On the weekend of August 21st and 22nd in the year 2021, Rene Aranda and Christina Holleran embarked on a weekend excursion to Cinemaland, a la Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021, a welcomed respite from the isolation of the pandemic. And what a marvelous show it was, “one of the best film festival immersions” either filmmaker had experienced in their combined decades in the industry.

Festival Director BECKY MURDOCH, Artistic Director ERIN BROWN THOMAS, and Head Programmer LAUREN REID are geniuses. Bravo!

To honor the superb caliber of selections amidst this Festival’s 5th year program, Raccoon TV has elected to award our personal picks in the following categories. These opinions do not reflect the official Salute Your Shorts Film Festival organizers and/or jurors, and Raccoon TV is in no way affiliated with the Festival. These titles are exclusively awarded by Rene Aranda and Christina Holleran, two avid moviegoers and fellow industry professionals.

BEST DRAMA – Alina

Still of Alina - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of Alina | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

Directed by Rami Kodeih
Produced by Nora Mariana, Rachelle Owen, Rubber Duck Films,
Courtney Prather, Rami Kodeih, Joshua Owen
USA, 201925 min

Our best drama pick was Alina. Alina is about a heroic child smuggler in the Warsaw ghetto during World War II as she attempts to sneak a baby out amidst the Nazi forces closing in on the encampment.

Everything about this movie was so well done. The acting was top notch. Not only did all the women in the Warsaw ghetto give believable performances when the stakes were high, but Alia Shawkat’s performance of Alina understating her presence while effectively maneuvering through the rough terrain of Nazi soldiers was captivating and tense. The Nazi leader who gets in her way also has some great moments of commanding authority and someone to truly fear. The speech he gives near the end solidifies not only a wonderful acting moment for him, but an edgy narrative that touches on the writer’s abilities to encapsulate the ultimate drive of the antagonist.

The story was so well-paced and edited, I forgot I was watching a short film. The costumes and locations took me back to that place and time with ease, and the overall arc of the film created a mesmerizing, hold-your-breath journey as you root for the protagonist’s success through seemingly impossible obstacles.

Other Nominees: Forbidden to See Us Scream in Tehran,
The Invisible Monster, The Letter Room, Ala Kachuu

Written by Christina Holleran

BEST COMEDY – A Hole

Still of A Hole - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of A Hole | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

Directed by James Solomon
Produced by Lissandra Leite
New Zealand, 201914 min

As a freelance filmmaker, there are no words to describe the blood-boiling frustration of deciphering and meeting a client’s demands when said client lacks depth of understanding of what that “ask” entails – there is only AHole.

Raccoon TV’s Choice for Best Comedy goes to the 2019 New Zealand produced fourteen minute short film, A Hole, Directed by James Solomon and starring the impressive Josh McKenzie.

Not only does the movie’s aesthetic, technical and ensemble prowess speak for itself for why it won us over, but it speaks for millions of filmmakers across the world- nay, The Universe, who break their backs for the trickle-down.

Other Nominees: Silvertop, The Treatment, Mishou, I’m Not A Robot, Dancer Boy

Written by Rene Aranda

BEST DRAMEDY – The Forgotten Place

Still of The Forgotten Place - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of The Forgotten Place | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

Directed by Oscar Rene Lozoya
Produced by Brian Flaccus, Ben Dunn,
Celia Cowles, Oscar Rene Lozoya
USA, 202112 min

An ode to the Angeleno’s plight of finding genuine friendships in the face of fast paced career-cities is Oscar Rene Lozoya’s The Forgotten Place, a US produced twelve minute short film conceived by and starring the writer. Rehearsed to perfection like a broadway masterpiece, the pacing, the emotionally aware framing and camera movement, the coloring, the settings, and the blowout performances are masterfully utilized to paint a mesmerizing picture of the fear of being alone and the acceptance and undertaking of unconditional love, even when the absence kills you.

We laughed. We cried. We were those people on the screen. These are the reasons why we’ll never forget The Forgotten Place and it takes RTV’s choice for Best Dramedy.

