Fantoche 2023 Winners: 'A Kind of Testament', 'Our Pain', 'Greylands'

A Kind of Testament by Stephen Vuillemin animation short still

Stephen Vuillemin and his Berlinale-premiered animated 'A Kind of Testament', a tale of online identity search in a graphic color palette and 2D animated (his first film) won the Best Film in the International Competition of this year's Fantoche International Festival for Animated Film (5-10 September 2023).

The Japanese experimental film 'Our Pain' by Shunsaku Hayashi won the 'High Risk' prize of the festival, while in the Swiss Competiton the film 'Die Graue March' (Greylands) by Charlotte Waltert and Alvaro Schoeck was the winner.

Check out all the winning films of Fantoche 2023 and the jury statements below:

Jury: Jürgen Haas, Špela Čadež, Emilia Mazik

Un genre de testament, Stephen Vuillemin, FR 2023

A young woman comes across animations on the internet that were clearly created from her private selfies. An unknown woman with the same name confesses to identity theft. But death is quicker than the answer to the question, “why?

Jury Statement: «This remarkable film creates a visually captivating and thought-provoking experience. With dark humour and unsettling images, it delves into the world of social media, stolen identities, beauty, and fashion, offering a poignant reflection on the anxieties of our digital age. The Best Film Award goes to Un genre de testament by Stephen Vuillemin.»

Our Pain, Shunsaku Hayashi, JP 2022

Our shared pain, although experienced individually and uniquely, connects us. The ambiguity and variety of our existence allow us to imagine an infinity of variables; some of these alternatives may be malignant, and some benign.

Jury Statement: «What connects us humans? What is our constant companion from birth until death? The universal language of pain. It never lets us go. We recognize it, feel it even in the other, and suffer empathetically. This film irritates our mirror neurons in an almost unbearable way. The protagonists' wounded surfaces tell of life’s endless trials and of the futile quest for redemption. A radical homage to the human condition. The High Risk Award goes to Our Pain by Shunsaku Hayashi.»

Drijf, Levi Stoops, BE 2023

Jeremy and Aurora are lost at sea. They are cooped up together on a small tree trunk in the ocean’s vast openness. As they fail to understand each other’s desires and boundaries, the fight for their survival and the survival of their relationship becomes a bloody mess.

Jury Statement: «This film convincingly depicts the power dynamics of the couple, loneliness, and the human struggle in a moment of crisis. It playfully explores traditional gender-roles and our relationship with nature, while infused with humour. The jury appreciated the minimalism and recognizable style of the director, who is undoubtedly a strong new voice to follow. The New Talent award goes to Drijf by Levi Stoops.»

Cyclepaths, Anton Cla, BE 2023

A boy with a gun on his back is riding a scooter. An old woman is carrying her shopping bags. An assault takes place on a tram. A computer-generated contemplation on the monotony and hopelessness of daily urban life.

Jury Statement: «We wander through a world of disorientation and loss of values, accompanied by a furious din, a fortissimo of nothingness, a tinnitus of being lost. Through selective perception and the conscious omission of sounds, Milan van Doren incites a destructive pull to which we give ourselves defencelessly. The Best Sound Award goes to Cyclepaths by Anton Cla.»

The TOBOS, Tobias Rud, DK 2023

Something is wrong with Bean-TOBO’s insides. This tale of friendship, loss and mental health is set in a dream-state universe that turns out not to be too different from our own.

Jury Statement: «For its ability to speak about mental health issues and the power of friendship, while deconstructing the aesthetics of a retro children's TV show, the Special Mention goes to The TOBOS by Tobias Rud.»

Our Uniform, Yegane Moghaddam, IR 2023

An Iranian girl unfolds her school memories through the wrinkles and fabrics of her old uniform and explores the roots of traditional gender roles.

Jury: Julia Pott, Ygor Gama, Djamila Grandits
Youth jury (Swiss Youth Award): Leya Alexander, Kerstin Pauli, Shania Küng, Indra Crittin, Eddie Matthey, Bruno Detrey, Chloé de Vooght

Die graue March, Charlotte Waltert, Alvaro Schoeck, CH 2023

An autumn day and the first winter night in the high mountains – it’s hunting season. Swathes of mist blur the boundaries between dream, imagination and reality.

