The second edition of Animation is Film, the GKIDS-produced festival that aims to bring greater exposure to international and independent features, recently wrapped up in Los Angeles with the announcement of its winners.

Funan, written and directed by Denis Do, swept both top honors — the grand prize, selected by the festival jury, and the audience award. Additionally, the Spanish feature Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles, co-written and directed by Salvador Simó, earned the special jury prize.

The awards won’t have any impact on the current Oscar race for Best Animated Feature, since neither film qualified for the category this year.

Denis Do’s Funan, a hand-drawn film exploring the life of a family under the regime of the Khmer Rouge, also won the Cristal for a Feature Film at Annecy earlier this year. The film, a co-production between Belgium, Cambodia, France, and Luxembourg, made its North American premiere at the Animation is Film Festival.

Funan reminds us that animation can tell any kind of story,” said Animation is Film jury chairman Peter Debruge. “This versatile medium is by no means limited to fantastical or extraordinary subjects, but is in fact uniquely suited to incredibly personal ones as well. With Funan, director Denis Do explores what his Cambodian mother experienced at the hands of the Khmer Rouge regime, finding unexpected beauty within the horror of the situation. The jury agreed that the profound result actually feels more powerful by virtue of being made in animation. We were thrilled to watch all the films in competition this year, and to be reminded of the incredible diversity in subject, style, and sensibility to be found in this seemingly limitless art form.”

Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles, is inspired by the true story of surrealist filmmaker Luis Buñuel and his friend and benefactor Ramón, who set out to make an unexpected and ambitious documentary about the Las Hurdes region in Spain. The festival gave Simó’s film a special jury prize recognizing “its innovative handling of unexpected subject matter.”

The Spanish film, which we profiled on Cartoon Brew earlier this year, had its world premiere at Animation is Film. It will have its premiere in Spain in spring 2019.

The 2018 Animation is Film jury was comprised of jury chair Peter Debruge, Allison Abbate, Melissa Cobb, Dean DeBlois, Carolyn Giardina, Jorge R. Gutierrez, Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Henry Selick, Charles Solomon, Mabel Tam, and Anne Thompson.

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