Other Nominees: Raspberry, Close Ties to Home Country, Refrigerate After Opening

Written by Rene Aranda

BEST DOCUMENTARY – Meltdown in Dixie

Still of Meltdown in Dixie - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of Meltdown in Dixie | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

Directed by Emily Harrold
Produced by Emily Harrold, Seth Gadsden
USA, 202140 min

Times change but not always or immediately for the better – and sometimes, it seems progress can even take a few steps backwards before it leaps forward. In the same light, the making of an honest documentary can pull filmmakers years into going behind closed doors they’d never want to be behind otherwise and listening to all sides with cameras always rolling to ensure they catch the span of history unfolding before them. 

This is what Director Emily L. Harold and her crew subjected themselves to in the making of Meltdown in Dixie, an up-close and personal glimpse into the legal conflict between a family-owned Orangeburg ice cream shop and the Sons of the Confederate. Emotions escalate over the flying of a flag in the name of ancestral honor on a tiny tip of property that mislead customers into defaming the adjacent business, as it offended those whose ancestors were enslaved and oppressed by the war-efforts of the original flag bearers.

We watched years of footage unravel and true colors surface as social movements developed with disbelief at how adamantly the “historians” clung to their pride of a piece of cloth whose mission was penned and pressed in ink and reinforced with blood, even if it meant ruining a local business and a family’s livelihood. That’s what fueled RTV’s selection of Meltdown in Dixie for Best Documentary.

Other Nominees: Snowy, Footsteps, Messania’s Story, Neurodivergent, The Box

Written by Rene Aranda

BEST FOREIGN FILM – The Invisible Monster

Still of The Invisible Monster
(Still of The Invisible Monster | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

Directed by Guillermo Fesser Perez de Petinto
Produced by Javier Fesser Perez de Petinto
Spain, 202029 min

The Invisible Monster was our favorite foreign film. In a world that is overshadowed by hunger and poverty, our protagonist finds the happiness inside of him to survive the scarcity by being the best garbage collector in his village. The juxtaposition of the way the protagonist’s father and him see the world to the actual depravity of the world they live in is a true testament to the power of the human spirit when one chooses positivity over circumstances. The child actor lit up the screen, as well as an ensemble cast that filled in his universe. The locations take us to another world in poverty-stricken Philippines, with an ironically beautiful wide shot of what I imagine must be a real garbage site.

Other Nominees: Cuckoo!, Alina, Jesus 2020, The Criminals,
Forbidden to See Us Scream in Tehran, Ala Kachuu

Written by Christina Holleran

BEST ANIMATION – Mishou

Still of Mishou - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of Mishou | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

Directed by Milen Vitanov
Produced by Milen Vitanov,
Vera Trajanova, Mina Mileva
Germany, 20208 min

What to say about Mishou. In Mishou, we have this cute animated story which takes place in Antarctica about a puppy that was left behind in a purse by tourists and is discovered and taken in by four wild rabbits. Their journey to take care of their new pet ensues in hilarity, heartwarming love, and forever friendships. What makes this story unique is the way they blended real scenes with animation, the real scenes providing a more grounded guide for their settings while also still encircling the world in solid animation. The narrative by Vera Trajanova and Milen Vitanov was endearing, and this had us laughing out loud and quietly sobbing as we got a sneak peak into the lives of the animals live in the Antarctic.

Written by Christina Holleran

BEST SUPER SHORT – “I’m Not a Robot”

Still of I’m Not a Robot - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of I’m Not a Robot | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

Directed by Brian Olliver
Produced by Brian Olliver
USA, 20203 min

A short, but make it shorter, but make it make us want it to be longer. Is it possible for mere mortals? One might think only a robot could produce a script so tight, a frame so intentional, costumes so flawless, performances so perfect – but this human can verify, other humans can achieve incredible things when all the pieces are right. And that’s what Brian Oliver has done with his three minute funfest of the festival, “I’m Not A Robot”. He checks all the boxes, so we checked his film off next to RTV’s flesh-handsdown choice for Best Super Short.

