'Arcy Cooney - Development
As the Director of Marketing at Pipeline Studios, D’Arcy leads consumer marketing for the Pipeline brands, and oversees trade marketing initiatives for the studio. D'Arcy has led the creation and execution of integrated, consumer-facing marketing campaigns for some of the hottest children's content in the world, bringing over a decade of this experience to the TAAFI board.
Barnabas Wornoff - Co-Founder
Wornoff helps with speaker, film programming, sponsorship and community building. Wornoff is a full-time professor at Seneca College, where he coordinates the 3rd year 2D stream, as well as a Creative Producer for Smiley Guy Studios where he directs animation for clients like Netflix and Fox. Barnabas has his Masters in Creative Media and Education from Bournemouth University in England and has a fat lazy cat.
Rhys Yorke - Director of Technology
Rhys Yorke, a Creative Director with a diverse career spanning video games, comics, TV, film, and animation, has worked on notable projects like Deadpool, ThunderCats, G.I. Joe, The Secret World, FarCry, and TV series such as Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, The Expanse, Titans, and Blue's Clues and You. A member of the Directors Guild of Canada, Rhys is passionate about innovative storytelling and consistently explores new opportunities in various mediums. Rhys now brings his extensive technical expertise to TAAFI as the Director of Technology.
TAAFI couldn't bring you the goods time and time again if it wasn't for our crew of dedicated super-stars! From organizing our volunteers, to helping with video and photos, to outreach, sponsorship, or speaker outreach, our crew of volunteers is in my opinion, THE BEST!!! 😍
Quinn Doherty - Shorts Lead
A recent graduate of Centennial College’s Children’s Media Program, Quinn has spent many years volunteering at TAAFI and has joined as official STAAFI in 2021. He has a great love of animation and in particular the writing and production side of the industry while also keeping his visual arts skills strong. When he isn’t assisting the social media or organizing community game nights you can find him pondering life’s great questions or watching silly internet videos, y’know one of the two.
Grayden Laing - Tech Mech
Grayden is a multidisciplinary artist working in the fields of videography, photography, fine art, and animation. If you're on a livestream chances are Grayden is behind the scenes helping in one way or another. Grayden also runs Interstitial Entertainment from Laing Studios in St. Thomas, Ontario and manage canadiananimationblog.com.
Jeanna LeClair - Graphic Design Lead
Jeanna is a graphic designer, artist, and illustrator. She has been a part of TAAFI for over 8 years, translating the show themes into signs, posters, booklets, banners, badges and more. When not working on TAAFI things, or playing endless amounts of Stardew Valley, Jeanna works as a freelance graphic designer for Ubisoft.
Christopher Shi - Project Coordinator
Chris graduated from California College of the Art's animation program and is a recent graduate from Sheridan's Creative Industries Management Program. His love for supporting people led him to pursue a career in production management where he aims to help others succeed in accomplishing their artistic dreams. Alongside his love for animation Chris is also an avid fan of trading card games and the Tokusatsu genre.
Winnie Su - College Ambassador Coordinator
Winnie Su is a 2D animator. artist and illustrator. She is currently the OCAD University's Ambassador for TAAFI and has a big passion for spreading more love and appreciation about animation in all of its forms. Winnie aspires to make it into the animation industry one day, improving her skills as an artist day by day! When she's not working on random cat gifs, she enjoys reading indie graphic novels, manga and watching anime in her spare time.
Mike Drach is a Toronto-based writer, editor and creative executive with dual backgrounds in journalism and animation. With nearly 20 years of experience, he’s contributed to numerous animated and interactive projects locally and abroad, and taught in Centennial College's Children's Media program. A longtime TAAFI attendee, would-be film entrant and all-around cheerleader, he now channels his unique experience into the TAAFI blog as editor.
Thalia Lemon - Speaker Programming Director
New to the behind the scenes of TAAFI, Thalia is a 10 year industry veteran with a passionate enthusiasm for all things cartoon, and a resume that includes the Willoughby's, Addams Family 2, My Little Pony the Movie, and various TV productions. When this west coast transplant isn't storyboarding, you can find her live-streaming on Twitch (DrawsforFun), or trying to fix her terrible posture.
Jess Nguyen - Instagram Lead & Sponsorship Lead
Jess is a character designer in animation based in the GTA. She’s been volunteering at TAAFI since 2014, a TAAFI college ambassador starting 2018, and now we’re back for round 3 because it’s just that great!
Sheila Connolly - Minute Maker
Keeper of the TAAFI Minutes, Sheila helps keep the board on track, on time, and on topic... Now storyboard coordinator at Yowza! Animation, Sheila coordinated and managed production on various series for Nelvana, Amberwood Productions, and Funbag Animation.
