Cauliflower and cucumbers… according to the garden calendar, these are fruits to harvest in April and May. But these months are the harvest season for ECFA, with a multitude of ECFA Awards in various festivals.
Prizes were lavishly handed out, especially in the ECFA Short section. Besides an ECFA Award for TO BE SISTERS at the Ciné-Jeune de l’Aisne festival (see separate item), other specialised festivals were throwing out trophies…
In the Kurzfilmtage in Oberhausen (Germany) the ECFA Award was given to AAAAH! by Osman Cerfon (France), a short animation in which “Aaaah!” can sound like a cry of outrage, joy, anger or excitement. “Our winner is a film that fearlessly, and with a fresh approach, uncovers the raw emotions that bind us. It left us in stitches with its clever and humorous take on uncomfortable moments we can all relate to. The director brilliantly weaves different short stories together in a unique style, using just two letters of the alphabet,” said the ECFA Jury.
At the Mo&Friese Festival in Hamburg (Germany), the award went to THE TRUTH ABOUT ALVERT, THE LAST DODO by Nathan Clement (Switzerland, France). The film takes us to Reunion Island, where a little boy and his grandfather try to turn an ordinary chicken into a dodo, whose magic feathers might save the boy’s sick mother. “The winning film took the audience to unexpected places and situations. This strong, colourful, visual film kept us on the edge of our seats from the very first scene and was as serious as it was humorous. With its positive message about giving and taking, this film pays tribute to the power of imagination,” said Steffi Falk (Filmfest Hamburg, Germany), Daniel Lundquist (BUFF, Sweden) and Hidde de Vries (Cinekid), aka the ECFA Jury.
At the Int’l Women’s Film Festival (Dortmund & Köln, Germany) the ECFA Short Award went to the Spanish film TULA by Bea de Silva. The ECFA Jury were Gudrun Sommer (doxs RUHR, Germany), Lara Melegari (Ennesimo, Italy) and Marjo Kovanen (Koulukino, Finland).
The Italian Cactus Film Festival in Aosta, presented the ECFA Short Award to THE QUEEN OF THE FOXES by Marina Rosset (Switzerland). In the pack of foxes, the queen is the saddest of all. To cheer her up, the other foxes sift through people’s rubbish night after night, in search of unsent love letters. The ECFA Jury in the Cactus Festival were Laura Jehle (De Taartrovers, the Netherlands), Felix Vanginderhuysen (ECFA General Secretary, Belgium), and Giancarlo Zappoli (Castellinaria Festival, Switzerland).
The Kristiansand Int’l Children’s Film Festival had two ECFA Awards on its list. The ECFA Short Award went to SOMNI by Sonja Rohleder (Germany), a lullaby for a little monkey, gently falling asleep, as his dreams take him to a wild, colourful world. “The audience is magically drawn into this audiovisual lullaby, as beautiful music and vivid images merge on the big screen. In a very simple, artistic and soothing way, a poetic dream world is created,” said the ECFA Jury.
The award for the Best Feature Film went to DANCING QUEEN by Aurora Gossé (Norway), because “also nerds can dance!” The jury’s citations mentioned “a well-produced film, in which the young actors convincingly capture the audience, by the use of well-timed humour and big emotions. The film made us reflect on universal topics such as identity and the importance of belonging to a community. DANCING QUEEN tells honestly about fragile subjects, which all young people can relate to in their lives.”
The ECFA Jury were Ditte Lundsgaard Nielsen (ANIMOK, Denmark), Mirel Mesila (Just Film, Estonia) and Pantelis Panteloglou (ECFA President, Greece).
In the Smile Int’l Film Festival in New Dehli, India, the ECFA Award went to EVEN MICE BELONG IN HEAVEN by Denisa Grimmová & Jan Bubeníček (Czech Republic), in which two mortal enemies – a mouse and a fox – have to overcome their rivalry when they meet again in animal heaven. The ECFA Jury were Becky Parry (Children’s Film & Literacy, UK) and Marion Heimlund (Kristiansand Festival, Norway).
Only one ECFA Doc Award was recently handed out, which happened at the Zlin Film Festival. In WE WILL NOT FADE AWAY by Alisa Kovalenko (France/Poland/Ukraine), five teenagers dream of becoming a photographer, policeman, engineer, or actor, but in their Donbass village they have been living among ruins, minefields and bomb shelters since 2014. Amid this despair, they receive an unexpected offer from a Ukrainian traveller, inviting them on an expedition to the Himalayas… until the Russian invasion in 2022 destroys the last remnants of their hope. “This film is about both the beauty and brutality of everyday life. At some point in life, we are all searching for something that will fulfil us. The film stayed with us and still does.” The ECFA Jury was Samina Gul (doxs!/Oberhausen Short Film Days, Germany), Marion Heimlund (Kristiansand Festival, Norway) and Nils Andersson (Smorgasbord Picture House, Sweden).