Other Nominees: “Dormo Poco e Sogno Molto”,

Written by Rene Aranda

BEST NARRATIVE – The Mohel

Still of The Mohel - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of The Mohel | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

Directed by Charles Wahl
Produced by Charles Wahl, Evan Kelly,
Gharrett Patrick Paon
Canada, 202014 min

Best narrative goes to The Mohel. A Jewish-raised dad and his newly converted wife bring a Rabbi to their home to ceremoniously circumsize their son while the politics of the religion force an awkward confrontation. The completeness of the story arc, the emotionality of the dad, the rationality of the Rabbi, and the uncertain future for their family all lent to why this was our top favorite. This is one of the few where we wanted to see this short film materialize into a movie, as it got us hooked to the dad’s struggles and, although while having a complete structure, left us wanting more.

Other Nominees: Cuckoo!, The Letter Room, The Invisible Monster, Snowy,
Mishou, Alina, Refrigerate After Opening, Feeling Through

Written by Christina Holleran

BEST COMING OF AGE STORY – Ala Kachuu

Still of Ala Kachuu - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of Ala Kachuu | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

Directed by Maria Brendle
Produced by Nadine Lüchinger, Flavio Gerber
Switzerland, 202038 min

Ala Kachuu wins for best coming of age story. In a world where tradition reigns supreme, a forward thinking girl challenges her parents’ view of her future but is sent back to live out the traditions of the past. This story is a chilling representation of all the brides who have been kidnapped and forced into marriage, and it really speaks volumes to the perseverance of our protagonist to see the fault in the past and find the courage inside her to escape and build her own future.

Other Nominees: Peeps, A Line Birds Cannot See, Enough.

Written by Christina Holleran

BEST CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT – Dọlápọ̀ is Fine

Still of Dolapo is Fine
(Still of Dolapo is Fine | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

Directed by Ethosheia Hylton
Produced by Millie Marsh
UK, 202015 min

Dọlápọ̀ is Fine is our choice for Best Character Development. Dọlápọ̀ is Fine is about a girl struggling to remain true to her identity while the world is asking her to change, starting with her name, then also with her hair. Doyin Ajiboye (Dọlápọ̀) has an incredible character arc, taking her from one end of the spectrum to the other, ending the tale with a much better idea of who she is versus what everyone wants her to be. Bravo for finding her inner strength to express herself!

Other Nominees: The Forgotten Place

Written by Christina Holleran

OUTSTANDING DIRECTING

We chose four winners for Outstanding Directing: Forbidden to See Us Sceam in Tehran, Cuckoo!, Alina, and Feeling Through.

Still of Forbidden to See Us Scream in Tehran - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of Forbidden to See Us Scream In Tehran | via Salute Your Short Film Festival website)

Directed by Farbod Ardebili
Produced by Victoria Razevska Hill, Soroush Arayesh,
Patrick Reasonover, Matt Edwards, Sarah Jane Murray
Iran, 202018 min

Forbidden to See Us Scream in Tehran gets the award not just because of his direction on screen, but because of the Farbod Ardebili’s efforts and perseverance at getting this film made. Living in Los Angeles, he himself left Iran in order to pursue his dreams and ended up finding a ground crew in Iran to film his short. Directing through WhatsApp, he managed to achieve gritty performances, incredible locations, and did it all while protecting his cast and crew. Rock on.

Still of Cuckoo! - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of Cuckoo! | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

Directed by Jörgen Scholtens
Produced by Jörgen Scholtens, Jimmy Groeneveld
Netherlands, 20197 min

Cuckoo! gets an emphatic nod because of Jörgen Scholtens’ unique direction of this dystopian Black Mirror-esque short film where a one- to two-inch man’s job is to be the cuckoo clock for an elderly lady every hour on the hour so she won’t miss her meds. The delight in his direction of visual effects (complete with a harnessed machine that shoots him out every hour), production design, and finding the heart of the story makes us go cuckoo for the directing.

