Youtube Kids Animation Dingle Student Award 2021 Winners Announced!

This year’s Virtual Animation Dingle presented by JAM Media took place throughout this week; delivering an incredible lineup of guests and speakers and is brought to you from a virtual Dingle including the iconic Dick Mack’s Pub, the Phoenix cinema and usual Animation Dingle haunts.  

Attendance was high and energetic with over 2,500 participants at the Festival across all the platforms.

The festival co-founders, Maurice Galway and John Rice of JAM Media, welcomed Tánaiste and Vice President of Ireland Leo Varadkar to officially open the 9th Animation Dingle Festival on Wednesday, 24th March.

“Ireland has built a strong reputation internationally as a centre of excellence for animation and I’m proud to continue to honour the work of the growing legion of award-winning Irish animators,” said Leo Varadkar Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. “Over the years, Animation Dingle has succeeded in fostering Irish and international industry relationships. The caliber of attendees this year alone speaks to the strong collaborative working relationship Ireland has established with the global sector and I look forward to seeing the industry continue to flourish and grow as a result of events such as these.” 

The 2-day Festival events were virtually buzzing.  Events over zoom allowed audiences to chat and ask questions and the Festival worked very hard at avoiding Zoom fatigue.  This energy carried over into all the Live Events and the huge programme of screenings.

Guests to Virtual Animation Dingle included: Oscar®-winning director Don Hall​, fresh from his work on Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon, and known for his work on Disney’s Big Hero 6 and Moana; discussing the art of the short film and all things Pixar were Madeline Sharafian​, Oscar®-nominated director of Burrow and ​Steven Clay Hunter,​ director of OUT; Peter Lord from Aardman Studios, was delighted to be coming back to Dingle to share his insights and, presented by Screen Ireland, Making The Frame Work, which included a look back at over 20 years of Irish animation, with panelists Emma Scott, Screen Ireland; Cathal Gaffney, Managing Director Brown Bag Films, COO 9 Story Group; Niamh Herrity, Co-Founder, CEO, Pink Kong; Alan Shannon, CCO, Jam Media; Aisling Conroy, writer, director with And Maps And Plans and chaired Maurice Galway, Festival Director; the Women in the Animation Industry : Steps in the right direction? saw an exciting all female animated discussion with industry experts such as Cécile Blondel from Gobelins, Paris; Lithuanian founder and producer of Art Shot Agnė Adomėnė, Mexican Producer Nidia Santiago from IKKI Films in France, Jo Allen, producer for BBC Children’s Acquisitions and Independent Animation and Eimear O’Mahony Executive Producer Children’s & Young People’s Content RTÉ; John Rice had a Fireside chat with this year’s recipient of The Murakami Award Robert Cullen, Emmy nominated creative director and founder of Boulder Media.

The Big Pitcher event sponsored by Dreamworks Animation, went virtual also, and JAM Media sought to uncover the next big, upcoming Irish Animator, with the assistance from judges: Tara Sorensen, Head of Creative Development, Apple; Sarah Muller, Head of BBC Children’s Commissioning & Acquisitions; Suzanne Kelly, Head of Children’s and Young People’s Content RTÉ; Adina Pitt, VP Lead Content Acquisitions, Partnershipsand Co-Productions Warner Media, Kids and Family; Peter Gal, Chief Creative Officer at DreamWorks Animation Television; Louise Bucknole, VP Programming Kids, ViacomCBS Networks International, UK & Ireland and chaired by Mark Cumberton, COO, JAM Media. 

Winner of The Big Pitcher 2021 is Nova by Kirsten Hennessy from Athlone IT.

Workshops were supported by Screen Skills Ireland and Animation Skillnet, and included Marie Lum, animator and storyboard artist based in Los Angeles who gave a workshop live from LA titled; Deaf, Disabled, and Neurodiverse Opportunities in Animation, whilst Allison Rutland, hosted “Animating Characters” – Allison joined Pixar Animation Studios in 2009, and has animated on “Toy Story 3”, “Brave”, “Monsters University”, “Inside Out”, “Finding Dory”, “Coco”, “Incredibles 2” and was a Directing Animator on “Onward”.

