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Festival Jury

Announcing the jury for the TAAFI Film Festival Awards! These experts have been training for this moment by watching several hours of the best animation in our festival! This year’s jury will be awarding prizes for Best Kids Film, Best Canadian Film, Best International Film, Best Student Film and the Grand Prix of the Festival. This is our jury, they are good people.

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Cort Lane

Cort Lane is a creative exec with two decades of experience in animation development, production & storytelling. At Marvel/Disney and Mattel he built a diverse skillset in kids' entertainment with credits like Barbie In A Christmas CarolUltimate Spider-Man, the girls' franchise Marvel Rising and the upcoming preschool series Spidey And His Amazing Friends. He has been recognized with two Emmy nominations (for Rocket 'n Groot and Marvel's Spider-Man) and two NAACP Image Award Nominations (for Black Panther's Quest). Cort's expertise in animation for girls and boys of all ages includes action-adventure, comedy & preschool shows - in every length from short-form to series to feature-length

Cort currently serves on GLAAD’s Kids & Family Advisory Council, while consulting with domestic and international studios to shepherd their projects through development.

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C. Spike Trotman

C. Spike Trotman was born in DC, raised in MD, and lives in IL. An artist and writer, she founded Iron Circus Comics in 2007, which has since grown to become the region's largest comics publisher. Her notable work includes the webcomic "Templar, Arizona," the Smut Peddler series of erotic comic anthologies, and Poorcraft, a graphic novel guide to frugal living. A Kickstarter early adopter, she pioneered the widely-adopted bonus model that's since completely reshaped the pay system of the small press, jump-starting the current renaissance of alt-comics anthologies.

Iron Circus is also the first comics publisher of note to fully incorporate crowdfunding into its business model, inventing one of the single most effective uses of new media in comics publishing today. in 2020, she ran the Kickstarter for the animated "Lackadaisy'' animated short, raising over $300,000 and topping the Short FIlm category on Kickstarter for most funded project ever.

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Valerie Bernhart

Valerie Barnhart is an independent animator and visual artist based out of Ottawa, Canada. Her interdisciplinary practice is exploratory in nature but revolves specifically around the dynamics of silence and inaction as a form of violence.  

Valerie earned her BFA from Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design as a Visual Arts Major: with a studio specialty in Printmaking, Drawing, and an academic emphasis in Decolonization Politics and Non Western Art. 

Valerie taught herself how to animate during the production of her debut film, "Girl in the Hallway". Girl in the Hallway qualified for both short animation and short documentary categories for the Academy Awards along with being nominated for "Best Vimeo Staff Pick Doc of the Year 2019". Girl in the Hallway was screened in over 80+ international film festivals winning 27 awards. Valerie is currently in Development for her new animated film at the National Film Board of Canada. 

Valerie has exhibited in Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary.

She lives with her husband and a motley crew of animals amongst piles of dusty books. 



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Dhiman Sengupta

Dhiman Sengupta graduated from the National Institute of Design (NID), in India in the stream of Animation Film Design. He has worked in Mumbai and Delhi for a decade, in the areas of e-learning, broadcast and motion graphics, and visual effects. Dhiman has been teaching for the last twelve years in the Animation Film Design department (at both BDes and MDes levels) of which he has been the Discipline Lead for the last 7 years.  

One of his ongoing personal projects is his comic strip Again that! which is a collaborative project between Dhiman, his partner and his 6 year old daughter whose words, actions and ruminations serve as the creative spark and inspiration for the strip.

Dhiman’s work can be seen here

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Ian Worthington

Ian Worthington is an animator on YouTube who makes independent shorts about all sorts of things! He also enjoys singing and making music. He's the creator of hit series BigTop Burger.

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Katie Shanahan

Katie Shanahan is a cartoonist and storyboard artist from Toronto, Canada. She currently lives in California working as an episode director at Netflix Animation. Her most recent credits include the upcoming series Centaurworld, and a project set in the Roald Dahl universe. Visit her at katieshanahan.com.

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Fable Siegel

Fable Siegel is an animator and comic artist who lives with a flock of modern-day dinosaurs (parrots, chickens, and pigeons, oh my!). Native to New Hampshire, Fable's bold, moody artistic style was heavily influenced by the dark atmosphere of the cold northern woods. Their credits over a decade-plus career include board artist on Ben 10 (2016), animator on Midnight Gospel, and animator on Hazbin Hotel. Bouncing between several studios before committing fully to indie animation in 2020, Fable landed the role of director for Lackadaisy: The Animated Short, based on the webcomic of the same name penned by Tracy Butler.

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Kaj Pindal Award

TAAFI is proud to announce that the Animated Person Of The Year award will henceforth be known at the Kaj Pindal award. Kaj Pindal (1927-2019) was an instrumental force in Canadian animation through his work with the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) and it is our pleasure to rename the award in his honour.

Past recipients include Kaj Pindal, Ray Harryhausen, Marv Newland and Dean DeBlois (Dir. How to Train Your Dragon).

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