L to R: Anil NM Wanvari, Neeraja Raj, Ashima Avasthi, Prakash Moorthy, Nina Sabnani, Rajeev Nagar, Akshay Arora
Ann Awards – the event that the entire Indian animation industry waits for – recognises and honours the best talent in the animation industry for its artistry and creativity.
Organised by AnimationXpress, the fourth edition of Animation & More Summit was followed by the grand award ceremony. Along with various award categories, AnimationXpress has initiated a special honour in the name of Late Ram Mohan and Late Arnab Chaudhuri.
The Arnab Chaudhuri Director’s Awards – is dedicated to celebrating the creative brilliance and legacy of the late Arnab Chaudhuri. Chaudhuri, a creative visionary and true champion of the Indian animation industry, put Indian Animation on the global map.
“Arnab is a very special soul, the one you meet once in a long span of time,” said Srishti Manipal Institute of Art Design and Technology consultant, UPES School of Design distinguished professor Nina Sabnani. “He was witty, talented, creative, innovative and a very caring person. He worked hard and made people around him want to work hard. His warmth and wit was contagious. His passion for animation made him fearless and adventurous. He was a perfectionist but also very modest. Everyone loved him for how he made them feel about themselves and that is a rare jewel of a person, who can do this to anyone regardless of age or gender. Arnab lives on in each one whose lives he touched in his charming and serene way.”
The Arnab Chaudhuri Director’s Awards is given in two sub-categories. The first one – The Arnab Chaudhuri Animation Ace Award – is for directors and professionals who are making their mark with their brilliant boundary-pushing work that has its own unique creative voice. The Arnab Chaudhuri Animation Ace Award 2023 was presented to Neeraja Raj, who is a film director and writer at Nexus Studios. AM Summit’s support partner Huion’s Rajeev Nagar and Akshay Arora presented Raj with a high-end professional Huion tablet.
A talented film director, writer, and animator, Raj has journeyed from India to working with some of the world’s top animation companies like Disney Animation and Aardman Animations.
“The jury was unanimous in naming Neeraja Raj, as the recipient of the Arnab Choudhuri Ace Award for the year 2023,” Sabnani shared. “Neeraja’s work is fresh, innovative, playful, thought-provoking and more. Her latitude and range of content and imagery is commendable. She is comfortable exploring materials and themes that range from mental health to commercials to searching for the meaning of life in space! The jury congratulates and looks forward to more amazing work from this film director.”
Like last time, the winner of The Arnab Chaudhuri Animation Ace Award was decided by an eminent committee consisting of people who worked closely with Arnab during his short lifetime. They are: Sabnani; The Walt Disney Company Europe & Africa original programming, animation, media networks VP Orion Ross; filmmaker, animator & UCLAN part time animation lecturer Pete Bishop; UID, Gandhinagar and New Delhi adjunct professor Prakash Moorthy; On Air Promos Sdn Bhd creative director Rob Middleton, Anil NM Wanvari and Chaudhuri’s wife Ashima Avasthi.
L to R: L to R: Anil NM Wanvari, Ashima Avasthi, Gaurav Pati, Prakash Moorthy, Nina Sabnani, Rajeev Pathak
The second award – The Arnab Chaudhuri Young Ace Award – is for student directors who showcase innovative creative originality. The winner of Young Ace Award 2023 was Gaurav Pati. “Arnab is someone I did not have the privilege to work with, but we know him very well at NID through his work. We have always admired it and it has been of huge inspiration,” exclaimed Pati, who is an NID student. “Getting this award is a huge honour and it is a very big responsibility, as Arnab had achieved so much in his career. We can only take it forward and make Indian animation what he dreamt it to be.”
Along with the award, Pati got a cash prize of Rs. 30,000 from Avasthi, Vaibhav Studios and Animation Xpress. Along with this, he got an official license of Moho – a 2D animation software from AM Summit’s associate partner ARK InfoSolutions. Wanvari, Avasthi, Moorthy, Sabnani and ARK InfoSolutions Media & Entertainment country manager Rajeev Pathak presented Pati with the award, cash prize and the license.
The winner of The Arnab Chaudhuri Young Ace Award was decided by a committee that included animation director, coach & educator Ranjit “Tony” Singh, Wanvari and Avasthi.
Commenting on both the winners, Avasthi shared, “”Neeraja’s work displayed her strong sense of storytelling and narrative. She is experimental and adventurous and used different styles of animation which showed her confidence in the medium. Both Neerja and Gaurav’s work reflected their own creative voices which is something that Arnab strongly encouraged.”
The AM Summit 2023 and Ann Awards was powered by 88 Pictures and co-powered by Zebu Animation. The creative technology partner was Autodesk; and Powerkids Entertainment, the lanyard and badges partner. The associate partners were Karco, ARK infosolutions and Moho. The support partners of the event are ETV BalBharat, Sony YAY!, Wacom, Eizo, Reliance Animation, Appu Series and Huion. DigiCon6 Asia was the event’s festival partner.