Review of award-winning short films in 2010 – a brief appraisal


Based on the impression that just a handful of short films scoop up the lion’s share of awards and honours each year all over the world, we now publish an annual review of the past year’s award-winners in our online magazine. By analysing the prizewinners listed over the year in our “Awards” section, we are able to quantify this subjective impression using objective figures. Now it’s time to take a look back at the year 2010.

Listing the winners invariably results in a kind of Hit Parade of film. This kind of ranking can of course not be used to evaluate films’ artistic quality; but it provides information on their popularity as measured by the votes of expert juries and viewing audiences.

Trends in preferences for certain genres or themes come to light. Furthermore, the ranking reveals the distribution of prizes between the various film production countries, indirectly allowing conclusions to be drawn on developments in short-film promotion there.


Basis for the evaluation

All honours and awards were analysed that were mentioned in the “Awards” section on during 2010. Slightly over 1,000 awards and honours were cited in the past year. But of course we did not publish all prizes and awards conferred on short films everywhere in the world.

Only the major short film festivals with international competitions are featured regularly in our “Awards” column. Exclusively national or regional competitions are not included. We do however report on national film awards such as the German Short Film Award or the Goyas in Spain.

We usually only list the grand prizes. Only in the case of a few of the larger festivals do we also include the honourable mentions. As a rule, only short film festivals are taken into account, except for major international feature film festivals with a short film competition – such as Cannes, Berlin or Sundance.

Overall, prizewinners at some 200 festivals or competitions were compiled in 2010 – 22 of them based in Germany. Because of our own geographic location, European honours are slightly over-represented. However, all continents and regions of the world are included.


Strong production countries

As a matter of fact, the award-winners listed on these pages came from more than 70 different countries. The most awards by far were bestowed in 2010 on films made in Germany (137), France (118), the USA (78), the United Kingdom (72) and Spain (60). These figures were little changed from those of the prior year. Germany and France traded places at the top of the list, and it was only the USA and the UK that received fewer awards than before. Of the just over 1,000 registered prizes, almost half were conferred on films from the above-named countries, which also happen to be the ones that make the most short films.

Among the smaller countries – in terms of population or short film production – 2010 was a good year particularly for Poland and Sweden (35 and 32 awards respectively). As in the past, this year also saw countries whose statistics improved due to a single, extremely successful film – such as Romania and Iceland in previous years. In 2010 it was again Italy that rose in the country rankings thanks to the hit films by blu (MUTO and BIG BANG BIG BOOM), as well as HABIBI (Davide del Degan) and RITA (Antonio Piazza & Fabio Grassadonia).

The prizewinners’ countries of origin reflect not only their short-film production volume, but also of course the number of festivals in the respective region. As films have better chances of winning awards on their own home ground, the ranking of decorated films according to origin also depends on the density of festivals on the ground in the country in question.

More interesting therefore are the numbers indicating the degree of success films enjoy abroad. Here the following picture takes shape: enjoying the most acclaim abroad in 2010 were films from Germany (66 awards), France (63) and the UK (56), i.e. the same countries as in 2009, but in a different order. Germany and the United Kingdom have switched places! British films still reap kudos across the globe – there are relatively few national short film festivals there compared to other countries – and yet both production numbers and festival triumphs are declining. This is probably the result of changes in the country’s film and cultural policies.

Amongst the countries without a prominent short film festival structure, Romania and Hungary are notable for their disproportionate success abroad. In 2009 it was Rumania, Iceland and Israel. In the case of Romania all the fuss is about just a few films, in principle only two: COLIVIA (The Cage) by Adrian Sitaru and MUZICA IN SANGE by Alexandru Mavrodineanu. In a similar fashion, the success last year of the animated film DIVERS IN THE RAIN by Olga and Priit Pärn helped Estonia to achieve a high rank amongst the prevailing production countries.


Success at home vs. recognition abroad

Just because a film is a hit in its own country that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be treated to similar attention abroad. And this factor does not depend only on the number of short film festivals in the respective country. It can possibly be explained by the fact that the juries in some countries are not made up of international members and thus display a predilection for domestic productions. This is at any rate true for audience awards.

