Winners of the Oulu International Children’s and Youth Film Festival

Children’s jury: Iris by Ulrika Bengts
The CIFEJ prize: Lost in Africa by Vibeke Muasya
The ECFA prize: On the Sly by Olivier Ringer
The Church Media Foundation’s Prize: The Little Snow Animal by Miia Tervo
The Northern Film and Media Foundation POEM’s Little Bear Award: producer Mikael Wahlforss

KALEVA AWARD: IRIS

Since 1992 a children’s jury has awarded the Kaleva prize of 3000 euros to the director of the best film in competition at the Oulu International Children’s and Youth Film Festival.

The comments of the Children’s jury:
”The winning film had a genuine atmosphere. It had a clear and good plot and the filming location was charming. There was magnificent acting and wonderful music in the film. It also included a diversity of emotions. Altogether the film worked well, even though there were also sad scenes in it.

The winner is: Iris by Ulrika Bengts. The second was the funny “Mr Hayhill and the Lion Wind Vane”.”

The director’s statement:
“I want to thank the children’s jury for this fine award – when making films for children, obviously the children’s voice is the most important. For me your choice shows that we need children’s film in which life is taken seriously, in which we don’t turn away from difficulties. One film cannot solve problems, but it can make us feel less lonely and share our load.

Even though “Iris” starts in minor key, towards the end it becomes a light and positive film. I want to thank our child actors for that. They have created so much joy,
playfulness and spontaneity to this film.“

FOR TOMORROW –AWARD: SKYSCRAPER

This year the Friends of the Young organisation gave out the For Tomorrow -award for the first time to the best youth film at the festival. The members of the jury were Lassi Kangasluoma from the Friends of the Young organisation, and 15-year-olds Hilla Männikkö from Myllytulli school and Ella Väätäinen from the film club Kolina.

The jury’s comments:
“The film has a peculiar, unique, compelling atmosphere. Details are lovely and carefully thought out and even minor characters have their own characteristics and personality that are conveyed well to the viewer. In spite of its skewed, absurd and rather rough humour, the film is also delicate and beautiful.

Actors are good and fit their roles well. Even if the events are realistic and earthy, the film’s world is bizarrely fantastical. The music is excellent and suits the film’s atmosphere very well.”

The director’s statement:
”In many ways Skyskraber is about the struggle to become the person you wanna be. To dare to do the things in life you wanna do. I know I’ve struggled with that. So getting this nod from you guys, saying you liked the film – hits me bigger and stronger than you might think. It makes daring to do it again, a whole lot easier. Thank you so much.”

CHURCH MEDIA FOUNDATION AWARD: THE LITTLE SNOW ANIMAL

The Finnish Evangelic-Lutheran Church grants a 1500 euro prize to a Finnish feature or short film for children or young people. The award is intended to support Finnish films for children and young people and encourage film makers to examine Christian responsibility and values.

The Look at Me…-award winner was selected by director Iiris Härmä, who won the award herself last year with her documentary “Omaa luokkaansa”.

The jury Iiris Härmä’s statement:
“The film is about the longing for love and it reminds us about how important it is to love and appreciate oneself, too.

By using an associative imagery, the film brings to life the moment when a young person faces questions about morality and the responsibility of her acts in her own life. That moment is difficult, but it is also an opportunity for growth.

The film’s dialogue, the encounter represented with it, brings the element of hope to the film, and also reminds us that we’re not alone here, that we can all help and support one another to grow.”

The director’s statement:
“Thankful greetings from among moving boxes, and the surprised world of a woman on maternity leave! It is great if “The Little Snow Animal” finds new young audiences this way. It’s really amazing if a youngster recognises something in its story. It is no film for children, but I’ve had young people in my mind while making it. So, greetings to the young, thank you!”

ECFA AWARD: ON THE SLY

A new award, the ECFA Award, was given out this year. The ECFA Award was founded by the European Children’s Film Association in 2010. It was awarded to the best European film in International Competition by a jury of four ECFA members. The European Children’s Film Association’s goal is to support, promote and stimulate the development of European films for children and young people.

The International Jury this year were: Danish film director Giacomo Campeotto, President of the European Children’s Film Association Tonje Hardersen, the former festival director of the Oulu International Children’s and Youth Film festival Pentti Kejonen and the general secretary of the European Children’s Film Association Felix Vanginderhuysen.

The jury’s comments:
“We, the International Jury have decided to give the ECFA award to the Belgian film “On The Sly” It has a very original story and is told truly and touching from the childs point of view.

We feel that the story leaves you with reflections and thought upon the well being and upbringing of our children as well as an opening of a “secret window” into the childs own world. Further more we find that the main character gives a brilliant performance both in the voice over as well as in her prescence on the screen.

Congratulations!”

The director’s statement:
“I want to thanks the jury for this award. On the Sly is a family movie made by a family. In front of the camera, they was Wynona, and behind the camera, her father and her uncle. I want to thanks my daughter Wynona for what she did as an actress and she was very very young, she had to play only with her eyes and her inner feelings, and this is the most difficult for any actor. To play in a feature film is a very long adventure for a little girl.”

CIFEJ PRIZE: LOST IN AFRICA

CIFEJ, The International Center of Film for Children and Young People, has created the CIFEJ prize in 1981. It was first given out at the Oulu festival in 1995. This year the winner of the CIFEJ prize was selected by the same jury as the ECFA award.

The jury’s comments:
”The International Jury will award the CIFEJ prize to a film that has an original and action driven plot, but at the same time deals with the serious matter of extreme difference in living conditions in the world.

It shows an impressive performance by its young cast in the ghetto, whose characters are portrayed both with respect and affection. It has an important message that even when you risk loosing it all, you must still stand together and do what is right.”

The director’s statement:
“I am deeply honoured to receive this award. On behalf of all the kids in the movie, and the crew working under completely impossible circumstances, the producers and I thank the Jury for the award.

I am personally grateful towards the jury for honouring our attempt to entertain while addressing some difficult issues and creating awareness and stimulating understanding across social, economical and cultural gaps.

The children acting in the film has been given a chance to share their lives with us – you the jury have honoured their story and their talent. Thank you! Asante sana! I look forward to sharing these good news with them in Kenya, this coming week.”

THE LITTLE BEAR AWARD: MIKAEL WAHLFORSS

The Little Bear award was founded by the POEM – Northern Film and Media Foundation in 2004. It will be given every year at the Oulu International Children’s and Youth Film Festival to a Finnish script-writer, director or producer, who during the year served with distinction as children’s film maker in Finland. The award can also be given to a person for a life’s work.
It is given by POEM, The Northern Film and Media Foundation, and it is 1 500 euros.

In 2011, the Little Bear award is given to producer Mikael Wahlforss for his long-time work with good quality children’s films and programmes.

The jury’s comments:
“Mikael Wahlforss has worked with films, animations and other programmes about children, or about their life, for decades.
His contribution has brought us Keltainen Kirahvi, Spirello’s different animal characters and the Red Caps -elves.

Mikael Wahlforss is in a league of his own as a developer, networker and innovator, who leaves his mark with bright colours and international productions. We are very happy to be able to award an experienced, acknowledged man.

The winner’s statement:
“It has been great to follow the development of the production of animated films in Finland. Our country has always had talented filmmakers. But now it feels like there is a real phenomenon. This is at least partly because of the technical possibilities for making animation have become more varied – both for the production and for the audience – thanks to digitalisation.

Nowadays even very small children know how to create animation on the computer and can interactively participate in many different and creative ways to the production of media content. The Finnish animated film is facing a very exciting future!”

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