April 11, 2022


Aspen, CO (April 11, 2022) In an awards presentation held on Sunday, April 10, Aspen Film, the year-round film arts, and education organization, announced the winning films from its 31st Aspen Shortsfest which was held April 5-10, 2022. One of only four Oscar®-qualifying festivals in the US strictly dedicated to short films, Aspen Shortsfest is recognized as one of the world’s premier short film festivals. Close to 3,000 films were submitted in consideration for the 2022 edition of Shortsfest, which presented 77 films in competition.

Aspen Film’s Shortsfest Competition Jury awarded films in six categories – Animation, Comedy, Documentary, Drama, Short Short (films under 10 minutes in length), and Student Short. Winning films in all but the Student Short category become qualified for the 2023 Academy Awards®. There are also awards presented by a Youth Jury, comprised of students primarily from the Aspen area but this year included students from Denver and New York, as well as the Ellen Jury who present an award in honor of Aspen Films founder and longtime executive director, Ellen Kohner Hunt, who passed away in January 2021, and the Audience Award, voted on by Shortsfest viewers. For the fifth year, Aspen Film is proud to be able to present the Vimeo Staff Pick Award, a live iteration of the platform’s Staff Pick laurel. The winning film receives a $2,500 cash prize and will become available for viewing worldwide on the Vimeo Staff Pick channel after the festival on Monday, April 11.

This year’s jury includes three top jurors: Producer Mimi Polk Gitlin, a seasoned film/TV producer and finance executive who produced THELMA AND LOUISE, which was nominated for 5 Academy Awards® and 5 Golden Globes and won the Oscar® and Golden Globe for Best Screenplay. Another juror, film and animation consultant Michael Fukushima, produced or co-produced over 200 works, including several Oscar® nominations during his 26 years at the National Film Board of Canada. Fukushima recently produced the 2022 nominee, AFFAIRS OF THE ART. Lastly, Los Angeles-based Valerie Steinberg is a film producer whose KARMALINK opened Venice Film Critics’ Week 2021, and whose award-winning shorts HAIR WOLF and COFFEE SHOP NAMES have been recent Shortsfest selections.

On Tuesday, April 12, these award-winning films will be showcased in a program at The Arts Campus at Willets (TACAW) at 7 pm. Visit for tickets and full details.

Aspen Film’s 2022 programming will continue with Summer of Cinema offerings and their 43rd Filmfest which will run September 27-October 2, 2022, at the Wheeler Opera House. Shortsfest 2023 submissions will open in mid-July 2022. For updated information, please visit


Shortsfest award winners will receive cash prizes of $1250 or $2500, in the following categories.



FREEDOM SWIMMER directed by Olivia Martin-Mcguire (Australia/France) – Winner

Jury: “Strong and timely story about political turmoil, and generational handing of struggle against oppression. An elegant marriage between animation and live action.”

THE SHAMAN’S APPRENTICE directed by Zacharias Kunuk (Canada) – Special Mention

Jury: “For its mastery of stop-motion animation, and the importance of sharing Inuit stories with the world.”

A BRIEF HISTORY OF US directed by Etgar Keret (Poland) – Special Mention

Jury: “For taking us on a compelling journey through life, from new love humor to middle-aged darkness. Powerful yet seemingly artistic simplicity.”



F^¢K ‘€M R!GHT B@¢K directed by Harris Doran (US) – Winner

Jury: “Great title, Super cast, super funny, very satisfying story about workplace abuse, drug testing, and the clever discovery of how to get revenge legally!”

THE DIAMOND directed by Vedran Rupic (SWEDEN) – Special Mention

Jury: “A real audience pleaser, totally unique, out-of-the-box humor, commentary on how friendship stands alone, and that friendship is wealth.”

WE SHOULD GET DINNER! directed by Eliza Jiménez Cossio, Lexi Tannenholtz (US) – Special Mention

Jury: “An engaging commentary on family connection, with great rapport between the actors and a clever ending.”



VIDEO VISIT directed by Malika Zouhali-Worrall (US) – Winner

Jury: “For its excellence in storytelling that is at once evocative, intimate, and systemic, and its contribution to exposing the rot in the American prison system by presenting one institution’s noble efforts to work towards positive change.”

NUISANCE BEAR directed by Jack Weisman, Gabriela Osio Vanden (Canada) – Special Mention

Jury: “For its innovative technique in both cinematography and sound, compelling storytelling about the challenges we face in balancing conservation and civil protection, and for its impressive access to the point of view of animals.”

