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20 International Short Filmmakers to Watch at Clermont-Ferrand

20 International Short Filmmakers to Watch at Clermont-Ferrand

New Machine Magazine names its list of short filmmakers appearing at the festival who are making waves.

The 39th Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival runs from February 3 to 11 in the small French city located about 5 hours drive from Paris. This year 75 filmmakers will compete for the Grand Prix as part of the International Competition, the festival has a domestic competition for French shorts as well. Clermont-Ferrand is perhaps one of the more significant film festivals on the calendar, particularly in Europe. While not as big as the Cannes Film Festival, the event draws thousands of people including those from the industry seeking out new directors who often first emerge with short projects.

Short films that premiere at Clermont-Ferrand usually go on to screen at other major film festivals around the world, notching up nominations and awards along the way. The event also has an adjunct Short Film Market for buyers, film festival programmers and other industry folks that runs February 4 to 10.  

New Machine’s editors have researched the selected filmmakers and highlighted 20 directors to watch as part of the international shorts festival program. We looked at aspects such as previous film festival nominations and awards as well as the number of short films produced in recent years to gauge career momentum.

Our selection includes not surprisingly many European auteurs, but a few Americans, Chinese and a couple of Brits make it into the international group. Some of the filmmakers listed below are familiar to festival programmers as they have already made a mark winning awards and earning nominations in the past year, notably Daniel Sawka’s Icebox, which scored the top shorts prize at AFI Fest, and the BAFTA-nominated short Home from Daniel Mulloy.


Director Ying Liang’s A Sunny Day screens as part of the International Competition. Ying’s 25- minute film is set in Hong Kong about a young woman who visits her father at the height of the Umbrella Movement. Her plan is to have lunch with him before the Umbrella Movement reaches a critical juncture. A Sunny Day won the Best Live Action Award at the Golden Horse Film Festival in Taipei last year. Ying’s 2005 short film Take Father Home was nominated in the New Director category at the Chicago International Film Festival and won the FIPRESCI/NETPAC Award at the Singapore International Film Festival.

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The animated short The Absence of Eddy Table from director Rune Spaans is about Eddy who finds himself lost in a dark forest where he meets an alluring girl infected by a mysterious parasite. Spaan’s most recent short Two Buddies and a Badger won the award for Best Children’s Film at the Norwegian Amanda Awards in 2016. Spaans has also worked as an animator and visual effects artist on Norwegian feature films like Trollhunter and Free Jimmy.

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The highly anticipated animated short The Alan Dimension from Jac Clinch screens in competition. Clinch’s film has earned significant accolades including a 2017 BAFTA Short Animation nomination and a Cinefoundation nomination at Cannes Film Festival last year. The Alan Dimension is about a man that uses divine powers of precognition to foresee the fate of mankind… and breakfast. Meanwhile, Wendy has had enough of being married to ‘the next step in cognitive evolution’.

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Russian director Igor Kovalyov’s animated short Before Love centres on the search for love and the myriad paths people take in that journey. Kovalyov is an experienced animator who has been nominated and won major film festival awards in the past 20 years, including an Annie nomination and awards at Annecy International Animated Film Festival, Sitges Catalonian International Film Festival, Ottawa International Animation Festival and the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.  Before Love recently scored the Grand Prix prize at Estonia’s Animated Dreams International Animated Film Festival. Kovalyov made his mark in 2005 with Milch, an Annie-nominated film, which also won the Ottawa Animation Festival Grand Prize.


Bird Dog from American director Katrina Whalen screens in competition. Whalen’s 26 minute short follows an imaginative young girl who is confronted by fear and wonder after swallowing the heart of a mourning dove while on a hunting trip with her family. The short won the Macon Film Festival Best Student Short Film in 2016.

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Battalion To My Beat from from Japanese director Eimi Imanishi is set in an isolated refugee camp in southeast Algeria. The short film, about Mariam, who runs away from the camp in the remote Western Sahara hoping to liberate her homeland from occupation, won the Best Short Film Prize at the Cambridge African Film Festival last year. Battalion also screened in competition at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival and the BFI London Film Festival. Eimi Imanishi is a graduate of the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London.

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Swiss filmmaker Marc Raymond Wilkins screens his short Bon Voyage. Wilkin’s short film is another important work that highlights the refugee crisis in Europe. The story is about Jonas and Silvia who are enjoying a sailing holiday in the Mediterranean. But far away from land, they discover an overloaded refugee boat, close to sinking. They call the coast guards but lose sight of the boat. In the early morning, they find themselves drifting through an ocean of dead bodies. Bon Voyage won the Jury Award for Best Live Action Short at the Palm Springs International Shortsfest and picked an award at the San Diego Film Festival last year. Wilkins previous short films have screened at Clermont-Ferrand, Cannes Short Film Corner and Sao Paulo Short Film Festival.

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Campo de Viboras from Portuguese director Cristèle Alves Meira has already enjoyed numerous accolades in her native Portugal. Major awards include the FNAC New Talent Award- Short Film at the IndieLisboa Independent Film Festival and the Best Short Film at the Coimbra Caminhos do Cinema Português. Notably Miera was nominated for a New Discovery Award at Cannes last May. Campo De Viboras is set in a small Portuguese village about the conflict that follows an old lady’s murder. Her 40-year-old daughter, Lurdes, flees without telling anyone.


Renata Gasiorowska’s Pussy is about a girl who spends the evening home alone. She decides to have ‘a sweet solo pleasure session’, but not everything goes according to plan. The 8-minute short won the Film School Festival Munich ZweiB Award for Best Animation. Gasiorowska is a graduate of Polish National Film, Television and Theatre School in Lodz, Poland.


