Hiroshima Winners Hiroshima Winners

Animation has returned to Hiroshima!

The first edition of Hiroshima Animation Season wrapped last week, closing out five days of films and festivities, special guest speakers, and symposiums. The festival replaced the long-running Hiroshima Int’l Animation Festival, which shut down in 2020 after a 35-year run.

The new event was led by a powerhouse team of Japan’s independent animation community. The artistic directors were Koji Yamamura, the doyen of the country’s indie animation scene whose acclaimed shorts include the Oscar-nominated Mt. Head, and Shizuka Miyazaki, an animation artist based in Hiroshima. Nobuaki Doi, who had previously been director of the dynamic New Chitose International Animation Festival, was the producer of the festival.

In terms of international interest and participation, the first Hiroshima Animation Season was a rousing success with around 2,150 films submitted from 86 countries and regions. In the end, 54 productions were selected to compete in two categories: Pan Pacific & Asia Competition and World Competition.

The big winner of this year’s Animation Season was Darwin’s Notebook from Swiss animation icon Georges Schwizgebel, which took the grand prix for the top film from either section, as well as the “Adventure in Storytelling” audience award. The grand prix winner was picked by Yamamura and Miyazaki.

Atsushi Wada’s Bird in the Peninsula, a Berlin special mention honoree earlier this year, proved the most popular Japanese film at the festival, scoring a jury personal pick from filmmaker Florence Miailhe as well as the Pan-Pacific & Asia audience award. Fellow jury member Joe Hsieh picked Hugo Covarrubias’ Oscar-nominated Chilean short Bestia as his personal pick. And the third of the three jurists, Ottawa International Animation Festival artistic director and Cartoon Brew’s own Chris Robinson, singled out Chen Xi and An Xu’s The Loach for recognition.

Vincent Patar and Stéphane Aubier’s A Town Called Panic: The Summer Holidays took three prizes at the closing ceremony: “The Spark: Films for Children” audience award, the Hiroshima Choice award (granted by Hiroshima-based cultural and arts professionals), and the Hiroshima Animation City award (granted by the Hiroshima Animation City non-profit organization dedicated to supporting animation culture in the city).

Hiroshima Animation Season is a biennial festival and will return in August 2024 for its next edition. A full list of winners is below:

Hiroshima Closing Ceremony
Hiroshima Closing Ceremony

Grand Prix

Darwin’s Notebook – Georges Schwizgebel, Switzerland


Best Film

Los Huesos – Cristóbal León, Joaquín Cociña, Chile

Jury Pick: Florence Miailhe

Bird in the Peninsula – Atsushi Wada, Japan

Jury Pick: Chris Robinson

The Loach – Xi Chen, Xu An, China

Jury Pick: Joe Hsieh

Bestia – Hugo Covarrubias, Chile

Audience Award

Bird in the Peninsula – Atsushi Wada, Japan


Allegories Nowadays Audience Award

Skinned – Joachim Hérissé, France

A Slice of Society Audience Award

Precious – Paul Mas, France

Adventure in Storytelling Audience Award

Darwin’s Notebook – Georges Schwizgebel, Switzerland

Visual Poetry Audience Award

Zoon – Jonatan Schwenk, Germany

The Spark: Films for Children Audience Award

A Town Called Panic: The Summer Holidays – Vincent Patar, Stéphane Aubier, Belgium, France


Feature Film Jury Award

When You Get To The Forest – Eric Power, U.S.

Hiroshima Choice

A Town Called Panic: The Summer Holidays – Vincent Patar, Stéphane Aubier, Belgium, France

Hiroshima Animation City

A Town Called Panic: The Summer Holidays – Vincent Patar, Stéphane Aubier, Belgium, France

Pictured at top: “A Town Called Panic: The Summer Holidays,” “Darwin’s Notebook,” “Bird in the Peninsula”