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‘Unforgivable’ Takes Home Top Prize at Palm Springs ShortFest




“Unforgivable,” a film hailing from El Salvador, won the best of the festival award during the 2021 edition of the Palm Springs International ShortFest.

Directed by Marlén Viñayo, “Unforgivable” follows a hitman for the 18th Street gang as he serves his sentence in an evangelical Salvadorian prison, where he is punished not only for his crimes, but for being gay. Selected by a jury consisting of 2020 ShortFest best of festival winner Bérangère Mc Neese and Sundance Festival programmer Ania Trzebiatowska, “Unforgivable” will receive a $5,000 cash prize. The honorable mention in the best of festival category went to French film “Palma.”

“Step Into the River,” from both China and France, won best animated short at the festival, with French film “Navozande, the Musician” earning an honorable mention. “Step Into the River,” directed by Weijia Ma. Lu and Wei, is a surreal exploration into China’s one-child policy, and was awarded $1,000 in prize money.

“Queen of Basketball,” an American documentary about basketball player Lusia Harris directed by Ben Proudfoot, was awarded best documentary short, also receiving $1,000.  “The Interview,” directed by Jon Miller and Zach Russo, gained an honorable mention. “The Criminals,” hailing from France, Romania and Turkey and directed by Serhat Karaaslan, was awarded best live-action short over 15 minutes and $1,000, with the category’s special mention going to Saudi Arabia’s “The Girls Who Burn the Night.”

Lastly, Canadian film “The Mohel” took home the award and $1,000 cash prize for best live-action short under 15 minutes, with special mentions going to “Aly” and “The Long Goodbye.” Directed by Charles Wahl, “The Mohel” centers on a family who, when flying out a mohel to perform their son’s circumcision, must confront the realities of maintaining traditions in a modern world.

All of the awards mentioned above give the winning shorts eligibility to enter into next year’s Oscars. See below for the rest of the winners from Palm Springs ShortFest.

Student Animated Short

“Love Is Just a Death Away” (Czech Republic), Directed by Bára Anna Stejskalová.

Student Documentary Short

“The Void Inside” (Germany/Iran), Directed by Julian Dieterich

Student International Short

“Her Dance” (Israel), Directed by Bar Cohen

Student U.S. Short

“El Clásico” (Mexico), Directed by Joel Vázquez Cárdenas

International Short

“Howling” (Belgium), Directed by Laura Van Haecke

U.S. Short

“Inheritance” (USA), Directed by Annalise Lockhart

Comedy Short

“Break In” (USA), Directed by Alyssa Lerner

LGBT+ Short

“Eggshells” (Bulgaria), Directed by Slava Doytcheva

Midnight Short

“Night Bus” (Taiwan), Directed by Joe Hsieh

Mozaik Bridging the Borders Award

“A Broken House” (USA/Lebanon), Directed by Jimmy Goldblum

Local Jury Award

“Dying in Your Mother’s Arms” (USA), Directed by John Beder

Vimeo Staff Pick Award

“The Nannies” (Denmark), Directed by Signe Barvild Staehr

Young Cineastes Award

“Americanized” (USA), Directed by Erica Eng