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Archive: Oct 19, 2007
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Animation award commemorates Hill
by: Oct 19, 2007 Print

HALIFAX -- The memory of animator Helen Hill is being celebrated with a new award for animators, presented by the Linda Joy Media Arts Society.

Hill, born in America, was a gifted and idiosyncratic animator who lived, worked and taught in Halifax from 1995 to 2001. She moved to New Orleans with her family and started the New Orleans Film Collective. In January of this year she was murdered during a home invasion, leaving her husband Paul Gailiunas and young son Francis. She was 36.

Her death came as a huge shock to everyone who knew her in Halifax and beyond the Nova Scotia filmmaking community.

"The reality is that Helen had a pretty significant impact on everyone around her," says Will Roberts, administrative coordinator for the Linda Joy Media Arts Society, a charitable organization established in memory of Nova Scotia filmmaker Linda Joy Busby, who died in 1986, that supports the work of emerging media artists. "A big part of what she did was share her knowledge and experiences as a filmmaker with others...whether it was kids or adults. It just seemed obvious to us to do something that would continue that spirit of enabling people to make films."

"We wanted to do it through Linda Joy, as [Hill] was a past recipient" of one of the group's awards, he adds.

Hill's story was featured on America's Most Wanted in September and Oprah in August, on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. A letter-writing campaign has been launched and a Facebook group formed to keep the murder investigation active, along with a website for news and information at www.helenhill.org. Though the case is still open, there have been no recent developments in the efforts to bring the killer to justice.

The first annual Helen Hill Animated Award includes funding, services and equipment from Power Post, the Centre for Art Tapes, the Atlantic Filmmakers Co-op, CTV and the New Brunswick Filmmakers' Cooperative. It is open to any animators in the Atlantic region. The deadline for applications is Oct. 26.

"In the past, filmmakers who were working in animation were applying for the same awards as every other filmmaker that the Linda Joy [Society] was offering. Now they have the opportunity to apply for something more specific to their area," Roberts adds.

"My career as a filmmaker is directly as a result of Helen's influence," says Heather Harkins, an award-winning animator who was one of Hill's students. "I plan to apply [for the award]. Having this new resource is going to be a tremendous boon to artists...in the animation community."

The Linda Joy Media Arts Society, named for a Nova Scotia filmmaker who died in 1986, gives awards to filmmakers in the province. Previous honorees include Mike Clattenburg and Marc Almon.

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