Festival Winners

Festival Winners 2023

International Competition of Feature Films

Jury: John Stevenson (UK), Sébastien Sperer (France), Veronika Bednářová (Czech Republic) 

Best Feature Film for Grown-Ups

My Love Affair with Marriage

Director: Signe Baumanne
France, Latvia, United States, Luxembourg
Technique: 2D computer, drawing on paper, mixed media 
Producer: The Marriage Project Llc. (Signe Baumane, Sturgis Warner), Antevita Films (Raoul Nadalet), Studio Locomotive (Roberts Vinovskis)

Jury Statement:
This artistically and technically exemplary movie was chosen because we find it important that this film will change a lot of people and free a lot of souls.

Seven years in the making, this long anticipated feature film by independent Latvian-American director Signe Baumane was completed thanks to contributions from various cultural and grant institutions and almost 1,700 individual donors. The film premiered in New York in June 2022 and only a few days later, it was awarded Jury Distinction at the Annecy Festival.   From an early age, songs and fairytales have convinced Zelma that love will solve all her problems as long as she abides by societal expectations of how a girl should act. But as she grows older something doesn’t seem right with this concept of love: the more she tries to conform, the more her body resists.   The 107-minute-long story of inner female rebellion is remarkable in many respects. Baumane animated almost the entire film herself (she made 40,000 drawings using 662 pencils) and the film combines real settings with hand-drawn animation. ‘I like animating on paper because the pencil becomes an extension of my hand, and the impulse goes from my gut into my heart, through my shoulder into my fingertips and when I draw the line, I become one with the line, I become one with the pencil and that is an expression of what I feel and who I am. And so, pencil and paper inspire me in a way that no software, no computer program can,’ explains the director.


Best Feature Film for Children

Ernest and Celestine: A Trip to Gibberitia
(Ernest et Célestine: Le voyage en Charabie)

Director: Jean-Christophe Roger, Julien Chheng
Technique: 2D computer
Producer: Mélusine Productions (Stephan Roelants), Folivari (Didier Brunner, Damien Brunner)

Jury Statement:
It is a beautifully done, visually delightful, charming movie. It is also deeply moving and relevant for today. Its substantial message is not didactic but talks about the importance of fighting for freedom of expression and against restrictive, totalitarian regimes.

This film is a sequel to the excellent and artistically captivating feature film Ernest & Celestine (2012, directed by Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar and Benjamin Renner). It was directed by Julien Chheng and Jean-Christophe Roger, who send our favourite heroes – talkative mouse Celestine and pensive bear Ernest with a penchant for music – on a trip from their peaceful town to a peculiar distant land. The thrilling adventure revolves around Ernest’s broken violin. Celestine would like to have it repaired, but that can be done only in Ernest’s homeland of Gibberitia stretching across high mountains full of cable cars, narrow streets and romantic places. After arriving in Gibberitia, however, Ernest and Celestine find out that something’s wrong. Local law says that you can only sing and play one approved tone and there’s even a special police unit enforcing the law and even cracking down on singing birds! But Ernest and Celestine have no intention of following this nonsensical law, especially after they meet heroic members of the local musical resistance. Together, they try to remedy the injustice and make sure that the bear land is once again full of the music and joy it inspires. While fighting for a better future, Ernest reconciles with his father, with whom he had been in conflict for many years.


International Competition of Short Films

Jury: Kim Keukeleire (Belgium), Marta Pajek (Poland), David Súkup (Czech Republic)

Best Short Film

Ice Merchants

Director: João Gonzalez
Portugal/ France/ Great Britain, 2022, 14 min 33 s
Technique: 2D computer
Producer: COLA Animation, Royal College of Art, Wildstream

Jury Statement:
The story of a touching, intimate relationship between father and child dealing with loss and facing threat. It is shown with simplicity and gentleness and yet plays with our basic instincts as we await the fall.

This somewhat chilling but compelling story portrays not only the age-old strength of family bonds but also the current issue of global warming. At a dizzying altitude, the authors unfold an existential drama using a captivating artistic style and impressive animation. Although a father and his son lose the source of their income, in the end their downfall is not as hard as it may seem. 


Special Mention


Director: Priit Tender
Estonia, 2022, 14 min 7 s
Technique: puppet
Producer: Nukufilm

Jury Statement:
The author of this film brings us into a surreal and absurd world, which offers neither answers nor a way out, but somehow mysteriously leaves a tiny spark of hope.

This film filled with absurdity depicts the life of an ordinary person living in an extraordinary house. It presents a captivating mix of surreal dreamy motifs bordering an anxious and desperate nightmare as if reflecting the atmosphere of Eastern European peripheries where a routine represents a certain kind of assurance but at the same time, a threat. The mood of the film is excellently underlined by its puppet animation. 


International Competition of Student Films

Jury: Kim Keukeleire (Belgium), Marta Pajek (Poland), David Súkup (Czech Republic) 

Best Student Film

The House of Loss
(상실의 집)

Director: Jinkyu Jeon
South Korea / Japan, 2022, 9 min 47 s
Technique: 2D computer
Producer: Tokyo University of the Arts

Jury Statement:
This beautifully drawn film tackles a difficult subject with sensibility, compassion and understanding of the traumas of the old generation.

The elderly at the nursing home have their heads shaved. The protagonist who works there sees them but can’t read their expressions. However, all of a sudden he finds himself looking closely at their faces. This impressive graduate film from the Tokyo University of Arts evokes a slightly chilling sensation.


Special Mention

Soaked in

Director: Shiyu Tang
China, 2022, 4 min 15 s
Technique: stop-motion, drawing on paper, sand
Producer: East China Normal University

Jury Statement:
In this hypnotic film, the author sheds light onto a dark and painful time in China's history, telling the story with subtlety and force at the same time.

