Ishu Patel

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Ishu Patel is an animation film director/producer and educator. During his twenty-five years at the National Film Board of Canada he developed animation techniques and styles to support his themes and vision.[1][2]


Ishu Patel was born in the State of Gujarat, India. He received his B.F.A. from the Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S.University of Baroda, Gujarat. He was among the first cohort of faculty trainees hired at the newly formed National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, a design school created by the Government of India under the auspices of the well known textile industrialist family of Gautam and Gira Sarabhai, and based on the recommendations and ideals of Ray and Charles Eames. During these early years of faculty training, a stream of extraordinary international experts was invited to the National Institute of Design for periods of work and faculty training: Ray and Charles Eames; Buckminster Fuller; Architects Louis Khan and Otto Frie; Furniture Designer George Nakashima; Photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson; Typographer and Designer Adrian Frutiger; Graphic Designers Armin Hoffman, Bob Gill and Ivan Chermayeff; Textile Designers Helena Parhentupa and Alexander Girard; Children's book writer and illustrator Leo Lioni and Animator Gulio Gianini and many others. During this time Ishu Patel worked closely with Armin Hoffman, Bob Gill, Adrian Frutiger, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Charles and Ray Eames, Leo Lionni, and Gulio Gianini.

Through a Ford Foundation Grant provided to the National Institute of Design, Ishu Patel finished his post graduate studies in Graphic Design under Armin Hoffman at the Allgemeine Gewerbeschule in Basel, Switzerland. He returned to the National Institute of Design where he taught and became Head of Visual Communications.


A Rockefeller Foundation Scholarship brought Ishu Patel to the National Film Board of Canada to study animation filmmaking for a year, and in 1972 he joined the NFB. For twenty-five years under the NFB mandate Ishu Patel produced and directed personal animated films and mentored young filmmakers. There he adapted and developed several notable techniques: the Norman McLaren technique of multiple passes and variable exposures he employed for the abstract film Perspectrum; the under-lit plasticene technique he discovered and developed for Afterlife and Top Priority; under-lit pin holes with multiple passes he developed for the film Paradise; and the procedures for moving thousands of tiny beads under an ever zooming camera he developed in The Bead Game.

He co-produced animation with NHK of Japan and Channel Four of Britain, and contributed many French language segments to Sesame Street for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. His many international awards include the British Academy Award, two Oscar nominations, the Silver Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival, Grand Prix at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival, and Grand Prix at the Montreal World Film Festival.[3] He is particularly known for his 1977 film Bead Game which was nominated for an Academy Award.[4][5]

Teaching and Master Classes[edit]

Through the National Film Board of Canada's Outreach Program Ishu Patel conducted animation workshops with the Inuit artists of Cape Dorset, Nunavut, with healthcare fieldworkers in Ghana, and with students in the former Yugoslavia, in Korea, Japan and the USA. During those years he returned regularly to Ahmedabad, India where he often taught his approaches and techniques to the animation students at his alma mater, the National Institute of Design, and contributed assistance in formulating the animation program.

After leaving the NFBC in 1998 he conducted student workshops at the Kaywon School of Art and Design, and the Animation Academy of South Korea, in Seoul. In 2000 he joined the University of Southern California, School of Cinema and Television, Department of Animation and Digital Arts, in Los Angeles, where he was granted tenure.[1] [1]

Upon returning to his studio in Canada he continued mentoring young faculty and developing curricula. He undertook an analysis of the Zee Institute of Creative Art Animation Program and Curriculum, in Mumbai, India, while conducting a two month series of Master Classes at the ZICA Schools in Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Kolkatta.

In 2006 Ishu Patel conducted a series of lectures and seminars geared for the Indian animation industry of India, in Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai, sponsored by the National Institute of Design.

He has conducted Master Classes at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, the University of Buffalo Media Arts Program and the Animation Image Society of Toronto. He has given week-long Master Classes at the School of Animation, Communication University of China, Beijing, and at the School of Animation, Southwest University of Nationalities, Chengdu, China. Ishu Patel was Special Guest and conducted screenings and a Master Class at the 7th. Big Cartoon Festival in Moscow, Russia, November 2014.

He was Visiting Professor at the School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore until 2014.




  • 2009: AWARD OF EXCELLENCE - ANIMATION, 50th Annual Illustration Exhibition, New York, USA

Divine Fate:

  • 1995: UNICEF PRIZE, Ottawa International Animation Film Festival, Ottawa, CANADA
  • 1995: SILVER MEDAL - ECOLOGY, Medikinale International Film Festival, Parma, ITALY
  • 1994: SPECIAL DISTINCTION FOR ITS MESSAGE, Annecy International Animation Film Festival, Annecy, FRANCE


  • 1985: OSCAR NOMINATION FOR BEST ANIMATED SHORT, 57th Annual Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Hollywood, California, USA
  • 1985: SILVER BEAR AWARD, 35th Berlin Film Festival, Berlin, GERMANY
  • 1985: SPECIAL JURY AWARD, 25th International Animation Film Festival, Annecy, FRANCE
  • 1985: FIRST PRIZE FOR THEATRICAL SHORT, Melbourne Film Festival, Melbourne, AUSTRALIA
  • 1985: SPECIAL AWARD BEST FILM FOR YOUNG PEOPLE, 23rd International Film Festival for Children and Young People, Gijon, SPAIN
  • 1985: FIRST PRIZE, 1st Los Angeles International Animation Celebration, Los Angeles, USA

