The Iso Film Fest is a collection of some of the most innovative short films made during the great global lockdown of 2020. The idea is to showcase how some filmmakers have found ways to continue creating in these unusual times, while locked away in isolation, and provide a colourful document for future generations to look back to.
The festival took place online from August 22-30, and now in September you can enjoy most of these in a virtual world we built specifically for the event, as avatars. Find more info at the bottom of the page.
We also hosted an incredible jury! They watched all our selections and then deliberated until they came up with 22 standouts to award. Plus one Audience Prize, based on visitor feedback. We're happy to be able to share their picks of the festival:
A gripping commentary of the world's current state, expressed through a skillfully composited montage of mixed media that expands the boundaries of film craft and challenges the viewer to think. The unconventional film invites the audience to watch it again, revealing new details and insights with every viewing. Even though most of the film reminds us of the pressing issues in the world that need urgent interventions, the photos in the last shot leaves us with hope. - Misko
Directed and designed by Swann and Yoann Chesnel
Music : A Photograph - Superpoze ft. Dream Koala (Combien Mille Records)
SAUDADES, Carta Aberta à Amizade
Saudades is a vibrant, hopeful look at the shelter-at-home experience. Like a friend dropping in to say hello, a drone soars through the cityscape of São Paulo, making housecalls. We see friends and families as we bop to a serotonin-inducing cover of “We’ll Meet Again.” What bliss! Many of the films awarded this year are understandably bleak, but this one helped keep our chins up -- reminding us that full-watt smiles and uninhibited dance moves are out there. There is hope. For anyone longing for that first big, post-quarantine hug from a friend -- do the next best thing and watch Saudades! - Joslyn
Directed and edited by: Camila Cornelsen & Thales Banzai
Music production: Fabio Smeilli
Voice: Camila Cornelsen
Chords: Guto Marcato
Mix and Master: Guigo Berger
Color Grading: Fernando Lui (Marla Colour Grading)
In choosing these two films, the jurors recognized that taken together they encompass the full spectrum of the work submitted. Does the current moment mark the entry to a new dark age (Falling Down) or perhaps to a more hopeful time when we re-imagine and re-make the human condition (Saudades).
From the dark and hopeless to the light and hopeful. - Bob
BEST LIVE ACTION
LEARNING FROM THE WIND
Crackling with the psychological complexities of loneliness and longing, Learning from the Wind captures the essence of life in a global pandemic with grace and authenticity. Nestled within the edenic, Italian countryside, the narrative short follows Ali and Andrea as they acclimate to their new, separate, “normals” - each touched by isolation, sadness, and ultimately hope. Directors Federico Mazzarisi and Sofia Rivolta have crafted a highly personal experience, infusing both the visual landscape and main characters with tenderness and warmth. Ultimately, Learning from the Wind invites viewers to grieve, heal, and find comfort in filmmaking, and in 2020, as in all periods defined by hardship, there is no better medium for such valuable work. - Shannon
Directors – Federico Mazzarisi, Sofia Rivolta
Actors – Andrea Mazzarisi, Alice Rivolta
Producer – Maria Clara Taglienti
Voices – Camille Dugay, Michele Ragno
Editor – Francesco Tasselli
Music & Sound Design – Daniele de Virgilio
Executive Producer – Laura Gregory, Sheridan Thomas
Post Producer – Mathew Alden Editing – Francesco Tasselli
Music & Sound Design – Daniele De Virgilio
Post Production – Coffee & TV Colorist – George Neave
ALL ALONE IN APRIL
All Alone in April was at once funny, haunting and romantic! I loved to see the entrepreneurial spirit of the filmmaking team -- a real life couple balancing their day jobs and life in quarantine. I particularly loved the dancing sequence which was shot really well and performed even better! It's the perfect silent movie for our time. - Joslyn
Written, Directed, Produced, Cinematography, Production Designed,
and Choreographed by Ace Norton
Starring Seyna Van Der Linden & Ace Norton
Produced & Wardrobe by Seyna Van der Linden
Executive Producer & Post Production by Micah Levin
All Props, Costumes, & Camera Equipment bought and delivered by Amazon.
Shot on Iphone.
POST BY MOVIE MAGIC MEDIA, MMM COMMONDEER FILMS 2020
A LA FIN...