Veronica Racanelli - Volunteer Coordinator
Veronica is new to the TAAFI scene, joining us in 2022. Her lifelong love of cartoons and storytelling drew her to start her career in animation. She loves all things creative and when she’s not working in production, she is creating music, illustrations & comics, singing her heart out at karaoke or playing D&D.
Representing the 11 Animation College's across Ontario, these passionate students of cartoonery help spread the word, and get sweet insider info and backstage passes to all things TAAFI. Give them a high five if you see them in the halls. ✋😀
Sara Khalil-Bayley - OCAD University
My name is Sara (with no H!), and I like cartoons, corporate chic, and the color pink. I was inspired to be an animator when I was eleven years old: I read about artists at Pixar having desk chair races and traveling to faroff places. I thought, "That's what I wanna do when I grow up," then realized, "Wait a minute, that's what I wanna do when I grow up!" So, a decade later and here we are: although I drifted away from big-budget CGI in favor of 2D children's television animation.
Fernando Parra Lopez - Loyalist College
My name is Fernando, and I'm a student at Loyalist College. I first got interested in animation when I was four and started playing with my father's PlayStation. Since then, I started getting into more games and movies, leading me to know from a very young age that I wanted to be part of the entertainment industry and bring new characters, worlds, and stories to life. I am really excited about this upcoming TAAFI as it will be the first one there is in-person in years, and I look forward not only to the conferences, but also to meeting all the current and future animators who come and are on their way to making their dreams a reality.
Maggie Dewar - Algonquin College
Maggie is a lifelong artist and second-year student who has taken a roundabout way to get into animation, previously receiving her undergrad in Humanities and Literature from Carleton University. She became a jewellery designer before deciding she was drawn to the storytelling aspect of animation and illustration. She loves graphic novels, myths, and art history, and she gets nostalgic about Ghibli films. When she can get away from her desk Maggie likes to bike, tame horses in Breath of the Wild, and take home all the prize ribbons at her local fair’s sock knitting competition.
Ghadi Alahmadi - Durham College
I'm a third year Animation Production student at Durham College, my goal is to specialize in modelling and rigging. I've always had interest in different form of arts and finding my way to animation has been fulfilling in bringing my ideas to life. I'm excited to learn about the workings of the industry and gaining a behind the scenes look in the mainstream media production.
Uros Mihic - Mohawk College
Hello there, my name is Uros, I’m a 3rd year student at Mohawk studying 3D Animation and Modeling. I love sketching, mountain biking and watching good films. I was always inspired by shows and movies, as animation allows artists to explain their stories with less boundaries than live action. Growing up I enjoyed making stop motion films and comics, so I was drawn to animation as a career path and am excited to see where this field takes me. I hope to inspire others with my own work in the future, the way many artists have inspired me.
Soren Levine - Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
Soren Levine is a 4th year animation major at Edinboro Pennsylvania Western University. He fell in love with animation at a young age watching French-Canadian television on weekends when the TV antennas were angled just right. One day he hopes to make shows that are just as accessible to kids that rely on public spaces and broadcasts to learn and grow.
Karen Ly - Seneca College
Karen is a second-year animation student at Seneca college. She has a passion for animation and design having grown up with a healthy(?) dose of western and eastern cartoons. Growing up Asian-Canadian, representation, and inclusion in media is something that she is interested in exploring in her own practice. In between assignment due dates, she likes to flip through art books, play some of the games in her growing backlog, and go on hikes with her portable watercolours.
Justin De Leon – Toronto Metropolitan University (Previously Ryerson University)
Justin is currently a fourth-year student at Toronto Metropolitan University, enrolled in the Creative Industries program focusing on the Art and business of Film, and Graphic Communications Management. With a consistent belief in the power of animation to bring stories to life beyond the means of life action, Justin is motivated to elevate storytelling with compelling visuals. As a multi-disciplinary artist, he continues to upgrade his skills to create meaningful projects.
The Toronto Animation Arts Festival International was founded in 2012 by six animation loving powerhouses:
Barnabas Wornoff, Ben McEvoy, Rich Duhaney, Mike Weiss, JoAnn Purcell and Mark Jones.
Without their passion, and countless late nights, TAAFI would not exist and we thank them forever.
Former TAAFI board members include:
John Rooney, Luis Lopez, Robbie Anderson, Lance Lefort, Morgan Fortier, Barry Sanders, Kathleen Bartlett, Guillaume Lagorgue, Angela Stukator, Laura Clunie, Janice Walker, Bianca Deguzman and Claudia Barrios. They've tooned out, but they are not forgotten.