‘Ice Merchants’ Wins Cannes Critics’ Week Jury Prize

Having just made its world premiere in the Semaine de la Critique (Critics’ Week) at the Cannes Film Festival, The Ice Merchants has been awarded the Leitz Cine Discovery Prize for Short Film, marking a prestigious first for Portuguese animation.

The short film by young Porto-born filmmaker João Gonzalez was one of the 10 short films selected for the competition of the famous Cannes section. Ice Merchants is an intriguing animated film that explores the relationship between a father and a son, rendered in a singular artistic style that mark out Gonzalez as a promising talent.

Award ceremony
João Gonzalez (right) accepts the short film award for ‘The Ice Merchants’ at Cannes Critics’ Week.

Ice Merchants was also recently announced in the selection of Mexico’s Guadalajara International Film Festival, being one of the 15 nominees for the Rigo Mora International Prize (created by Guillermo del Toro); the category winner is eligible for qualification in the Academy Awards.

Jurty statement: “The Leitz Cine Discovery Prize goes to a film that has, as one of your jury members puts it, ‘Everything that you expect from a short film.’ Here is a filmmaker that knows how to tell a story, and he does it well. He creates a short-film that holds us on the edge from the first moment. Aesthetically this film is fresh and perfect in itself, but more than that, this film has a mission, a real and important mission… And it is made by a filmmaker that we hope will get wind under his wings and as a consequence will fly high and long. The prize goes to … Ice Merchants.”

Every day, a father and his son jump with a parachute from their vertiginous cold house, attached to a cliff, to go to the village on the ground, far away where they sell the ice they produce daily.

Director’s note: “Something that has always fascinated me about animation cinema is the freedom it offers us to create something from scratch. Surrealistic and bizarre scenarios and realities that can be used as a metaphorical tool to talk about something that is common to us in our more ‘real’ reality. A man and his son parachute every day from their cold and vertiginous house attached to a cliff to go to the village that lies on the plain below, where they sell the ice they produce every day. Ice Merchants is a human story and a family drama set in an impossible reality.”

After the award-winning short Nestor and The Voyager, Ice Merchants is Gonzalez’s third film and his first as a professional director, with the support of the Institute of Cinema and Audiovisual. Gonzalez was also the instrumentalist and composer of the film’s soundtrack, with Nuno Lobo in the orchestration. The soundtrack is by Ed Trousseau, with recording and mixing by Ricardo Real and Joana Rodrigues.

A Portuguese, English and French co-production, the film was produced by Bruno Caetano at COLA – COLETIVO AUDIOVISUAL, in co-production with Michaël Proença from Wild Stream in France and with the Royal College of Art in the U.K.

Ice Merchants was one of just two animated shorts in competition at the Critics’ Week, the other being It’s Nice in Here by Robert-Jonathan Koeyers (Netherlands). The program also presented a special World Premiere screening of Joseph Pierce’s Scale (France / U.K. / Czech Rep. / Belgium). See the selected films here.

Learn more about The Ice Merchants and connect with distributor Agencia at agencia.curtas.pt.

The Ice Merchants
The Ice Merchants


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