Jeff Chiba Stearns

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Jeff Chiba Stearns
Born Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
Nationality Canadian
Period 2001-present
Notable works

Jeff Chiba Stearns is a Canadian independent animation and documentary filmmaker who works in traditional and computer-based techniques.


Chiba Stearns was born in Kelowna, British Columbia, of Japanese and European heritage. After graduating from the Emily Carr Institute with a Bachelor of Media Arts majoring in Film animation, he went on to obtain a Bachelor of Education from University of British Columbia.


In 2001, Chiba Stearns founded Meditating Bunny Studio Inc., now based in Vancouver and formally in Kelowna.

His short animated films, The Horror of Kindergarten (2001) and Kip and Kyle (2000) were screened at film festivals and were bought and aired by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) for their show ZeD. His 2005 autobiographical animated short, What Are You Anyway? was created on a pre-license fee from the CBC and explores issues of growing up half-Japanese and half-Caucasian in a small Canadian town. It has screened at over 40 international film festivals, and won the award for Best Animated Short Subject at the Canadian Awards for the Electronic & Animated Arts.

Chiba Stearns also writes and lectures about Hapa and mixed-race identity, cultural awareness, and the animation process. He coined the term "Hapanimation" to describe his unique blend of North American and Japanese animation styles. In 2011, he co-founded Hapa-Palooza, a Vancouver cultural festival celebrating mixed-roots arts and ideas.[1] For the festival, he curates, Mixed Flicks, a showcase of films made by multiethnic filmmakers and panel with mixed-race actors and media makers.

His 2007 animated short film, Yellow Sticky Notes, won the Prix du Public at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival and Best Animated Short Film at the Calgary International Film Festival. It was animated with just a black pen on over 2,300 sticky notes, and is a reflection on the filmmaker's tendency to become overwhelmed with "to do" lists made up of yellow sticky notes.[2] The film has screened in over 80 International Film Festivals and won 10 awards. Yellow Sticky Notes was nominated for a 2012 Emmy® Award for Best Human Interest Feature/Segment when it aired as part of the KCTS program Reel Northwest. After the film's international premiere at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival, Yellow Sticky Notes, became one of the first films acquired by YouTube's Screening Room.

Chiba Stearns’s first feature length documentary and animation hybrid, One Big Hapa Family, released September 2010,[3] explores the lives of children of all ages from interracial marriages and how they perceive their mixed-race identities at a young age. The documentary begins after a realization that Chiba Stearns has at a family reunion which sets him on a journey of self-discovery to find out why everyone in his Japanese-Canadian family married inter-racially after his grandparents’ generation. The film has since gone on to screen at over 20 film festivals and win 6 awards. One Big Hapa Family has also screened at many North American universities including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Cornell.

On top of filmmaking, Chiba Stearns's animation studio, Meditating Bunny Studio Inc., has created commercials and viral videos for clients such as 3M, Generali, and Sharpie. In 2010, his short animated film, Ode to a Post-it Note, won the Webby Award for Best Branded Entertainment at the 15th Annual Webby Awards. The film was commissioned by 3M Canada to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Post-it Note and features Post-it Note inventor, Arthur Fry.

Currently, Chiba Stearns is directing and producing a feature documentary entitled, Mixed Match, which explores the complexities multiethnic people with rare blood diseases face when trying to find bone marrow donors. As a follow up to his 2007 animation, Yellow Sticky Notes, Chiba Stearns has assembled 15 influential independent animators from across Canada to participate in an collaborative anijam entitled, Yellow Sticky Notes | Canadian Anijam. To create the film, the animators are asked to utilize what Chiba Stearns has coined "animation meditation" to self reflect by only drawing on 4x6 inch sticky notes. The film has since gone on to screen at over 60 international film festivals.

Chiba Stearns is also a past college animation instructor and the past Vice President of the Okanagan International Film Festival.

On May 1, 2010, he received the annual Emily Award, honoring outstanding achievements by an Emily Carr University of Art & Design alumni, during the Convocation of Grad 2010 at the Chann Centre (UBC). On March 26, 2011 he was also awarded the Cultural Pioneer Award presented by Harvard HAPA.


  • Mixed Match (currently in production - 2016 release)
  • Cats (2014)
  • Yellow Sticky Notes | Canadian Anijam (2013)
  • One Big Hapa Family (2010)
  • Ode to a Post-it Note (2010)
  • Yellow Sticky Notes (2007)
  • “What Are You Anyways?” (2005)
  • The horror of Kindergarten (2001)
  • Kip & Kyle (2000)


External links[edit]