“Lost Town of Switez” wins at Palm Springs fest

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The Lost Town of Switez

The Lost Town of Switez

Palm Springs International ShortFest named a Polish-Canadian production by Kamil Polak titled “The Lost Town of Switez” as the Best Animated Short at the festival.

A spectacularly animated story about a traveler whose journey is diverted when his carriage driver falls asleep, The Lost Town of Switez won First Place — along with $2,000. The film is an epic tale across wild lands and towns that glimmer like jewels, about a man who becomes a hero.

As the first-place winner in the category, The Lost Town of Switez is now eligible for Academy Awards consideration.

Winning Second Place and $500 was Interregnum, directed by Nick Fox-Gieg of Canada. In 1944 Vichy France, an unlikely group finds a way to make thousands of people invisible at the same time.

A Jury Special Citation in the animation category went to France’s The Cord-Woman (La Femme Á Cordes) for Best Sound Design. In this gorgeous journey into the dark corners of freak shows and underground burlesque, the protagonist develops an uncontrollable crush on a mistreated performer. Will he save her or destroy himself?

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, directed by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg, was named Audience Favorite Animation Short at the festival. A gorgeously rendered allegory about the curative effects of story, this tale concerns a man who has built his whole life around his love of books.

Runner-up in the Audience Favorite Animation Short category was Danny & Annie, by Dave Isay and Tim Rauch. A documentary offering an unexpected vision of what true love looks like, this intimate and heartbreaking film was based on a tale from National Public Radio’s Storycorps project.

The Birds Upstairs, by Christopher Cinq-Mars Jarvis, won First Place for Best Student Animation. Exquisite animation exposes a couple’s despair when, after years of trying, they at last have a child who, to their dismay, doesn’t look anything like them. The short is a beautifully disturbing examination of familial expectations.

Second Place was assigned to Heavy Heads, by Helena Frank of Denmark. It is an oddly intriguing study on loneliness, despair and alienation… and the unique services of a friendly fly.

The largest short film festival and market in North America, the Palm Springs International ShortFest awarded a total of $128,800 in prizes, including $14,000 in cash awards, in 18 categories.

Throughout the festival, 331 short films were screened, along with over 3,000 filmmaker submissions available in the film market.

The festival saw a large rise in attendance this year on all fronts, including ticket buyers, filmmakers and film industry delegates.

“It’s been a remarkable year for ShortFest, with record attendance and a rapturous response to the programming by audiences, industry and filmmakers alike,” said festival director Darryl Macdonald. “The Film Market and industry programs were particulary active, adding hugely to the Festival’s success. I’m confident a number of major future filmmakers emerged here this year and will go on to enliven the feature film world.”

Scene from Kamil Polak’s The Lost Town of Switez.

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