Still of Alina - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of Alina | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

Directed by Rami Kodeih
Produced by Nora Mariana, Rachelle Owen, Rubber Duck Films,
Courtney Prather, Rami Kodeih, Joshua Owen
USA, 201925 min

Alina, as before mentioned, is such a gritty tale with everything about it done so well, that it would be a shame to take away the directing honors for this one. The pacing of the edit, the clear direction of the story, the realism of the actors, and the style of the film all lead us to pick Rami Kodeih’s Alina as one of the top contenders for Outstanding Directing.

Still of Feeling Through - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of Feeling Through | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

Directed by Doug Roland
Produced by Sue Ruzenski, Phil Newsom,
Luis Augusto Figueroa
USA, 202018 min

Feeling Through is our last pick. Feeling Through is a story about a young man on the street who helps an older man – who is blind and deaf – home by the bus station. This film gets Outstanding Directing partially because of Doug Roland’s ability to lead these actors through the film with great communication, empathy, and understanding. Roland also found the pulse of the narrative and character structures that took us on a heartwarming journey that connects us all together, which is why this film gets a respectful nod from us.

Other Nominees: Meltdown in Dixie, The Letter Room, Peeps, The Invisible Monster, The Criminals

Written by Christina Holleran

OUTSTANDING ACTING

One of the best and certainly not to be overlooked parts of a production is the acting. Great acting takes you away from just watching a film and transports you into the heart and soul of each character, their multi-faceted lives providing an echo chamber of our own struggles and desires. Here are our picks for Outstanding Acting:

Still of Forbidden to See Us Scream in Tehran - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of Forbidden to See Us Scream In Tehran | via Salute Your Short Film Festival website)

BEST ACTRESS: Mohadeseh Kharaman (Forbidden to See Us Scream in Tehran)

Mohadeseh Kharaman‘s struggle to take care of her sister while also pursuing a better life was fraught with internal opposition, all of which was magically captured in her acting in Forbidden to See Us Scream in Tehran. Her frailty at not knowing which direction to go paired with her strength to rise up from the oppressed system she lives under creates such a dynamic character that you follow her determination and tears with conviction, worry, and hope.

Still of Feeling Through - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of Feeling Through | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

BEST ACTOR: Steven Prescod (Feeling Through)

Our lead protagonist starts off the film Feeling Through with heart but no direction. As we experience his interaction with a deaf and blind man, we see his heart shine as it overcomes his own internal desires and makes him a better human than most are willing to be. To this, we credit Steven Prescod for best acting.

Still of Beverly Todd in On the Ride - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival
(Still of Beverly Todd in On the Ride | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Beverly Todd (On the Ride)

The emotional depth of a woman who has suffered a great loss and educating another who has also lost tremendously provides the weight needed to carry On the Ride home from its heart-wrenching journey. Her heart to empathize with the protagonist and her stamina to tell her story makes Beverly Todd our pick for Best Supporting Actress.

Still of Robert Tarango in Feeling Through
(Still of Robert Tarango in Feeling Through | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Robert Tarango (Feeling Through)

We can only guess how many obstacles Robert Tarango had to go through to portray a man not unlike himself in Feeling Through. Aside from this, however, his acting is incredibly genuine, heartfelt, and true. We were drawn to his infectious energy, complete with a smile and a lesson that all of us can feel: just because we are born with difficulties, that doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy the life that we are given. His joy is palpable through the screen, and his optimism resonates and lands for our choice for Best Supporting Actor.

