'My Love Affair with Marriage', 'Ice Merchants', 'The House of Loss' in the Anifilm 2023 Winners

Anifilm Festival 2023 winners

Some already acclaimed animation films, but also newcomers found their way in the animation winners of the Anifilm Festival (2-7 May, Liberec, Czech Republic).

Signe Baumane and her multiply acclaimed 'My Love Affair with Marriage' grabbed the Best Feature Award (Adult films) at the festival, while the Oscar-nominated 'Ice Merchants' by João Gonzalez won the Best Short Film (Narrative Competition of the Festival).

The Korean film 'The House of Loss' by Jinkyu Jeon was a welcome surprise and victory in the Student Film Category. In the Abstract/Non-Narrative competition, the mixed-media, Chinese film Sliver Cave  by Caibei Cai won the prize. 

The full 2023 Anifilm winners' list (and jury statements):

International Competition: Feature Films For Adults
Jury: John Stevenson (UK), Sébastien Sperer (France), Veronika Bednářová (Czech Republic)

My Love Affair with Marriage, Director: Signe Baumane / Latvia, United States, Luxembourg, 2022, 108 min
Technique: 2D computer, drawing on paper, mixed media. Produced by: The Marriage Project Llc. (Signe Baumane, Sturgis Warner), Antevita Films (Raoul Nadalet), Studio Locomotive (Roberts Vinovskis)
Synopsis: From an early age, songs and fairytales have convinced Zelma that love will solve all her problems as long as she abides by societal expectations of how a girl should act. But as she grows older something doesn’t seem right with this concept of love: the more she tries to conform, the more her body resists

Jury statement: This artistically and technically exemplary movie was chosen because we find it important that this film will change a lot of people and free a lot of souls.

International Competition: Feature Films For Children
Jury: John Stevenson (UK), Sébastien Sperer (France), Veronika Bednářová (Czech Republic)

Ernest and Celestine: A Trip to Gibberitia (Ernest et Célestine: Le voyage en Charabie),  Directors: Jean-Christophe Roger, Julien Chheng /  France, 2022, 81 min
Technique: 2D computer
Produced by: Mélusine Productions (Stephan Roelants), Folivari (Didier Brunner, Damien Brunner)
Synopsis: This film is a sequel to the feature film Ernest & Celestine (2012). Talkative mouse Celestine and pensive bear Ernest with a penchant for music are sent on a trip from their peaceful town to a peculiar distant land. The adventure revolves around Ernest’s broken violin. Celestine would like to have it repaired, but that can be done only in Ernest’s homeland of Gibberitia stretching across high mountains full of cable cars, narrow streets and romantic places. 

Jury statement: It is a beautifully done, visually delightful, charming movie. It is also deeply moving and relevant for today. Its substantial message is not didactic but talks about the importance of fighting for freedom of expression and against restrictive, totalitarian regimes. It also carries topics of personal responsibility, resolving family issues, and nurturing a loving relationship. We find that relationship particularly touching and genuine: the lasting bond of friendship between the two main characters, which is also parental, is valuable and unique.

International Competition: Short Films
Jury: Kim Keukeleire (Belgium), Marta Pajek (Poland), David Súkup (Czech Republic)

Main Prize
Ice Merchants,  Director: João Gonzalez / Portugal, France, United Kingdom, 2022, 14 min 33s
Technique: 2D computer, Produced by: COLA Animation, Royal College of Art, Wildstream
Synopsis: 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.

Jury statement: The story of a touching, intimate relationship between father and child dealing with loss and facing a threat. It is shown with simplicity and gentleness and yet plays with our basic instincts as we await the fall.

Special Jury Mention
Dog-appartement, Director: Priit Tender / Estonia, 2022, 14 min 7s
Technique: puppet, Produced by: Nukufilm
Synopsis: A boozy ballet dancer lives in a barking apartment.

Jury statement: The author of this film brings us into a surreal and absurd world, which offers neither answers nor a way out, but somehow mysteriously leaves a tiny spark of hope.

International Competition: Student Films
Jury: Kim Keukeleire (Belgium), Marta Pajek (Poland), David Súkup (Czech Republic)

Main Prize
The House of Loss, (상실의 집),  Director: Jinkyu Jeon /  Republic of Korea, Japan, 2022, 9 min 47s
Technique: 2D computer,  Produced by: Tokyo University of the Arts
Synopsis: The elderly at the nursing home have their heads shaved. The protagonist who works there looks at them but can’t read their expressions. However, in one instance, he finds himself looking closely at their faces.