The young author of this film used an experimental method to address one of the topical and dark themes of contemporary Chinese society. Using the demanding animation of sand, she depicts the phenomenon of abortions forced on women by society and the state. As a result of this policy, Chinese society now must tackle gender imbalance. 


International Competition of Abstract and Non-narrative Animation

Jury: Mika Johnson (USA), Mirai Mizue (Japan), Sarina Nihei (Japan)

Best Abstract and Non-Narrative Animation

Sliver Cave
(Yin Mu)

Director: Caibei Cai
China, 2022, 14 min 24 s
Technique: stop-motion, mixed media 
Producer: Dongyu Culture Media

Jury Statement:
We were surprised with the possibility of not seeing anything specific, but being reminded of so many things by it at the same time. The piece is created with an unexpected approach. The combination between music and animation creates a mysterious atmosphere.

Stepping into a cave, vision fluctuates by the firelight. Left to right, top to bottom. The same goes for the screen in front of you. It is a borderless tunnel, presenting domestication and desire. The winner of Anifilm 2019 returns with a technically remarkable and original film.


International Competition of Music Videos

Jury: Mika Johnson (USA), Mirai Mizue (Japan), Sarina Nihei (Japan) 

Best Music Video

Lenka Dusilová: Biale konie

Director: Miloslav Frič
Czech Republic, 2022, 6 min 55 s
Technique: 3D computer
Producer: Univerzita Tomáše Bati ve Zlíně

Jury statement:
The approach of this music video creates an immersive atmosphere. The video gave us the feeling of an infinite void of space simultaneously being created or destroyed. We got absorbed into the unified musical and visual experience instantly.

Music video for the opening track of Lenka Dusilová’s latest album titled Řeka. Řeka (River) takes the listeners on a journey through time, space, bloodstreams, structure and their own history. River cleanses the silt of ballast and ripples the riverbed so that everything can sink down again and give people a new perspective to perceive things. Water becomes the driving force in all processes. It opens everything up, cleanses it, and eventually dissolves it.


International Competition of VR Films

Jury: Mika Johnson (USA), Mirai Mizue (Japan), Sarina Nihei (Japan)

Best VR Film

From the Main Square

Pedro Harres, Andre Correa
Germany, 19 min, 2022

Jury Statement:
In VR, we awarded a subtle but powerful piece which comments on our contemporary world, where loss surrounds us. We were impressed by this piece for its excellent use of animation, sound, and unique interactive quality.

At the beginning, several people gather around a fire. But if you look around, the space starts transforming into a fictitious square. It’s a busy intersection of stories, buildings, hopes and conflicts. Joyful encounters are followed by various class conflicts and the sequence of events keeps moving forward. This interactive VR project with satirical and political undertones invites the viewers to observe the rise and fall of a divided human society. 


Special Mention


Frieda Gustavs, Leo Erken

Netherlands, 10 min, 2022

Jury Statement:
We chose to award a special mention, as this piece takes us on a nonlinear tour of photographs from the first wave of feminism, all within a world that feels magical and filled with discoveries.

Walzer is an intuitive VR experience linking several women’s rights stories from the first wave of feminism taking place at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. While travelling through a virtual photographic landscape, you are guided by Walzer himself. This non-linear narrative project builds upon feelings rather than a concrete narrative and is based on thousands of personal photographs found at flea markets, internet marketplaces and in personal collections.


International Competition of Computer Games

Jury: Jakub Špiřík (Czech Republic), Zuzana Slavíková (Czech Republic), Gregorios Kythreotis (UK)


Best Visual Art


Obsidian Entertainment, USA, 2022

Jury Statement:
For a considerate, authentic and creative adaptation of sources and for a brilliant and original work with typography. 

16th-century narrative adventure set in Upper Bavaria, following Andreas Maler, a journeyman artist working in the bygone scriptorium of the Kiersau Abbey. While finishing his masterpiece, Andreas becomes entangled in a series of murders. Peasants, thieves, craftsmen, monks, nuns, nobles and even saints must be investigated and interrogated to expose the truth.


Best Game for Children

Lost in Play

Happy Juice Games, Israel, 2022

Jury Statement:
For an amazingly playful game design and overall visual style including animation, and for a natural accessibility for a wide range of players. 

Go on a feel-good adventure with a brother and sister as they explore dreamscapes and befriend magical creatures. Lost in their imagination, Toto and Gal must stick together and solve puzzles to journey back home. This whimsical puzzle adventure game will make you feel like you’re playing a cartoon.


Audience Award – Liberec Region Award

Four Souls of Coyote
(Kojot négy lelke)

Director: Áron Gauder
Hungary, 2023, 103 min
Technique: 2D computer, 3D computer
Producer: Cinemon Entertainment Kft. (Réka Temple)

A construction site somewhere on the North American plains below a towering hill. A sacred place where members of the young generation of native Americans gather to protest against the construction of an oil pipeline on the land of their ancestors. This time, Hungarian director Áron Gauder, whose acclaimed, uncompromising and original film The District! is known to Czech viewers from local distribution, turns to ancient North American myths of creation, reminding us of the place that humans hold among other creatures. In this accessibly stylised and superbly animated story of a Coyote who’s the only creature that wasn’t created, but rather born of a dream, we immerse ourselves deeply in the essence of humanity and the world we inhabit. The film tells a remarkable mythical tale and thanks to its rhythm and message, it can captivate a wide spectrum of audiences. It also brings hope in a time when global society is rattled by an environmental crisis. Accompanied by songs of native North Americans, it shows that the wisdom of their ancestors is more than topical today. ‘Surprisingly, these archaic myths depict the interrelations of the world quite similarly to modern scientific results. The former represent the only alternative to a capitalist society,’ adds Áron Gauder.