We’re proud to share the winners of this year’s jury and audience prizes at GIRAF 18!
We’re proud to share the winners of this year’s jury and audience prizes at GIRAF. The festival jury was Arielle McCuaig, an animator and long time QAS member; Alla Gadassik, media scholar, curator, educator, and a Visiting Artistfor GIRAF 18; as well as Evan DeRushie, an artist specializing in stop-motion animation, director of animation as well as a long serving board member of the Toronto Animated Image Society. We're grateful to the jury for working their way through all the short films, experiencing them will the live GIRAF 18 crowd and all the difficult deliberations they had with each other in order to arrive at the award-winners below.
The “Homegrown” shorts programme that opened GIRAF-18 set the tone for our experience of this festival. The films were diverse in their themes and styles, but all of them demonstrated creative risk-taking. Following the screening, the long row of artists who came to the stage included emerging animators debuting their first films, seasoned animators credited as mentors by others, and internationally recognized filmmakers showcasing their latest work. We were struck by GIRAF’s embrace of animation as an inclusive and community-centered art form. We were grateful to be welcomed into this community and left inspired by its energy and collaborative spirit.
With such a diverse and high quality group of films, it felt like it would be a true challenge getting three people together to pick animations that represented the best of the festival this year. I had visions of us trapped in jurors’ limbo, the three of us in a small digital room, fighting and debating the merits and detriments of the year’s animations, sweaty and exhausted, emerging days or even weeks later and still having not come to a conclusion. Thankfully, this was not the case at all. Being part of this jury was such a pleasure, and discussing these films a true privilege. In the end it was just three people speaking passionately to the films that spoke to them personally. Congrats to the Filmmakers as their work was a pleasure to witness.
- Arielle McCuaig, Alla Gadassik & Evan DeRushie
Our jury awards for Best Canadian Short Film and Best International Short Film both come with a $200 CAD cash prize for the filmmakers.
Planet Carnom takes us on a fantastic voyage into the microscopic landscapes of the human body, without the protection of a Magic School Bus. The film channels the compelling beauty of anatomical illustration and the uncanny qualities of medical animation toward a visceral journey of bodily and planetary change. We were unsettled and transported by this otherworldly take on a post-pandemic landscape.
- Alla Gadassik
From the first frame of Andrew Cormier’s film, The Statue feels like it’s from an alternate-timeline – a queer fairytale TV interstitial hidden in the BBC archives since the 70s, and just now being rediscovered. We appreciated the repetition in both the film’s sequencing and classic limited animation style. The textures of the watercolour paper gave a tactile feeling, with characters sometimes peeling right off the page as they came to life. A timeless fable, excellently crafted.
- Evan DeRushie
For our international prize, we chose a film that poked at the vulnerable memories of adolescence that some of us would be happier to forget. Like a game of spin the bottle where the bottle stops in the middle of two people, and YOU HAVE TO CHOOSE!! Inglorious Liaisons captures one particular night, with a group of friends who are familiar with each other, but whose desires and relationships are changing. Everyone at the party is made of light-switches and electrical plugs, and although filmmakers Chloé Alliez & Violette Delvoye don’t waste any time drawing attention to it, we appreciated the significance of lights on/off in our teenage lives, and commentary on the false binary in young queer relationships. Plus, the layered performances of the voice cast were stellar.
- Evan DeRushie
AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARDS
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 intrigued by the ocean this year. Interesting...
Congratulations to all the filmmakers!
AUDIENCE TOP CANADIAN SHORT FILM
AUDIENCE AWARD: TOP CANADIAN SHORT FILM | HONOURABLE MENTION
AUDIENCE AWARD: TOP INTERNATIONAL FILM
AUDIENCE AWARD: TOP INTERNATIONAL FILM | HONORABLE MENTION
JURY HONOURABLE MENTIONS
In the Big Yard Inside the Teeny-Weeny Pocket is a frantic loose film, full of ever changing mark making, a highly distinctive style, and sound design that made us scream(!) with delight. It’s fast paced, and the amount of intense labour to create it is evident, but it’s freewheeling line work gives it a feeling of purposeful amateurism, reminiscent of manga found in Garo magazine. Watching it feels violent, with bright flashing colours at every turn, but the characters in their mayhem remain sweet and cute to us, even giving us beautiful lines of poetry to break up the chaos. This maximalist animation pushed our senses to the limits but at its core, it’s a perfect poetic film that just makes sense.
- Arelle McCuaig
Bye Little Block! is a tender study of a housing development from the perspective of a reluctantly departing resident. Structured as a series of interlocking vignettes, the film blends close observation of everyday life with poignant commentary on urban neighbourhoods and community rhythms. We were delighted by the filmmaker’s ability to find wonder and humour in the mundane through the use of carefully structured visual gags and comedic timing, in the silent slapstick tradition of Buster Keaton or Jacques Tati. Viewers familiar with planned apartment complexes may recognize the characters who populate this block and will appreciate the empathy the film brings to their stories.
- Alla Gadassik
Swallow the Universe is a mind-bending fusion of underground art comics and virtuosic CGI visual effects, patterned after emakimono handscrolls and placed in the service of an epic post-humanist tale. The music of Colin Stetson forms the right hypnotic soundtrack to the film’s spellbinding and nightmarish vision. After regaining our senses, we applauded the film’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of animated form and storytelling. We also acknowledge that this film tests the boundaries of indie authorship, as it claims to be a collaboration between a French filmmaker and a reclusive Japanese outsider artist, but may in fact be a fictional product of Japanophilia fantasy.
- Alla Gadassik
ABOUT THE JURY
Alla Gadassik is a media scholar, curator, and educator. Her work explores the history of different animation methods and philosophies. Her recent article "Homeworkers", published in the journal Feminist Media Histories (and available on her website www.gadassik.com) is a love letter to independent animation. Alla currently lives, works, and commits to anticolonial efforts on the unceded lands of Coast Salish people, also known as Vancouver, Canada. She is an associate professor at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, where she founded the Animate Materials Workshop.
Evan DeRushie is an artist specializing in stop-motion animation. After creating and directing two original short films, The Fox and the Chickadee (2012), and Birdlime (2016), and contributing to the feature film The Little Prince (2015) as Second Unit Supervisor and Animator, Evan took a side-step to focus on cinematography and animation direction. With a strong connection to Toronto, Evan formed the studio Stop Motion Department in 2018 with Philip Eddolls, who shared Evan’s drive to foster a growing stop-motion industry in Canada. They took on a variety of commercial and interstitial work, as well as a short film directed by filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk. Angakusajaujuq - The Shaman’s Apprentice, with animation direction and cinematography by DeRushie, was released to critical acclaim, winning multiple awards at Annecy, TIFF and Ottawa, and eventually making the Academy Award short-list for Best Animated Short Film. Evan’s work also includes: animation directing the AMC+ mini-series Ultra City Smiths (2021), projection design for circus-theatre shows, and serving on the board of the Toronto Animated Image Society.
Arielle McCuaig is an artist and musician from Calgary, AB. She is a stalwart of the Calgary arts and music community, having done animation and design for the likes of the GIRAF Festival of Independent Animation and community radio station CJSW 90.9 FM, as well as artwork for bands both locally and internationally. She is a recipient of the 2015-16 Chris J. Melnychuk Production Scholarship. She runs local record label Pee Blood and writes and performs as Janitor Scum. The foundation of her practice is based in drawing, heavily influenced by comics, DIY music and outsider art, that works towards a space between loose and laboured, technical and amateur