2021 Award Winners &
Best Of Fest Program

A Black Rift Begins to Yawn

A Black Rift Begins to Yawn

Director

Matthew Wade

As two former classmates dig into their deceased professor’s set of cassette tapes, which possibly contain recordings of strange signals from beyond the stars, they begin to feel memories, the chronology of time, and their identities slip into obscurity.
Winner

Honorable Mention, Breakouts
A Family

A Family

Director

Jayden Stevens

A man living in solitary seeks emotional refuge in the organising and documenting of family moments using low-grade impersonators. When his fake sister becomes inspired to follow his method, their relationship struggles between the forged and genuine.
Winner

Honorable Mention Narrative Feature
Ain't No Time For Women

Ain’t No Time For Women

Director

Sarra El Abed

Tunis, November 2019. On the eve of the presidential election, a group of women is gathered at Saïda’s hair salon, which is transformed into a town square, mirroring the internal turmoil of the country. In this female sanctuary, we get an intimate look at the country’s teenage democracy.
Winner

Honorable Mention, Documentary Short
Bleeding Audio

Bleeding Audio

Director

Chelsea Christer

From inspiring triumphs to heartbreaking setbacks, Bleeding Audio relives the explosive career of the Matches and what it means to succeed in the digital age of music.
Winner

The George Starks Spirit of Slamdance Award
CODE NAME: Nagasaki

CODE NAME: Nagasaki

Director

Fredrik S. Hana

"CODE NAME: Nagasaki" tells the story of Marius and Fredrik, two young men who forged their friendship through filmmaking and decided to put their skills to a unique challenge: finding Marius’ long lost Japanese mother.
Winner

Grand Jury Prize for Documentary Feature
Delimitation

Delimitation

Director

Tereza Vejvodová

A dancer moving through a city seeking a space in which to exist.
Winner

Honorable Mention, Narrative Short
Feeling Through

Feeling Through

Director

Doug Roland

A teen-in-need's reluctant act of kindness toward a DeafBlind man becomes a night-long journey, creating a bond between them that gives the teen hope for the future.
Winner

Honorable Mention, Unstoppable
Full Picture

Full Picture

Director

Jacob Reed

Santina has been in a wheelchair since she was six years old. With meetings, hangouts, and classes happening virtually due to the Coronavirus quarantine, she's experiencing something new: Choosing when (or if) to disclose her disability.
Winner

Honorable Mention, Unstoppable
Holy Frit

Holy Frit

Director

Justin Monroe

Tim, a talented, yet unknown LA artist, bluffs his way into winning the commission to create the world's largest stained-glass window of its kind, even though he has no idea how to make it…but he stumbles across someone who might, the famous glass maestro, Narcissus Quagliata.
Winner

Audience Award for Documentary Feature
Hurrah, we are still alive!

Hurrah, we are still alive!

Director

Agnieszka Polska

An artistic commune of filmmakers awaits the return of the Director, who disappeared without a trace, despite his absence, the Director seems to control all of the troupe's actions.
Winner

AGBO Fellowship
In France Michelle is a Man's Name

In France Michelle is a Man’s Name

Director

Em Weinstein

Michael, a young trans man, returns home to the rural American West after years of estrangement from his parents. In France Michelle is a Man’s Name explores trans identity, masculinity, and the prices we're willing to pay for acceptance.
Winner

Grand Jury Prize for Narrative Short
Life

Life

Director

Mohammad Mohammadian

Life is an experimental super short film about time of life. The duration of this film is only 4 seconds (not minutes) because life is very short and very fast.
Winner

Honorable Mention, George Starks Spirit of Slamdance
Lizard Ladder

Lizard Ladder

Director

Ted Wiggin

Three animals caught between planes of existence, and an egg.
Winner

Honorable Mention, Animation Short
MADA (Mother)

MADA (Mother)

Director

Joseph Douglas Elmhirst

In the postcolonial, matriarchal culture of rural Jamaica, a simmering conflict over Luther's nature surfaces and we are offered insight into two mothers, Faith and Ethel's conflicting notions about love and protection, meditating on it's impact on a child who deviates from the norm.
Winner

Honorable Mention Narrative Short
Mountain Lodge

Mountain Lodge

Director

Jordan Wong

The candle, the myth, the legend. Mountain Lodge.
Winner

Honorable Mention, Experimental Short
No Trace (Nulle Trace)

No Trace (Nulle Trace)

Director

Simon Lavoie

OPENING NIGHT FILM // In a near future, a callous smuggler hardened by life guides a pious young woman and her child across the border to safety, unaware that their destinies are inescapably linked in this inhospitable land.
Winner

Grand Jury Prize for Breakouts
Opera

Opera

Director

Erick Oh

Opera is a massive 8K size animation installation project which portrays our society and history, filled with beauty and absurdity.
Winner

CreativeFuture Innovation Award
Passage

Passage

Director

Ann Oren

A foley artist creates sounds for a film featuring a dressage horse and dissolves into his own imitation. Shot on 16mm film, PASSAGE is contemporary and sensual homage to the origin of cinema, with a thrilling performance from queer artist and performer Simon(e) Jaikiriuma Paetau.
Winner

Grand Jury Prize for Experimental Short
Return to the Peach Blossom Wonderland

Return to the Peach Blossom Wonderland

Director

Haomin Peng, Yue Huang, Yuchao Luo

Looking at a China modernized, are we back in such a wonderland described in an ancient fable, The Peach Blossom Spring, or is this high-speed train impelling us to somewhere else?
Winner

Grand Jury Prize for Animation Short
Taipei Suicide Story

Taipei Suicide Story

Director

KEFF

A receptionist at a suicide hotel in Taipei forms a fleeting friendship over the course of one night with a guest who can’t decide if she wants to live or die.
Winner

Grand Jury Prize & Audience Award for Narrative Feature, Acting Award for Tender Huang
The Bin

The Bin

Director

Jocelyn Tamayao

A father struggles to connect with his son, who grows to love a language not native to his tongue.
Winner

Grand Jury Prize, Unstoppable
The Little Broomstick Rider

The Little Broomstick Rider

Director

Matteo Bernardini

When a nine-year-old boy in 1620s Bavaria goes on trial for witchcraft, a flabbergasted court must decide the child’s fate.
Winner

Audience Award for Episodes
The Ultimate (By Lou Fescano)

The Ultimate (By Lou Fescano)

Director

Daniel Jaffe

After the death of her childhood friend Lou, filmmaker Nicole Friedman returns home to find he's left behind a mediocre script that his family wants her to make in his honor.
Winner

Honorable Mention Acting for Michelle Uranowitz
Unforgivable

Unforgivable

Director

Marlén Viñayo

A ruthless hitman for the18th Street gang serves his sentence in an isolation cell in El Salvador. But in prison, Geovanny is not just guilty of his crimes, but of an unforgivable sin under God and gang: being gay.
Winner

Grand Jury Prize for Documentary Short
18th & Grand: The Olympic Auditorium Story

18th & Grand: The Olympic Auditorium Story

Director

Stephen DeBro

CLOSING NIGHT FILM // LA DRIVE-IN on Feb 25th, 2021 // A raucous, visceral Los Angeles tale—seen through the story of a 20th Century fight palace and the remarkable woman who ran it-—reveals battles over race, gender and identity that still roil America.