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Ice Merchants Ice Merchants

João Gonzalez’s short film Ice Merchants, which premiered at this year’s Cannes Critics’ Week, has won the Leitz Cine Discovery Prize for short film.

Ice Merchants was one of ten (mostly live action) shorts selected to compete, and the first-ever Portuguese animated film to win an award at Cannes. In addition the honorific, the Leitz Cine Discovery Prize comes with a €4,000 ($4,300) purse.

In the film, a father teaches his son the ways of collecting and transporting ice from their cabin on the edge of a cliff to a village far below them. Although the two share a close relationship, it’s clear from early on that there is a past trauma looming over the cliff-dwelling pair, emphasized by the film’s spare yet impactful color palette.

“We feel extremely honored with this award, which indeed comes as a huge surprise to our team since animation doesn’t usually have a big representation at Cannes,” Gonzalez told Cartoon Brew. “I also want to point out two other amazing animation short films that I saw at the festival, It’s Nice in Here by Robert-Jonathan Koeyers and Scale by Joseph Pierce. Brilliant films that had some of the best receptions at the screenings. I’m now preparing my trip to Guadalajara Film Festival next week. Can’t wait to share our film with the audiences in Mexico!”

Gonzalez’s previous work includes short films Nestor and The Voyager. A classically trained musician, he also wrote the film’s score. Ice Merchants is a Portugal/U.K./France co-production produced by Bruno Caetano at Cola – Coletivo Audiovisual in co-production with Michaël Proença from Wild Stream and with the Royal College of Art in the U.K. It is distributed by the Portuguese Short Film Agency.

Correction: The article incorrectly identified Ice Merchants as the first-ever Portuguese animated film to compete at Critics’ Week. The first Portuguese animated film to compete at the festival was Abi Feijó’s “The Outlaws” (1994). Ice Merchants is the first-ever Portuguese animated film to win an award at Critics’ Week.

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