2021 JURY AND AUDIENCE AWARDS
We’re proud to share the winners of this year’s jury and audience prizes at GIRAF. The festival jury was Greg Doble, an animator and director of short animated films currently based in Montreal, QC; Siloën Daley, founder of Halifax's Carbon Arc Cinema and the Animation Festival of Halifax, and currently part of Nelson, BC's Civic Theatre Society; and Animation Obsessive, an outlet run by a small collective of writers and artists in the United States. We're grateful to the jury for working their way through over 11 hours of short films and difficult deliberations to arrive at the award-winners below.
GIRAF International Animation Festival wonderfully encapsulates the best of contemporary independent animation, bringing together top Canadian talent, as well as animation innovators from around the world. In 2021, its Indie Mixtape genre served up a little bit of everything, the Canadian Showcase featured some of the most beautifully creative works this country has cooked up over the last couple of years, and Cosmic Trips took us to other worlds and back. All this to say, GIRAF 2021 not only had something for everyone, but the best the world has to offer, perfectly curated on their online platform so that you can choose your own adventure! Entranced, shocked, heartbroken, or in stitches laughing, GIRAF 2021 had it all, and I personally can’t wait to see what GIRAF 2022 brings next.
- Greg Doble
Our jury awards for Best Canadian Short Film and Best International Short Film both come with a $200CAD cash prize for the filmmakers.
JURY AWARD: BEST CANADIAN SHORT FILM
MY HEAD ACHES WHEN I LOOK TOO LONG | CALLAHAN BRACKEN | CANADA | 2020
A haunting meditation on self-worth, love and loneliness in the world of impersonal online infrastructure. With this painterly film, Bracken expresses mysterious truths about a digital way of life whose implications we're only just beginning to understand.
- Greg Doble
Petal to the Metal | Emily Pelstring | Canada | 2021
I’m not alone in feeling drawn to something tactile and showing life. Literally placing petals and garden found items to the metals in the alchemicy found on light sensitive film stock then hand processing, Petal to the Metal allows the artist to work directly with the film, bypassing the camera lens and creating a beautiful play with nature.
- Siloën Daley
JURY AWARD: BEST INTERNATIONAL SHORT FILM
BOXBALLET | ANTON DYAKOV | RUSSIA | 2020
The jury's decision to select this film was swift. Funny and touching, with just-so animation and filmmaking, BoxBallet calls back to the cartoons of the Russian master Eduard Nazarov — while confidently pushing this style forward into the future.
- Animation Obsessive
Fall of the Ibis King | Mikai Geronimo and Josh O'Caoimh | Ireland | 2021
Tensions build at the opera after the unlikely return of its lead actor. Fall of the Ibis King is a tale of love and jealousy which simmers with emotion throughout and boils to a dramatic crescendo. Directors Mikai Geronimo and Josh O’Caoimh masterfully weave together a story which is visually stunning and had the jury deeply invested in each decision its characters made.
- Greg Doble
AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARDS
We ask our audience to rate all the shorts they watch at GIRAF, so we can say with mathematical certainty that the films below are the selections that blew their minds. As you'll see, the GIRAF audience was truly fearless this year, embracing films with difficult themes, dark subject matter, and experimental forms. We couldn't be more proud.
AUDIENCE AWARD: BEST CANADIAN SHORT FILM
MENEATH: THE HIDDEN ISLAND OF ETHICS | TERRIL CALDER | CANADA | 2021
Given its heavy subject matter, steeped in religious indoctrination, colonialism, and deep inner turmoil, Meneath seemed like a long shot for an audience award—but it was far and away the festival's highest rated film. Chalk it up to Terril Calder's skill at balancing the film's darker elements with moments of strength and triumph. Calder's film navigates difficult themes and complex concepts with grace, resulting in a film that is both challenging and absolutely vital.
The Clockwork Elves | Nick Cross | Canada | 2020
This year's festival audience wasn't afraid to go dark. Nick Cross describes his latest film as either "a pyschotropic exploration of spirituality and death" or "tale of a little goofball hopped up on goofballs." It's macabre, but darkly beautiful, rich in ambiguous imagery, and impossible to look away from, a bad trip our audience was more than happy to take.
AUDIENCE AWARD: BEST INTERNATIONAL
LOVE IS JUST A DEATH AWAY | BÁRA ANNA STEJSKALOVÁ | CZECH REPUBLIC | 2020
It's surprising but fitting that a film about a worm piloting the body of a dead dog would be so good at pulling our audience's heartstrings. Bára Anna Stejskalová's directorial debut is sweet despite its excess of death and decay. Ultimately a story of a longing for love and connection, it finds humour and warmth in the strangest of places, striking a unique tone that resonated with the GIRAF17 crowd.
Nocturne | Alexander Dupuis | United States | 2020
To call Alexander Dupuis' music video busy would be a dramatic understatement. The rush of colours, patterns and textures in Nocturne's 3D world should be utterly overwhelming, but somehow it all works, creating a transcendental trip through rippling, mind-warping worlds, and finding serenity on the far side of excess.
JURY SPECIAL MENTIONS
A Bite of Bone | Honami Yano | Japan | 2021
There’s something for everyone in A Bite of Bone. From the heartfelt story, the creatively drawn ‘camera work’, to the outstanding technique, the film illustrates a man’s passions that will carry on into the next generation. “If you bite the bone you can be with your father forever.” - Siloën Daley
And Yet We're Not Super Heroes | Lia Bertels | Belgium/Portugal/France | 2019
At first in darkness, I was drawn into the mystery. I became part of the story and then when the characters were revealed as high-contrast comic-like illustrations I believed them real. I was already drawn in. As the piece played out the honesty and creativity brought joy and captivated me. - Siloën Daley
Camille | Nathanaël Sonn | France | 2020
With the short film Camille, Nathanaël Sonn beautifully crafts a piece that is both visually gorgeous and deeply personal. With a runtime just over 3 and a half minutes, Camille manages to succinctly bring the audience along for a glimpse into one trans woman’s experience of self doubt and struggle with her past. It’s a tale which portrays an experience that may be foreign to some people, but all too familiar to so many within the LGBTQ2+ community. No matter where you may fall as an audience member, its deeply passionate story will have you captivated and emotionally invested. - Greg Doble
Fledge | Hani Dombe and Tom Kouris | Israel/France | 2021
An inspired piece of magical realism. Fledge uses its refreshingly specific and unique premise — a Russian family trying to fit into Israel during the 1990s — to tell a story about heritage, identity and individuality that resonates at the universal level.
- Animation Obsessive
Sanctuary | Eva Matejovičová | Czech Republic | 2021
Sanctuary brought a ray of light. I recalled the power an animated short film has to connect with its audience — unlike any other medium. I felt blessed to take in this film through the GIRAF festival. Thank you Sanctuary for inspiring me and spreading love!
- Siloën Daley