An inspiring series of thought-provoking surreal moments act as metaphors for our lives, habits, and culture. The innovative visual style supports the abstract imagery that challenges the audience to find meaning and be inspired by the artistic scenes that can be interpreted in many ways. - Misko
music by Clark, from the album Kiki Variations
As soon as I saw a porcupine next to a balloon, this film had my absolute confidence and trust. Perfectly animated and paced, beautiful vignettes of human moments captured through stop motion animals. The soundscape, the colourway, everything about this short pulled me in and made me want much more than its brisk nine minute run time. - Guy
Director: Margrethe Danielsen
Edit: Margrethe Danielsen, Endre Eidsaa Larsen
Animation: Margrethe Danielsen, Claudia Munksgaard-Palmqvist
Visual effects: Ragnar Neljandi
Craft: Margrethe Danielsen, Claudia Munksgaard-Palmqvist,
Lea Hümbs, Helga Fjeldsaa, Lea Romero
Sound: Heikki Kossi, H5 film sound
Delivered is a powerful film that takes us inside the world of an often forgotten frontline worker - the food delivery person. This consistently under appreciated profession is a lifeline to many in normal circumstances, but during the pandemic, their work is vital. Delivered takes us right along side these workers in a beautifully shot film, with personal tales heard in voiceover. This film gives an in-depth voice to the anonymous faces that traverse the city, riding from door to door. Delivered reminds us to appreciate the human stories behind these often ignored essential workers and it does it beautifully. - Farah
Directed by Law Chen
Producers: Jon Hsu and Law Chen
DoP/Editor: Law Chen
Music: 'Opus' by Ryuichi Sakamoto
OUR LOCKDOWN STORIES
Combining charming artwork with audio recorded from weekly zoom chats a group of people with learning disabilities collaborate to provide a sense of their life under lockdown, which of course is not very different than how it is for most of us. - Bob
Original Artwork by Robin Meader
Animated and Edited by Howard Vause
Produced by Charlotte Woodall
Narration by Robin, Charlotte, Clemma, Mike and Alice
BEST MUSIC VIDEO
SQUAREPUSHER - DETROIT PEOPLE MOVER
Looking through the window while riding public transit, moving through time and space on a gloomy day, the music video for "Detroit People Mover" is a portrait of nostalgia. In a barren city, the viewer is alone except for a printer- a mechanical object that is programmed remotely to summon images of yesteryear. The contrast between past and present will make your heart ache. - Sophia
Directed by Jacob Hurwitz-Goodman
Cinematographer: Zachary Elwart
Production Manager: Nick George
GLASS ANIMALS - DREAMLAND
Dreamland is both a music video and its own ‘making of’ documentary, collapsing the fourth wall midway through to show how its evocative, dreamy opening tracking shot was created. This is, for all intents and purposes, an example of flat-pack filmmaking, with singer Dave Bayley receiving all the equipment and tools – and, crucially, pages of detailed instructions – required to create his own mini-studio, construct a set, and shoot the entire video himself, in his living room.
Bayley is mentioned twenty-eight times in the closing credits, but the film is very clearly a collaborative effort between him and the filmmakers, who found creative and resourceful ways to adapt to the unprecedented situation everyone suddenly found themselves. The video is stronger because it directly responds to the lockdown and allows us to see the labour that went into production. In this way, Dreamland provides a fascinating, light-hearted insight into processes of filmmaking that are usually concealed, while also capturing the can-do attitude and sense of creative cooperation that has emerged in the last few months. - Becky
Director: Colin Read
Producer: Erin Sayder
EP: Rik Green
Production Company: Pulse Films
Director Representation: Hands London
DoP: Ruben Woodin Deschamps
Production Designer: Bon Walsh
Commissioner: Emily Tedrake
Colorist - Samuel Gursky / Irving Harvey
Color Producer - Kerry Mack
Driver: James Middleton
Special Thanks: Bill Rae Smith & Adrian Barry
Everything else: Dave Bayley
AUDIENCE PRIZE - ONIONS
This wonderful short film by Anna Scott received a lot of affection from Jury members, but even more so from the festival viewers. It was clear based on site feedback that this was deserving of a special prize.
