Grant Writing Season is upon us! Click here to register for our online grant writing workshop

GIRAF17 Audience Awards

The numbers have been crunched, and we can say with mathematical certainty that these were your favourite films

GIRAF 17 festival poster: a frog eats a fly, its tongue twists to spell out the word GIRAF

We ask our audience to rate all the shorts they watch at GIRAF, so we can say with mathematical certainty that the films below are the selections that blew their minds. As you'll see, the GIRAF audience was truly fearless this year, embracing films with difficult themes, dark subject matter, and experimental forms. We couldn't be more proud.

(And while you're here, why not have a look at our Jury Prize winners?)

A Metis baby stares at the camera while an Indigenous woman and Jesus Christ talk to her on either side. Surrounding test: GIRAF17 Audience Award: Top Canadian Short Film; Meneath: The Hidden Island of Ethics; Terril Calder; Canada, 2021

Given its heavy subject matter, steeped in religious indoctrination, colonialism, and deep inner turmoil, Meneath seemed like a long shot for an audience award—but it was far and away the festival's highest rated film. Chalk it up to Terril Calder's skill at balancing the film's darker elements with moments of strength and triumph. Calder's film navigates difficult themes and complex concepts with grace, resulting in a film that is both challenging and absolutely vital.

A gnome-like being stares suspiciously at the bowl it's holding. Surrounding text: GIRAF17 Audience Award: Honorable Mention Top Canadian Short; The Clockwork Elves; Nick Cross; Canada; 2020

This year's festival audience wasn't afraid to go dark. Nick Cross describes his latest film as either "a pyschotropic exploration of spirituality and death" or "tale of a little goofball hopped up on goofballs." It's macabre, but darkly beautiful, rich in ambiguous imagery, and impossible to look away from, a bad trip our audience was more than happy to take.

A worm stares wistfully out of a window. Surrounding text: GIRAF 17 Audience Award: Top International Short Film; Love is Just a Death Away, Bára Anna Stejskalová, Czech Republic, 2020

It's surprising but fitting that a film about a worm piloting the body of a dead dog would be so good at pulling our audience's heartstrings. Bára Anna Stejskalová's directorial debut is sweet despite its excess of death and decay. Ultimately a story of a longing for love and connection, it finds humour and warmth in the strangest of places, striking a unique tone that resonated with the GIRAF17 crowd.

A distorted human figure ripples and stretches in front of a striped pink and yellow background. Surrounding text: GIRAF17 Audience Award: Honorable Mention, Top International Short Film; Nocturne; Alexander Dupuis, United States, 2020

To call Alexander Dupuis' music video busy would be a dramatic understatement. The rush of colours, patterns and textures in Nocturne's 3D world should be utterly overwhelming, but somehow it all works, creating a transcendental trip through rippling, mind-warping worlds, and finding serenity on the far side of excess.

Our congratulations go out to all the Audience Award winners, and our thanks to the our GIRAF17 audience for taking part in this year's festival.