THE VICTORIAS directed by Ethan Fuirst (US) – Special Mention

Jury: “For its fascinating approach underscoring our power for collective imagination, its unique portrayal of aspiring actresses dedicated to their craft, and for its contribution to ensuring our history remembers not just the rich and powerful, but even ordinary individuals.”



OUSMANE directed by Jorge Camarotti (Canada) – Winner

Jury: “A very moving, refreshing, and original immigrant story setting a great example of family and in particular male kindness all while subverting stereotypical prejudices.”

SOME STILL SEARCH directed by Nesaru Tchaas (US) – Special Mention

Jury: “Very important story told with great compassion, authenticity, and restraint exposing the horrific consequences of the tearing apart of families by ICE.”

DEAR MAMA directed by Winter Dunn (US) – Special Mention

Jury: “A heartfelt story with great performances asking the question of how we each handle grief and showing the importance of communication and connection during times of loss.”



STRANGER THAN ROTTERDAM WITH SARA DRIVER directed by Lewie Kloster, Noah Kloster (US) – Winner

Jury: “This is a great storyteller telling a great story, where limited and eccentric animation helps lift an absurd and eccentric story.”

DEERWOODS DEATHTRAP directed by JAMES P GANNON (US) – Special Mention

Jury: “A very funny telling of a family tragedy, full of twists and turns, that turned out to not be entirely tragic.”

AUNTIE directed by Fawzia Mirza (US) – Special Mention

Jury: “With a script that is modern and young, and that accurately reflects generational dissonance, we can all embrace our inner auntie.”



EGÚNGÚN (MASQUERADE) directed by Olive Nwosu (Nigeria/UK) – Winner

Jury: “For its delicate handling of complex emotions related to returning to one’s homeland after having created a new life for oneself elsewhere, for its deft use of camera movement, sound design, and editing demonstrating a strong capacity for collaboration, and for the kinetic tension between its two beautifully cast female lead characters.”

CHARLOTTE directed by Zach Dorn (US) – Special Mention

Jury: “For its impressive artistry, ingenious faux-documentary approach, and moving story about dedication to one’s artistic ambitions against all odds,”

SOFT ANIMALS directed by Renee Zhan (UK/US) – Special Mention

Jury: “For its hilarious juxtaposition between hallucinatory hand-drawn animation and self-conscious verité voiceover dialogue, resulting in an evocative statement about the things we don’t say to each other.”

– FREEDOM SWIMMER directed by Olivia Martin-Mcguire (Australia/France) – Winner

Jury: “Looking to the past to offer insight into the present, this poetically animated documentary interweaves hand-drawn animation with archival historical footage. In this story of escape, a grandfather tells about his perilous swim from China to Hong Kong, as he encourages his granddaughter in her own quest for freedom at a dangerous time in history.”

– THE DIAMOND directed by Vedran Rupic (Sweden) – Winner

THE VICTORIAS directed by Ethan Fuirst (US) – Winner

Megan Orestky, Senior Curator at Vimeo states: “The recipient of the 2022 Vimeo Staff Pick Award presents a compelling parallel between how history has changed for immigrant families since the early 20th century, and how it has unfortunately stayed the same. From a unique angle, it demonstrates the value of placing ourselves in the shoes of our neighbor and the power of empathy and understanding in trying times.”



ENJOY directed by Saul Abraham (UK) – Winner

Youth Jury: “We believe our winning film stood out due to its relevance and resonance across generations. With recent events, and in our formative years as young adults we have each endured our own challenges and gained our own stories from it. In these difficult times, we have found that our pillars of support may come from unexpected mediums. From pre-production, story and character development, cinematography and the way it was tied together in post allowed for a very cohesive film. Various elements of design were considered and meticulously used to drive the story in an interesting visual way. The imagery of the cleansing water, paired with the sound design helps to create a film that is captivating for audiences. In addition, the use of colors which displayed color theory and emotion mainly through the costume design added to the brilliant selections made by the director.”


WARSHA directed by Dania Bdeir (Lebanon/France) – Special Mention

Youth Jury: “This year’s films did an excellent job of tackling large issues that exist in the world, such as identity, climate, family relationships, and more. This [film] demonstrated the themes that were prevalent throughout this festival such as freedom and self-expression. Most of its impact came from showing the courage required to be one’s true self.”



The 31st Aspen Shortsfest is made possible by the generous support of Alpine Bank, Aspen Public Radio, The Aspen Times, and The Gant. Aspen Shortsfest is also charitably underwritten by grants from AspenOUT, Colorado Creative Industries, Colorado Office of Film, Television & Media, Melinda Goldrich, National Endowment for the Arts, Les Dames d’Aspen, Wheeler Opera House (City of Aspen) Arts Grant Program.

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