The Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF), North America’s longest-running and largest animation film festival, announced the winners tonight for its 2017 edition at an awards ceremony held at Saint Brigid’s Center for the Arts.

The Nelvana Grand Prize for Independent Short went to Nikita Diakur’s Ugly, a simulated short film about two beings trying to find peace in a dystopic neighborhood. The Competition Short Jury, comprised of animation directors Janice Nadeau (Canada), Marta Pajek (Poland), and Theodore Ushev (Bulgaria/Canada), described the film as “an apocalyptic and heartwarming vision of deconstructive reality.”

The award comes on the heels of another major prize that Diakur won a couple weeks ago: the New Talent award at Switzerland’s Fantoche festival. The prize at Ottawa is an Oscar-qualifying award, which means that Ugly is now eligible to compete for this year’s Academy Award for best animated short.

I cannot let this moment pass without mentioning how honored I am personally to have my name attached to the film as associate producer. Ugly is the first – and thus far, only – animated film made with funding from Cartoon Brew (the other major funder on Ugly was Germany’s national film funding body, the FFA).

My reason for getting involved with the film had little to do with awards, so to see it received at festivals in such a positive manner is a delightful bonus. I wanted to be a part of Diakur’s project simply because I felt that he had created something entirely unique using cg technology – and I thought the film deserved to be finished as he had envisioned it.

The film is an experiment – an entertaining one, but nevertheless an experiment, one in which Diakur wholesale re-invents the cg animation process and establishes a new (and more collaborative) relationship between the animator and technology.

As Diakur himself explained to us in an interview recently, “[In Ugly,] there is an interaction between the animator and the animated objects or characters. It is like the characters really have a say in the outcome and the animator has to work with it. Similar to how a director has to work with actors on a live action film set.” Diakur’s techniques aren’t easily replicable on a large-scale production, but his approach is inspiring and worth acknowledging.

On the feature film side at Ottawa, the grand prize was awarded to Masaaki Yuasa’s Night Is Short, Walk on Girl. Yuasa made history at Ottawa this year by becoming the first filmmaker to have two features in competition; his other film that screened was Lu Over the Wall.

The Competition Feature Jury was comprised of director/writer Christophe Gérard (France), and filmmakers Bob Sabiston (USA) and Amanda Strong (Canada). For their jury statement on Night Is Short, Walk on Girl, they said: “Masaaki Yuasa’s manic masterpiece is unexpected and delightful from beginning to end. This inventive and daring film takes animation storytelling to another level.”

The OIAF received a total of 1,992 entries this year. From those entries, they selected 105 short films and five feature films from 85 different countries. A complete list of this year’s award winners can be found below:


Nelvana Grand Prize for Independent Short Animation
Ugly – Nikita Diakur (Germany, 2017)
Grand Prize for Best Animated Feature
Yoruwa Mijikashi Arukeyo Otome (Night is Short, Walk on Girl) – Masaaki Yuasa (Japan, 2017)

Honorable Mention (Animated Feature)
Torrey Pines – Clyde Peterson (USA)


Cartoon Network Award for Best Narrative Short Animation
Kötü Kiz (Wicked Girl) – Ayce Kartal (Turkey, 2016)
“[An] unforgiven ode to resilience.”
Award for Best Non-Narrative Animation
Any Road – Boris Labbe (France, 2016)
Award for Best Student Animation
End of Recording – Lukas Conway, Stefan Jaroszonek & Olivier Sommelet (2016)
Award for Best Commissioned Animation
Mark Lotterman “Happy” – Alice Saey (Netherlands/France, 2017)
Award for Best Animated Film or Series for Young Audiences – Preschool
Der Kleine Vogel und die Raupe (The Little Bird and the Caterpillar) – Lena von Döhren (Switzerland, 2017)
Honorable Mentions (Animated Film or Series for Young Audiences – Preschool)
Konigiri-kun Undokai (Konigiri-kun Kitchen Sports Day) – Mari Miyazawa (Japan)
Island – Max Mörtl & Robert Löbel (Germany)
The Cloud and the Whale – Alyona Tomilova (Russia)
George & Paul “Slaapwandelen” (“Sleepwalking”) – Erik Verkerk & Joost van den Bosch
Award for Best Animated Film or Series for Young Audiences – Ages 6-12
Mountain of Sgaana – Christopher Auchter (Canada, 2017)
Honorable Mentions (Animated Film or Series for Young Audiences – Ages 6-12)
La Licorne (The Unicorn) – Rémi Durin (France, Belgium)
Regular Show “Meet the Seer” – JG Quintel (USA)



Award for Best Script
Manivald – Chintis Lundgren (Canada/Croatia/Estonia, 2017)
Award for Best Design
Spectacle of the Real – Buck Design (Orion Tait, Thomas Schmid & Daniel Oeffinger, 2016, USA)
Award for Best Animation Technique
Tesla ‘Lumiére Mondiale (The Tesla World Light) – Matthew Rankin (Canada, 2017)
Award for Best Sound
Airport – Michaela Müller (Switzerland/Croatia, 2017)


Public Prize
Decorado – Alberto Vazquez (Spain/France, 2017)
Canadian Film Institute Award for Best Canadian Animation
Four Faces of the Moon – Amanda Strong (Canada, 2017)
Honorable Mentions (Canadian Animation)
Insect Express – Emily Pelstring
Hedgehog’s Home – Eva Cvijanovic

Award for Canadian Student Animation Film
End of Recording – Lukas Conway, Stefan Jaroszonek & Olivier Sommelet (Concordia University, 2017)

Honorable Mentions (Canadian Student Animation Film)
The Lost Soul – Marie-Josée Doutre (Concordia University)
Quarters – Airin Budiman (Sheridan)
Media Prize
Jury: Di Golding, Ramin S. Khanjani, Pat Mullen
Tesla ‘Lumiére Mondiale (The Tesla World Light) – Matthew Rankin (Canada, 2017)