2019 ShortFest Awards and Jury


Audience Award winners will be announced at Closing Night, all others will be announced at the Filmmaker Awards Brunch.

Best of the Festival Award Greater Palm Springs CVB
$5,000 courtesy of the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau; Awarded by the International Jury to a student or non-student short which, do we dare say it again, is the best of the festival. The winner of this award may be eligible to submit their short to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Oscar® consideration. 
Winner: The Christmas Gift (Romania/Spain), Directed by Bogdan Muresanu

Best International Short
$2,000; Awarded by the International Jury to the best student or non-student short produced outside of North America. 
Winner: Guaxuma (Brazil/France), Directed by Nara Normande

Best North American Short
$1,000; Awarded by the International Jury to the best student or non-student short produced in North America.
Winner: King Wah (I Think I Love You) (USA), Directed by Horatio Baltz

Best U.S. ShortPanavision Logo
Camera Package courtesy of Panavision, valued at $60,000; Awarded by the International Jury to the best student or non-student short produced in the U.S.
Winner: Manila is Full of Men Named Boy (USA/Philippines), Directed by Andrew Stephen Lee

Best Animated Short
$2000; Awarded by the Animation Jury. The winner of this award may be eligible to submit their short to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Oscar® consideration.
Winner: Dani (USA), Directed by Lizzy Hogenson
Special Mention: Caterpillarplasty (Canada), Directed by David Barlow-Krelina

Best Live-Action Short Over 15 Minutes
$2000; Awarded by the International Jury. The winner of this award may be eligible to submit their short to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Oscar® consideration.
Winner: Summer Hit (Germany), Directed by Berthold Wahjudi

Best Live-Action Short 15 Minutes and Under
$2000; Awarded by the International Jury. The winner of this award may be eligible to submit their short to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Oscar® consideration.
Winner: Youth (Egypt/USA), Directed by Farida Zahran

Best Documentary Short
$2000; Awarded by the Documentary Jury. The winner of this award may be eligible to submit their short to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Oscar® consideration.
Winner: Inferno (Australia/Mexico), Directed by Patrick Fileti
Special Mention: Brother, Move On (Switzerland/India), Directed by Antshi von Moos

Vimeo Staff Pick AwardVimeo Logo
Selected by Vimeo curators; Shorts featured in competition are eligible for the Vimeo Staff Pick Award, which includes a $2,500 cash prize and, of course, a Vimeo Staff Pick.
Winner: The Culture (Norway), Directed by Ernst De Geer

 Bridging the Borders AwardGo Energistics
$2,500 courtesy of Go Energistics; Awarded by Cinema Without Borders to a film that is most successful in bridging and connecting the people of our world closer together.
Winner: Ahmed's Song (France), Directed by Foued Mansour
Special Mention: Green (USA), Directed by Suzanne Andrews Correa

Best Student Animated Short
$500; Awarded by the Animation Jury
Winner: Nosis (Germany), Directed by Vincenz Neuhaus
Special Mention: Wild Love (France), Directed by Paul Autric, Quentin Camus, Léa Georges, Maryka Laudet, Zoé Sottiaux, and Corentin Yvergniaux

Best Student Live-Action Short Over 15 Minutes
$500; Awarded by the Student Jury
Winner: A Little Break (France), Directed by Louise Groult
Special Mention: What Do You Know About the Water and the Moon (China), Directed by Jian Luo

Best Student Live-Action Short 15 Minutes and Under
$500; Awarded by the Student Jury
Winner: Night Swim (USA), Directed by Victoria Rivera
Special Mention: Sir Thomas (Israel), Directed by Raanan Fogel and Michael Amir

Best Student Documentary Short
$500; Awarded by the Documentary Jury
Winner: Seeds of Deceit (Netherlands), Directed by Miriam Guttmann

Future Filmmaker Award
$1,000; Awarded by the ShortFest programmers. Honors a non-student filmmaker whose work demonstrates that they are poised to take a significant next step in their career.
Winner: sometimes, i think about dying (USA), Directed by Stefanie Abel Horowitz
Special Mention: Magnetic Harvest (France), Directed by Marine Levéel

Best Emerging Student Filmmaker Award
$1000; Awarded by the ShortFest programmers. Honors a student filmmaker whose work and vision point to a bright, prospective career in cinema
Winner: Stone Age (Switzerland), Directed by Lou Rambert Preiss
Special Mention: Truck Slut (USA), Directed by Ryan Craver