Top Priority:

  • 1983: BLUE RIBBON HUMAN CONCERN AWARD, 25th American Film Festival, New York, New York, USA
  • 1982: BEST SHORT FILM, XXIV Seaman International De Cinema, Barcelona, SPAIN
  • 1982: SPECIAL RECOGNITION OF MERIT, Los Angeles Film Exposition Filmex, Los Angeles, USA


  • 1979: GRAND-PRIX, 12th International Animation Film Festival, Annecy, FRANCE
  • 1979: OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT AWARD, London Film Festival, London, ENGLAND
  • 1979: SPECIAL HONOUR, Los Angeles International Film Exposition Filmex, Los Angeles, USA
  • 1978: GRAND PRIX DE MONTREAL, Festival des Films du Monde, categorie court metrage, Montreal, CANADA
  • 1978: SILVER HUGO, 14th International Film Festival, Chicago, USA
  • 1978: ETROG AWARD: BEST ANIMATED FILM, Canadian Film Awards, Toronto, CANADA

Bead Game

  • 1978: OSCAR NOMINATION FOR BEST ANIMATED SHORT, 50th Annual Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Hollywood, California, USA
  • 1978: BEST SHORT FICTIONAL FILM, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, London, ENGLAND
  • 1978: GOLD MEDAL, SPECIAL JURY AWARD, Greater Miami International Film Festival, Miami, USA
  • 1978: AWARD OF EXCELLENCE, Film Advisory Board Inc., Los Angeles, USA
  • 1978: BLUE RIBBON AWARD - VISUAL ESSAY, 20th Annual American Film Festival, New York, USA
  • 1978: BEST OF CATEGORY - FILM AS ART, Pacific Association for Communication and Technology Film Festival, Honolulu, USA
  • 1977: SPECIAL PRIZE FOR ANIMATION, International Documentary and Short Film Festival for Cinema and Television, Leipzig, GERMAN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC


  • 1985: International Jury Member, 1st International Animation Film Festival HIROSHIMA '85, Hiroshima, JAPAN
  • 1987: Chairperson, International Jury, Zagreb International Animation Film Festival, Zagreb, CROATIA
  • 1990: International Jury Member, Bombay International Film Festival for Documentary Short and Animated Films, Mumbai, INDIA
  • 1995: International Jury Member, Film and Video Festival on Science, Society and Development, Trivandrum, INDIA
  • 1997: International Jury Member, SICAF (Seoul International Cartoon and Animation Festival), Seoul, SOUTH KOREA
  • 2009: Chairperson, International Jury, Etiuda & Anima International Film Festival, Kracow, POLAND
  • 2013: International Jury Member, AniWow Student Animation Film Festival, Beijing, CHINA
  • 2014: International Jury Member, SICAF (Seoul International Cartoon & Animation Festival), Seoul, SOUTH KOREA
  • 2015: International Jury President - Animation, 18th Shanghai International Film Festival, Shanghai, CHINA


  1. ^ "National Film Board Key Filmmakers: Ishu Patel". National Film Board. Archived from the original on 2006-08-14. Retrieved 2006-08-20. 
  2. ^ "Academy to Celebrate National Film Board of Canada Anniversary". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 1 November 1999. Retrieved 2006-08-20. [dead link]
  3. ^ Glassman, Marc (Summer 1997). "United Nations of animation - National Film Board of Canada". Take One. Retrieved 2006-08-20. 
  4. ^ "National Film Board Corridors Open House - Ishu Patel Bead Game". National Film Board. Retrieved 2006-08-20. 
  5. ^ Simensky, Linda (Summer 1997). "O Canada: - Canadian animators". Take One. Retrieved 2006-08-20. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Herdeg, Walter (ed). Film & TV Graphics 2: An International Survey of the Art of Film Animation. Zurich, Switzerland: The Graphis Press, 1976: 139-141. Print.
  • Bonneville, Leo (ed). Sequences: Animation at the National Film Board, Volume 23, Num 91, October 1978. Montreal, Canada:NFBC, 1978: 129-145. Print.
  • Laybourne, Kit. The Animation Book. New York, NY: Crown Publishers, 1979: 52, 247 and plates. Print.
  • Halas, John. Masters of Animation. Salem House Pub, 1987: 68. Print.
  • Bendazzi, Giannalberto. Cartoons: One Hundred Years of Cinema Animation. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1996: 270-271. Print.
  • Wiedemann, Julius (ed.) Animation Now! Los Angeles: Taschen, 2004: 200-209. Print.
  • Editions Glenat (ed.) Createurs & Creatures - 50 years of the Annecy International Animation Film Festival. France: CITIA, Editions Glenat, 8 June 2010: 160-165. Print.

External links[edit]