Ontop of all of that, film content exceeded previous years with over 360 directors represented, and approximately 2,500 minutes of content.  Features included:  Oscar®-nominated, Cartoon Saloon’s Wolfwalkers; from France, Calamity from director Remí Chayé; Winner of The Best Animated Feature at this year’s César awards,  Josep from the director Aurel; and Anca Damian’s Marona’s  Fantastic Tale

“The animation industry in Ireland has been a long cornerstone of our vibrant entertainment industry, it has seen significant growth in the last decade, and it’s now an integral part of our digital creative economy. In 2020 alone, Enterprise Ireland supported more than 80 Irish companies in the broad animation, media, digital entertainment, game development and advertising sector. Those companies generated over €180 million in exports last year.

Animation Dingle has played a key role in that success story and Enterprise Ireland is delighted to support in this years virtual event.” Eileen Bell, Senior Business Development Adviser at Enterprise Ireland

Central to all of this platform sat the work of animators – student and professional, Irish and International.  And from the submissions were selected the winners.

So, as the inaugural Virtual Animation Dingle Festival came to a close on Thursday night with the YouTube Kids Animation Dingle Awards, with MC Alison Spittle, those winners were announced whilst audiences across the globe tuned in to watch.

This year the Festival received submissions from 26 countries and exhibited animation from; Ireland, UK, France, Canada, US, China and beyond and the adjudication process selected nominees across all award categories.

Following the unprecedented success of this years Virtual Animation Dingle Festival, Animation Dingle are proud to announce the following winners in STUDENT categories:

BEST IRISH – The Pursuit, Iobhar Stokes Rodriguez 

Sponsored by RTÉjr

‘A really captivating film, wonderful soundscape. Loved the hand drawn feel and detail’

Suzanne Kelly – Head of Children’s and Young People’s Content RTÉ

BEST INTERNATIONAL – 100 000 Acres of Pine, Jennifer Alice Wright, Denmark

Sponsored by CBBC

“Impressive, fantastic designs, characters and backgrounds, great atmosphere, lighting and sound effects. I love the animation style which feels classic but very contemporary at the same time’. Patricia Hidalgo, Director of Children’s + Education, BBC 

Best DIRECTOR – Forest, Dermott Burns

Sponsored by Brown Bag Films

‘This just looks beautiful!!! Really vivid! 

Eimear O’Mahony – Executive Producer Children’s & Young People’s Content RTÉ

BEST WRITER – Husky, Darragh Scott

Sponsored by Darrell Macqueen

‘I liked the bold style. The story was dramatic and compelling’. 

Will Collins, Screenwriter (Wolfwalkers)

Special Honourable Mention for The Press Conference, Daniel McNicholl


Sponsored by JAM Media

BEST ANIMATION – Husky, Darragh Scott

Sponsored by Milkshake

BEST 2D – Ruslan, Jack McHugh, Conor McNally

Sponsored by Cartoon Saloon

Best 3D/CGI – Coat, Matthew Duddy, Glenn O’Neill

Sponsored by Boulder Media 

BEST STOP MOTION – Pearl Diver, Margrethe Danielsen, Norway

Sponsored by Aardman Animations

BEST MUSIC/SOUND DESIGN – Husky, Darragh Scott

Sponsored by Enterprise Ireland

‘The sound mix and music underscore work perfectly with the visuals.  With such a simple look it has created a deep emotional and thoroughly enjoyable film’

Louise Bucknole, Milkshake, (VP Programming Kids, ViacomCBS Networks International, UK & Ireland)

Best Sting – Dingzilla, Tahyne Litte and Veronica Koskinen, University of Dundee

Sponsored by EGG Post Productions

As well as the YouTube Kids Animation Dingle Student Awards, the Festival also runs their annual YAOTY (Young Animator of the Year) competition sponsored by Disney Channels.  The winner of the YAOTY Award has also been announced:  

