Daphna Awadish

Daphna Awadish is an Israeli filmmaker and illustrator living in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. She specialized in creating animated documentaries and works as an independent illustrator and animator.

Her last two short films ‘Journey Birds’ and ‘Bear with Me’ were screened at several international festivals and won a number of awards such as the Best Animation Award- Jerusalem Film Festival and the Fantastic Award in Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film, the European Values award in AnimaSyros International Animation Festival and more.

Having lived in different countries herself, Daphna explores the meaning of ‘home’ in her work and is currently working on her new animated documentary Swimming With Wings, a co-production between the Netherlands and Israel. She uses mixed media to portray personal narratives in a unique and intimate manner.

Daphna graduated from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design (BA) and from AKV St. Joost Master Institute of Visual Cultures (MA). She is a lecturer in the animation department of Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam.

Read our Q&A below to learn more about Daphna and her inspiring creative process!

How did you get your start in filmmaking/illustration?

I have always been drawing since I was a little girl. I became more serious about it when studying animation at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. When I moved to Milan for a student exchange program, the real turning point was. I left my home in Jerusalem for the first time and found so much inspiration in the new places and new people that I met. Most of them were immigrants. That’s where I started to develop my personal voice in animated documentaries.

How do you define creative success?

For me, it means expressing a personal and original voice that the audience can relate to and making a living from it.

What piece of creative work is inspiring you at the moment?

I recently watched the new film by Ricard Linklater Apolo 10 ⅕ and enjoyed it so much. I took part in the visual development of the archive footage, which is shown in the film. It was very exciting to work on my own variation of the archives. The movie is full of humor and love. I highly recommend it.

Can you talk about the inspiration behind your latest animated documentary ‘Swimming With Wings’?

The idea for the film came from a conversation I had with Lyri, a little Israeli girl whose family immigrated to the Netherlands. “What’s the most difficult thing for you here in the Netherlands?” I asked her. “That I need to know how to swim.” was her answer. The children in the Netherlands must learn how to swim with clothes on if they fall into a canal; they will know how to save themselves. I find this an interesting metaphor for immigrants who need to adjust to the new country while the memories from their homeland and the new challenges they face can be heavy and “pulls you down.” In the film, a co-production between the Netherlands and Israel- we will hear more voices of children whom I interviewed about their immigration experience through Dutch Swimming lessons.

View some still frames from Daphna’s documentary “Swimming With Wings” below!

What are some of the challenges that you face in your craft? How do you prepare for creating content within a content heavy landscape?

While working on developing my new film, I really missed having a dialogue with people about it. I find it hard to sit at home, trying to develop something alone during the pandemic. It’s essential for me to meet and talk with people, exchange ideas, and have discussions together (while having endless cups of coffee). During the development phase, I worked with my script coach Lotte Van Gaalen who specializes in creating stories out of audio. Working with her was so motivating and inspiring. Our scheduled meetings pushed me to move forward. I would love to work with her again in the future.

The second part of the question is very hard. I am not sure I have the answer for this but what I can say is that I am always looking for authentic content. I like to see films, animations, and illustrations that express something personal and honest. In this sea of endless content, these types of work are what attract me.

What are some of your creative goals for the upcoming year? How do you plan on achieving them?

My main goal is to work on and finish my new animated documentary, Swimming With Wings. We are now in the production phase, working with a fantastic team: Yali Herbet on the 2D animation and Gal Keinan on the 3D animation. I am very grateful to work with such talented animators with whom I have a very fruitful dialogue. Working with a team of animators allows me to get more wild in my animation and the story.

If you had to give advice to creatives who are currently or looking to become engrossed in the world of animation, what would it be?

Go to animation festivals, meet new people, and watch diverse films. It’s important to understand and accept that the creative process and career development take time. It is not instant like we sometimes wish. Bring your personality to what you create.

What should the Telly Awards community know about you?

As I was born and raised in Jerusalem, I didn’t know how to ride a bicycle. That’s why if you visit Amsterdam, you can see me riding on my tricycle :)