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Palm Springs Shortfest Gives ‘Matriochkas’ Its Top Short-Film Award

The French and Belgian film is one of five movies that can qualify for the Oscars because of Palm Springs awards


“Matriochkas,” a French and Belgian short-film directed by Bérangère Mc Neese, has been named the best film of the 2020 Palm Springs International Shortfest, which announced its winners on Sunday. The film, about the sexual awakening of a 16-year-old girl over the course of a summer, is one of five films that can qualify for the Academy Awards in the short-film categories because of jury awards in Palm Springs.

The other Oscar-qualifying winners are Josephine Lohoar Self’s “The Fabric of You,” which was named best animated short; Savanah Leaf and Taylor Russell’s “The Heart Still Hums,” best documentary short; Inbar Horesh’s “Birth Right,” best live-action short over 15 minutes; and Laurynas Bareisa’s “Dummy,” best live-action short 15 minutes and under.

A total of 332 short films were part of the official selection at the festival, which did not physically take place this year because of the coronavirus. A number of the films chosen for the festival did screen online during the run of Shortfest, from June 16 through June 22.

Other winners included the student shorts “Still Working” and “Heading South”; “The Tongues” and “My Hero,” which won in the international and U.S. categories, respectively; “The Present,” which won the GoE Bridging the Borders Award; and “Daughter,” an Oscar nominee earlier this year in the Best Animated Short category.

The winners received a total of $25,000 in prizes, and were chosen by a variety of juries made up of filmmakers, festival programmers and journalists. (Full disclosure: I was a member of one of the juries.)

The full list of winners and special mentions:

Oscar-qualifying awards:

Greater Palm Springs CVB Best of the Festival Award: “Matriochkas,” Bérangère Mc Neese
Special Mention (for Creative Vision): “Stay Awake, Be Ready,” Pham Thien An
Special Mention (for Direction): “Mizaru,” Sudarshan Suresh

Best Animated Short: “The Fabric of You,” Josephine Lohoar Self
Special Mention: “SH_T Happens,” Michaela Mihalyi and David Stumpf

Best Documentary Short: “The Heart Still Hums,” Savanah Leaf and Taylor Russell
Special Mentions: “Dead Woman’s Pass,” Lali Houghton; “Huntsville Station,” Jamie Meltzer and Chris Filippone

Best Live-Action Short Over 15 Minutes: “Birth Right,” Inbar Horesh
Special Mention: “Henet Ward,” Morad Mostafa

Best Live-Action Short 15 Minutes and Under: “Dummy,” Laurynas Bareisa
Special Mention: “The Midsummer’s Voice,” Yudi Zhang

Student Short Awards:

Best Student Animated Short: “Daughter,” Daria Kashcheeva
Special Mention: “SH_T Happens,” Michaela Mihalyi and David Stumpf

Best Student Documentary Short: “For Your Sake,” Ronja Hemm
Special Mention: “All Cats Are Grey in the Dark,” Lasse Linder

Best Student International Short: “Still Working,” Julietta Korbel
Special Mention: “22:47 Linie 34,” Michael Karrer

Best Student U.S. Short: “Heading South,” Yuan Yuan
Special Mention: “Tape,” Jojo Erholtz

Special Jury Awards:

Best International Short: “The Tongues,” Marja Bål Nango and Ingir Bål
Special Mention: “Funfair,” Kaveh Mazaheri

Best U.S. Short: “My Hero,” by Logan Jackson
Special Mention: “Pharmacopeia,” Tania Taiwo

GoE Bridging the Borders Award: “The Present,” Farah Nabulsi
Special Mention: “Container,” Daphne Maziariaki

Local Jury Award: “Welcome Strangers,” Dia Sokol Savage
Special Mention: “Sundays at the Triple Nickel,” Jess Colquhoun

Vimeo Staff Pick Award: “Give Up the Ghost,” Zain Duraie

Young Cineastes Award: “Colette,” Anthony Giacchino
Special Mention: “Gold Plated,” Chloé Léonil

Best Comedy Short: “Viktor on the Moon,” Christian Arhoff
Special Mention (for Direction): “Blocks,” Bridget Moloney

Best LGBTQ+ Short: “Kama’aina,” Kimi Howl Lee
Special Mention: “La Gloria,” Mary Evangelista

Best Midnight Short: “The Sleepwalkers,” Radhika Apte
Special Mention: “The Nights Alone,” Olivier Strauss