Award-winning filmmaker Ishu Patel, who has international recognition for his innovative animation techniques, had one ambition as a child in his native India: he wanted to work at the National Film Board of Canada, the home of Norman McLaren. While many youngsters have this dream, Patel's relentless drive and innate talent put it within his reach.
Patel, who joined the NFB in 1970, studied at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Baroda, India; the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India; and the Allgemeine Gewerbeschule in Basel, Switzerland. He won a Rockefeller scholarship (1968) to study in the U.S., but deferred it until he was able to go to the NFB.
Patel's films are multiple award winners that continue to receive top honours at major film festivals: for example, The Bead Game, British Academy Award (1978) and an Oscar nomination (1978); Afterlife, the Canadian Film Awards (1978), the Grands Prix, Annecy, France (1978). Top Priority (1981) periodically reappears at festivals in Poland, Germany, Portugal and Italy. Paradise (1984) won the Silver Bear, Berlin Film Festival (1985); 1st Prize, Los Angeles International Animation Festival (1985); and an Oscar nomination (1985).
Patel, who strives to break new ground, maintains an ongoing competition with himself. In the phantasmagorical Paradise, he used a variety of techniques to create images that have the depth of holograms. In his latest film, Divine Fate (1993), Ishu Patel examines the struggle of human spirituality in a world of material values. As part of NFB’s outreach program, he has given animation workshops and worked with the Inuit artists of Cape Dorset in the High Arctic, as well as with Ghana’s community health workers in West Africa.
Ishu Patel co-produced animation with NHK of Japan and Channel Four of Britain, and has contributed over 100 French-language animated segments to Sesame Street for the CBC. In 1998 he joined the Department of Animation and Digital Arts of the School of Cinema -Television of the University of Southern California to teach Experimental Animation and Production. In 2001, he left teaching to pursue his own projects.