Monday, June 24, 2013

Los Angeles Film Festival 2013: The Shorts Winners

On Sunday, the Los Angeles Film Festival revealed this year's prize winners, which included audience awards and jury prizes. (You can see all the winners here.)

I was part of the short film jury with Sandi Tan and David Fenster. Before the festival, I had not met either of them, but I couldn't have asked for better folks to spend a few days watching and debating movies with. We had such a fun time.

As for our picks, we were pretty much in complete agreement, and I'm quite pleased with our choices. Below are the descriptions we wrote for our winners....

Best Animated or Experimental Short

Several of the animated shorts at this year's festival were inventive and startling, but our winner was a truly exceptional piece of work. This humorous, moving and ultimately sublime short tells a story of life, death, and rebirth with wobbly thighs, vomit, breastfeeding, space travel and bunny rabbits … all against the backdrop of a nudist colony. The winner of Best Animated or Experimental Short is Oh Willy...  

Best Narrative Short

Great storytelling comes in many different forms, and like an ancient koan, our winner is deceptively simple and surprisingly playful. It features the epic odyssey of one man, seemingly poised against the forces of modernity as he advances--silently, deliberately--from day to night, from tiny alleys to towering skyscraper avenues, across the frenetic city of Hong Kong. At journey's end, we, too, are transformed by the sweet moment when denial morphs into glee: Walker from Tsai Ming-Liang. 

Best Documentary Short

Documentaries can expose us to the world's harsh realities, but they can also reveal the beauty and mystery of the everyday. The latter is very true in the case of our winner for Best Documentary Short, which is only seven minutes long but is filled with character detail and suspense. Consisting of only one shot, this short introduces us to an unnamed street hustler as he bets onlookers that they can't find the ball hidden underneath one of three caps, our winner is filmmaker Kevin Jerome Everson's Stone.

I've been a fan of Kevin Jerome Everson's for a while now, so I was glad to see him win the documentary prize from my jury. (However, I was sad to miss his The Island of St. Matthews during the festival.) Picking such an unconventional (but striking) narrative entry was not something we did to be provocative -- we simply liked Walker that much. And as for Oh Willy..., it was my favorite short of the entire festival. Directors Emma de Swaef and Marc James Roels have come up with something rather wondrous. I sincerely hope it's in the running for Best Animated Short at next year's Academy Awards. It's good enough to win, easily. Here's a taste: