2022 Palm Springs International ShortFest Announces Festival Winners


Sierra Receives Best of the Festival; The Cave, The Sentence of Michael Thompson, Further and Further Away and The Right Words Receive Top Jury Awards  

PALM SPRINGS, CA (June 26, 2022) - The 2022 Palm Springs International ShortFest announced its Festival juried and audience award winners as part of Closing Night at the Camelot Theatres (Palm Springs Cultural Center). Awards and cash prizes worth $25,000 including five Academy Award® qualifying awards were presented to the winners selected from the 300 shorts films that were part of the Official Selection. 

Oscar®Qualifying Awards: 

The winner of these awards may be eligible to submit their short to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Oscar® consideration.  

Visit Greater Palm Springs Best of the Festival Award - Winner received $5,000 cash prize courtesy of the Visit Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau.  

Jury: Anna Camp (Actress/Producer - Jerry & Marge Go Large); K.D. Dávila (Writer/Director - Please Hold); Patrick Gomez (Editor in Chief - Entertainment Weekly). 

  • Winner: Sierra (Estonia), Directed by Sander Joon. A father and his son are losing the folkrace. In order to win, a boy turns himself into a car tire. Loosely inspired by the director's childhood, Sierra pulls us into the surreal car racing world.
  • Special Mention: The Great Abandonment (India/UK), Directed by Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya. As the world’s harshest Covid lockdown is announced in India, 1.3 billion people are commanded to stay home, at merely four hours’ notice. As millions of migrant laborers walk home and the Prime Minister vaingloriously promises a better future nightly, some wonder: might this be time for revolution?
  • Special Mention: The Voice Actress (Japan/USA), Directed by Anna Takayama. Kingyo, a veteran voice actress working in Tokyo, possesses a unique ability to see the soul in all things, living and inanimate. As the voice acting world changes, Kingyo must find a way to reconcile her way of living with her profession.

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

Jury: Bryan Dimas (Associate Producer, Development at Warner Bros. Animation); Linda Jin (Director, Content - Sales and Distribution at BRON Media); Sheryl Santacruz (Outfest/Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival). 

  • Winner: The Cave (South Korea), Directed by Kim Jinman, Chon Jiyoung. A boy longs for affection from his distant fisherman father. When he dies, the boy's grief turns into an obsession with his father's belongings. In an imaginary cave, he curses those relatives who took items of his late father’s. The curse begins to eat the boy's soul…
  • Special Mention: The Originals (USA), Directed by Cristina Costantini, Alfie Kim Koetter. ​​Matty Square Ruggiero and his childhood friends, the Union Street Boys, tell their story of growing up in South Brooklyn, where money was tight but friendships were tighter.

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

Jury: Isabel Bethencourt (Filmmaker - CUSP); Adam Neuhas (Senior Director of Development at ESPN Films/ESPN+); Ben Proudfoot (Director - The Queen of Basketball

  • Winner: The Sentence of Michael Thompson (USA), Directed by Kyle Thrash, Haley Elizabeth Anderson. Michael Thompson is the longest serving nonviolent offender in the history of Michigan. After 25 years, three appeals and two denied applications for clemency, it seems that Michael may finally have a chance at freedom.
  • Special Mention: Haulout (UK), Directed by Evgenia Arbugaeva, Maxim Arbugaev. A man is waiting in his hut in the desolate expanse of the Russian Arctic. He is holding out in order to observe a natural event that occurs here, every year. But ocean warming is taking its toll.

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

Jury: Giulia Caruso (Writer/Producer - Holy Emy); Marissa Frobes (Media Finance Executive at CAA); Mike Plante (Senior Programmer for Short Film at the Sundance Film Festival) 

  • Winner: Further and Further Away (Cambodia), Directed by Polen Ly. A young indigenous Bunong woman and her older brother spend one last day in their rural village in northeastern Cambodia, before an impending move to the capital city in search of a more prosperous life. While her brother is excited for the move, she feels a quiet desire to return to their long-gone village that was lost to the development of a nearby hydroelectric dam a few years earlier.
  • Special Mention: Makassar is a City for Football Fans (Indonesia/France), Directed by Khozy Rizal. In a city where the men are crazy about football, Akbar is compelled to pretend he loves the game to avoid being rejected by his new college friends.