Jury Statement: «Feeling fundamentally local yet also universal, this film encapsulates so much of what is invigorating about short-form animation. The world felt both expansive and intimate, exploring two narratives with an elegance that gives the viewer space to experience their own grief alongside that of the characters. The atmosphere created  through the sound design, sparseness of the linework and multiplane technique left us feeling assuredly held by the filmmakers. The Best Swiss award goes to Die Graue March / Greylands, by the animation duo Charlotte Waltert & Alvaro Schoeck.»

Pipes, Kilian Feusi, Jessica Meier, Sujanth Ravichandran, CH 2022

Bob the plumber is tasked with repairing a burst pipe and, to his surprise, ends up in a gay fetish club.

Jury Statement: «An entry point to desire, a humorous approach to pleasure. Playfully merging fantasies structured by beats and queer codes, we follow a curious bear finding his very own entry to the party. An uncompromising, surprising and fresh immersion blurring the lines between labour and leisure. The High Swiss Risk Award goes to Pipes, directed by Kilian Feusi, Jessica Meier and Sujanth Ravichandran.»

Crevette, Sven Bachmann, Noémi Knobil, Jill Vágner, Elina Huber, CH 2023

Jeanie discovers a prawn in her fridge’s freezer compartment, which has frozen shut. When the prawn transforms into an embryo and the other items in her fridge come to life too, she has to face up to a very personal fear.

Jury Statement: «A beautiful description of anxieties surfacing in our bodies, fears which we leave in secret, hidden, and which one day can no longer be suppressed. A film full of humour, open to interpretation. It starts in the kitchen, and expands into an introspective dream world, where it is not only possible but necessary to face and care for, the embodiment of our personal monsters. A fresh approach with a distinct visual language. The New Swiss Talent Award goes to Crevette by Elina Huber, Noémi Knobil, Sven Bachmann and Jill Vágner.»

Crevette, Sven Bachmann, Noémi Knobil, Jill Vágner, Elina Huber, CH 2023

Jury Statement: «A little prawn lost in the freezer turns into a monster of our own creation. An everyday environment turns into an arena in which to confront our fears of losing control. This film perfectly encapsulates the eeriness of everyday body horror, humorously told through the particular chaos of a young protagonist. The Fantastic Swiss Award goes to Crevette - by Elina Huber, Noémi Knobil, Sven Bachmann and Jill Vágner.»

Armat, Élodie Dermange, CH 2022

Elodie tries to find out more about her family’s Armenian origins. She interviews her father, uncle and great-aunt, and discovers a harsh history where violence and the inability to express love are passed down from generation to generation.

Jury Statement: «What starts out as a director’s personal journey, questioning tradition, rigid masculinity, and emotional repression, ends up revealing trauma of persecution and war, carried across generations in Europe. A film that uses elaborate sound design and enchanting animation techniques to visualise the unspeakable. The Jury wants to give a very Special Mention to the film Armat by Elodie Dermange.»

Related: Our interview with Elodie Dermange

La colline aux cailloux, Marjolaine Perreten, CH 2023

A family of shrews, living next to a stream, are preparing for winter. After heavy rain, though, they need to leave their home and their stockpile. In search of a new place to stay, they set off on an adventure in the wilderness.

La colline aux cailloux, Marjolaine Perreten, CH 2023

«This film stood out strongly — it touched us with its intricate world, its great cast, dialogue and sound design. It is a film suitable for people of all ages and had the perfect balance between childlike freshness and an exciting and gripping storyline. The Swiss Youth Award goes to La colline aux Cailloux by Marjolaine Perreten.»

Think Something Nice Claudius Gentinetta, CH 2022

At the mercy of the dentist’s chair, the protagonist cannot escape a confrontation with pain and the dregs of the miserable human condition. To distract himself, he takes refuge in a fantasised story of fishermen and the sea.

Jury Statement: «This original short film executes a familiar and relatable situation along two story lines. It shows an intriguing connection of textures and abstractions and combines it all with an amazing use of chilling sound design that makes it almost painful to watch. In a good way. Our Special Mention goes out to Think something nice by Claudius Gentinetta.»

Beautiful Figures, Soetkin Verstegen, BE/CH 2022

Thoughts ripple across the pages of a personal notebook, kept during stays at various science labs in Zurich. They float from one to another, like a mind map of unfinished ideas on memory, medical imaging, cells and ageing.

