Golden Gunnar Awards: ‘The Burden’ Takes Fredrikstad Grand Prize

Per Åhlin
Per Åhlin

The 2017 Fredrikstad Animation Festival closed over the weekend in the coastal Norwegian city, capped with the annual Golden Gunnar Award ceremony. This year’s Grand Prix went to Niki Lindroth von Bahr’s The Burden, which also won the Audience Award.

The jury notes on The Burden point out: “This film is very alive, atmospheric and vibrant thanks to the tactile quality of the singing and dancing animals, the well-crafted, solid world they inhabit, the beautiful music, and the deliberate rhythm. The uncanny eyes of the fishes not only look at you, they touch you. And the furry monkeys could, if they wanted to, jump out of the frame, toward us, and pull a real prank.”

The 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award was bestowed on Swedish director, animator and illustrator Per Åhlin, whose first feature project Out of an Old Man’s Head debuted nearly 50 years ago. The award was announced during the Opening Ceremony of Fredrikstad Animation Festival. Åhlin’s contribution to the world of animation was further celebrated with screenings of Resan till Melonia and Sagan om Karl-Bertil Jonssons julafton, an exhibition of his work at Fredrikstad Kino, and in the Scandinavian Master Seminar in which the filmmaker and his biographer Elisabeth Lysander discussed Åhlin’s artwork from the 1960s to the present day.

Additional Golden Gunnar Award winners:

Honorable Mention Short Film: Nothing Happens – Uri & Michelle Kranot

“The film’s aesthetic is as stern and cold as the crows. Its point of view keeps us without a view. Nothing happens. Maybe the film is in the same family as Hitchcock, not mainly because of its birds, but because of the ways in which it plays with our gaze and thematizes voyeurism and many other things connected with seeing and sights, so important in cinema. It’s a film that in a sense seems to ridicule us as viewers.”

Best Short Film: Amalimbo – Juan Pablo Libossart

“The winner of this category showed us a unique take on dealing with grief and loss. Set in an epicly sculpted world, we were given glimpse into an exciting alternate reality that we fully believed in and wanted to be part of. A damn fine example of interesting film making.”

Honorable Mention Student Film: Cream – Lena Ólafsdottir

“This film was so close to winning the student award, and was a personal favorite of one of our jury members. In under 5 minutes we are presented with birth, death, and that awkward bit in between the two. The disturbing character design and sinister timing left us in a state of existential despair, that lingered in the back of our minds the entire festival. Life is weird, and so is this film.”

Best Student Film: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday – Riina Vilén

“It is daring, in a way, to emphasize stillness and inaction in an animation film. Giving us three views at once, extending the conventional image into three zones of unrest, the film uses a split-screen technique to guide our attention to what we might call empty spaces, as well as to a lonely human figure trapped in a pattern of inactivity. The familiar apartment rooms, devoid of any meaningful activity, is filled with tension and reeks of a creepy sadness. The violent and mysterious ending powerfully contrasts with the quiet tone of the rest of the film. At the same time, it feels like a natural conclusion to the sense of creeping doom that runs throughout the film.”

Honorable Mention Best Children’s Film: The World’s Middlest Fish – Cathinka Tanberg

Best Children’s Film: Pigtail and Mr. Sleeplessness – Edmunds Jansons

Honorable Mention Commissioned Film: The Voices – Julian Vargas & Gunhild Asting

Best Commissioned Film: The Boy Who Fell and the Man Who Picked Him Up – Hanne Berkaak

The Burden

The Burden

Nothing Happens

Nothing Happens