The 2012 Palm Springs International ShortFest received 3,000 submissions this year, and 324 lucky shorts were chosen to screen at the Camelot Theaters, a welcome respite from the oppressive heat where Palm Springs locals and out-of-towners delight in the films featured by the festival. (The winners are listed below.)
Here's the goods from the festival's Master Class with DP Robert Elswit and Q & A with Spirit of Short Film Award winner Gus Van Sant.
The Student Academy Awards' five winning films also screened at the fest, their first public outing following the awards ceremony on June 9. Among them, David Winstone's "For Elsie" (Best Foreign Film winner) is the standout, featuring an exceptional performance from Blake Ritson. The other winners are "The Reality Clock" (director Amanda Tasse, Best Alternative), "Eyrie" (David Wolter, Best Animation), "Hiro: A Story of Japanese Internment" (Keiko Wright, Best Doc) and "Under" (Mark Raso, Best Narrative), an impressive thriller.
Best Student Documentary Short winner "The Battle of the Jazz Guitarist" is easily my favorite of the fest, while Christoph Kushnig's powerful drama "Hatch," winner of the Best Student Live Action Short (over 15 minutes) Award exhibits impressive directorial restraint. Panavision Grand Jury Award winner "Paulie," from director Andrew Nackman, is sweet and hilarious, while Julio O. Ramos' Best of the Festival Award winner "Behind the Mirrors" is dirty, clever and now eligible for Oscar consideration.
Among the other films I caught that were not singled out with awards, stand-outs include Rupert Reid's hilarious charmer "Boo!" (Australia), Caleb Johnson's disturbing "Root," Rob Richert's "My Name is Your First Love" (both from the US), and Myriam Muller's "The Father, the Son…and Anna" (Luxembourg).
Winners are listed on the next page along with trailers for "The Battle of the Jazz Guitarist," "Behind the Mirrors" and "My Name is Your First Love."
BEST OF FESTIVAL AWARD – Winner received $2,000 cash prize, Software Package courtesy of The Showbiz Café & Store, Post Production award courtesy of Greenhouse Studios and Final Cut Pro X courtesy of Apple. The winner of this award may be eligible to submit their film to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Oscar consideration.
Behind the Mirrors (Detras del Espejo) (Peru/USA), Julio O. Ramos
PANAVISION GRAND JURY AWARD – Winner received a Panavision Camera Package valued at $60,000.
Paulie (USA), Andrew Nackman
FUTURE FILMMAKER AWARD – Winner received a $2,000 cash prize and a post production package courtesy of Greenhouse Studios.
Khaana (UK), Rajinder Sawhney
AUDIENCE FAVORITE LIVE ACTION SHORT
A Curious Conjunction of Coincidences (Netherlands), Joost Reijmers
Runner-up – Talking Dog For Sale, 10 Euros (Se Vende PerroQue Habla, 10 Euros) (France/Spain), Lewis-Martin Soucy
AUDIENCE FAVORITE DOCUMENTARY SHORT
Mr. Christmas (USA), Nick Palmer
Runner-up – The Little Team (L’Equip Petit) (Spain), Robert Gomez
AUDIENCE FAVORITE ANIMATION SHORT
The Boy in the Bubble (Ireland), Kealan O’Rourke
Runner-up – The Gruffalo’s Child (UK), Uwe Heidschötter, Johannes Weiland
The ShortFest Online Audience Award
Lost & Found (UK), directed by Sam Washington. The film will be available to view online for the next three months.
JURY CATEGORY AWARDS
All first place winners in the non-student categories received a cash award of $2,000. First place winners in the non-student Animation and Live Action categories may be eligible for Academy Awards consideration. Second place recipients received a $500 cash prize.
BEST ANIMATION SHORT
First Place ($2,000) – Nuru (Belgium), Michael Palmaers
Second Place ($500) – Amen! (Germany), Moritz Mayerhofer
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT OVER 15 MINUTES
First Place ($2,000) – Dura Lex (Belgium), Anke Blondé
Second Place ($500) – Light Years (Lichtjahre) (Germany), Florian Knittel
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT 15 MINUTES AND UNDER
First Place ($2,000) – The Devil’s Ballroom (Mannen fra isødet) (Norway/Greenland), Henrik Martin Dahlsbakken
Second Place ($500) – The Moment (Australia), Troy Bellchambers
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT:
First Place ($2,000) – The Record Breaker (Denmark), Brian McGinn
Second Place ($500) – The Globe Collector (Australia), Summer DeRoche
All first place winners in these categories received a software package courtesy of The Showbiz Café & Store along with a one-year download membership to videoblocks.com or stock footage DVD set courtesy of Video Block and Footage Firm.
BEST STUDENT ANIMATION
First Place – Bear Me (Germany), Katarzyna Wilk
Second Place – Flamingo Pride (Germany), Tomer Eshed
BEST STUDENT LIVE ACTION SHORT OVER 15 MINUTES
First Place – Hatch (Austria/USA), Christoph Kushnig
Second Place – Good Night (UK), Muriel d’Ansembourg
BEST STUDENT LIVE ACTION SHORT 15 MINUTES AND UNDER
First Place – Behind the Mirrors (Detras del Espejo) (Peru/USA), Julio O. Ramos
Second Place – Paulie (USA), Andrew Nackman
BEST STUDENT DOCUMENTARY SHORT
In an unprecedented decision, the ShortFest jury has decided to award first place jointly to two documentaries: The Battle of the Jazz Guitarist and Julian.
First Place (tie) – The Battle of the Jazz Guitarist (USA), Mark Columbus
First Place (tie) – Julian (USA), Bao Nguyen
BEST STUDENT CINEMATOGRAPHY – Software package courtesy of The Showbiz Café & Store.
Saro Varjabedian (cinematographer), Jesus Loves Youssef (Lebanon)
Second Place – Anand Kishore (cinematographer), Mong (China)
BEST STUDENT FILM AWARD (FROM A US FILM SCHOOL) – $2,000 cash prize courtesy of KQED, San Francisco.
First Place – Hatch (Austria/USA), Christoph Kuschnig
The Alexis Award for Best Emerging Student Filmmaker went to Kiss Me (USA), directed by Jules Nurrish. The recipient received Final Cut Pro X courtesy of Apple. The Alexis Award is selected by the Festival’s programming team and was created in honor of Alexis Echavarria, a young filmmaker, whose talent as a budding filmmaker and gift for inspiring excellence among his fellow students were cut short suddenly in 2005 at age 16.
Bridging the Borders Award presented by Cinema Without Borders went to Road to Peshawar (USA), directed by Hammad Rizvi. The winner received a certificate for an upcoming Method Acting Intensive with a value of $2000 from Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute. The runner-up was Dura Lex (Belgium), directed by Anke Blondé.