Local Jury Award
$250; Awarded by the Local Jury to a short that, in the spirit of neighborliness, promotes understanding and acceptance between people.
Winner: Couper Was Here (USA), Director Nicole Foley
Winner: The Clinic (USA), Director Elivia Shaw

Youth Jury Awards
Awarded by ShortFest youth juries composed of local students interested in cinema and the arts. The Kids' Choice jury is composed of students aged 8-13 and the Young Cineastes jury is composed of students aged 14-17.
Kids' Choice; $250
Winner: All In Good Time (Ireland), Directed by Bonnie Dempsey
Special Mention: Goldie (USA), Directed by Emily Brundige

Young Cineastes; $250
Winner: Ale y Yose (USA), Directed by Erin Semine Kökdil
Special Mention: Something About Alex (Netherlands), Directed by Reinout Hellenthal


Best Animated Short
$250; Awarded to a student or non-student short which scored the highest on ballots submitted by the audience.
Winner: Between the Shadows (Portugal/France), Director Mónica Santos, Alice Guimarães

Best Documentary Short
$250; Awarded to a student or non-student short which scored the highest on ballots submitted by the audience.
Winner: Lowland Kids (USA), Director Sandra Winther

Best Live-Action Short
$250; Awarded to a student or non-student short which scored the highest on ballots submitted by the audience.
Winner: The Neighbors' Window (USA), Director Marshall Curry

Best Student Short
$250; Awarded to a student short which scored the highest on ballots submitted by the audience.
Winner: Tree #3 (USA), Director Omer Ben-Shachar 


Liane Cunje | Coming from a Film Studies and television development background, Liane spent a few years in the UK in cult film restoration and distribution with Arrow Video. Since 2017, she has been an International Programming Associate for TIFF. This year, Liane joined as Programmer for the Overlook Film Festival, sits on the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Board, and is preparing the launch of INIODYMUS, a genre film festival consultancy collective.

Claudette Godfrey is a Senior Film Programmer at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas. She is responsible for the curation of the short film slate as well as programming feature films, overseeing film submissions to the festival, and managing the organizational big picture for the event.

Mike Ott studied under Thom Andersen at Cal Arts where he received his MFA degree in Film/Video. His latest film, California Dreams (2017), premiered at Berlin Critics Week and in the U.S. at SXSW. Mike's films have won numerous awards including, an Audience Award at AFI Fest, a Gotham Award and an Independent Spirit Award. Mike lives part time between Los Angeles and Berlin with his wife Isolda Dychauk.

Jason Sondhi | Co-Founder of the influential website Short of the Week, for 12 years Jason Sondhi has curated shorts for international audiences on the web, via S/W, and as Vimeo's Lead Curator from 2011-2016. S/W recently welcomed Oscar-winning producer Michael Sugar, Cary Fukunaga & David Gordon Green as minority investors, as the company seeks to expand its mission to provide audience and opportunities to the next generation of innovative visual storytellers.

Animation Competition Jury

Kevin Harman is currently the Screenings Specialist focusing on film festivals and convention events for Netflix. He served as the Festival and Industry Relations Specialist for Chapman University's Dodge College of Film & Television for three years previously and has been on a number of juries including Gasparilla International Film Festival, Breckenridge Film Festival, and NDU International Film Festival amongst others. He has worked in various capacities at Sundance Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, LA Asian Pacific Film Festival, Outfest, and more. His background also includes stints in the animation department on Moral Orel and Robot Chicken.

Ana Souza | Born in Brazil, Ana Souza was partially raised in Amsterdam and now lives in Los Angeles. She works at Sundance as Manager of the Programming department and Associate Programmer on the features team. She programmed shorts and features for the LA Film Festival for several years before becoming Head Programmer of World Fiction for their last edition in 2018, and she was an Associate Programmer of Short Films for AFI FEST for three years. Her work has ranged from programming to filmmaker relations and event production in festivals including Outfest, the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, the LA Latino International Film Festival, Ambulante California, and NALIP's Latino Media Fest, among others. She has previously been a programming fellow for Film Independent's Project Involve and the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Industry Academy. She holds a BA from the University of Warwick and an MA from the University of Southern California.