Other Nominees: LEAD ACTRESS – Sales Per Hour, LEAD ACTOR – The Treatment,
ENSEMBLE – “I’m Not A Robot”

Written by Christina Holleran

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – Silvertop

Still of Silvertop - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of Silvertop | Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

Directed by Tom J Stern
Produced by Tom J Stern
USA, 20197 min

Drone shots, a dog, dolly-shots, pans (and did we mention a dog?) of a sprawling yard, breathtaking views, architectural masterpieces, interior designed for the 1%, the hilltop location for Hollywood Legends and subject of the Marvel Universe. Excited? Down boy. Now picture a slow-motion shot in HD of a dog as a tennis ball flies past his pug-mug. Woof. Do we really need to elaborate on why Tom J. Stern’s Silvertop topped gold for RTV’s Best Cinematography? We can’t afford the mansion this real-estate documentary is selling but we’ll buy another movie and be following this camera-man’s career like puppies, begging for more.

Other Nominees: Forbidden to See Us Scream in Tehran, Cuckoo,
The Invisible Monster, Alina, Victoria, Raspberry

Written by Rene Aranda

OUTSTANDING EDITING

Stories and how they’re edited stand the test of time in how they cement the director’s vision onto our screens. With so many tellings impacting each of us in different ways for different reasons, it can be difficult to select just one “best”. This is the position we at RTV found ourselves in when selecting Outstanding Editing. 

When editing is done right, you forget about the editing. This was the case with Cuckoo! and Alina

Still of Cuckoo! - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of Cuckoo! | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

Directed by Jörgen Scholtens | Produced by Jörgen Scholtens, Jimmy Groeneveld | Netherlands, 20197 min

Still of Alina - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of Alina | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

Directed by Rami Kodeih
Produced by Nora Mariana, Rachelle Owen, Rubber Duck Films,
Courtney Prather, Rami Kodeih, Joshua Owen
USA, 201925 min

Still of A Hole - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of A Hole | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

Directed by James Solomon | Produced by Lissandra Leite | New Zealand, 201914 min

Still of Oleander - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival
(Still of Oleander | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

Directed by Kate Hackett | Produced by Kate Hackett | USA, 201914 min

Emotionally evocative and superbly paced was the editing of A Hole

And utilization of editing to emphasize the power of editing that left an impactful message was Oleander.

Other Nominees: The Forgotten Place, The Invisible Monster, The Letter Room, The Mohel

Written by Rene Aranda

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN – Cuckoo!

Still of Cuckoo! - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of Cuckoo! | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

Directed by Jörgen Scholtens
Produced by Jörgen Scholtens, Jimmy Groeneveld
Netherlands, 20197 min

And Cuckoo! is our pick for Best Production Design. How in the world does a production designer create the inside of a cuckoo clock, complete with a harnessed catapult, windows to see to the outside living room, and still make it look like a man with his cat lives there? Look no further! The ingenuity of the design and the creativity to pull it off creates a new level to this universe that’s highly unique. Hats off to your work!

Other Nominees: Victoria, Alina, The Letter Room

Written by Christina Holleran

BEST COSTUME DESIGN – Alina

Still of Alina - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of Alina | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

Directed by Rami Kodeih
Produced by Nora Mariana, Rachelle Owen, Rubber Duck Films,
Courtney Prather, Rami Kodeih, Joshua Owen
USA, 201925 min

Period pieces can be difficult, especially when the goal is to not only adhere to the fashion of the era but also the level of grit of the times, as well as giving each character a signature personality expressed in their individual style. This was what made Alina impressive: from the protagonists to the antagonists to the baby blanket code worded as the “dress with the cheries” (while that fabric admittedly may have been provided as a prop), the entire collection of wardrobe and materials wove a powerful depiction of the reality people endured during those troubled times.

More intricately designed, the usage of one character’s costume pieces as a practical means to hide what their enemies would deem paraphernalia was a testament to the life-threatening stakes the resistance faced in the name of humanity. This is what empassioned our decision to elect Alina as RTV’s choice for Best Costume Design.

Other Nominees: Cuckoo!, Going Down Alone, Ala Kachuu, Victoria

Written by Rene Aranda

BEST MAKEUP – On the Ride

Still of On the Ride - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of On the Ride | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

Directed by Jen McGowan
Produced by Rebecca Stone, Jeremy Glazer, AMPLE Entertainment
USA, 201913 min

On the Ride is our pick for Best Makeup. While we weren’t fans of the lead character getting into a bike crash on his way to confront his past and move on, we were fans of the gnarly scrape work of the makeup artist in the aftermath. The detailed efforts of Allie Shehorn to give us a believable injury worked so incredibly well, we weren’t sure if the lead actor had method acted his way through the scene or not. Well done!

