The Palm Springs International ShortFest 2021 on Sunday announced its best films in 18 categories and 295 films.
ShortFest returned as an in-person event this year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The festival was billed as a virtual festival in 2020 and selections from the program were broadcast online.
Here are the winning films, with their country of origin, their director and their prizes.
Academy Award Qualifying
Grand Palm Springs CVB Best of the Festival Award: “Unforgivable” (El Salvador), by Marlén Viñayo. Price: $ 5,000
Scenario: A hitman is serving a prison sentence in an evangelical Salvadoran prison, where he is not only guilty of crimes, but also of the sin under God of being gay.
Best Animated Short: “Step into the River” (China / France), by Weijia Ma. Prize: $ 1,000.
Scenario: A review of China’s one-child policy following two girls living in a riverside village.
Best Documentary Short: “Queen of Basketball” (United States), by Ben Proudfoot. Price: $ 1,000
Scenario: A look at the life of Lusia Harris, winner of three consecutive varsity championships at Delta State University, Olympian and second female enlisted in the National Basketball Association.
Best live action short film over 15 minutes: “The Criminals” (France / Romania / Turkey), by Serhat Karaaslan. Price: $ 1,000
Scenario: A young couple try to find a hotel room in a small Turkish town, but are rejected because they do not have the required marriage certificate. The pair develop a pattern that gets out of hand.
Best live action short 15 minutes or less: “The Mohel” (Canada), by Charles Wahl. Price: $ 1,000
Scenario: After the birth of a couple’s first son, James and his converted Jewish wife Lola face family demands and financial difficulties that cause them to examine their traditions and faith.
Short student prices
Best student animated short: “Love is Just a Death Away” (Czech Republic), by Bára Anna Stejskalová. Price: $ 500
Scenario: The creatures seek privacy amid the debris of a landfill.
Best student documentary short: “The Void Inside” (Germany / Iran), by Julian Dieterich. Price: $ 500
Scenario: After being arrested for a fight, Vahid must sell a kidney to avoid jail time.
Best international student short film: “Her Dance” (Israel), by Bar Cohen. Price: $ 500
Scenario: A woman far from her family shows up uninvited to her sister’s wedding, threatening to reveal hidden family secrets.
Best American student short film: “El Clásico” (Mexico), by Joel Vázquez Cárdenas. Price: $ 500
Scenario: A trip of two friends to a football stadium leads to a new perspective on their friendship, their values and their perspective of Mexico City.
Special Jury Prizes
Best international short film: “Howling” (Belgium), by Laura Van Haecke. Price: $ 1,000
Scenario: A child moves to the countryside with her mother and half-sister and eagerly awaits a visit from her father, who does not show up and leaves them disappointed.
Best American Short Film: “Inheritance” (United States), by Annalize Lockhart. Price: $ 1,000
Scenario: A black family in Vermont tries to live among and tolerate the ghosts living on their land.
Best Comedy Short: “Break In” (United States), by Alyssa Lerner. Price: $ 1,000
Scenario: Nousha’s erotic fiction about her crush is accidentally texted to her. She and her friend Oliver decided to delete the text.
Best LGBT + short film: “Eggshells” (Bulgaria), by Slava Doytcheva. Price: $ 1,000
Scenario: A woman’s girlfriend decides to spend Easter with her family, letting her go to visit her ex-father.
Best Midnight Short: “Night Bus” (Taiwan), by Joe Hsieh. Price: $ 1,000
Scenario: On a night bus, a stolen necklace sets off a disturbing chain of events.
Mozaik Bridging the Borders Award: “A Broken House” (United States / Lebanon), by Jimmy Goldblum. Price: $ 2,500
Scenario: A Syrian architect and artist stuck on a single-entry visa puts his feelings of homesickness in lifelike rendered sculptures of his memories of the house he left behind.
Local Jury Prize: “Dying in Your Mother’s Arms” (United States), by John Beder. Price: $ 1,000
Scenario: A doctor ensures that terminally ill children receive end-of-life care.
Vimeo Staff Pick Award: “The Nannies” (Denmark), by Signe Barvild Staehr. Price: $ 2,500
Scenario: A filmmaker remembers her mother’s death when she was five and re-enacts her forgotten time with the nannies who took care of her.
Young Cineastes Award: “Americanized” (United States), by Erica Eng. Price: $ 2,500.
Scenario: A Chinese-American girl who enjoys hip-hop culture and plays basketball struggles to identify with her Chinese-American roots.
Desert Sun reporter Brian Blueskye covers the arts and entertainment. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @bblueskye. Support local news, subscribe to The Desert Sun.