Caleb Ward is the Acquisitions Coordinator for The Orchard working in Film and Television Distribution.  The Orchard is a two-time Academy Award Nominated distribution comoany responsible for releasing films such as Cartel Land, Thelma, BPM: Beats Per Minute, What We Do in the Shadows, and American Animals.  In addition to his work at The Orchard Caleb programs for several festivals including SeriesFest, Seattle International Film Festival, and Cucalorus.

Documentary Competition Jury

Michelle Hamada | Michelle brings her background in film studies to her role as Manager, Documentary & Scripted Programs at Tribeca Film Institute where she participates in the programming and reviewing process for both documentary and scripted funding and workshops. Before joining TFI, Michelle worked at SnagFilms, programming and marketing the company's site and platforms as well as working to build Indiewire's video presence. Michelle studied film and literature at Soka University of America and went on to pursue her M.A. in Cinema Studies at New York University.

Therese Hayes | A student of Far Eastern Civilization at the University of Washington in Seattle, as well as Indian art and cinema, Therese serves as a consultant on Indian films to several film festivals and institutions. She is on the board of Film Trust India in Dubai, and is co-curator for the Stuttgart Indian Film Festival.

Paul Sloop is entering his 17th year as the lead programmer of short films for the Oscar qualifying Cleveland International Film Festival.  In addition to that role, he is also the Director of Programming for Film Pittsburgh.  He lives in Mentor, OH with his wife, Sarah, and is the proud father of six daughters.

Student Live Action Over 15 Minutes Competition Jury

Maggie Downs is the marketing director at UC Riverside-Palm Desert and an award-winning writer based in Palm Springs, California. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Palm Springs Life, and McSweeney's, among other publications. Her memoir is forthcoming from Counterpoint Press in 2020, with excerpts anthologized in Lonely Planet's True Stories From the World's Best Writers and Best Women's Travel Writing.

Jesse Knight is a programmer for AFI FEST, the longest-running and most prestigious international film festival in Los Angeles. His festival contributions also include San Francisco International, Outfest Los Angeles, Palm Springs International, Frameline, and many others. He is a certified expert on Amy Adams, and lives with his two cats, Parker Pawsey and Catrick Swayze.

Bojana Sandic is a film festival programmer with an enthusiasm for emerging voices. She is Programming Director for New Filmmakers Los Angeles, and a Senior Programmer at the Newport Beach Film Festival, where she was formerly Director of Short Film Programming. Born in Belgrade and raised in Southern California, she has also worked with Lexus Short Films and LAIKA, and has served on film festival juries including those of Outfest and the New Orleans Film Festival.  

Student Live Action 15 Minutes and Under Competition Jury

Angela C. Lee is the Senior Manager of Artist Development at Film Independent where she oversees the selection process and curriculum for the Filmmaker Labs program, including the Screenwriting, Directing, Episodic, and Producing Labs and the Fast Track Finance Market.

Angela is also a Spirit Award nominated producer of Songs My Brothers Taught Me, writer/director Chloé Zhao's debut feature which premiered in competition at the Sundance Film Festival and Directors' Fortnight at Cannes.  She is a 2018 Women at Sundance Fellow, and has previously been supported by the Berlinale, Film Independent, IFP, PGA Diversity Workshop, Sundance Institute Creative Producing Lab and Fellowship and the Center for Asian American Media.

A native Chicagoan, Angela graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in Economics. 

Clementine Leger grew up in Choisy-le-roi, France until moving to Winter Park, Florida to attend Rollins College in 2008. She served as the Programming Coordinator for the Florida Film Festival from 2013-2015 and continues to assist in programming their Midnight Shorts Program. Clementine then managed the Slamdance Film Festival from 2015-2017, and is currently a Narrative Feature programmer for the festival. She also programs shorts at the Chattanooga film festival. Clementine has served on different festival jury's such as Los Angeles Film Festival and Festival du Nouveau Cinéma. She recently became the Festival Coordinator for the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California.

Avi Rodriguez has lived in the Coachella Valley since 1990, she currently works at the only four-year public university in the Coachella Valley, CSUSB Palm Desert. She loves being involved in the community and working with college students.

Cinema Without Borders Jury

Keely Badger is Executive Director of Neda Nobari Foundation (NNF), a philanthropic organization promoting social and environmental justice through arts and education. Based in Los Angeles, CA, Keely leads the foundation's strategic grantmaking, programs and community engagements, working with a range of nonprofit organizations in the local, national and international advocacy space. As a millennial expert and advocate on international human rights and development issues, Keely pioneers' durable solutions for underrepresented voices, communities and causes in alignment with the foundation's focus areas: Holistic Education, Innovative Arts, Transparent Media, Earth Advocacy, and Social Impact Cinema.

Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami | Iranian acclaimed filmmaker and two-time Sundance winner, Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami studied filmmaking (BA) and animation (MA) in Tehran Art University. Her researches on animated documentary resulted to writing a book, Animated Documentary, a New Way to Express, which was awarded as the best Persian book on film of the year 2010 by Iranian House of Cinema. She has made 6 documentaries and won more than 50 international awards. Her movies have been screened in more than 100 Festivals  around the world and broadcasted from more than 15 TV channels. Her main focus in her documentaries is liberating power of art. She makes documentaries about outsider artists in Iran, especially women who try to have a voice through art although they don't have any education in art and their life circumstances makes it very unlikely to be an artist. Rokhsareh has been a jury member at festivals like IDFA, One World Human Rights Festival, and Clermont-Ferrand.

Basil Khalil is an Academy-Award and Palme d'Or nominated writer and director, born and raised in Nazareth, to a Palestinian father and British-Irish mother. After studying for an MA at Screen Academy Scotland, Basil worked on television productions in London as well as a festivals & marketing consultant to independent filmmakers. Basil's Oscar nominated short film Ave Maria was described by the New York Times as "the Middle Eastern answer to Curb Your Enthusiasm." The film premiered in official competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 2015 before going on to screen at more than 250 film festivals and winning over 35 awards internationally, including the Cinema Without Borders 1st prize. Basil is a member of AMPAS and sits on the committees that nominate short films and feature animation.

Jim Miller is the Executive Director of Brave New Films, a position he has held for the past 11 years. Most recently he produced the documentary Making A Killing: Guns, Greed, and the NRA. In addition, he produced the docs Koch Brothers Exposed, War on Whistleblowers and Unmanned: America's Drone Wars. Jim is responsible for helping to form our partner coalitions to help spread our videos throughout the world.

Susan Morgan Cooper is a Director/Producer/ Writer and her credits include: To the Moon and Back, Documentary, Director/Producer/Writer 2016 (A cinematic act of love and courage' ... Broadway World) - Hopper [In his own words] Documentary, Producer/Writer 2013 ("I was moved to tears" Mike Medavoy) - Mulberry Child, Documentary, Director/Producer/Writer 2012 ('A powerful and touching film'... 31/2 stars. Roger Ebert) - An Unlikely Weapon [The Eddie Adams Story]..Documentary, Director/Producer/Writer 2008 ( 'A terrific documentary' The Hollywood Reporter) - Making Of Shadows in The Sun, Documentary, Director/Producer/Writer 2005 - Heroes And Sheroes. Television Series, Director/Producer/Writer 2000 Mirjana: One Girl's Journey, Documentary, Director/Producer/Writer 1997 - Stringers, Narrative Short Director/Producer/Writer 1990 - Hadley's Rebellion, Narrative Feature Associate Producer 1989.

Tom Papas has over 21 years' experience in creative design, project management and stakeholder engagement in arts and media organizations. His expertise in various aspects of festival management include administration, programming, graphic designing, marketing, event and media management and everything from formatting files and editing to writing print and online articles. Tom's years as festival director have been filled with highlights, introducing many screen and digital media initiatives that engaged thousands of people, from short film competitions to global film challenges that raise awareness, provoke and inspire social change. He combines film programming with other art forms and introduced numerous special focus strands from new media screenings to educational programs. In 2014, he founded the SciFi Film Festival and Veterans Film Festival in Australia and continues to oversee their development and artistic direction.

Adam Shepherd, President and Chief Executive Officer of Go Energistics (GoE), has been a champion for social awareness and strong supporter of numerous non-profit organizations dedicated to healing. As the founder of (GoE) a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), Adam is devoted to serving the men and women of our Nation's military, Veterans, and their families by supporting the health care systems that serve them. Adam not only witnessed but experienced first-hand, how people all over the world are eager to connect beyond their borders and despite their [perceived]differences. Continually moved by the spirit of people, Adam actively seeks out opportunities to encourage and enact positive social awareness and change. Adam's appreciation for the arts, especially cinema and its power to globally unite people, drives him to serve a higher purpose that goes beyond traditional borders. Adam's philosophy and core belief that each of us can have a positive impact in our world are echoed through GoE's sponsorship of the Bridging the Borders Award; which recognizes and highlights those who are most successful in bringing people of our world closer together through film.