Other Nominees: Joanne is Dead

Written by Christina Holleran

BEST SOUND DESIGN – Footsteps

Still of Footsteps - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of Footsteps | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

Directed by Jeremy Benning
Produced by Jeremy Benning
Canada, 202014 min

Did you hear? Sound is one of the most important aspects of the motion picture industry. It’s more complicated than… well, than it sounds. Getting the right audio takes more than just the right equipment, recording, design and mixing – thought it does all start with that, but it sometimes requires some creative liberties. The most impactful sound effect sometimes originates in the studio by unconventional means and what you’re seeing is not what you’re actually hearing. We vibe with that, and that’s why Footsteps, a documentary on foley, is RTV’s choice for best Sound Design.

Other Nominees: Forbidden to See Us Scream in Tehran, Alina, Sound of a Painting

Written by Rene Aranda

MOST ORIGINAL – Cuckoo!

Still of Cuckoo! - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of Cuckoo! // via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

Directed by Jörgen Scholtens
Produced by Jörgen Scholtens, Jimmy Groeneveld
Netherlands, 20197 min

Most Original goes to Cuckoo! This is a story of a one (maybe two?) inch man living with his cat inside a wooden cuckoo clock who must catapult himself out of the clock as the human representation of a cuckoo bird every hour or else the old lady who lives in the house won’t wake up to take her meds and will die. At first, it goes swiftly and like…clockwork. However, when the man’s ambitions begin to take over his full time job, things begin to go awry.

As this ingenious concept begins to tangle itself with the likes of Netflix’s Black Mirror, Cuckoo! pays its homage best to the Theatre of the Absurd. This short film is filled with nonsensical irrationality, highlighting the downward spiral of a man trapped in a system and unable to escape both symbolic for this genre.

What a great short film to give new breath to this post-World War II designation, and that is why we chose Cuckoo! for Most Original.

Other Nominees: Jesus 2020, The Forgotten Place,
Joanne is Dead, Refrigerate After Open, A Hole

Written by Christina Holleran

MOST INNOVATIVE – Forever

Still of Forever - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of Forever | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

Directed by Mitch McGlocklin
Produced by Mitch McGlocklin
USA, 20207 min

Forever is our choice for Most Innovative. The director and star Mitch McGlocklin decided to use LiDAR, which stands for “Light Detection and Ranging”, to convey his message of the comfort of his data being stored in AI whilst his life is eroding away. This sensor technology has only really been used in self-driving vehicles which incorporates augmented reality with its sensors to measure the time it takes for the light to bounce off an object and back to the sensor. What is achieved is a fascinating new technology that looks pretty darn cool on the big screen. His use of LiDAR to tell this particular story is extremely captivating to watch and fits perfectly with the narrative. This short film’s innovation – the first film to use LiDAR ever – will surely stay with us forever.

Other Nominees: “Dormo Poco e Sogno Molto”

Written by Christina Holleran

MOST INSPIRATIONAL – Feeling Through

Still of Feeling Through - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of Feeling Through | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

Directed by Doug Roland
Produced by Sue Ruzenski, Phil Newsom,
Luis Augusto Figueroa
USA, 202018 min

Most Inspirational goes to Feeling Through. Apart from the choice to cast a real blind and deaf actor to play a blind and deaf character, there were so many moments which made this film truly inspirational. The heart of the protagonist as he leads his new buddy to his destination showed a warmth that was only catapulted by the optimistic genuineness of the man he was helping. To inspire us to be better people in a bleak world and to find the kindness within us all, we award Feeling Through as the Most Inspirational.

