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Ishu Patel

(b. April 20, 1942 Gujarat, India)

Through a combination of visionary philosophy, scholarly ideals and innovative technical prowess, Ishu Patel has produced a unique body of work. An internationally acclaimed director, animator and educator who has pursued his project of animating religious and mythical concepts and tales with great art and style, his films have been screened at many international film festivals and been broadcast on television around the world. His numerous international awards include two Academy Award® nominations, the Silver Bear Award at the Berlin International Film Festival, a BAFTA award, a Canadian Film Award and two Genie nominations.

Born in Gujarat, India, Patel earned a BFA from the University of Baroda and completed his graduate studies in Visual Communication at the National Institute of Design in Ahmadabad, where he also served as the head of the Visual Communications Department. He studied advanced graphic design at Allegemeine Gewerbschule in Basel, Switzerland before a Rockefeller Foundation Scholarship brought him to the National Film Board’s Montreal office in 1970 to study animation.

Through the NFB’s outreach programme, Patel conducted animation workshops in Ghana, Hawaii, the former Yugoslavia, India, South Korea and Japan. After a brief return to India, he rejoined the NFB in 1973 and spent several months running animation workshops for Inuit artists and students in the Canadian Arctic. He then returned to the congenial working environment of the Board, where, using beads, intricately designed backgrounds and back-lit plasticine figures, he created abstract worlds for a series of films, including How Death Came to Earth (1971), Afterlife (1977) and Divine Fate (1993). His masterpiece remains the Academy Award-nominated Paradise (1984), a parable about envy that is as luminous as the castle in which the tale is played out.

In addition to his fifteen films for the NFB, Patel created the opening titles for the Ottawa International Animation Festival in 1980 and for the International Tournée of Animation touring film series in 1981. He also created the animation sequences in This Is Me (1979), a film that explores children’s ideas of God, and contributed more than one hundred French-language segments to “Sesame Street”. Semi-retired from filmmaking, he taught experimental animation at the University of Southern California’s Department of Animation and Digital Arts from 1998 to 2001 before leaving to pursue his own projects, including an animated feature tentatively titled "Taj Mahal."

Film and video work includes

How Death Came to Earth, 1971 (director; animator)
About Conception and Contraception, 1972 (director; animator)
Perspectrum, 1974 (director; animator)
About Puberty and Reproduction, 1974 (director; animator)
About VD, 1974 (director; animator)
This Is Me, 1979 (co-animator with Bertrand Langlois, George Geertsen, Hazel Appleton et al.)
The Sound Collector, 1982 (co-producer with David Verrall, Lynn Smith)
Top Priority, 1981 (director; producer; animator)
A Special Letter, 1984 (producer)
The Wanderer, 1988 (co-producer with Eunice Macaulay, George Ungar)
Divine Fate, 1993 (director)
The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Liberation, 1994 (animator)

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