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

Jury: Bao Nguyen (Director, Be Water); Rachel Rosen (Film Programmer at The New York Film Festival); Rebecca Windsor (VP of Warner Bros. Television Workshop)

  • Winner: The Right Words (France), Directed by Adrian Moyse Dullin. Kenza, 15, and her little brother Madhi, 13, regularly humiliate one another. On the bus, Kenza puts her naive and romantic little brother to the test: profess his love for Jada, a girl that Madhi loves but who does not know he exists.
  • Special Mentions: Madhu (India), Directed by Tanmay Chowdhary, Tanvi Chowdhary. Two female childhood friends, now adults, reunite at a festival for Durga Puja. Over the course of the night and rides, snacks and glances, their relationship is charged with an energy that lasts years.

Student Short Awards:   

Best Student Animated Short & Best Student Documentary Short - Each winner received a $500 cash prize. 

Jury: Chase Joynt (Director, Framing Agnes); Ariel Richter (Manager in Documentary Department at  Endeavor Content); Pacho Velez (Filmmaker, Searchers

Student Animated Short 

  • Winner: The Seine’s Tears (France), Directed by Yanis Belaid, Eliott Benard, Nicolas Mayeur, Etienne Moulin, Hadrien Pinot, Lisa Vicente, Philippine Singer, Alice Letailleur. October 17, 1961, in the middle of the Algerian war, Algerian workers are demonstrating against the mandatory curfew imposed by the Paris police.

 Student Documentary Short 

  • Winner: La Prova (Belgium), Directed by Toni Isabella Valenzi. In the south of Italy, Rosa and Peppe witness the passing of time as they grow old together and raise a pig.
  • Special Mention: Love, Dad (Czech Republic/Slovakia), Directed by Diana Cam Van Nguyen. Rediscovering the heartfelt letters her dad wrote to her 15 years ago from prison, director Diana Cam Van Nguyen writes to him with a new understanding.

Best Student International Short - Winner received a $500 cash prize. 

Jury: Niki Montazaran (Motion Picture Agent at WME); Meghan Oretsky (Senior Curator for Vimeo); Landon Zakheim (Short Film Programmer/Curator for Sundance Film Festival) 

  • Winner: Bug (Israel), Directed by Bar Cohen. After not seeing her for four months, Alma’s father asks her to leave her baby sister with him without her mother’s knowledge. Alma is forced to choose between her mom and her dad.
  • Special Mention: Stained Skin (Germany), Directed by Mandy Peterat and Adam Graf. Inside the halls of a dystopian textile factory, two young workers escape their harsh reality into the fantasies of a fairy tale.

 Best Student U.S. Short - Winner received a $500 cash prize. 

Jury: Jasmine Jaisinghani (Co-Founder of Global Cinematheque); Ayo Kepher-Maat (SVP of Acquisitions at Decal); Matt Rosen (Manager/Independent Producer at Mazo Partners)

  • Winner: Foreign Uncle (USA/China), Directed by Sining Xiang. Sining brings his American boyfriend, Patrick, back to China when he goes to visit his family. Everyone's attitude towards Patrick changes once Sining inadvertently comes out, except for his 7-year-old nephew’s, Naonao.

Special Jury Awards:  

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

Jury: Alexis Gambis (Filmmaker/Biologist, Son of Monarchs); C. Mason Wells (Director of Distribution for MUBI); Andrew Norman Wilson (Artist/Director)

  • Winner: Sideral (France/Brazil), Directed by Carlos Segundo. In Natal, the northeast of Brazil, the country is preparing to launch its first manned spaceship. A couple with two children lives near the space center. The husband is a mechanic, the wife a maid who dreams of other horizons.
  • Special Mention: Some Kind of Intimacy (UK/France), Directed by Toby Bull. The filmmaker tries to communicate with the sheep living where his parents are buried.

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

Jury: Liliana Granados (Director, 3Pas); Valerie Steinberg (Producer, Karmalink); Christopher Makoto Yogi (Writer/Director, I Was a Simple Man)   

  • Winner: Act of God (USA), Directed by Spencer Cook, Parker Smith. ​​Stuart, a disabled man, isn't the most honest guy when it comes to asking for help. Total self-reliance is his goal, which is tough when you can't get out of bed on your own.
  • Special Mention: Chaperone (USA), Directed by Sam Max. An unnamed figure picks up a young man in his car. As the two drive together and ultimately settle into an austere rental house in the country, the details of their arrangement become guttingly clear.

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

Jury: Bridey Elliot (Filmmaker, Affections); Rebecca Katz (Associate Director of Artist Development and Programs at Luma Pictures); Carey Williams (Filmmaker, Cherry Waves)

  • Winner: The Diamond (Sweden), Directed by Vedran Rupic. Stefan is lonely with a blinding ambition to make friends. One day he stumbles upon a diamond in the woods. Unable to reach it, a solution presents itself in the form of a smaller man.
  • Special Mention: Past Life (USA), Directed by Rose O’Shea. An ambitious academic’s life implodes the night he is recognized by a forgotten enemy – a small dog.

Best LGBT+ Short - Winner received a $1,000 cash prize. 

Jury: Shaz Bennet (Director, Alaska is a Drag); Toby Brooks (Sundance Institute’s Sundance Ignite Program); Jennifer Reeder (Filmmaker) 

  • Winner: High Jump (Belgium), Directed by Lennert Madou. Otto lives in a remote village while his boyfriend, Casimir, a professional dancer, has been living thousands of miles away for work. From a distance, Otto finds comfort in his lover’s choreography and uses his own body to fight his longing.
  • Special Mention: Lucky Fish (USA), Directed by Emily May Jampel. Two Asian-American teenagers meet in the bathroom of a Chinese restaurant while having dinner with their families.
  • Special Mention: Tank Fairy (Taiwan/USA), Directed by Erich Rettstadt. Once upon a time, the magical Tank Fairy delivered tanks of gas (with plenty of sass) to the home of young Jojo, a lonely dreamer in desperate need of a glittery godmother…

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

Jury: Gillian Wallace Horvat (Writer/Filmmaker, I Blame Society); Marc Mounier (Manager/Producer at Entertainment 360); Michael Rousselet (Co-Writer/Director, Dude Bro Party Massacre III)

  • Winner: Your Houseplants Are Screaming (USA), Directed by Benjamin Roberds. Human houseplants are held captive by a giant plant creature. Confined to their pots, the houseplants struggle to comprehend the horror of being shelf ornaments in a grotesque hell house made of flesh, meat, muscle and bone.
  • Special Mention: Wild Card (USA), Directed by Tipper Newton. Two strangers who never should have met are brought together by a video dating service.

Mozaik Bridging the Borders Award - Winner received a $2,500 cash prize. 

Jury: Susan Morgan Cooper; Arameh Etemadi; Hermon Farahi; Matt Ferro; Rachel O’Meara; Bijan Tehrani; James Ulmer

  • Winner: Freedom Swimmer (Australia/France/UK/Hong Kong), Directed by Olivia Martin-McGuire. This hybrid, poetic documentary, interweaving hand-drawn animation and film, tells the tale of a grandfather’s perilous swim from China to Hong Kong during the Cultural Revolution while creating a parallel with his granddaughter’s participation in mass protests now.
  • Special Mentions: Breakpoint (France), Directed by Nicolas Panay. Odile—a textile worker—and her colleagues are forced to evaluate Tunisian young women for a week at their workplace. Playing a zero sum game for jobs they all need, there is no good solution, but Odile strives to make the right choice.