YAOTY winner

Sponsored by Disney Channels

Old Fool: Look to the Sky, by Jude O’Brien

Special Mention to:Special Mention Look To The Sky Shayna Gail Velasquez

In 2021 the Festival introduced some new award categories and the winners for those awards are as follows:

Best Irish Professional Short – Her Song, Éabha Bortolozzo, Jack Kirwan

Sponsored by IDA

‘Powerful Irish story, an affecting film, emotive, dark, sad and painful’

Dr Steve Henderson – Director, Manchester Animation Festival

Inaugural Best International Professional Short – Kapaemahu, Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson

Sponsored by Nickelodeon 

‘A stunning piece. Such a fascinating story beautifully told.  The warm lighting, earth tones and gentle boil on the characters alongside the masterful camera work gives the whole piece a strong sense of movement and direction.  The close up shot of the young boy at the end is breathtaking’. Kyle Jenkins, Channel 5 Broadcasting

Inaugural Best Animated Short Audience Choice Award – Forest

Sponsored by Lighthouse Studios 

Inaugural Best Animated Feature Audience Choice Award – Wolfwalkers

Sponsored by GFM Animation

Murakami Recipient 2021 – Robert Cullen, Creative Director & Founder, Boulder Media

Animation Dingle are committed to transparency and each year a panel of experts are approached for the adjudication process.  For 2021, Animation Dingle would like to take this opportunity to thank all those judges who gave of their time…

Student Judges:

Patricia Hidalgo, Director of Children’s + Education, BBC 

Suzanne Kelly – Head of Children’s and Young People’s Content RTÉ

Eimear O’Mahony – Executive Producer Children’s & Young People’s Content RTÉ

Sarah Muller – Head of BBC Childrens Commissioning & Acquisitions 7-12s 

Sean Feeney – Head of Production, GFM Animation

Louise Bucknole – VP Programming Kids VCNI UK & Ireland (Nick Network & Milkshake! C5)

Michael Towner, Acting Head of Commissions and Acquisitions for 0-6 at BBC Children’s

Will Collins – Screenwriter (Wolfwalkers)

Professional Judges:

Kyle Jenkins – Programme and Acquisitions Manager at Milkshake! Channel 5 

Dr Steve Henderson – Director, Manchester Animation Festival

Mandy Kean – Founder & CEO, Mustard Studio

YAOTY Judge:

Orion Ross, Vice President, Original Programming Animation, Media Networks Europe & Africa, The Walt Disney Company.

“Animation Dingle are delighted to have YouTube Kids as title sponsor to our Student Awards and I want to congratulate every student from across the 26 countries who entered, was shortlisted and who won an award this year! Inspirational animators, viewing all of your work was an absolute pleasure and an honour, thank you!”

Maurice Galway – Co-founder and Director of Animation Dingle

‘We’re amazed at the international digital footfall that this years Animation Dingle Festival has been able to attract. Audiences from all over the world are flocking to see the best in class of Irish and International animation. The content has never been stronger and it wonderful to be able to bring the magic of Animation Dingle to the world. We look forward to continuing to growth the festival digitally over the coming years along with reinstating the physical event.’

John Rice – Co-founder of Animation Dingle and CEO Jam Media

Animation Dingle would like to thank all those who make it possible to bring the festival over the line each year.  In 2021 particular thanks goes to

 Presented by JAM Media

Main Funders Screen Ireland and Enterprise Ireland; 

Sponsors YouTube Kids, Disney Junior, Disney Channel, Disney XD, Boulder Media, Dreamworks, Cartoon Saloon, Brown Bag Films, Lighthouse Studios, RTÉjr, Animation Ireland, Toon Boom, Nickelodeon, CBBC, CBeebies, Darrall Macqueen, EGG, Channel 5/Milkshake, GFM Animation, Dingle Distillery, Dick Macks Pub

Funders Animation Skillnet, Screen Skills Ireland, BAI, IDA; 

Cultural Partners: ACE, the French Embassy of Ireland, MIYU, Screen Composers Guild of Ireland


Further information Contact:

Maurice Galway 

+353 (0) 87 9139962