Anna Scott - Director
Mica Erin - Score/Music
Takalay Hamill - Narration
SPECIAL JURY PRIZES
WE SHALL NOT RETURN
awarded by Misko Iho
A captivating little piece of cinema with beautiful and powerful imagery that supports the film's thought-provoking message. Several cinematographers joining forces remotely to create a single coherent film also emphasizes the collaborative nature of filmmaking, and how we can stay creative even during challenging times by working together towards a common goal.
Written, Directed & Edited by Stuart Langfield
Cinematographers: Alfonso Chin - Bryce Zimmerman - Bryn McCashin - Byron Kopman - Devin Karringten - Gavin White - Jan Klompje
- Jeremy Cox - Jon Thomas - Mack Calistan
Narration - Michael J Rogers Man - Brett Houghton
Drowning Man - Nathan Barrett
Woman & Child - Lauren & Ilan Klompje
Couple - Jourdan Tymkow & Tyler Adam
Floating Woman - Georgia Bradner
Colour - Sam Gilling
Score - Luke Atencio & Makeup And Vanity Set
Editorial Consultant - Jen Mackie
Steadicam - Scott Nuttal
Gaffer - Perry Miotto
Special Thanks - Kaayla Whachell, Brandon Lee, Dane Armour, Caleb Ford, Audra Coton, Perry Miotto, Jordan Findlay, Yorke Graham, Dallas Sauer, Jen Mackie, Aaron Nathanson, Marc Whitelaw, Brightside Cinema, Raw Camera, Paul Engstrom, Tommy Douglas, Peacemaker Filmworks, Corina Bizim
NOVA CUTLER LINDEGREN AS PETAL
awarded by Joslyn Jensen
In Petal, young actress Nova Cutler Lindgren blew me away. She was so vibrant on screen and really tugged at my heartstrings as Petal, the steadfast daughter waiting for her father to return to the apartment they share in an apocalyptic future world. She was as interesting to watch in moments of silence as when performing her beautifully connected monologue -- which is no easy task for even the most experienced performers. I see a big future for her should she be interested in pursuing a career in film.
Nova Cutler Lindegren as Petal
Daniel Lindegren - Director, DOP, Sound, Music, Set design, Editor, Producer
MOST CRUSHINGLY POETIC SCRIPT
awarded by Tim Blatt
On both extremes of human story-telling, comedy and tragedy, the most powerfully relatable tales come from telling our most personal experiences, situations utterly unique to the writer.
In Empty Nest, Ava Young narrates an emotional journey of returning to her family home, which is not her childhood home and the associated feelings of loss, paralysis and the unstoppable march of time. Her poetic prose and vivid language are heartbreaking and the parallels to the feelings that COVID are stirring in us all are unmissable. The visuals are sparse, black and white imagery of an empty house and garden with cutouts superimposed of people and material flourishes missing from her life now.
The soundtrack is minimalist, using something similar to a child's music box which layers even more nostalgia and heartbreak. The piece articulates the generation of young people whose upbringing is being stripped from them - in some ways, the saddest of all the victims of COVID. I found this short deeply moving and the writing very beautiful.
Written, Directed, Shot & Edited by Ava Young
THE MOVIE THAT MOVES YOU AWARD
SUR LA DUNE
awarded by Sarah McColgan
A quiet yet powerful film that will move you. It feels especially relevant during these times we are living in, we have all had to slow down and reflect on what really matters in life. Love, Family, Connection. The film gently reminds us to be still and gaze at the wonders of the universe above, to turn off technology and connect with those close to us.
A short film designed and produced by: Noémie Da Cruz & Solenne Boisseau
Sound design by: Mélanie Schulz
BEST COMING OF AGE IN AN APOCALYPSE
TWINS IN PARADISE
awarded by Shannon Weidner
Mix adolescent twin sisters, tennis, mesmerizing, hand-drawn animation, then bake for nine-and-a-half minutes at the heat of a nuclear missile. Watch. Laugh. Cry. Repeat.
