By Ray Pride

Palm Springs Shortfest Announces Winners

The 2017 Palm Springs International ShortFest, the largest short film festival and only short film market in North America, announced its Festival award winners on Sunday, June 25, 2017.  338 short films screened throughout the Festival along with more than 4,200 filmmaker submissions available in the film market.  More than $115,000 in prizes, including $20,000 in cash awards were awarded in 21 categories.

“After spending a week in and out of theaters, and talking with filmmakers and audiences, we close out the festival with such a strong sense of community,” said Festival Director Lili Rodriguez.  “Filmmakers are making movies about the changing world around them. I think our award winners showcase an understanding and compassion for people and it’s a great thing to see.”


Jury Awards and awards in the non-student and student competition categories were selected by ShortFest jury members David Ansen (film critic/PSIFF Lead Programmer), Lindsey Bahr (Associated Press), Kate Bosworth (actress/producer), Ian Durkin (Vimeo), Sam Lansky (Time Magazine) and Heidi Zwicker (Sundance).

BEST OF FESTIVAL AWARD – Winner received $5,000 cash prize courtesy of the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau.  The winner of this award may be eligible to submit their film to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Oscar® consideration.

Facing Mecca (Switzerland), Jan-Eric Mack

Pensioner Roli comes to Fareed’s assistance when the Syrian refugee is faced with a bewildering forest of Swiss bureaucracy before he can bury his Muslim wife.

 GRAND JURY AWARD – Winner received a $2,000 cash prize.

The Head Vanishes (France/Canada), Franck Dion

Jacqueline, no longer quite in her right mind, still goes on her annual summer trip. This year, she’s followed by some woman who claims to be her daughter.

PANAVISION BEST NORTH AMERICAN SHORT – The use of a camera package valued at $60,000 courtesy of Panavision.

Dekalb Elementary (USA), Reed Van Dyk

Inspired by an actual 911 call placed during a school shooting incident in Atlanta, Georgia.


All first place winners in the non-student categories received a cash award of $2,000 and may be eligible to submit their film to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Oscar consideration.


The Head Vanishes (France/Canada), Franck Dion

Jacqueline, no longer quite in her right mind, still goes on her annual summer trip. This year, she’s followed by some woman who claims to be her daughter.


Retouch (Iran), Kaveh Mazaheri

Maryam’s husband does weightlifting at home. When a weight falls on his throat and puts him near death, Maryam makes a decision.


Great Choice (USA), Robin Comisar

A woman gets stuck in a Red Lobster commercial.


Edith + Eddie (USA), Laura Checkoway

Ninety-something Edith and Eddie are America’s oldest interracial newlyweds, whose unusual and idyllic love story is disrupted by a family feud that threatens to tear them apart. 


FUTURE FILMMAKER AWARD – Winner received a $2,000 cash prize.

Where You Found Refuge (France), Guillaume Legrand

After Didier finds his daughter living in a cult, he decides to bring her home by force.

Special Mention: Fry Day (USA), Laura Moss

An adolescent girl comes of age against the  backdrop of serial killer Ted Bundy’s execution in 1989.

All first place winners in these categories received a $500 cash prize.


Sog (Germany), Jonatan Schwenk

After a flood, the fish are stuck in trees, in danger of drying out. They scream sharply, disturbing the inhabitants of a nearby cave.


Facing Mecca (Switzerland), Jan-Eric Mack

Pensioner Roli comes to Fareed’s assistance when the Syrian refugee is faced with a bewildering forest of Swiss bureaucracy before he can bury his Muslim wife.


Iron Hands (USA/China), Johnson Cheng

A 12-year old girl tries out for the traditionally all-boys’ Chinese youth Olympic weightlifting team. And makes an unlikely connection with the weightlifting gym’s reclusive groundskeeper.


Searching for Wives (Singapore), Zuki Juno Tobgye

Male migrant workers from South India living in Singapore send photos back home in the hope of finding suitable and willing marriage partners.

Special Jury Mention: I Made You, I Kill You (Romania/France), Alexandru Petru Badelita

In a remarkable cinematic diary, by turns touching and disturbing, Badelita looks back at his traumatic childhood growing up in rural Romania.



Red Light (Bulgaria/Croatia), Toma Waszarow

A bus stops at a village’s only intersection, where the traffic light is stuck on red. The driver refuses to move forward


Coin Operated (USA), Nicholas Arioli

Seventy years pass in the life of one naïve explorer.


Kayayo (Norway), Mari Bakke Riise

Elementary-school-age Bamunu works as a kayayo (a living shopping cart) at the markets in Accra thousands of miles from her village.


