The awards of the 10th STIFF are heading to Georgia, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, USA and Netherlands

The last day of the 10th International Student Film Festival was marked by the award ceremony honoring the best films in the categories of documentary, fiction, and animated film. Among more than 650 submissions and 40 selected films, students from Georgia, Croatia, Poland, Slovakia, the Netherlands, Hungary, and the USA were recognized.

Over the past few days, three three-member juries of the 10th STIFF in Rijeka had their hands full selecting the best films of this year in the fiction, documentary, and animated categories.

The jury deciding the best fiction film, consisting of Aleksandra Terpińska, Sara Grgurić, and Marta Licul, chose the film Runaway, directed by Salome Kintsurashvili. In 25 minutes, Salome presents the story of a ten-year-old boy named Gigi who lives with his family, owners of a small Georgian café in the suburbs of Moscow. Gigi faces a drastic turn in his life when his father is forced to shelter a stranger, later revealed to be a fugitive criminal. According to the jury, the main award went to a subtle story that leaves room for the viewer’s imagination. The film creates a beautiful atmosphere for the main character, caught somewhere between a boy and a man. The economical and effective mise-en-scène precisely guides us through the world of the protagonist, avoiding explicit statements but still telling a powerful story with authentic characters, excellent cinematography, and commendable acting. It immerses us in a world we don’t know much about but wish to explore further.

In addition to this, two films received honorary mentions: Short Cut Grass directed by local filmmaker David Gaša and the Polish film A Beautiful Wild Flower Meadow directed by Emi Buchwald. According to the jury, Short Cut Grass was awarded for its precisely designed and well-executed concept that simultaneously respects the story and serves it. Using mostly long shots reminiscent of artistic paintings, it places what is actually important in the background, engaging the audience to actively explore each frame. Rich in details, interesting characters, landscapes, and authentic situations, it allows the viewer their own interpretation, gradually assembling a collage into a unique whole. Smart, precise, and entertaining, David Gaša’s film introduces us to the yards of familiar neighbors, leaving us with a sense of satisfaction and nostalgia for warm summer days.

The film A Beautiful Wild Flower Meadow received special praise, portraying a narcissistic father who gradually becomes overwhelmed with anger over trivial and neglectable situations. The filming style complements and enhances the excellent acting of the main protagonist, and the constant tension is built through sudden camera movements and sound design. Thanks to stylized filming, fast editing, and a well-written script, we feel the escalation of the father’s neuroticism and tension that peaks in front of his daughter and the surroundings. Seemingly simple and futile interactions that make us laugh internally build a portrait of a contemporary anti-hero rarely seen in short films. The question arises whether it is morally and socially acceptable to torment everyone around us just because we don’t know how to cope with ourselves and the world surrounding us.


The winners in the documentary film category were decided by Michał Hytroś, Klara Dujmović, and Nina Sorić, and the victory went to After the Wedding, directed by Matej Klucik. The 20-minute film follows the portrait of the relationship between two toy collectors, Ľubo and Janka, who, after twelve years of living together, encounter a turning point – their wedding. The impending commitment forces them to reflect on their lives, and, in addition, dark “misunderstandings” about the future functioning of their relationship and household emerge. According to the jury, the decisive factor for this film was the banal and absurd obsession as a starting point for a story that stemmed from dedicated observation of the connection, hope, and dreams. The trust between the director and the protagonists resulted in a testimony to an authentic story based on humor with an emphasis on an optimistic view of everyday complex human relationships.

In the same category, the Dutch film How shall we comfort ourselves by Machiel van Hoeka was praised for initially providing a broad and seemingly static perspective and observation. It presents itself in the form of a “sermon” that opens up space for open dialogue between the audience and the film, in contrast to the dominating monologues of most films. It invites us to explore without imposing a clear answer to the question of achieving satisfaction and comfort.


In the animated film category, the jury members Renata Gąsiorowska, Louison Chambon, and Melisa Favretto unanimously agreed on the film The Garden of Heart, directed by Olivér Hegyi. This 11-minute film depicts a young and promising painter with low self-confidence in his final interview for admission to the Academy of Fine Arts. While waiting his turn, his inner demons manifest in the form of pests from the garden. The jury’s decision was made for a well-written and edited film that provides a captivating glimpse into the imagination of a blossoming young artist. An experience many artists can relate to, with a surprising happy ending. Ironic, self-aware, and humorous, accompanied by a wild artistic style.

The honorary recognition was given to the film Fur, directed by the American filmmaker Zhen Li. According to the jury, it received acknowledgment for its original and intense portrayal of the awakening of sexuality. We appreciated how the trembling and organic drawings conveyed emotions and created a surreal atmosphere. This visually striking film fully realizes the potential of hand-drawn animation.


In addition to the jury awards, consisting of one director whose film was part of the STIFF selection in previous years, one film professional, and one student, the Audience Award was also presented. It was won by the local director David Gašo, with Short Cut Grass being the highest-rated film since its introduction in the STIFF.

The design of the 10th STIFF award was created by Ela Štefanac, a visual artist working in the fields of sculpture, object, environment, and performance. She is the recipient of the Austrian Red Carpet Art Award and is also an independent artist and a member of the HDLU Rijeka.

The 10th STIFF, which this year lasted a record-breaking five days from November 22 to 26, brought together numerous international guests, authors, film industry professionals, and film enthusiasts. It showcased 40 films in competition within 11 program blocks and one premiere by Academy students. Conversations with authors were held, and the international exhibition Démodé was opened. Workshops, including Arcade led by curator Elena Apostolovski, artist Damjan Šporčić, and a student curatorial team, were also conducted.

STIFF was initiated in 2014 by the Filmaktiv association and the Student Cultural Center of the University of Rijeka with the aim of presenting the best of the world’s recent student and debut film production.

The festival was realized with the financial support of HAVC, the City of Rijeka, Primorsko-Goranska County, the Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia, and the Goethe Institute. Filmaktiv’s work is supported by the Kultura nova Foundation and the National Foundation for Civil Society Development, while the sponsors of the 10th edition of STIFF are Destilerija Aura and Piko.


Until the next edition when STIFF enters a new decade of the best student films!