As in prior years, in 2010 films from Brazil and the USA pocketed substantially more awards at home than abroad. Conversely, films from the United Kingdom, Sweden, Australia and Austria enjoyed greater popularity on foreign shores. Spain has caught up here: its short films are now receiving more prizes outside the country, which was never the case before.

Of the major production countries, Germany and France brought forth works that largely achieved the same degree of recognition at home and abroad. This was so even though both countries boast a high density of festivals where the majority of the world’s short film prizes are presented.


Germany’s favourite production countries

In Germany the most decorated films in 2010 came from the United Kingdom (12 awards/ 11 in 2009) and France (9 / 9), followed by Austria and the USA. Here as well, a long-term trend can be observed.


International orientation of jury decisions

Amongst the countries where by far the most short film awards are conferred there was hardly any difference in terms of international orientation. In Germany, France, Spain and the USA, some 100 prizes each were “˜distributed’ among films from over 25 countries. The broadest foreign participation was witnessed in France and Germany. This international outlook is increasingly taking hold in other countries as well.


The year’s most successful films internationally

Of note first of all is that the most popular short films in 2010 were all animated.
The Norwegian animated short SINNA MANN (Angry Man) by Anita Killi was awarded 13 of the prizes registered during 2010 on Besides these, the film also won almost 30 additional awards not cited on these pages.

  • SINNA MANN is about domestic violence. A boy suffers under a violent father, especially when he is forced to witness his mother being battered. The film was created in the animation studio of the author Anita Killi, located at a remote mountain farmstead (URL: Trollfilm <>). In the meantime, the filmmaker has joined Zentropa and is working on a feature-length animated film.
  • LOGORAMA by Franí§ois Alaux & Hervé de Crecy & Ludovic Houplain walked away with twelve festival awards and the 2010 Oscar for animated film. The characters and graphics in the animated chase film, which ends in global catastrophe, are composed of commercial mascots, logos and brand names. The film took six years for the French advertising film studio H5 to complete.
  • In third place are TUSSILAGO and TUUKRID VIHMAS (Divers in the Rain). TUSSILAGO is an animated narrative documentary by Jonas Odell, whose films LÖGNER (2008) and ALDRI SOM FÖRSTA Gí…NGEN (2006) already enjoyed resounding success. As in his earlier films, Odell uses the rotoscope technique to combine graphics with live-action scenes. This work is once again biographical: the story of a German terrorist’s girlfriend. TUSSILAGO was produced by Filmtecknarna Stockholm,  an advertising and short film studio co-founded by Jonas Odell. Finished in 2010, the film was recently nominated for the 2011 edition of the top Swedish film award, the Guldbagge.
  • DIVERS IN THE RAIN is a collaboration between the Estonian old master of animation Priit Pärn and his wife Olga, together with a female artist and a graphic artist with experience at Belarusfilm. The film tells the melancholy love story of a male diver and a female dentist whose differing work schedules mean that they only have time to meet for parting kisses. DIVERS IN THE RAIN was produced by Tallinn Joonisfilm, a spin-off of the former Tallinfilm, where Pärn worked since the 1970s.

Next place is a tie between several films, each with the same number of awards: ¿DONDE ESTA KIM BASINGER? by Edouard Deluc (F), DER KLEINE UND DAS BIEST by Johannes Weiland & Uwe Heidschötter (D), ICH BIN’S HELMUT by Nicolas Steiner (D), RITA by Antonio Piazza & Fabio Grassadonia (I), THE SIX DOLLAR FIFTY MAN by Mark Albiston & Louis Sutherland (NZ) and THE EXTERNAL WORLD by David O’Reilly (D).

David O’Reilly’s film is still relatively young and will surely make its way to many festivals in 2011. His earlier animated film PLEASE SAY SOMETHING was among the major prizewinners in 2009 and continued to win awards in 2010.