Other Nominees: Forbidden to See Us Scream in Tehran, The Invisible Monster

Written by Christina Holleran

MOST COMPELLING – The Box

Still of The Box - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of The Box | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

Directed by James Burns, Shal Ngo
Produced by Chris Wilson, Jake Ewald, Gabriela Dematteis
USA, 202015 min

The Box is our champion for Most Compelling. Told through several interviews with inmates who, at one point in their lives, were sent to solitary confinement, this gritty documentary explores the inhumane and morally corrupt nature of our jail system told through the eyes of those who suffered harshly under its bleak watch. Directed by James Burns and Shal Ngo, the former having had served time in solitary confinement himself, The Box is a film that leads us on a journey that will have you questioning with rage why this practice is still allowed to continue in our society.

Other Nominees: Meltdown in Dixie, Messania’s Story, Enough.

Written by Christina Holleran

MOST HEARTWARMING – Refrigerate After Opening

Still of Refrigerate After Opening - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of Refrigerate After Opening | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

Directed by Kevin Ung
Produced by Subhro Das
USA, 20206 min

We’ve all felt lost. We’ve all felt lonely. We’ve all felt hungry. Imagine our appetite for a story about a magic refrigerator that feeds your soul. Kevin Ung delivers a story with sustenance and we ate it up. They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. And the way to RTV’s Most Heartwarming is Refrigerate After Opening.

Other Nominees: Raspberry, Feeling Through, Snowy, Mishou, Dancer Boy

Written by Rene Aranda

MOST VISUALLY EFFECTIVE – “Dormo Poco e Sogno Molto”

Still of Dormo Poco e Sogno Molto - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of Dormo Poco e Sogno Molto | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

Directed by Paolo Santamaria
Produced by Paolo Santamaria
Italy, 20204 min

It’s granted that when you strap in for a motion picture, you’re about to embark on a journey. With the myriad of stories being told by millions across the years, it can sometimes feel like you’ve seen it all. Special effects can help storytellers get more fantastical and breathe life into their imaginings but there’s also something powerful about something tangible. Slams those two together and you get Paolo Santamaria’s “Dormo Poco e Sogno Molto”, an adorable four minute long Italian, cartoony musical number that sprawls from one handheld device to another, all splayed out or manually inserted into frame, in sync with the camera, and perfectly timed for the hero to seamlessly traverse the screens, wandering until he finds his way to his love and also our hearts. That’s what makes this music-video marvel RTV’s Choice for Most Visually Effective.

Other Nominees: Cuckoo!, A Hole, The invisible Monster, Forever,
Neurodivergent, Mishou, Jesus 2020, The Goldfish

Written by Rene Aranda

OUTSTANDING LOCATIONS

Not enough credit is given to the settings selected for films. And while this can be largely dependent on budget, it’s still up to producers, location managers and leads from cast and crew to find and decide on the final location to shoot – and they leave a lasting impression. Here are RTV’s Choices for Outstanding Locations:

Sales Per Hour | Alina | Ala Kachuu | Peeps | Silvertop | The Invisible Monster
Victoria | Forbidden to See Us Scream in Tehran

Still of Sales Per Hour - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of Sales Per Hour | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)
Still of Silvertop - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of Silvertop | Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)
Still of Forbidden to See Us Scream in Tehran - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of Forbidden to See Us Scream In Tehran | via Salute Your Short Film Festival website)
Still of Alina - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of Alina | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)
Still of Peeps - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of Peeps | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)
Still of Victoria - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of Victoria | via Salute Your Shorts website)
Still of Ala Kachuu - Salute Your Shorts Film Festival 2021
(Still of Ala Kachuu | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)
Still of The Invisible Monster
(Still of The Invisible Monster | via Salute Your Shorts Film Festival website)

Written by Rene Aranda

To Our Featured Filmmakers…

We invite the filmmakers to display these laurels anywhere you list your film. Thank you so much for your creativity and content and also to Salute Your Shorts Film Festival for their incredible hospitality and organization. Looking forward to the next film festival!

– Rene Aranda & Christina Holleran

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