Deborah Szapiro

Deborah Szapiro


Deborah Szapiro is an award winning creative producer, interaction designer, curator and academic. Deborah teaches in Animation Studio, her teaching and research integrates animation and design history, theory and practice.

Szapiro’s current research applies principles of embodied communication and aesthetics to maximize a robot’s social presence via emotional and empathetic engagement as well as the design of creative content for robotics that supports longitudinal user engagement and learning for specific user scenarios in the home, office, educational and healthcare environments. Deborah's work centres around social impact and is underpinned by UNICEF SDGs, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) principles and ethical design practices.

In her work with media, Deborah has a track record for producing innovative animation and documentary projects that have been screened extensively by broadcasters and film festivals internationally. Awards to films include two AFI awards, Dendy, ATOM and IF awards, the Gordon Bruce award for Humour, The PATHE Award, The Shell Canada Award and the BANFF Television Award for Best Animated Series among others. She applies her design, interaction and animation skills across media platforms including cinema, television, 360º screens, architectural projection and robotics. Her work looks to animation’s potential as an agent for cultural resilience, social change and innovation, and to the role of creative industries practioners in shaping the development and use of technology for positive social outcomes.

In her curatorial practice she was founder and Festival Director for the Japanime Film Festival, co-director of the Sydney International Animation Festival and curates animation programs and events locally and internationally. Specialist areas of curation include Indigenous animation, nationalities of animated cinema and the work of women animation directors. Deborah has worked closely with numerous cultural and arts organisations including, the ABC, SBS, the Powerhouse Museum, Film Australia, the AFC, WIFT, ASDA, The Japan Foundation, The Olympic Arts Festival, The Korean Cultural Centre, The State Library of NSW, Historic Houses Trust, Vivid, the State Library of Queensland and the Sydney Museum. For more insight into Deborah's research and practice visit her blog


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