NYICFF has closed its 2021 edition with a presentation of the Best of the Fest short films and the announcement of the 2021 Festival award winners. For the first time in the Festival’s 24-year history, audiences expanded from the New York metro area to across the country, drawing viewers from 47 out of 50 states to the virtual Festival.
The Festival received thousands of submissions from around the world to select and curate a collection of inventive, diverse, and artistically ambitious films for its annual event, held virtually from March 5-14. Audience and Grand Prize Awards are presented to the films and filmmakers with the highest-ranking votes from Festival audience members, while Jury Awards are selected by an esteemed jury of filmmakers, actors, and industry leaders.
The Best of the Fest, a collection of the highest-ranking short films from throughout the Festival, was released on Friday, March 19. In lieu of a traditional live awards ceremony, winners were announced on the Festival’s website and social media channels on Monday, March 22.
“In addition to spotlighting the most innovative films for young audiences, the Jury and Audience Awards recognized the strength of women behind the camera, supported nonbinary storytelling, and acknowledged European co-productions that bolstered underrepresented filmmaker voices and stories from the Carribean,” said Programming Director Maria-Christina Villaseňor. “We’re grateful to our esteemed jury and wonderful audiences alike.”
In the Jury Award competitions — which juror Nora Twomey (Oscar-nominated director of The Breadwinner, co-director of The Secret of Kells and Cartoon Saloon co-founder) described as “A strong selection of thought provoking films, beautifully made & truthfully told” — the Best Animated Short prize was presented to Matilda and the Spare Head by Lithuanian director Ignas Meilūnas, who previously showed his 2017 short Mr Night Has a Day Off at the Festival. The winning stop-motion film centers on a clever little girl who comes to the conclusion that two heads are literally better than one. Anne Koizumi (Canada) also earned a Special Mention for the animated documentary In the Shadow of the Pines, which screened in the Girls’ POV program and explores the director’s difficult childhood relationship with her father, a Japanese immigrant.
Jury Award winners were selected by the 2021 jury members Sofia Coppola, Geena Davis, Madeline di Nonno, Jorge Gutiérrez, Matthew Modine, Mark Osborne, Peter Ramsey, Karen Rupert Toliver, Ira Sachs, Uma Thurman and Nora Twomey. “What an amazing group of films! I’m absolutely floored,” said Osborne (Oscar-nominated director, writer, producer & animator, Kung Fu Panda, The Little Prince). Winners of the Festival’s Jury Awards are eligible for consideration in the 2022 Academy Awards.
Among the Audience Award selections, Grand Prize Feature Award for Animation was presented to The Legend of Hei (China), directed by MTJJ Mutou. The Grand Prize Short – Animation winner was French-Swiss film Vanille, by Gulilaume Lorin, which also won the Audience Award – Ages 8+ prize. Oscar shortlisted film Kapaemahu (Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer, & Joe Wilson; U.S.) won in the Ages 10+ category, woolly stop-motion fairytale Tulip (Andrea Love & Phoebe Wahl; U.S.) won over the 5+ audience, and Ink (Joost van den Bosch & Erik Verkerk; Netherlands), a 2D/3D comedy about a neat-freak octopus, took the Ages 3+ prize.