An Iranian Animated Short Film Just Won #VOFF (And $70,000)

Tadaaaa. With over 500 entries and hundreds of thousands of users watching, discussing and voting for their favorite entries over a span of two weeks, our second online film festival has now come to a close. I know we’ve said it before, but the level of quality this time around blew our minds, and we’re excited to see if this holds up in our third festival for which submissions just opened.

On to the exciting part: below you’ll find the final top4, the jury’s deliberation video and an interview with the man of the hour, Ali Zare Ghanatnowi.

These are the winners of Viewster Online Film Fest 2:


1st: Dad’s Fragile Doll

 Cash prize: $70,000

Info: Iran, 2014, animated short, by Ali Zare Ghanatnowi

Ted Hope (VOFF juror) on Dad’s Fragile Doll:

“This animation was quite incredible. It shows real understanding and great use of sound and music. Dad’s Fragile Doll’s hand drawn intimacy and well told story caught a horrific moment and made it accessible to all while also adding new depth to the subject matter by demonstrating the filmmakers own evolution as an artist. It continued to surprise us and it never let us go. Great work!”


2nd: Wrong

Cash prize: $20,000

Info: South Korea, 2013, short, by Taegue Lim

Ted Hope (VOFF juror) on Wrong:

“It was impressive in all aspects that cinema can be. A film that captured the moment we are living in with complexity, nuance, and surprise. All aspects, from script, performance, design, cinematography, and editing were top notch.  This director is ready for features although we hope he keeps also making shorts as he packs more into them than others do in longer form.”

Timo Vuorensola (VOFF juror) on Wrong:

Wrong is like a Berlinale winner but not two hours long.”


3rd: Your Place

Cash prize: $7,500

Info: Germany, 2012, short, by Sylvia Borges

Timo Vuorensola (VOFF juror) on Your Place:

“Genuinely interesting, funny, well-written, and it has a good pace all through the film. It has a good idea but it doesn’t just stay there. It takes the good idea and makes it a good story which turns into a beautiful and romantic and touching film.“


4th: Next

Cash prize: $2,500

Info: Poland, 2011, short, by Adam Janisch

Nora Tschirner (VOFF juror) on Next:

“We were intrigued by the concept and we loved the consequent and courageous realization. It utilizes today’s technology and social attitudes and finds a way to make a story that is truly relevant to today. The film touched us. It’s a real internet thing.”


Immediately after Ted, Nora and Tim handed us the list of winners, we caught Ali Zare Ghanatnowi for a couple comments:

V: To those that haven’t yet seen Dad’s Fragile Doll, what’s it about?

A: It’s about a young girl who reconstructs the events leading to her father’s imprisonment and execution, using dolls her mother has made. The young girl then takes vengeance on the prison guard puppet doll. The film is about censorship. Censorship which could remove the father of the family, because of his thought—because of his enlightenment. With our current, new generation not being under censorship, censorship eventually fail, be destroyed and join the dustbin of history.


V: Why did you shoot this film?

A: There have been some strong passions and dreams that have governed my life. Suffering of mankind and civil rights have been my major obsession when shooting films. Despite all the obstacles like insufficient budget, this film was made to reflect the condition of humanity in a society where people struggle and fight against tyranny. It makes my life worth living, that I can make films which echo the cries of pain.


Ali Zare Ghanatnowi
Dad’s Fragile Doll and all the other +500 #VOFF 2 entries are available for free streaming until July 14th.


V: How is it to produce a film in Iran? Were there any particular challenges, when producing Dad’s fragile Doll?

A: The Iranian film administration is in a state where usually less critical ideological issues are being put to screen. So the making of art is in high regard by our independent filmmakers, who build projects with personal funds and have actually ended up shaping the current, modern Iranian cinema. We have very few facilities, and this heavily impacted the making of Dad’s Fragile Doll, which took over three years to produce due to the rotoscope amenities, and the limited amount of professional teams and artists in this field. These people are forced to work full-time in other jobs, seeing as professional independent filmmaking is not an option. Licenses are few and far between, and the independent films in domestic festivals are usually less considered, because the festivals are governed—and most awards are given to works that are public.


V: What value do you see in the support from VOFF and Viewster on top of the prize?

A: It’s always been always one of my dreams to make shorts, animations, and documentaries based on human rights. As a filmmaker, it’s my job to develop awareness of political and social issues, so this prize will allow me shoot what I’ve always dreamt about.


V: What does digital platforms mean to you, both in the distribution your work and in the process of discovering new opportunities?

A: This idea of power and domination has destroyed many public platforms and promotes a pandemic. Luckily, our country has developed very modern cinema facilities, all very accessible to my colleagues and myself, and these facilities have vastly improved the quality of local films. Additionally, thanks to the new, online playing field opened up by your festival, I am now able to interact with colleagues and likeminded people from all over the world, show them my film and receive instant feedback. These are all magic results of digital cinema, which is the future of theatre.


V: Why did you start directing?

A: For me storytelling is beautiful, and cinema is the art of storytelling in our century. My passion for cinema goes back to my teens, and all the problems that we experienced back then (such as closing our doors completely to the world of cinema, forcing people like me to become illegally find and watch video cassettes, essentially making me a criminal). But I kept watching these cassettes over and over again, fell in love with storytelling and the magic of cinema, and wanted to impress the people around me.


V: Can you reveal any information on your next projects?

A: My next film is called The Little Black Fish, and is an animated story of Little Black Fish. Little Black Fish loves exploring the sea and decides to follow the stream on day, but sadly ends up in the belly of a pelican. He is a brave fish who works hard and sadly ends up sacrificing his life to reach his goal. The film is stop motion, which play into the symbolic aspect of it all.


If you missed any the first time around, remember that you can still watch all the +500 entries in Viewster Online Film Fest 2 until July 14th. For free, of course. And if you know anyone who produces, directs or writes scary stuff, have them submit their work to our next festival, #VOFF 3, themed “Be afraid. Be VERY afraid”More details here.

Finally, here is the jury’s video announcement and comments on the winning titles:


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