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'Joanna' and 'Carry On' win top awards at Palm Springs ShortFest

Yatao Li accepts top prize for film 'Carry On,' at 20th Annual Palm Springs International ShortFest.
Yatao Li accepts top prize for film 'Carry On,' at 20th Annual Palm Springs International ShortFest.
Photograph by Kay Shackleton

Honors were bestowed upon emerging filmmakers during the 20th Annual Palm Springs International ShortFest Film Festival on Sunday, June 22, 2014, in Palm Springs, Calif. Receiving top honors were the documentary "Joanna" from Polish film director Aneta Kopacz and the drama "Carry On" from China by filmmaker Yatao Li.

“The 2014 Palm Springs ShortFest far surpassed all of our expectations,” said Festival Director Kathleen McInnis. “Our audience, filmmaker and industry attendance all soared, as did the striking talent we were able to showcase during our 20th anniversary year. Well over 800 filmmaker and industry guests made our Filmmaker Forums one of the most dynamic we have ever had, and most of the screenings had all filmmakers in attendance—a great bonus for our audience who love their q/a sessions! Filmmakers brought themselves here from 37 countries, the most we have ever had, which speaks directly to the success of our targeted outreach to world cinema. We couldn't be happier to have hosted this year’s class of SHORTFEST 2014—they are extraordinary!”

"Carry On," by Yatao Li, is a drama inspired by the filmmaker's father when the Japanese withdrew China at the end of World War II. The filmmaker was surprised by his win after accepting honors for another filmmaker that was unable to attend the ceremony. Li was honored with the Best of the Fest award and received $2,000 in cash, filmmaking equipment and the film is now eligible for Oscar contention at the next Academy Awards.

"Joanna," by Polish filmmaker Aneta Kopacz, is a documentary that follows a young wife and mother during her final days before dying of cancer. The film was characterized by Jury Member Nigel Daly (BAFTA-LA) as "a very moving film," and won the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Grand Jury Award. The film was also honored as the first place winner for the non-student, documentary award. In total, Kopacz will receive $7,000 in cash awards. Unfortunately for Kopacz, both of her wins will not meet eligibility for Oscar contention at this festival. Hopefully this powerful movie will find eligibility via another festival.

Other winners at the short film festival were "Whisker," winning the Future Filmmaker Award for New Zealand filmmaker Steve Saussey, "90 Days," winning the Panavision Best North American Short and "Dragula," winning the Audience Award for Best Live Action Short.

The 20th Annual Palm Springs ShortFest is the largest short film festival in North America and hosted filmmakers from 37 countries, screening 330 film during the week-long festival.

ShortFest runs from June 17 - June 23 and has record attendance this year.

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