Palm Springs ShortFest 2023 Gives ‘The Old Young Crow’ Top Honors

The short film is one of five festival entries that now qualify for the 2024 Academy Awards

The Old Young Crow (Japan_USA), Directed by Liam LoPinto
The Old Young Crow (Japan_USA), Directed by Liam LoPinto

“The Old Young Crow,” an American/Japanese short film directed by Liam LoPinto, took top honors at the Palm Springs International ShortFest, winning the Best of the Festival Award along with a cash prize of $5,000, the festival announced Sunday.

The win makes LoPinto’s film one of five at the festival that now qualify for the 2024 Academy Awards.

Other Oscars-qualifying short films from the Palm Springs ShortFest include: Lithuania’s “Way Better,” the Best Animated Short winner from director Skirmanta Jakaitė; China’s “Will You Look at Me,” director Shuli Huang’s Best Documentary Short winner; the French entry “Sèt Lam,” directed by Vincent Fontano, won Best Live Action Short over 15 minutes; and Spain’s “Mystic Tiger,” winner of Best Live Action Short under 15 minutes by director Marc Martínez.

The winners received a total of $25,000 in prizes in categories judged by industry luminaries, festival organizers and journalists. Read on for the complete list of winners.

Oscar Qualifying Awards

Best of the Festival Award – Winner received $5,000 cash prize courtesy of Harold Matzner, Palm Springs International Film Society’s Immediate Past Chairman

Jury: Angel An (VP of Acquisitions, Roadside Attractions); Kiva Reardon (Vice President of Film, PASTEL); Clay Pruitt (Head of Programming, Impact Distribution, Impact Distribution, Seed&Spark)

Winner:  The Old Young Crow (Japan/USA), Directed by Liam LoPinto

Special Mention:  48 Hours (Iran), Directed by Azadeh MoussaviSpecial Mention:  Away (Hungary/Belgium/Portugal), Directed by Ruslan Fedotow

Best Animated Short – Winner received a $1,000 cash prize.

Jury: Geoff Marslett (Animator/Director/Writer/Producer); Irene Soriano (Writer/Film Curator); Gabe Van Amburgh (Film Programmer and Senior Manager, SXSW)

Winner:  Way Better (Lithuania), Directed by Skirmanta Jakaitė

Special Mention:  Ashkaska (Spain/Argentina), Directed by Lara Maltz
Special Mention:  Eeva (Croatia/Estonia), Directed by Lucija Mrzljak and Morten Tšinakov

Best Documentary Short – Winner received a $1,000 cash prize.

Jury: Eugene Yi (Director, “Free Chol Soo Lee”); Maria Santos (Funds Program Officer, International Documentary Association); Opal H. Bennett (Producer, American Documentary | POV Shorts)

Winner:  Will You Look At Me (China), Directed by Shuli Huang

Special Mention:  Birdsong (UK/Laos), Directed by Omi Zola Gupta and Sparsh Ahuja

Best Live-Action Short Over 15 Minutes – Winner received a $1,000 cash prize.

Jury: Colin West (Writer/Director, Linoleum); Kate Mason (Filmmaker); Rosa Morales (Artist Development Associate Manager: Narrative Programs, SFFilm)

Winner:  Sèt Lam (France), Directed by Vincent Fontano

Special Mention for Performance:  Brenda Cullerton in Endless Sea (USA), Directed by Sam Shainberg
Special Mention:  The Newt Congress (Switzerland/Germany), Directed by Matthias Sahil and Immanuel Esser

Best Live-Action Short 15 Minutes and Under – Winner received a $1,000 cash prize.

Jury: Albert Lee (Motion Picture Literary Agent, CAA); Liz Cardenas (Producer / Filmmaker, Ten to the Six Pictures); Lizzie Shapiro (Producer, The Space Program)

Winner:  Mystic Tiger (Spain), Directed by Marc Martínez

Special Mentions:  I Have No Legs, and I Must Run (China), Directed by Yue Li

Student Short Awards:

Best Student Animated Short & Best Student International Short – Each winner received a $1,000 cash prize.

Jury: Christine Davila (Head of Development and Production, Ojalá); Florentina Almonte (Content Acquisitions Executive at Shorts TV International); Lauren Lopez de Victoria (Film Producer)

Student Animated Short

Winner:  The Rainbow Dung Beetle (USA), Directed by Ellen Moway and Cole Dupzyk

Student International Short

Winner:  A Dead Marriage (Poland), Directed by Michel Toczek

Special Mention:  Between Her (Israel), Directed by Bar Cohen

Best Student U.S. Short & Best Student Documentary Short – Winner received a $1,000 cash prize.

Jury: Parker Hill (Writer/Director, Cusp); Francis Román (Senior Film & TV Festival Programming Manager and Leads, Shorts Programming at SXSW); Lauren Shelton (Ley Line Film Group)

Student U.S. Short

Winner:  SULAM (Ladder) (USA), Directed by Noam Argov

Special Mention:  Invasive Species (USA), Directed by Annie Ning

Student Documentary Short

 Winner:  Kaamoksen Valossa (Finland), Directed by Niko Väistö

Special Mention:  Still Waters (USA), Directed by Aurora Brachman

Special Jury Awards:

Best International Short – Winner received a $1,000 cash prize.

Jury: Matthew Takata (Assistant Director, Feature Film Program’s international work at the Sundance Institute); Valerie Castillo-Martinez (Filmmaker); Ugo Obioha (Agent, UTA)

Winner:  Soleil de nuit (Canada), Directed by Fernando López and Maria Camila Arias

Special Mention:  Infantry (Spain), Directed by Marc Martínez
Special Mention:  Nocturnal Burger (India/USA), Directed by Reema Maya

Best U.S. Short – Winner received a $1,000 cash prize.

Jury: Aitch Alberto (Writer/Director and NYT Best-Selling Author); Arbi Pedrossian (VP, 20th Digital Studio); Kristen Lopez (Film Editor, The Wrap)  

Winner:  Closing Dynasty (USA), Directed by Lloyd Lee Choi

Best Comedy Short – Winner received a $1,000 cash prize.

Jury: Fawzia Mirza (Filmmaker, Signature Move); Katie White (Producer, Best Summer Ever); Kyle Jaeger (Manager, 2AM)

Winner:  Flail (USA), Directed by Ben Gauthier

Special Mention:  Pennies From Heaven (USA), Directed by Sandy Hong

Best LGBT+ Short – Winners each received a $500 cash prize.

Jury: Apoorva Charan (Producer, Joyland); Andrew Carlberg (Producer, Skin); Sam Feder (Filmmaker)

Winner:  Blond Night (Canada), Directed by Gabrielle Demers

Winner:  Burial of Life as a Young Girl (France), Directed by Maïté Sonnet

Special Mention:  An Avocado Pit (Portugal), Directed by Ary Zara

Best Midnight Short – Winner received a $1,000 cash prize.

Jury: Nick Romano (Creative Executive, 18hz); Sarah Lash (Senior Director, Acquisitions at Condé Nast Entertainment); Coral Wright (Director for The Spectacle TV Team at Netflix)

Winner:  Nian (USA), Directed by Michelle Krusiec

Special Mention:  Animal Transport (Argentina), Directed by Iván Bustinduy
Special Mention for Performance:  Raphaël Quenard in Meantime (France), Directed by Guillaume Scaillet

Mozaik Bridging the Borders Award – Winner received a $1,500 cash prize.

Jury: Keely Badger; Arameh Etemadi; Vladek Juszkiewicz; Deborah Kolar; Vera Mijojlić; Chale Nafus; Ramin Niami; Bijan Tehrani.

Winner:  Fata Morgana (Germany/Syria), Directed by Daood Alabdulaa

Special Mention:  Border Conversations (Germany), Directed by Jonathan Brunner
Special Mention:  I See Them Bloom (Spain), Directed by Nikita Gibalenko
Special Mention:  The Kidnapping of the Bride (Germany), Directed by Sophia Mocorrea

Local Jury Award – Winner received a $1,000 cash prize.  

Jury:  Diana Acosta; Marcos Garcia; Joan Heeter; Athalie LaPamuk; Kathy Kaye Retardo

Winner:  Under G-d (USA), Directed by Paula Eiselt

Special Mention:  Teacups (Australia/Ireland), Directed by Alec Green and Finbar Watson

Young Cineastes Award – Winner received a $1,000 cash prize.

Winner:  We Were Meant To (USA), Directed by Tari Wariebi

Special Mention:  Amara and Ry’Shauna (USA), Directed by Kate Cohen and A.D. Freese
Special Mention:  Ivalu (Greenland/Denmark), Directed by Anders Walter and Pipaluk K Jørgensen

Kids’ Choice Award – Winners each received a $500 cash prize.

Winner:  Canary (Canada), Directed by Pierre-Hugues Dallaire and Benoit Therriault

Winner:  Mushka (USA), Directed by Andreas Deja