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HA’Aki and the Golden Nica

The following is a guest post by animation producer Michael Fukushima.

That title sounds a bit like a fairy tale, and in a way, it is. HA’Aki, Iriz Pääbo’s paean to our putative national sport, shinny, is an eccentric gem of a film. This little animated dainty wended its way through the festivals forest, encountering disappointments and delights along the way, arriving in the end (this past weekend) in Linz, Austria, to receive one of computer animation’s most prestigious honours. A Golden Nica.

Whatever a Nica is.

I don’t actually know much about Ars Electronica and the Golden Nica, but I do know it’s in the top tier of art-and-technology celebrations, holding a place of pride amongst the digerati. And the Golden Nica – a stunning sculptural beauty on its own – comes with a none-too-shabby cheque for 10,000 Euros. HA’Aki and Iriz now share one kudos with Chris Landreth’s Ryan and the stop-motion stunner Madame Tutli-Putli, past NFB Golden Nica winners.

I’ve been told the Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica is a big deal. So I’m treating it like a big deal. Iriz is living the big deal, being flown in and pampered by the festival and treated like the whizbang-mom-artist she is. I’m thrilled for her. Iriz was years making her brilliant but under-appreciated short films on her own dime, before she and I did our first NFB collaboration, Loon Dreaming. Hmm, yet another paean to a Canadian icon. So, whilst you may not ever have heard of Iriz and her films, you should have. They’re all singular and transformative. And odd. And fun.

Here’s an example of Iriz’s fun quotient. This is from the note she sent after the awards ceremony:

Allo Canada!

Well I have a Golden Nica now — it’s very very shiny and people here are making a great big deal out of it — but it came with a ginormous foam-filled plywood box that nearly wiped me out, carting it back to the hotel. The Nica itself weighs about a pound, tops, and the box weighs about twenty. So! Fooey on the box — I’m going to cram the thingie into my carry-on luggage. Could be interesting at customs.

I don’t know what’s on youtube or the ars electronica website, but the NFB got an onstage plug and so did Mikey —

And two bits of video on the interweb. This first is an interview from the festival blog, and this second is an edited YouTube post of the awards event…scrub to about 05:45 to get directly to Iriz’s bit.

As self-serving as this post might be, it’s nice when the unremarked delight finally gets a bit of notice. Bravo Iriz and HA’Aki!

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