Victoria Vincent’s deep-dive into the lives of twin tennis stars masquerades as an escapist bit of animated comedy before jolting viewers back to a morbid reality worth escaping. Bursting with dark humor, intricate visuals, and a spunky, electric guitar-laden score courtesy of R.I.P, Twins in Paradise shines as a brilliant depiction of adolescence, pandemic or otherwise. Having watched this piece at least half a dozen times (and counting), I have found myself growing immensely attached to Marcy, Darcy, and their chaotic world. I think you all will too.
Animation by Victoria Vincent
Sound design by Josh Yeung
Music by R.I.P
Guitars by Nick Stratton
Recorded by Tyler Fogerty
MOST INSIGHTFUL PORTRAYAL OF MACHINE-HUMAN INTERACTION
TENDER IS THE KNIGHT
awarded by Bob Stein
With a rough-animation style that is decidedly not machine-like, Tender is the Knight explores the realm of human/machine interaction, especially as it applies to alienation and loneliness. It's an optimistic take, perhaps naively so, but given the possible nightmares on the horizon we need something hopeful to work toward.
awarded by Nata Metlukh
For overwhelming amount of visual joy.
Drawn by Sasha Svirsky
Music by Alexey Prosvirnin
This episode was made during the lockdown and in some way conveys mood of creators.
BEST FEELING AWARD
awarded by Guy Montgomery
The sounds of the outdoors! TAKE ME TO WHERE THIS FILM IS SET IMMEDIATELY PLEASE. From the confines of my house, watching our hero shake himself dry like a dog and then enjoy the best of every season as it rolled through was both bitter sweet and a welcome reminder of the unflappable nature of the human spirit. I loved the simplicity, the efficiency and the style. A comforting and inspiring short film for the current moment.
Xavier Sailliol - Director, Storyboarder and Animator
Florian Calmer - Voice actor and Sound Design
THE HAPPY INTROVERT AWARD
ALEX AND MR FLUFFKINS
awarded by Farah X
Alex and Mr. Fluffkins captures the true meaning of what it means to be a happy introvert. The film is simple yet exquisitely done. It perfectly reflects what many - if not all - introverts felt, myself included, but weren’t allowed to voice when the pandemic hit. This film is a joy to watch. After seeing it several times, I am still laughing. I hope Alex and Mr. Fluffkins continue their introverted journey for all of us who feel like we sometimes don’t belong because we’d rather be alone.
Directors - Adeena Grubb and Andy Biddle
Puppets, props, post, edit, and sound - Adeena Grubb
Animation, lighting, set build and post - Andy Biddle
Voice overs - Andy Biddle, Adeena Grubb, Sean Gray, Natalie Jones, Jonathan Hearn
Special Thanks for lights and lighting advice - Malcolm Hadley
THE PLEASE-MAKE-THIS-A-SERIES AWARD
awarded by Sophia Peer
We are all gate-keepers and we all have gatekeepers. In this thinly veiled fantasy world, The Cavemaster is in a position of great power, in charge of important things, but he has obvious limitations and inabilities. When a young woman comes to him for access, she discovers that he is nothing but a small obstacle on the way to achieving her goal. Great filmmakers can say a lot with very little, and they can do it all while getting slapped in the face by bats. It's all just smoke and- umm- blue lights, but it's magic.
Director / Cavemaster - Graham Mason
Warrior - Nicole Boettcher
MOST EGGCELLENT MOVIE
awarded by Dr. Becky Bartlett
With its excellent synth soundtrack and saturated colour palette, The Egg is a perfect homage to 1980s horror films, albeit with an unlikely protagonist. It’s not easy to breathe life into an inanimate object, let alone give a faceless egg a personality, but how can we not sympathise with this doomed being who is subjected to the horror of awakening to discover the disembowelled shells of its fellow-eggs and experiences the trauma of witnessing a lobotomy? This is a stylish, clever film that deliberately toys with our emotions, blending horror with tragedy and black humour, and is expertly realised from beginning to end. You’ll never look at a boiled egg the same way again.
Naoki Otsuki - Director
QUARANTINE LIFE - SELF-ISOLATION
awarded by Megan Thompson
In this ongoing quarantine and never ending seriousness of the news cycle I was delighted by the twist in this film. The build to the comedic payoffs within the short was timed perfectly. The reveal at the end had me in stitches. We've all been this woman at some point in quarantine, where every trip to the store feels like a scene from a survivalist documentary, and unerxpected contact with people outside the home feels like a dangerous game. This film made perfect light of the situation, and brought some much needed laughter to the festival.
