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Denis Do’s ‘Funan’ Wins Grand Prize, Audience Award at Second ANIMATION IS FILM Festival

Director Salvador Simó’s ‘Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles’ receives special jury prize.

‘Funan,’ written and directed by Denis Do, won the Grand Prize and Audience Award at the second annual ANIMATION IS FILM.

LOS ANGELES -- ANIMATION IS FILM announced the winners of its second annual film festival on Tuesday with the feature film Funan, written and directed by Denis Do, sweeping both top honors of The Grand Prize, selected by the festival jury, and The Audience Award, selected by festival attendees. The film made its North American premiere at the festival and is a powerful and beautiful story of a young mother’s fight and determination to hold on to her family during unspeakably trying times.

Additionally, Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles took home The Special Jury Prize. This film, co-written and directed by Salvador Simó, captures the moment in the lives of master surrealist filmmaker Buñuel and his friend and new benefactor Ramón, who set out to make the unexpected and ambitious documentary on the Las Hurdes region in Spain.

Funan reminds us that animation can tell any kind of story. This versatile medium is by no means limited to fantastical or extraordinary subjects, but is in fact uniquely suited to incredibly personal ones as well,” said jury chairman Peter Debruge. “With Funan, director Denis Do explores what his Cambodian mother experienced at the hands of the Khmer Rouge regime, finding unexpected beauty within the horror of the situation. The jury agreed that the profound result actually feels more powerful by virtue of being made in animation. We were thrilled to watch all the films in competition this year, and to be reminded of the incredible diversity in subject, style, and sensibility to be found in this seemingly limitless art form,” he commented.

“We also chose to award a Special Jury Prize to ‘Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles’ for its innovative handling of unexpected subject matter,” Dubrage added.

Director Salvador Simó’s ‘Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles’ won the Special Jury Prize at the second annual ANIMATION IS FILM.

With more than 5,000 guests in attendance this year, ANIMATION IS FILM hosted sold out events for the Opening Night screenings of Mirai by Mamoru Hosoda (who was in attendance from Japan to speak after each screening) and Seder-Masochism by Nina Paley, as well as the special Behind the Scenes programs of the upcoming theatrical films Ralph Breaks the Internet from Disney and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse from Sony. The program also featured a celebration of the 20th anniversary screening of the Academy Award-winning film The Prince of Egypt, which received an Oscar for Best Original Song “When You Believe,” and pioneered the marriage of traditional hand-drawn work with state-of-the-art computer animation. The milestone event was followed by a discussion with the film’s directors, producers, and animators.

“I want to thank all the filmmakers, the festival jury, staff, volunteers, sponsors and especially the fans for supporting our mission and making the second Animation Is Film an amazing success,” stated festival founder and GKIDS CEO, Eric Beckman. “Congratulations to the winning filmmakers and to everyone who participated. Looking forward to AIF 2019!”

The 2nd Annual ANIMATION IS FILM Festival took place October 19-21 at the TCL Chinese 6 Theater in Hollywood. The festival presented a program of eleven new animated feature films in competition, with selections from Asia, Europe, South America and North America, and filmmakers attending for most screenings. Additionally, the festival presented a special retrospective of films with director Mamoru Hosoda, studio events, special screenings, and a short film program with the majority of screenings selling out. The festival was produced by GKIDS in partnership with Annecy International Animation Film Festival, Variety, and Fathom Events.


Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.