Jury statement: This beautifully drawn film tackles a difficult subject with sensibility, compassion and understanding of the traumas of the old generation.

Special Jury Mention
Soaked In, Director: Shiyu Tang / China, 2022, 4 min 15 s
Technique: stop-motion, drawing on paper, sand, Produced by: East China Normal University
Synopsis: In a humid and warm place, I existed. The whitewashed "gender selection" takes place in two different spaces, where satisfaction and despair mingle. 

Jury statement: In this hypnotic film, the author sheds light onto a dark and painful time in China's history, telling the story with subtlety and force at the same time.

International Competition: Abstract and Non-Narrative Animation
Jury: Mika Johnson (USA), Mirai Mizue (Japan), Sarina Nihei (Japan)

Sliver Cave  (Yin Mu),  Director: Caibei Cai / China, 2022, 14 min 24s.
Technique: mixed media,  Produced by: Dongyu Culture Media
Synopsis: Stepping into a cave, vision fluctuates by the firelight. Left to right, top to bottom. The same goes for the screen in front of you. It is a borderless tunnel, presenting domestication and desire.

Jury statement: We were surprised with the possibility of not seeing anything specific, but being reminded of so many things by it at the same time. The piece is created with an unexpected approach. The combination between music and animation creates a mysterious atmosphere.

International Competition: Music Videos
Jury: Mika Johnson (USA), Mirai Mizue (Japan), Sarina Nihei (Japan)

Lenka Dusilová: Białe konie,  Director: Miloslav Frič /  Czech Republic, 2022, 6 min 55s
Technique: 3D computer, Produced by: Tomas Bata University in Zlín
Synopsis: Music video for the opening track of Lenka Dusilová’s latest album titled Řeka. Řeka (River) takes the listeners on a journey through time, space, bloodstreams, structure and their own history. 

Jury statement: The approach of this music video creates an immersive atmosphere. The video gave us the feeling of an infinite void of space simultaneously being created or destroyed. We got absorbed into the unified musical and visual experience instantly.

International Competition: VR films
Jury: Mika Johnson (USA), Mirai Mizue (Japan), Sarina Nihei (Japan)

Main Prize
From the Main Square, Pedro Harres, Andre Correa / Germany, 19 min, 2022
Synopsis: At the beginning, several people gather around a fire. But if you look around, the space starts transforming into a fictitious square. It’s a busy intersection of stories, buildings, hopes and conflicts. 

Jury statement: In VR, we awarded a subtle but powerful piece that comments on our contemporary world, where loss surrounds us. We were impressed by this piece for its excellent use of animation, sound, and unique interactive quality.

Special Jury Mention
Walzer,  Frieda Gustavs, Leo Erken / Netherlands, 10 min, 2022
Synopsis: Walzer is an intuitive VR experience linking several women’s rights stories from the first wave of feminism taking place at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. 

Jury statement: We also chose to award a special mention, as this piece takes us on a nonlinear tour of photographs from the first wave of feminism, all within a world that feels magical and filled with discoveries.

International Competition: Computer Games
Jury: Jakub Špiřík (Czech Republic), Zuzana Slavíková (Czech Republic), Gregorios Kythreotis (UK)

Prize: Excellence in Arts
Pentiment,  Obsidian Entertainment, USA, 2022
Synopsis: 16th-century narrative adventure set in Upper Bavaria, following Andreas Maler, a journeyman artist working in the bygone scriptorium of the Kiersau Abbey. While finishing his masterpiece, Andreas becomes entangled in a series of murders.

Jury statement: For a considerate, authentic and creative adaptation of sources and for a brilliant and original work with typography.

Prize: Kid Game
Lost in Play,  Happy Juice Games, Israel, 2022
Synopsis: Go on a feel-good adventure with a brother and sister as they explore dreamscapes and befriend magical creatures. Lost in their imagination, Toto and Gal must stick together and solve puzzles to journey back home. 

Jury statement: For an amazingly playful game design and overall visual style including animation, and for a natural accessibility for a wide range of players.

Audience Award – the Liberec Region Award
Four Souls of Coyote (Kojot négy lelke), Director: Áron Gauder / Hungary, 2023, 103 min
Technique: 2D computer, 3D computer,  Produced by: Cinemon Entertainment Kft. (Réka Temple)
Synopsis: A construction site somewhere on the North American plains below a towering hill. A sacred place where members of the young generation of native Americans gather to protest against the construction of an oil pipeline on the land of their ancestors. 

The International Festival of Animated Films Anifilm took place 2-7 May in Liberec, Czech Republic.

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