Bijan Tehrani, a film director, film critic and writer, works as Editor in Chief of Cinema Without Borders while teaching Language & History of film workshops and organizes film screening events and festivals. Bijan has won several awards in international film festivals and book fairs for his short films and children's books. For the tenth anniversary of Cinema Without Borders, Bijan has received Ambassador of International Cinema Award from South east European Film Festival, Friend of the Festival Award from Polish Film Festival, LA and Gateway to International Cinema Award from Hungarian Film festival. Bijan Tehrani is recently working on a book of his memoir from Cinema in Iran and a docufiction based on 19th century photographs by Sevruguin, the Russian photographer.

Local Jury

Patricia Garza-Elsperger | Producer

Denise Goolsby has been the Manager of the City of Palm Springs' Office of Neighborhoods since 2016, working as a liaison with the City's 47 Organized Neighborhoods. She worked 13 years as a reporter with The Desert Sun, covering beats including breaking news, veterans' issues, and most recently, worked as the newspaper's history and profiles columnist before coming to the City. She still writes occasional columns for The Desert Sun.

Sergio Pinedo | I'm 33, an Aries and I like long walks to the bank.

Joseph "Woody" Woodson, a Cambridge, Mass. transplant, is a 16+ year resident of Palm Springs, CA. He enjoys driving the bus for Sunline Transit Agency. When he's not working he loves to play golf and spend time with his family.


Leilani Balderas is entering her senior year at Palm Desert High School and is the only returning member of the Young Cineastes Youth jury from last summer, ShortFest 2018. She is excited to lead this new group in this years festival.

Graham Bennett has been acting since he was eight. He started with stage work but soon started acting in front of a camera as well. He has won multiple awards both on stage and on screen, including Best Actor and Best Short overall at the Westflix film festival, top 10 finishes at the Fullerton theater fest, a Golden Gate Award, and screenings at Mill Valley, Tower of Youth, and International Film Festival Hollywood, among others.  Stage credits include Tiny Tim in ACT's A Christmas Carol in San Francisco, Young Hansel in Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Boxcar Theater, Jason in Falsettos, Francis Nurse in The Crucible, and roles in most of the major Shakespeare plays with SF Shakes.  Graham has sung for most of his life with groups like the Ragazzi Boys Chorus, in multiple musicals including the Drowsy Chaperone, and recently with his school choir on stage at Carnegie Hall. Graham has also written, directed and filmed his own shorts with his personal production company, Color House.  Now as a high school junior, he is aiming for a spot at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London for college. His dream is to act in major motion pictures and to have fun doing it.

Marina Castillo | I'm Marina. I go to San Jacinto High school and have a passion for film. I believe film is an engine that sparks change and holds the strong power of influence

Sedona Cruz is a filmmaker from Palm Springs, CA, and the Cathedral City High School Digital Arts Technology Academy. Her passion for filmmaking has stemmed from such classic Star Wars, Alien, and Back to the Future franchises that has inspired her to be who she is today. With this drive, she has been led to apply and attend the 2019 California State Summer School for the Arts, a summer program for talented artists where students experience the college lifestyle at the California Institute of the Arts. Her love for film is inspired by the people and films she has seen, and her biggest pursuit in life as a filmmaker is to enrich the souls of others throughout her art.

Daniel Lorette | Hey I'm Daniel! I enjoy hanging with friends, family, and making lasting memories! I am 16 years old and going into Junior at Yucca Valley High School. I hope to pursue my dreams and someday become a filmmaker!   

Stefan Pejovic | My name is Stefan Pejovic. In kindergarten my class had to take pictures holding signs that said what we wanted to be when we grew up, and mine read "movie-maker." I am the president of the film club at my school, Palm Desert High School, where we love to talk about both the technical and thematic aspects of film that make it so special as an artistic medium. Recipient of a 2017 Digicom X award, volunteering experience with the 2018 Palm Springs Film Festival, and plenty of experience filming school promotional videos and graduation ceremonies.

Zach Posa | I am interested in entering the film industry and hope to gain some experience by volunteering. I am sixteen years old and I go to Palm Springs High School

2019 ShortFest Archive