Lost Face (Australia/Canada), Sean Meehan

Based on a classic story by Jack London set in mid-1800s Alaska, a man makes a deal with a native chief in hopes to save his life.

ALEXIS AWARD FOR BEST EMERGING STUDENT FILMMAKER – The Alexis Award is selected by the Festival’s programming team and was created in honor of Alexis Echavarria, whose talent as a budding filmmaker and gift for inspiring excellence among his fellow students were cut short suddenly in 2005 at age 16.  The recipient received Final Cut Pro X courtesy of Apple.

Chebet (Kenya/USA), Tony Koros

A pregnant woman in the Kenyan highlands decides to take drastic action when she finds her husband passed out in front of their house yet again.

HP BRIDGING THE BORDERS AWARD PRESENTED BY CINEMA WITHOUT BORDERS – The award goes to a film that is most successful in bringing and connecting the people of our world closer together. The winner received an HP ZBook 17 Mobile Workstation valued at $3,000.

Pantheon (France), Ange-Régis Hounkpatin

Son of a Beninese immigrant, cut off from his roots, Solomon is about to donate his deceased father’s Voodoo costume to a museum when a young street-dancer reminds him of the ancestral soul.

YOUTH JURY AWARD – The winner received a $500 cash prize.  

Everybody Else is Taken (New Zealand), Jessica Grace Smith

Meet Mika, a girl who refuses to let her gender define her place in one of the harshest environments on Earth-the play-ground.

About Palm Springs International ShortFest

Designated by AMPAS, BAFTA and BIFA as an award-qualifying festival, and accredited by the International Short Film Conference, the Palm Springs International ShortFest & Short Film Market, one of the most acclaimed short film showcases in the world, will take place in Palm Springs on June 20-26.  Now in its twenty-third year, ShortFest will showcase 338 short films from 60 countries. The concurrent Short Film Market, the only one in North America, will feature a library of more than 4,200 films available to film buyers, industry and press.  The ShortFest Forum programs are a four-day schedule of seminars, panel discussions, roundtables and master classes staged free of charge for attending filmmakers.

The Palm Springs International Film Festival will be held January 4-15, 2018 and the Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala will be held January 2, 2018.

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Dear Irene Cho, I will miss your energy and passion; your optimism and joy; your kindness towards friends, colleagues, strangers, struggling filmmakers, or anyone who randomly crossed your path and needed a hand. My brothers and I have long considered you another sibling in our family. Our holiday photos – both western and eastern – have you among all the cousins, in-laws, and kids… in the snow, sun, opening presents, at large dinner gatherings, playing Monopoly, breaking out pomegranate seeds and teaching us all how to dance Gangnam style. Your friendship and loyalty meant a great deal to me: you were the loudest cheerleader when I experienced victories and you were always ready with sushi when I had disappointments. You had endless crazy ideas which always seemed impossible but you would will them into existence. (Like that time you called me and suggested that we host a brunch for newly elected mayor of LA, Eric Garcetti because “he is going to president one day.” We didn’t have enough time or funding, of course, only your desire to do it. So you did, and I followed.) You created The Daily Buzz from nothing and it survived on your steam in spite of many setbacks because you believed in a platform for emerging filmmakers from all nations. Most of all, you were a wonderful mother to your son, Ethan, a devoted wife to your husband, and a wonderful sibling and daughter to your family. We will all miss how your wonderful smile and energy lit up the room and our lives. Rest in peace, Irene.
~ Rose Kuo Remembers Irene Cho on Facebook

“You know, I was never a critic. I never considered myself as a film critic. I started doing short films, writing screenplays and then for awhile, for a few years I wrote some film theory, including some film criticism because I had to, but I was never… I never had the desire to be a film critic. I never envisioned myself as a film critic, but I did that at a period of my life when I thought I kind of needed to understand things about cinema, understand things about film theory, understand the world map of cinema, and writing about movies gave me that, and also the opportunity to meet filmmakers I admired.

“To me, it was the best possible film school. The way it changed my perspective I suppose is that I believe in this connection between theory and practice. I think that you also make movies with ideas and you need to have ideas about filmmaking to achieve whatever you’re trying to achieve through your movies, but then I started making features in 1986 — a while ago — and I left all that behind.

“For the last three decades I’ve been making movies, I’ve been living, I’ve been observing the world. You become a different person, so basically my perspective on the world in general is very different and I hope that with every movie I make a step forward. I kind of hope I’m a better person, and hopefully a better filmmaker and hopefully try to… It’s very hard for me to go back to a different time when I would have different values in my relationship to filmmaking. I had a stiffer notion of cinema.”
~ Olivier Assayas