Other films that received several awards in 2009 also went on to reap further success in 2010, among them MUTO by blu, whose new film BIG BANG BIG BOOM is just embarking on its festival career, and WAGAH by Supriyo Sen & Najaf Bilgrami, which enjoyed continued acclaim.

The most successful film of 2009, SKHIZEIN by Jérémy Clapin, did not receive any further major festival awards in 2010. It is a prime example of how the “shelf life” of festival entries and honours is very short, lasting a maximum of two years.

As in previous years, Oscar nominees and winners did not play much of a role in the awards and festival prizes listed in this magazine. With the exception of LOGORAMA (winner in the Short Film Animated category), just one of the nominees, RABBIT À LA BERLIN, also received a festival award in 2010.


German films

Last year, WAGAH was far and away the most successful German production. In 2010 the field of honourees is broader. Three films tied for first place: DER KLEINE UND DAS BIEST by Johannes Weiland & Uwe Heidschötter, ICH BIN’S HELMUT by Nicolas Steiner and BIG BANG GIB BOOM by David O’Reilly. Of these three, ICH BIN’S HELMUT was the most popular at home in Germany.

The top three were followed by A LOST AND FOUND BOX OF HUMAN SENSATIONS by Martin Wallner & Stefan Leuchtenberg, APOLLO by Felix Gönnert, HOLDING STILL by Florian Riegel, LOVE & THEFT by Andreas Hykade and MOBILE by Angela Fels.

Apart from eight films with two awards apiece, the remaining nearly 80 (!) German films that were cited in 2010 on received one prize each.


Audience awards

As in previous years, the audience awards tally quite closely with the votes of the expert juries. The most audience awards were conferred in 2010 on the animated films SINNA MANN and LOGORAMA.

A major difference between the votes cast by the audience and the juries can be found once again in the range of films honoured – this is much wider for the juries, while the public tended to focus on a much more limited selection of works.


It’s lonely at the top again: award concentration in 2010

When we looked back over the year 2008, we already noted that the distribution pyramid for film prizes tends to taper off considerably toward the top. Only about 50 out of 800 awarded films received more than two international awards. And the small group of “frontrunners” that stood out worldwide included only 18 films. In 2009 only 15 films were able to amass more than four awards each. This means that 12% of all awards conferred were concentrated on this small group of works.

In 2010 more than 800 films received just one each of the total of over 1,000 prizes available. Only 54 of some 870 different award-winning titles received more than two awards. But these 54 films accumulated nearly one quarter of all prizes conferred in 2010.


Consensus festivals and trendsetters

Surveying the top 15 films and the intersecting set of festivals at which they received awards, we concluded in 2009 that the same 15 had in many cases been honoured simultaneously at a relatively small group of festivals. This tendency was not as pronounced in 2010. Only at the festival in Hiroshima did four of the films in the top group all walk away with prizes. At a great many festivals, however, at least two awards went to members of the common set of most successful films: Alcala de Henares, Anima in Brussels, Clermont-Ferrand, Fantoche Baden, Hamburg, Leipzig, Odense, Ottawa and Sapporo.

The four films cited above as accumulating the most awards were “launched” at festivals in Aspen, Clermont-Ferrand, Brussels (Anima Festival) and San Francisco.


Short film awards at feature film festivals

Last year, we noted some changes in the jury awards at the (non-short-film) festivals in Cannes and Berlin, which seemed to be evolving into trendsetters for the short film sector as well. This year, however, the films premiering in Cannes and winning prizes there did not receive awards at prominent short film festivals. And of the Berlinale Bear winners only one film was subsequently successful elsewhere too (HÄNDELSE VID BANK by Ruben Östlund). The same can be said of the Rotterdam Film Festival. Meeting with consensus on the other hand was the short film jury prize in Sundance: THE SIX DOLLAR FIFTY MAN received more than six awards at international short film festivals. Astonishing results were witnessed this year at the Mostra in Venice, where the jury selected THE EXTERNAL WORLD by David O’Reilly and COMING ATTRACTIONS by Peter Tscherkassy for awards. The latter is one of the few experimental films to find favour internationally in 2010.

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