Jury Statement: «The Flying Film Festival team has decided to give the Flying Anidoc Award to the film Beautiful Figures by Soetkin Verstegen. We appreciated its precise and yet impressionistic lines and forms, creating a puzzling link between art and science. Intrigued, we followed her associations and admired her, indeed, beautiful figures. We are happy to include Soetkin Verstegen’s film in our selection of 14 short documentary and anidoc films that will be shown on SWISS long-haul flights during the Flying Film Festival in December and January.»

The children’s jury is made up of six children between the ages of 8 and 12 and is supervised by the Zauberlaterne children’s film club. Since 2010 the children’s jury has awarded the prize for the best children’s film.
Children’s jury: Emiliana, Emma, Ivan, Ilvy, Jana and Maximilian

The Pirate and the Cello, Andreï Sokolov, RU 2023

An unemployed cellist, a fallen rock star and a ruthless animal-trainer compete on the street for the attention of passersby and a few coins. Stray dog Pirate livens up these unlikely fellow travellers in misfortune. A heartwarming cartoon from Russia.

Jury Statement: «…because the characters change and develop, …because they’re drawn funnily and simply, …because the film uses beautiful music, …and because it triggers a lot of feelings, …the jury awards the Best Kids Award to The Pirate and the Cello by Andreï Sokolov.»

Entre deux soeurs, Anne-Sophie Gousset, Clément Céard, FR 2022

Two sisters, two different roles, with a relationship shaped by special circumstances. A moving animated film from France.

Jury Statement: «Because the film shows a shared childhood… and the beauty in relationships with our siblings … because the two sisters change… and it’s great, that their roles are reversed… because the film is sad and happy at the same time… because the jumps in time are connected in a graphically interesting way … the Special Mention goes to Entre deux soeurs by Anne-Sophie Gousset and Clément Céard.»

The Pirate and the Cello, Andreï Sokolov, RU 2023

An unemployed cellist, a fallen rock star and a ruthless animal-trainer compete on the street for the attention of passersby and a few coins. Stray dog Pirate livens up these unlikely fellow travellers in misfortune. A heartwarming cartoon from Russia.

Jury: Sandra Golay (Get it Studio), Julia Weiss (Studio Way) und Oliver Aemisegger (Frame Eleven)

Never shake a Baby Guillaume Mégroz, CH 2023

Jury Statement: «The contribution we chose as this year's winning project offers an informative and empowering approach to a sensitive and emotional topic. Instead of patronising or dramatising, it invites the audience to identify with the protagonists and to understand their thoughts and struggles. We were particularly impressed by the way in which the story telling points out these core messages in a very clear, calm and elegant way, without being repetitive or over explanatory. With its cohesive concept, its thoughtful design on point and its outstanding sound design, Never shake a Baby by Guillaume Mégroz is the clear winner of the 2023 Swiss Animation Industry Award.

Crows – Nature is watching us Patrick Graf, CH 2023

Jury Statement: «Each and every image is both thoughtfully designed and executed to perfection. A remarkable work of art characterised by many clever visual ideas and a rich, uniquely detailed aesthetic appeal. Every frame feels like a painting in itself. On the one hand, this film lets us take off into its own immersive ambiance, and on the other, it fulfills its given strategic task wonderfully. The jury decided to honor the artistic achievements of this film with a Special Mention for Art Direction.»

IWC – Ingenieur Roman Kälin, CH 2023

Jury Statement: «The use of visual effects is innovative and seamless. The sound design is also top- notch and perfectly complements the visuals to create a truly immersive experience. The jury was particularly impressed by how the filmmaker used materiality to create a sense of touch and texture. The film is full of rich and tactile details that make the viewer feel like they can reach out and touch the objects on screen. The jury felt that this film was an actual work of art, and we are honored to present it with a Special Mention for exceptional craftsmanship.»

Megawhat!? Thierry Schwob, CH 2022

«Discovered where one wouldn't expect, this film took the jury by surprise with its flawlessly timed humorous approach, tailored specifically for animation. Narrated with clarity but fearlessly arranged, it resonates with an unmistakable voice of its own. A brave creative masterpiece, where the bold risks taken paid off, resulting in a brilliantly funny outcome! The jury decided to honor the Storytelling of this film with a Special Mention.

Fantoche Festival 2023 (c) Fantoche-Johannes Hofmann

The next Fantoche International Festival for Animated Film will take place from 3 - 8 September 2024.

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