The Sundance and Slamdance film festivals have both wrapped up in Park City, Utah.

At Sundance, the short film jury award for animation was presented to Broken—The Women’s Prison at Hoheneck a German film by Volker Schlecht and Alexander Lahl. The film also won the top prize at the Stuttgart animation festival last year. The animated documentary is based on interviews with survivors of Hoheneck, the women’s prison in former East Germany. where political prisoners were forced into labor in a scheme that generated huge profits on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

The Sundance short film jurors were Shirley Kurata, David Lowery, and Patton Oswalt.

Broken premiered online a few days ago on the New York Times web site:

Curiously, this was yet another exemplary animated film, both graphically and content-wise, that was eligible for the Academy Awards this year and did not even make it to the shortlist, which is disconcerting considering the films that did make the shortlist. As we mentioned a few days ago with the Cesar nominations, the Academy’s choices rarely reflect the breadth, diversity, and power of animation art.

At Slamdance, a more independent festival that runs parallel to Sundance, the Sparky Prize for best animated short was presented to Hold Me (Ca Caw Ca Caw), a graduation short made by Renee Zhan at Harvard.

“This film is brilliant, and [a] nuanced portrait of power and control and the pain that this artist creates,” said the jurors who selected the film. “Its honest voice found a way to share a very private moment with a flawless combination of oppressed levity.” The jury that selected the prize was comprised of filmmaker Sonia Albert Sobrino, Jeffrey Bowers (senior curator, Vimeo), and filmmaker Malik Vitthal.

Also, Slamdance’s Sparky Prize for best experimental short went to Upcycles by Ariana Gerstein. The film started with Super 8 film, was hand-processed and then printed onto 16mm and 35mm, before being reprinted onto 16mm. Gerstein built imagery along the way, “including cutting and taping the film [and] finally, printed via JK onto a DSLR and finished digitally with sound.”

“We are impressed by the unusual and meticulous process involved in making Upcycles,” said the jury in a statement. “We are even more affected that the process never overshadowed the pure visual delight of experiencing this experimental film.” The experimental jury was made up of filmmaker Miriam Albert Sobrino, filmmaker Mike Olenick, and film programmer Bryan Wendorf (Chicago Underground Film Festival).

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