Growing up just outside of Mumbai in Pune (India), Ankita Panda took an interest in sketching, painting, and piano as a means of expression. Some years later, it was her direction into animation which finally allowed her to access her deepest aspirations. She communicates, “Visuals and music give me the ability to express myself in ways that language cannot. They help liberate me from the restraints of self-consciousness that come with having to verbally articulate my deepest thoughts. The inadequacy of words to communicate these thoughts and feelings has instinctively turned me towards learning more about animation as a form of communication. Growing up in search of a platform that would enable me to bring together my passion for visuals and music, animation emerged as a natural fit. Though I’ve created many productions thus far, I am continually reminded of the long journey I need to undertake in deepening and broadening my learning in the field of animation film making; a journey that I am extremely committed towards.”
Ankita has acquired fans across the globe for her films which present a personal perspective that is equally communal. In selflessly baring her own feelings, insecurities, and struggles, she has used the medium of animation to prompt discussion of an individual’s place in society. That’s a lofty goal for an animator/motion designer but a viewing of her work will quickly illustrate that Ms. Panda is far from the typical animator. Ironically, in pursuing her independent voice, Ankita has acquired an international fan base both within the film community and with the public. Her 2017 film Nine created a union of visuals and mathematics, displaying them in nine impossible loops. Nine became a selection and lauded favorite across the globe at such gatherings as the Cefalu Film Festival in Italy, Muestra Movimiento Audiovisual in Mexico, the 16th International Film Festival Baden/Switzerland, the Inshort Film Festival London, and many more. Her subsequent offering, Slurp, was a staunch departure in style created solely with hand drawn animation presented in black & white. A social statement on the sexual harassment of lingering looks, Slurp quickly became a praised selection at Paris International Animation Festival, Animest International Animation Festival Bucharest, and the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival, among others. Ms. Panda’s recent Play, Pause, Repeat shows further development of her interest in loops and mathematics in a non-narrative film that delivers insight to the patterns which make up our lives. An Official Selection at Film Festivals in New York, Bucharest, and Los Angeles, Play, Pause, Repeat was awarded the Director’s Choice Selection at Supernova-Denver Digerati. These films stand as proof that Ankita is at the forefront of pushing the common conception of what animation films communicate.
Not relegated to films alone, Ms. Panda has utilized her skill in a number of projects for the famed Getty Museum’s “Getty Unshuttered.” Ankita was technical lead for works which placed animation in real life settings for the massively attended Getty Unshuttered events. Created and then projected on a grand scale, five separate 2D animated kaleidoscopes operating in rhythmic harmony adorned the sides of buildings for one such event. From her work on a giant animated musical clock to the “pixel rhythm” interactive projection at Getty Unshuttered to Getty Villa’s “The Underworld” which animated content for different physical spaces, Ms. Panda’s association with the Getty name has allowed thousands to personally experience this artist’s work in a way vastly different from her films. These Getty events received the Shorty social good award while Ankita and her team were personally recognized with the AAM Muse Award.
Even a global pandemic cannot deter the work of this artist. Ankita has begun working with Mediamonks LA, the California branch of a massive global production company with locations in London, Moscow, Capetown, Dubai, Delhi, Shanghai, and beyond. Recognized within the industry with their production of 131 Cannes Lions, Mediamonks is homebase for leading talent among the industry. Though unable to divulge information about the high profile clients she is creating animation for while at Mediamonks LA due to an NDA, Ankita notes that it offers her yet another unexpected avenue for her to apply her talent. Relating why it is that she finds this intriguing, Ankita remarks, “Working in LA, I have learnt that the demand for content is always growing. Everyone wants better, more sophisticated content. Since the application of animation can range over a variety of platforms and industries, the need for good animation content is ever increasing. This is further enhanced by technological advances and the use of high-end technology in many animation processes. Combining the knowledge used in hand-done traditional techniques and applying them to new hybrid styles of animation has created a new world of sustained exploration for animators and motion designers. This constant growth and learning is the reason why this industry is so exciting to work in. Everything is always changing for the better.”
Writer: Coleman Haan