‘The Silence,’ ‘American Paradise’ and ‘Fanny Pack’ Take Prizes at TheWrap’s Shortlist Film Festival 2017
A haunting short by two Iranian directors explores the trauma of refugees’ experience, while a dark American comedy looks at race
Farnoosh Samadi and Ali Asgari’s “The Silence,” a tender story about a young girl and her Kurdish mother, won the Industry Prize at TheWrap’s Shortlist Film Festival on Wednesday.
Joe Talbot’s “American Paradise,” a dark comedy about race and bank-robbing, took the Audience Prize at a ceremony at IMAX headquarters in Playa Vista, California.
And “Fanny Pack,” a story by a USC student about a young Indian woman hilariously clashing with her conservative father, won the first-ever ShortList prize for a student film.
Selected for the Industry Prize by a distinguished jury of entertainment industry experts, “The Silence” tells the haunting story of Fatma and her mother, Kurdish refugees in Italy. Teenager Fatma, who speaks English, must help her mother navigate a bewildering modern world. But even the world-wise Fatma isn’t equipped to handle passing along a devastating diagnosis to her mother, even when time is of the essence.
The jury called the film “a simple, beautiful and entirely human drama about a mother and daughter in a quiet moment that will change both of them forever. We loved this film as much for what it didn’t say as what it did.” The filmmakers won a week-long RED Epic Dragon $6,000 rental package provided by RED and AbelCine.
The jury also awarded an honorable mention to Hu Wei’s “What Tears Us Apart,” which follows a young woman, Camille, who was adopted by French parents after her Chinese parents gave her up as a baby because of China’s one-child policy. The jury said the film, which features Oscar nominee Isabelle Huppert, was “intimate, artful, exquisitely acted and left an enormous emotional impact on us.”
The 2017 Shortlist jury included Lisa Bunnell, President of Distribution, Focus Features; director Lesley Chilcott (“CodeGirl”); writer and showrunner Misha Green (“Underground”); Ryan Heller, VP Acquisitions, First Look Media; actor-director-producer Matt Ross (“Silicon Valley,” “Captain Fantastic”); Alec Shankman, Senior VP & Head of Alternative Programming, Digital Media and Licensing, Abrams Artists Agency; and Stephen Ujlaki Dean, Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television.
Talbot’s “American Paradise,” a twisted fairy tale out of Trump’s America inspired by true events, won the most votes in a two-week online poll to claim the Audience Prize and a $5,000 in cash.
The film follows a desperate white guy who disguises himself as a black man to rob a bank. The characters in the short will be featured in the upcoming Sundance-supported feature, “The Last Black Man in San Francisco.”
For the first time, TheWrap expanded the ShortList to include a student film category selected by TheWrap’s readers during the online voting period. This year’s award went to USC student Uttera Singh’s short “Fanny Pack.” The comedy centers on a young Indian-American girl who wants to follow her dreams and a fanny-pack-clad Indian father who chases his daughter through an airport hoping that she will follow.
Now in its sixth year, the ShortList Film Festival, elevates the best in short filmmaking as the format has exploded across every device in the age of streaming. The contest selects 12 of the best award-winning short films that have premiered at a major festival in the past year, making this the most highly competitive film festival of its kind.
The ceremony on Wednesday included screenings of the prize winners as well as panel discussions with the filmmakers and jury members moderated by Sharon Waxman, editor-in-chief of TheWrap. The evening wrapped up with a reception with music from DJ Alex D, beverages supplied by Hint water and production support from Mirrored Media.
The 12 films in the main competition were a mix of foreign language, comedy and stop-motion from filmmakers that hail from around the globe including China, France, Italy, Poland, Germany and the U.K. The finalists include prize winners from the Sundance Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival and South By Southwest Film Festival.
The eight student films from top colleges and universities listed in TheWrap’s ranking of film schools included filmmakers who studied at UNCSA, USC, UCLA, AFI, LMU, Chapman, Emerson and SCAD.
The Shortlist Film Festival is presented with the generous support of IMAX, Focus Features, RED, Abelcine and Topic.