Directed, Shot, and Edited by: Curren Sheldon
Created by: Curren Sheldon and Tijah Bumgarner
Featuring: Tijah Bumgarner, Dan Carlisle, Curren Sheldon, and Dan Davis.
Watch the rest of the series here.
IFF STAFF - SPECIAL MENTIONS
For an innovative way of picking berries.
Production, Writing, Sound & Music: Rob Marr
Narration: Josh O'Connor
This film is at once joyous and boundlessly optimistic, but also confounding, with an undercurrent of creeping dread. I loved it! Can only guess at its meaning but it feels like the expression of an artist locked away with only their imagination to guide them.
animation: Julian Gallese
voices: Seth Scriver, Jack Wedge, Lucy Pullicino, Sam Meredith, Alejandro Arturo, Florence Sharp, Julian Gallese
sound and music: Julián Gallese
additional music: 雑音空間
dialogue mix: Mikolaj Szatko
coloring assistance: Stephen Quenet
outtakes: Arita Kaori, Laura Jayne Hodkin, Krystal Paniagua
RELENTLESS MELT NO. 16
Thank to Max Hattler & the free-spirited young filmmakers from Hong Kong, for their awe-inspiring audiovisual works! We've been honoured to host this year's program and anticipate greatness in their futures.
The entire collection is available in the festival's VR exhibit for the month of September, for now though we present one of our favourites, Lee Yun's Firefly...
An abstract film that uses looping watercolor animations, vibrant colors and sound to create a beautiful symphony. A dance which everything is connected and interacts with each other, just like fireflies glowing in the darkness. Through the animation, elements change and transform, being harmonic yet keeping their own characteristic.
Besides presenting an arguably plausible explanation for life on this planet, CESAR also does something exceedingly rare for science-fiction... craft an alien soundscape that's not lifted from countless other sci-fi properties, instead it's entirely original and nicely compensates for the language gap. I would love little more than to watch these two travel the stars.
Direction : Benjamin Geffroy
THE KING DELUXE PICK FOR CREATIVE SOUND DESIGN
Founder of The Criterion Collection, Voyager, and the Institute for the Future of the Book.
Stein worked in the Atari Research group when Jaron Lanier was there working on the first iterations of VR, and later on was at TED in 1990 for the first major public demos (several moments captured here.)
Farah X is an award-winning director and editor, who has worked as the personal video editor for industry icons including Prince, Mariah Carey, and Beyoncé. Her journey into filmmaking began when she was a fashion model; more intrigued with what was going on behind the camera, she quickly made the leap to directing. At age 19, she directed her first music video, which was showcased at numerous film festivals and put her on Billboard Magazine's "Top 10 Up and Coming Directors to Watch" list. Farah has gone on to edit and direct several award-winning projects, with a consistent focus on women’s stories, particularly women of color. Her work has been showcased at SXSW, AFI Docs, and the Tribeca Film Festival. She is the co-director and co-editor of her first feature length documentary, The Remix: Hip Hop x Fashion.
Sarah is a commercial and music video director. Throughout her career, she has developed a portfolio that blurs the lines between diverse cultures, genres, and industries. Notably she has produced award winning work in the worlds of motion and still photography. A School of Visual Arts (SVA) graduate, McColgan began her career as an editorial photographer and her work has been published widely in countless magazines. As a director she has received MTV VMA nominations for her work with Miguel and Kelly Rowland and a UKMVA nomination for Charli XCX “Boys”. Sarah is currently moving into a narrative filmmaking space, and developing her first feature length screenplay.
Megan was born and raised in Montana, and graduated from Montana State University in 2008 with a bachelors in photography and media arts. She has lived and worked in Los Angeles as a director, photographer, producer, and video commissioner for the last 12 years. She has directed music videos for artists including Billie Eilish (Ocean Eyes), Bayside (It Don't Exist, Interrobang), Simple Creatures (Strange Love), Astronautalis (Running Away from God) and dozens more.
