By Ray Pride

Palm Springs Shortfest Announces Winners

The 2017 Palm Springs International ShortFest, the largest short film festival and only short film market in North America, announced its Festival award winners on Sunday, June 25, 2017.  338 short films screened throughout the Festival along with more than 4,200 filmmaker submissions available in the film market.  More than $115,000 in prizes, including $20,000 in cash awards were awarded in 21 categories.

“After spending a week in and out of theaters, and talking with filmmakers and audiences, we close out the festival with such a strong sense of community,” said Festival Director Lili Rodriguez.  “Filmmakers are making movies about the changing world around them. I think our award winners showcase an understanding and compassion for people and it’s a great thing to see.”


Jury Awards and awards in the non-student and student competition categories were selected by ShortFest jury members David Ansen (film critic/PSIFF Lead Programmer), Lindsey Bahr (Associated Press), Kate Bosworth (actress/producer), Ian Durkin (Vimeo), Sam Lansky (Time Magazine) and Heidi Zwicker (Sundance).

BEST OF FESTIVAL AWARD – Winner received $5,000 cash prize courtesy of the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau.  The winner of this award may be eligible to submit their film to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Oscar® consideration.

Facing Mecca (Switzerland), Jan-Eric Mack

Pensioner Roli comes to Fareed’s assistance when the Syrian refugee is faced with a bewildering forest of Swiss bureaucracy before he can bury his Muslim wife.

 GRAND JURY AWARD – Winner received a $2,000 cash prize.

The Head Vanishes (France/Canada), Franck Dion

Jacqueline, no longer quite in her right mind, still goes on her annual summer trip. This year, she’s followed by some woman who claims to be her daughter.

PANAVISION BEST NORTH AMERICAN SHORT – The use of a camera package valued at $60,000 courtesy of Panavision.

Dekalb Elementary (USA), Reed Van Dyk

Inspired by an actual 911 call placed during a school shooting incident in Atlanta, Georgia.


All first place winners in the non-student categories received a cash award of $2,000 and may be eligible to submit their film to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Oscar consideration.


The Head Vanishes (France/Canada), Franck Dion

Jacqueline, no longer quite in her right mind, still goes on her annual summer trip. This year, she’s followed by some woman who claims to be her daughter.


Retouch (Iran), Kaveh Mazaheri

Maryam’s husband does weightlifting at home. When a weight falls on his throat and puts him near death, Maryam makes a decision.


Great Choice (USA), Robin Comisar

A woman gets stuck in a Red Lobster commercial.


Edith + Eddie (USA), Laura Checkoway

Ninety-something Edith and Eddie are America’s oldest interracial newlyweds, whose unusual and idyllic love story is disrupted by a family feud that threatens to tear them apart. 


FUTURE FILMMAKER AWARD – Winner received a $2,000 cash prize.

Where You Found Refuge (France), Guillaume Legrand

After Didier finds his daughter living in a cult, he decides to bring her home by force.

Special Mention: Fry Day (USA), Laura Moss

An adolescent girl comes of age against the  backdrop of serial killer Ted Bundy’s execution in 1989.

All first place winners in these categories received a $500 cash prize.


Sog (Germany), Jonatan Schwenk

After a flood, the fish are stuck in trees, in danger of drying out. They scream sharply, disturbing the inhabitants of a nearby cave.


Facing Mecca (Switzerland), Jan-Eric Mack

Pensioner Roli comes to Fareed’s assistance when the Syrian refugee is faced with a bewildering forest of Swiss bureaucracy before he can bury his Muslim wife.


Iron Hands (USA/China), Johnson Cheng

A 12-year old girl tries out for the traditionally all-boys’ Chinese youth Olympic weightlifting team. And makes an unlikely connection with the weightlifting gym’s reclusive groundskeeper.


Searching for Wives (Singapore), Zuki Juno Tobgye

Male migrant workers from South India living in Singapore send photos back home in the hope of finding suitable and willing marriage partners.

Special Jury Mention: I Made You, I Kill You (Romania/France), Alexandru Petru Badelita

In a remarkable cinematic diary, by turns touching and disturbing, Badelita looks back at his traumatic childhood growing up in rural Romania.



Red Light (Bulgaria/Croatia), Toma Waszarow

A bus stops at a village’s only intersection, where the traffic light is stuck on red. The driver refuses to move forward


Coin Operated (USA), Nicholas Arioli

Seventy years pass in the life of one naïve explorer.


Kayayo (Norway), Mari Bakke Riise

Elementary-school-age Bamunu works as a kayayo (a living shopping cart) at the markets in Accra thousands of miles from her village.


Lost Face (Australia/Canada), Sean Meehan

Based on a classic story by Jack London set in mid-1800s Alaska, a man makes a deal with a native chief in hopes to save his life.

ALEXIS AWARD FOR BEST EMERGING STUDENT FILMMAKER – The Alexis Award is selected by the Festival’s programming team and was created in honor of Alexis Echavarria, whose talent as a budding filmmaker and gift for inspiring excellence among his fellow students were cut short suddenly in 2005 at age 16.  The recipient received Final Cut Pro X courtesy of Apple.

Chebet (Kenya/USA), Tony Koros

A pregnant woman in the Kenyan highlands decides to take drastic action when she finds her husband passed out in front of their house yet again.

HP BRIDGING THE BORDERS AWARD PRESENTED BY CINEMA WITHOUT BORDERS – The award goes to a film that is most successful in bringing and connecting the people of our world closer together. The winner received an HP ZBook 17 Mobile Workstation valued at $3,000.

Pantheon (France), Ange-Régis Hounkpatin

Son of a Beninese immigrant, cut off from his roots, Solomon is about to donate his deceased father’s Voodoo costume to a museum when a young street-dancer reminds him of the ancestral soul.

YOUTH JURY AWARD – The winner received a $500 cash prize.  

Everybody Else is Taken (New Zealand), Jessica Grace Smith

Meet Mika, a girl who refuses to let her gender define her place in one of the harshest environments on Earth-the play-ground.

About Palm Springs International ShortFest

Designated by AMPAS, BAFTA and BIFA as an award-qualifying festival, and accredited by the International Short Film Conference, the Palm Springs International ShortFest & Short Film Market, one of the most acclaimed short film showcases in the world, will take place in Palm Springs on June 20-26.  Now in its twenty-third year, ShortFest will showcase 338 short films from 60 countries. The concurrent Short Film Market, the only one in North America, will feature a library of more than 4,200 films available to film buyers, industry and press.  The ShortFest Forum programs are a four-day schedule of seminars, panel discussions, roundtables and master classes staged free of charge for attending filmmakers.

The Palm Springs International Film Festival will be held January 4-15, 2018 and the Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala will be held January 2, 2018.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon