The 2021 Fredrikstad Animation Festival concluded Sunday with an awards ceremony celebrating the edition’s finest Nordic-Baltic animated films. The closing event was held in the historic Norwegian city’s neoclassical Phønix clubhouse.
FAF took place Oct. 21-24, attracting a record-breaking 400 accredited attendees with a program of 135 films, including three major big screen debuts: The Norwegian premiere of Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s documentary feature Flee opened the festival, which also featured the world premiere of Hanne Berkaak’s Frydenlund Hair Parlor, the latest short from Oscar-winning Norwegian studio Mikrofilm, and the festival premiere of the short film Flames from Finnish director Maja Viitahuhta.
The program also featured two dozen speakers and masterclasses conducted by notable artists, filmmakers and educators. Chris Ebeling discussed “What blockchain technology means for gaming.” Bee Grandinetti shared her process and experience working on the commercial side of animation and design. Uri Kranot discussed his experiences with partner Michelle Kranot in the expanding world of immersive storytelling. And Guest of Honor Morten Thorning covered both the artistic and business considerations of developing an animation school and cultivating the animation industry in Denmark.
The award winners were determined by three juries of industry professionals:
- Short film jurists Jalal Maghout, Lizete Upīte and Bendik Kaltenborn determined the winners of the Golden Gunnar Grand Prix, Best Short Film and Best Student Film.
- Feature film jury: Karin Vandenrydt, Karla Von Bengtson and Mats Grorud.
- Commissioned film jury: Eirik Heggen, Lana Tankosa Nikolic and Joseph Langdon.
Additionally, young jurors Aurora Nøkleby, Martin Gottfredsen and Patrick Ydse Bjørnnes were tasked with selecting the Best Children’s Film award. FAF also presents a Golden Audience Award, determined by the festival attendees.
2021 Fredrikstad Animation Festival winners:
Grand Prix: A Most Exquisite Man, dir. Jonas Taul
Jury statement: “With its tranquil images, the film manages to build up its own universe in a delicate way, facing the viewer with indirect yet inescapable questions about the meaning of life. The place is not a place, but a mental suggestion. White is not just white, and black is not just black, but they are full of possibilities that contribute to the isolation of the character forming his inner world, and opening the film space to exquisite possibilities.”
Best Feature Film: Flee, dir. Jonas Poher Rasmussen
Jury statement: “All of the four films in the competition are very well executed with great characters, beautiful animation and artwork and are in a way treating the same subject: belonging somewhere. However, we thought that one film stood out from the others. Flee manages in an unsentimental way to tell us something different about the emotional costs of fleeing your homeland. It shows us the beauty of love between a boy and his family members, but also the awakening of a young boy’s sexuality. We are brought along on his journey as a grown man opening up, telling his innermost secrets and feelings — troubled or damaged by his past.
“The film touched us deeply! The subtle and powerful animation, the way the story is ingeniously told, the use of music, a beautiful design and bold mix of techniques makes this a truly beautiful and important film.”
Best Short Film: The Landing, dir. Kaisa Penttilä
Jury statement: “The film’s striking combination of humor and harshness portrays beautifully our society’s great fear and judgement of the unknown and the immediate necessity to label and adjust that unknown to our needs and understanding.”
Best Student Film: Favorite Daughter, dir. Susi Haaning
Jury statement: “This remarkably fine-tuned film managed to move us deeply with a poetic image language, steady storytelling and a strong emotional impact. It does an impressive job in capturing what it’s like having a mentally ill parent, which sometimes means the parent and kid roles are reversed; in this case, a dear father and his favorite daughter (called Terminator).”
Commissioned Film: Help! We Have a Blind Patient, dir. Robin Jensen
Jury statement: “In a very diverse selection of animation genres, styles and techniques, ranging from music videos, info films, game trailers and commercials, the jury has chosen a film that uses a traditional animation technique in a successful manner, to portray a serious topic in a warm and humorous way.
“The film uses everyday situations to turn the subject matter into something absurdly unique while using the full potential of animation as an art form. The expression and tone of the film encourage laughter while staying respectful to the subject matter. Fantastic work!”
Best Children’s Film: Matilda and the Spare Head, dir. Ignas Meilūnas
Jury statement: “This year’s best children’s film has very good technique. It is very ‘smooth.’ It does not work to buy an extra head, you do not have to learn everything.”
Special mention from the Children’s Jury: The Landing, dir. Kaisa Penttilä
Jury statement: “This year’s special mention goes to a film that has very funny and detailed effects. It shows well that you have to treat people the same no matter what you look like.”
Audience Award: Night of the Living Dread, dir. Ida Melum