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

Jury: Emily Alvarez-Zurita (Student at California State University San Bernardino); Randy Florence (CEO of the Palm Desert Chamber); Barbara Sisto; Tim Vincent (President of the Board of Directors for Brothers of the Desert); Michelle Webb (Nurse) 

  • Winner: BABYBANGZ (USA/UK), Directed by Juliana Kasumu. Anastasia Ebel, owner of the Babybangz hair salon in Mid-City, New Orleans, reflects on her continuing desire to cultivate spaces of intentional reflection for both herself and her local New Orleans community. 
  • Special Mention: El Carrito (USA), Directed by Zahida Pirani. Nelly lives alone with her elderly father. The only way she makes ends meet is by working as a street vendor from dawn to dusk. She has learned not to trust anyone until one day she is forced to take a leap of faith, or be resigned in her position forever.

Vimeo Staff Pick Award – Selected by Vimeo curators. Winner received a $2,500 cash prize. 

  • Winner: Meantime (USA), Directed by Michael T. Workman. After Tim’s work-related stroke leads to troubling signs of memory loss, his son Michael returns home to Montana. As they spend more time together than they have since Michael’s childhood, they reckon with Tim’s past.. 

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

Jury:   Ella Fitzpatrick (Xavier College Preparatory High School), Eli Salazar (La Quinta High School), Indi Chacon (K12 Online School), Isaac Lucero (Cathedral City High School), Kaitlyn Thompson (Palm Springs High School) and Will Riordan ​​(Palm Desert High School).

  • Winner: Lucky Fish (USA), Directed by Emily May Jampel. Two Asian-American teenagers meet in the bathroom of a Chinese restaurant while having dinner with their families..
  • Special Mention: Picture Day (USA), Directed by Kelly Pike. The day before school pictures, a newly transplanted tomboy’s decision to pierce her ears sparks a family crisis.

Shorties! Award – Winner received a $500 cash prize. 

Jury: Adair Cuahuizo; Adan Ortiz; CJ Montes; Jack Eustis; Julian Calloway

  • Winner: Cat and Moth (Canada/UK), Directed by India Barnardo. A fluffy white cat wants nothing more than to find the most comfortable spot in the universe, but little does she know someone else has their eye on it too.
  • Special Mention: Lost Brain (Switzerland), Directed by Isabelle Favez. One day, Louise the crocodile accidentally sneezes her brain out, and her brain makes a run for it. Louise has difficulty performing the simplest tasks, and everything falls apart.

AUDIENCE AWARDS - Winner received a $500 cash prize. Awarded to the film which scored the highest on ballots submitted by the audience in its respected category.  

  • BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT – You’re dead Helen (Belgium/France), directed by Michael Blanchart. Maxime, a young man in search of stability, is literally haunted by the ghost of his girlfriend Hélène, who died recently. Wishing to put an end to this unbearable situation, Maxime finally decides to break up with her. But Hélène does not seem ready to accept this decision...
  • BEST ANIMATED SHORT – The Fall (Canada), Directed by Desirae Witte. Leafie is a plucky little maple leaf who loves to groove. But when their latest performance takes an unexpected turn, the harsh realities of the season come crashing down.
  • BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT – The Sentence of Michael Thompson (USA), Directed by Kyle Thrash, Haley Elizabeth Anderson. Michael Thompson is the longest serving nonviolent offender in the history of Michigan. After 25 years, three appeals and two denied applications for clemency, it seems that Michael may finally have a chance at freedom.
  • BEST STUDENT SHORT – El Carrito (USA), Directed by Zahida Pirani. Nelly lives alone with her elderly father. The only way she makes ends meet is by working as a street vendor from dawn to dusk. She has learned not to trust anyone until one day she is forced to take a leap of faith, or be resigned in her position forever.

About Palm Springs International ShortFest 

Designated by AMPAS, BAFTA, BIFA and Goya Awards as an award-qualifying festival, and accredited by the International Short Film Conference, the Palm Springs International ShortFest & Short Film Market is one of the most acclaimed short film showcases in the world.  The event is produced by the Palm Springs International Film Society, whose mission is to nurture and encourage new filmmaking talent, honoring the great masters of world cinema, and expanding audience horizons. Visit



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