Coin Boy from director Chuan-Yang Li won the Best Short Film Award at the Hawaii International Film Festival last year. The 24-minute short that Chuan-Yang Li also wrote tells the story of Tai, a fourth-grade student whose family owns a claw machine business.


German writer and director Francy Fabritz’s Eatge X screens in competition. The film is about a chance encounter in the elevator of a shopping center that causes two older women to reach their limit and forces them to improvise when the elevator gets stuck. Eatge X scored the major film school prize at the San Sebastián International Film Festival and earned a runner up nod for Best German Short Film Award Berlin Interfilm Festival in 2016. Fabritz studied film at the Deutsche Film-und Fernsehakademie Berlin (DFFB) and previously made several shorts including Gier (2012), Butch is Beautiful (2013) and Schwein (2015).


Marc Reisbig’s third short film Working with Animals screens at Clermont-Ferrand. Marc’s debut short Time is Running Out, won the Prix UIP (European Short Film) at the 2008 Krakow Film Festival and as a result was nominated at the European Film Awards that same year. Working with Animals is about a documentary film director trying to control something that is inherently uncontrollable, wild animals. Juan Sebastian Elcano, is a seasoned, self important but sensitive nature documentary filmmaker. He starts treating his subjects, the animals, as if they were actors. The film is a character study of a passionate artist in his natural habitat. It takes the form of a behind-the-scenes film from one of his documentaries set on the Galapagos Islands. Marc is from Oslo and is a graduate of the Central Saint Martin’s College of Art in London.


Anna Budanova’s animated short Among the Black Waves is her follow up to the well received 2013 short Obida. Obida scored major awards at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, Annecy International Animated Film Festival and the Hiroshima International Animation Festival. Anna’s follow up short is a story based on an ancient Northern legend in which the souls of drowned people turn into sea animals. When a hunter steals a seal-girl’s skin, she can’t turn back into an animal. She becomes his wife, but often stares at the sea. The film screened at the Chicago Film Festival and received a Locarno Film Festival Nomination for the European Film Awards – Pianifica Prize in 2016.


Red Apple from George Sikharulidze enjoyed a good run this festival season, earning nominations at high profile film festivals such as Toronto and Austin. His previous accomplishments include a nomination at Palm Springs International Shortsfest for his directorial debut The Fish That Drowned in 2014. Red Apple is about a young Armenian bride’s relationship with her husband that is put to the test the first day of their marriage when her mother-in-law interferes. George was born in Tbilisi, Georgia and studied film at Columbia University in New York.


French director Aude Léa Rapin returns to Clermont-Ferrand festival with her short Long Live the Emperor after her previous film Your Heart at Random won the Grand Prix prize in 2015. Long Live is set against the backdrop of Napoleon’s troops as they gather near Waterloo. Time is running out for Bébé, a common soldier who is seeking a battalion to join the Great Army as they prepare to launch the attack on the British. Aude’s other short films include Enclave (2014), Nino’s Place (2014) and La météo des Plages / The Beach (2014).


In Kropsdam Is Ideren Gelukkig is the 2016 Warsaw International Film Festival award-winning film from Dutch director Joren Molter. The short is set in a small village called Kropsdam, an oppressive, misguided community starts harassing quiet farmer Lammert, after wrongly accusing him of helping to build a wind turbine in their town.

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Swedish director Daniel Sawka’s Icebox has received a solid reception as it made the film festival rounds in 2016, most significantly by winning the Best Live Action Short at AFI Fest.  Icebox, which is Daniel’s AFI thesis film, is about Oscar, a young boy from Honduras who is caught trying to illegally enter the United States, where he endures a harrowing experience at the juvenile immigrant processing facility. Daniel is a graduate of the American Film Institute’s Directing Program. He is a classically trained actor who attended the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Icebox screened in official competition at the Hamptons International Film Festival and Seattle International Film Festival, where it was nominated for best short film. In addition to shorts, Daniel has directed commercials and a TV-pilot in his native Sweden. The short was produced by Camille Cornuel with cinematography by Ian Holliday.


German director Annika Pinske’s Homework is about a young father, his twelve year old daughter, one night club, two secrets and a lie that will solve everything. Annika scored a Student Camera Award at the Munich International Festival of Film Schools and a Gold Award at the German Short Movie Award in 2016, her previous short Anyways was also nominated for a German Short Movie Award in 2015.  She is also the assistant to Toni Erdmann director Maren Ade and currently studying directing at DFFB in Berlin.


Daniel Mulloy is a BAFTA award-winning English director screening his latest short film Home at Clermont-Ferrand. Home tells the story of a family who is forced to leave England under an extreme situation. The 20 minute-film, which stars Jack O’Connell (Unbroken), depicts themes such as war, survival and migration. Home has won numerous awards since it hit the festival circuit last year including the Jury Award at the Palm Springs International ShortsFest, the Grand Prix at the Reykjavik International Film Festival and the Sapporo International Short Film Festival, to name a few. Home is also nominated for a BAFTA award next month.

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Latvian Animator Vladimir Leschiov is a prolific filmmaker who has earned multiple nominations and awards in the past 10 years. He is screening his latest short Waiting for the New Year about “a lonely woman street cleaner’s letter to unknown person, written on the first day of the New Year: a year spent observing the seasons and dreaming of a miracle for the following New Year”. Vladimir won the Best Animation Award at the 2005 Clermont-Ferrand event and picked up major animation prizes at the Hiroshima International Animation Festival and Krakow Film Festival.