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Animation is Film 2023 Winners Animation is Film 2023 Winners

The sixth edition of Animation is Film (AIF), the L.A.-based animation festival organized by Annecy, GKIDS, and Variety, has unveiled the winners of this year’s competition.

Chiara Malta and Sébastien Laudenbach’s Chicken for Linda! was this year’s standout feature, winning both the jury and audience awards. The film previously won Annecy’s Cristal for a feature film and screened in competition at the Ottawa International Animation Festival. Just last week, it was nominated by the European Film Academy for best European animated feature.

Laudenbach previously directed the The Girl Without Hands, a tour de force which premiered in Cannes’ ACID section.

The brightly colored film turns on Paulette, who feels guilty after unjustly punishing her daughter Linda. To make it up to the girl, Paulette decides to make chicken with peppers, even though she doesn’t know how to cook. Unfortunately, a strike has brought the city to a standstill, and getting her hands on the ingredients becomes a major task.

According to the jury:

With Chicken for Linda, Sébastien Laudenbach and Chiara Malta honor the challenges and rewards of being a single parent in a hectic world, employing a visually original artistic style through which lively brush strokes and daubs of color bring relatable human characters (and one very flustered chicken) to vibrant life.

Pablo Berger’s Spanish feature Robot Dreams, a Neon pickup at this year’s Marché du Film, was honored with the Animation is Film special jury prize. Set in New York City in the 1980s, the family feature follows Dog and Robot, two best friends who take a trip to the beach. It won this year’s Contrechamp prize at Annecy.

The Animation is Film jury’s favorite short was Tal Kantor’s Letter to a Pig, which blends animation techniques and live-action shots to tell different versions of the same story. In the short, a Holocaust survivor reads a letter he wrote to a pig that saved his life for a group of schoolchildren. Different styles emphasize how human memory is fallible and how recalled images and imagination are often abstract.

The jury explained their decision, saying:

Utilizing a unique blend of hand-drawn animation, paint on paper, and footage segments, Tal Kantor has crafted an extraordinary portrait of trauma and how its aftermath can span generations. It is, in a word: genius.

Karni Arieli and Saul Freed’s Wild Summon got a special prize from this year’s jury. The fantasty natural history short follows the life cycles of salmon, except that the fish in this film take on the form of humans. Wild Summon premiered at Cannes and played in competition at Annecy over the summer.

According to event organizers, this year’s Animation is Film was a hit, and the still-young festival continues to trend in the right direction. AIF director Matt Kaszanek said in a release:

The only metrics we can rely on for determining ‘success’ are audience size and growth, and by both of those standards, the sixth Animation Is Film was a triumph. We are so humbled and gratified at how AIF has been embraced by LA’s community of cinephiles. Thank you to our sponsors, our filmmakers, and our audience. We truly could not do this without you.

This year’s feature competition jury included Variety chief film critic Peter Debruge, Oscar-winning The Lost Thing co-director Andrew Ruhemann, Indiewire awards editor Bill Desowitz, critic and historian Charles Solomon, Emmy-winning producer and Women in Animation president Marge Dean, Oscar-nominated director Nora Twomey (The Breadwinner), and Animation Magazine editor-in-chief Ramin Zahed.

The short jury was made up of Wreck-It Ralph and Zootopia producer Monica Lago-Kaytis, California State University Long Beach School of Art director Aubry Mintz, and Oscar-nominated My Year of Dicks and Moana writer Pamela Ribon.

2022 Animation is Film Winners

Grand Jury Prize

  • Chicken for Linda! (Chiara Malta, Sébastien Laudenbach)

Special Jury Prize

  • Robot Dreams (Pablo Berger)

Audience Award

  • Chicken for Linda! (Chiara Malta, Sébastien Laudenbach)

Shorts Jury Prize

  • Letter to a Pig (Tal Kantor)

Shorts Special Jury Prize

  • Wild Summon, (Karni Arieli, Saul Freed)

Pictured at top: Chicken for Linda!, Robot Dreams, Letter to a Pig, Wild Summon