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Shira Avni, MFA

Associate Professor (Film Animation), Cinema

Shira Avni, MFA
National Film Board of Canada
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 4352
Website(s): Research Page
National Film Board of Canada Director's Page
Two One Two Festival Page
Two One Two - National Film Board of Canada FAP page
Availability: Please note that as a neurodivergent faculty member, I much prefer email contact to telephone, and rarely check voicemail.

My office hours are Wednesday and Thursday 10-12, by appointment only. Please email me at least 48 hours in advance. Thank you!

Award-winning, neurodivergent animation filmmaker Shira Avni holds an MFA in Film/Video/New Media from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2003). She has been creating animated shorts with the National Film Board of Canada since 1997, where she has directed four films and assisted on a number of other projects. Her research has been supported by the National Film Board of Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts, Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec, Frameline, and Bravo!FACT. Avni's earlier films Petra's Poem (2012), Tying Your Own Shoes (2009), John and Michael (2005), and From Far Away (2000) garnered over 30 grants and awards, including the prestigious DOK Leipzig Golden Dove and the NHK Japan Prize, and have screened in over 120 festivals worldwide, as well as on CBC, PBS, Bravo, and TV5 television networks. 

Her 2023 film, Two One Two, has won 6 international awards and 4 nominations to date, including the Special Jury Prize at the Sommets du Cinéma d'animation, Best Animated Film at the Berlin Short Film Festival, and the Prix du Public at PPFAM. Two One Two begins its public life with over 70 festival screenings in multiple cities across Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, France, Germany, Korea, India, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Uruguay, the UK, and others. 

Avni is the proud recipient of a 2020 Distinguished Teaching Award at Concordia, where she teaches Under Camera animation, Animated Documentary, and Advanced Animation Filmmaking classes. Her current research weaves documentary, animation, and personal memoir to address neurodiversity, identity, social justice, motherhood, and interdependence through luminous clay-on-glass animation, back-lit to create the shimmering effect of stained glass in motion.

Two One Two Poster 2024
Photo credit: Shira Avni
Two One Two
Photo credit: Shira Avni, 2023
Still from the film John and Michael
Photo credit: National Film Board of Canada, 2005

Teaching activities


Shira Avni regularly teaches the Advanced Animation, Animated Documentary, and Under Camera Animation courses She has also taught Analytical Drawing for Animation, Introduction and Intermediate Animation.

While the Film Animation Program is solely an Undergraduate program, Avni co-supervises or serves on the Masters committee for MFA/MA students in all areas of the Fine Arts as well as Art Therapy, Art Education, and the INDI program.

Video links

John and Michael

John and Michael by Shira Avni, National Film Board of Canada

John and Michael pays homage to two men with Down's syndrome who shared an intimate and profoundly loving relationship that deeply affected the filmmaker. Animated with clay backlit on glass, the film shimmers like stained glass in motion.

Tying Your Own Shoes

Tying Your Own Shoes by Shira Avni, National Film Board of Canada

Tying Your Own Shoes is an intimate glimpse into the exceptional mindsets and emotional lives of four adult artists with Down Syndrome. An artful, four-way essay about ability, this animated film explores how it feels to be a little bit unusual.

Petra's Poem

Petra's Poem by Shira Avni, National Film Board of Canada

In this short film, Toronto artist Petra Tolley, who has Down syndrome, performs a soliloquy that encapsulates her distinctive take on the social self. Employing rotoscopy, hand-drawn animation techniques and subtle stereoscopic 3D, the film captures Petra as she engages the camera with unflinching directness and dignity.

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