Sophia was born and raised in Flushing, Queens, where she began her career as an artist and filmmaker, directing her parents. Most recently Sophia participated in the Independent Filmmakers Project’s Episodic Lab as well as IFP Week, and was awarded the NY Foundation for the Arts 2019 'Made In NY' grant, for Who’s Annie?, a series she’s creating and directing. After years of writing, directing and editing series for Super Deluxe, Nylon, Genius, and Pitchfork, Sophia is now also creating a surreal cooking show that has been featured on Dazed Digital. Selected works from her Sound Effects video series were finalists in the 2018 Giphy Film Festival.
Her works have been screened at the Whitney Museum of Art, Anthology Film Archives, Contemporary Arts Center, The Queens Museum, Indie Memphis Film Festival, and MoMa. She has directed music videos for artists such as Julien Baker, Paramore, The National, Interpol, Yeasayer, and Junior Boys.
Misko is a Finnish-born, Los Angeles based commercial film director with a background in graffiti, computer graphics design, visual effects, music videos, and a passion for cinema. He loves classic cinematic execution, feels at home with digital characters and set extensions, but values the most the stories that evoke feelings and emotions at our core level. Apart from commercial work, he has written and directed an award-winning short film 'The Patient' and is currently looking for a suitable long-form project to expand his talent into feature films.
Dr. Becky Bartlett
Becky has been a lecturer in film and television studies at the University of Glasgow since 2018, and will be starting a new position at St Andrews in August.
Her main research interests are cult cinema, bad movies, religion and film, and ape suit cinema. Her monograph on badfilm is due to be published next year.
Tim Blatt & Guy Montgomery
Guy and Tim host The Worst Idea Of All Time - a comedy podcast started in 2014 that sees the pair watch and review the same movie every week for a year. Their first 12 months had them review Adam Sandler's Grown Ups 2, 52 times in a row. Then they gave the treatment to Sex and The City 2, then a failed Zac Efron vehicle called WE ARE YOUR FRIENDS, and then Sex and The City: The Movie. The podcast has amassed over 12 million downloads and the boys have toured the across USA, London, Australia and NZ doing live shows.
The series got a pilot order from the now deceased YouTube RED and had the pair going method to live in a NYC sewer for one week, reviewing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows three times a day. The pilot was not picked up but is available here.
Joslyn is a Los Angeles based screenwriter and actor. She was a guest writer and star of an episode in Linas Phillips’ web-series The Ride, produced by Mark and Jay Duplass (Sundance 2020). She performed original songs and was featured in an episode of CollegeHumor's Downbeat. For her acting work in Without (2012), she won Best Actress awards at the Marrakech International Film Festival and the Mar del Plata Film Festival, also receiving special jury prizes from the Florida Film Festival and Slamdance Film Festival. Other acting credits include: Funny Bunny (SXSW, 2015), Jackrabbit (TriBeCa Film Festival, 2015) and Driftwood (Narrative Feature Winner Slamdance Film Festival, 2016).
Nata is a Ukrainian-born animator and illustrator based in San Francisco. She creates visually bold, character driven works featuring urban lifestyle. Her animated films have been recognized by major film festivals and received several awards.
Shannon is a writer and film critic with special interests in theatre, animation, and all things Pirates of the Caribbean. Favorite recent watches: National Theatre Live: A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Watermelon Woman
(She's also a co-host of the wonderful Film Fracas)
created by King Deluxe
King Deluxe presents a custom virtual world where people can watch these films together, as avatars, inside of VRChat. It's a waterworld with many unique stages, built by a dozen different 3d artists, called Seaciety.
Check out the entire collection of selected films currently available.
To experience the festival's exhibit, you'll have to join us inside of VRChat, available on Steam for no cost. It's one of the best social platform available, but also works great in Desktop Mode, which still requires a gaming Windows or Linux computer, although if not using a VR headset the computing requirements are less.
There's many VR headsets that will run vrchat, including the Valve Index, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Samsung Odyssey, HP Reverb, and more. What doesn't work is the Playstation VR, or the Oculus Go. Oculus Quest will work, but only some worlds are accessible, including IFF, unless you plug it in to a suitable computer.
Unfortunately Apple computers don't yet have capable graphics cards, hopefully though by the time the next pandemic strikes Macbook owners won't be excluded!
To find us in VRChat, search for "Iso Film Fest", "IFF" or the host world name "Seaciety".