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“The Flying Sailor”, an animated short about the Halifax Explosion, snags Oscar Nomination

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In this short film by Canadians (Calgary) Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby, two ships collide in a harbour, sending a passing sailor skyward as he contemplates the wonder and fragility of existence. “The Flying Sailor” is nominated for Best Animated Short at the 2023 Academy Awards.

The French cargo ship SS Mont-Blanc collided with the Norwegian vessel SS Imo in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, on the morning of December 6, 1917. The Mont-Blanc, laden with high explosives, caught fire and exploded, destroying Halifax’s Richmond district. The blast, debris, fires, or collapsed buildings killed 1,782 people, mostly in Halifax and Dartmouth, and injured an estimated 9,000 more. The explosion was the largest man-made explosion at the time, releasing the equivalent energy of approximately 2.9 kilotons of TNT.

Read The Scuba News Canada’s Article on the Halifax Explosion

Halifax Explosion
Devastion; looking toward the Dartmouth side – William James (Toronto), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Almost all structures within an 800-metre (half-mile) radius, including the Richmond community, were destroyed. For kilometres, a pressure wave snapped trees, bent iron rails, demolished buildings, grounded vessels (including Imo, which washed ashore by the ensuing tsunami), and scattered Mont-Blanc fragments. Dartmouth, across the harbour, suffered extensive damage as well. The tsunami caused by the blast wiped out the Mi’kmaq First Nation community that had lived in the Tufts Cove area for generations.

About Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis

Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis are an animation duo from Canada. They received their second Oscar nomination on January 24, 2012, for the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) animated short film, Wild Life (2011). They received several nominations and awards for their latest film, The Flying Sailor, including Best Canadian Film at the Ottawa International Animation Festival, and on January 24th, 2023, they received a nomination for the 95th Academy Awards in the category Best Animated Short Film.

They met at the Emily Carr College of Art and Design in Vancouver. They moved from Montreal to Calgary, where Forbis was raised, in 2003. They have worked on commissioned projects in addition to their NFB work. “Interview”, their commercial for United Airlines, received an Emmy nomination in 2004. They founded the Bleak Midwinter Film Festival in their hometown of Inglewood, Calgary, in 2007. In 2018, they were recipients of ASIFA’s Winsor McCay Award for their ‘exceptional contribution to the art of animation’.


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About Author

Kathy is the owner of Kirk Scuba Gear, a passionate Scuba Diver, Ocean Advocate and Managing Editor of The Scuba News Canada

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