On Memorial Day, we three Jurors met for the first time at the McMenamin’s on Queen Anne. Anna Sampers is an award-winning filmmaker and has been the Shorts Programs curator for the Milwaukee Film Festival for the past three years. Alonso Duralde is the film critic for The Wrap/Reuters and has written about film for Movieline, Salon, MSNBC.com, and HitFix. He also co-hosts the Linoleum Knife podcast, regularly appears on What the Flick?! (The Young Turks Network), and is the author of Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas (Limelight Editions) and 101 Must-See Movies for Gay Men (Advocate Books).
Charged with whittling SIFF’s 153 programmed shorts down to a winning 3, each of us arrived braced for a long afternoon of deliberation and debate. With SIFF generously offering to ply us with food and drink, we pulled out our spreadsheets and started to pour over our favorites. I was amazed. The process was far less painful than I had imagined. Our lists of faves overlapped considerably, which helped whittle down the pool of contenders.
Then we got down to serious business as we began championing our favorite films. We debated the ideal qualities of a winning short and weighed the relative merits of our favorite films, while considering the balance of our selection overall. After some juicy debating and bargaining, we made our final decision–one we all came away feeling really good about. (FYI, credit for the eloquently pithy film blurbs goes to Alonso, who came up with these off the top of his head.)
And the Grand Jury Prizes were awarded to…
Narrative – The Extraordinary Life of Rocky, directed by Kevin Meul (Belgium)
Jury statement: A darkly funny exploration of a young man with a curse. This unlikely romance marries perfect period detail with a wonderfully morbid Scandinavian sensibility.
Documentary – Paradise, directed by Nadav Kurtz (USA)
Jury statement: For approaching literally lofty subject matter from a down-to-earth perspective, and for allowing the subjects to tell their own stories.
Animation – Zergüt, directed by Natasha Subramaniam and Alisa Lapidus (USA)
Jury statement: Combining perishable elements with the meticulous nature of stop motion animation is just the beginning of the delicious wonders.
With hours to spare before our formal announcement, we ordered up more food and drinks, and spent the afternoon getting to know each other while ruminating over our favorite films. It was truly an honor and pleasure to serve on a jury with Alonso and Anna. I have been wanting to get a glimpse into this decision making process, and I couldn’t have hoped for better, more seasoned guides.