Glasgow Short Film Festival: The 2023 Awards

A roundup of the winners from this year's Glasgow Short Film Festival

Article by Jamie Dunn | 28 Mar 2023

Glasgow Short Film Festival ended on Sunday (26 Mar), and we’re pleased to report it’s back to its lively self. After two online editions (2020 and 2021) and last year’s festival very much reduced due to the pandemic still lingering, this year saw packed auditoriums and international guests back in force, and late-night gigs and parties were back on the menu. 

“The 16th edition has not just seen a return to pre-pandemic audience numbers,” says GSFF director Matt Lloyd, “we have in fact experienced public and delegate attendance at an unprecedented level.”

If there was a slight dampener on the party, it was that there is currently an acrimonious dispute between several workers and the operators of Saramago cafe-bar, which is within the CCA, one of GSFF’s key venues. Saramago is usually a hub of chatter and an essential place to get fed and caffeinated before GSFF screenings, but the festival had asked attendees to stand in solidarity with the striking workers this week and not give Saramango their custom. In the end, the bar closed anyway, and GSFF’s other venues like Civic House and Nice N Sleazys stepped in to fill the gap and provided welcoming spaces for that much-needed socialising that makes this festival so special.

Young Scottish Filmmaker Prize

The curtain came down at the annual awards ceremony. First up was The Young Scottish Filmmaker Prize, which was given out to two films from filmmakers aged between 18 and 25. The first winner was Jack Heydon’s Practice, a nifty little comedy about loneliness and the anxiety of modern dating. The second winner was My Name is Beth by Sayee Gogate, a lovely, poignant work which sees a young woman reconnecting with her estranged grandmother, whose memory appears to be deteriorating. We can’t wait to see what these talented young filmmakers produce in the future. 

Best Scottish Short Award

Perhaps the buzziest element of Glasgow Short Film Festival is the competition dedicated to homegrown talent. A jury made up of Anne Gaschütz, Julie Rousson and former Best Scottish Short-winner Adura Onashile gave a special mention to The Möbius Trip from talented Glasgow filmmaker Simone Smith. The film is described as a claustrophobic, hallucinatory nightmare and concerns a dysfunctional family taking a road trip to a wedding. 

The winner of the award was another Glasgow-based filmmaker: Miranda Stern for Clean. It’s a bruising first-person documentary about Stern’s battle with addiction as she attempts to come off the synthetic opioids that she’s been using to get off heroin, and the strain this addiction has put on her relationship with her husband. 

Of Clean, the jury said: “The strength of the vision, the detail of a relationship, the commitment to overcoming a deep, personal struggle was for us filmmaking at its most urgent, dynamic, heartbreaking and ultimately liberating.” Stern received a cash prize of £1000. 

The annual audience award will be announced at a later date.

Bill Douglas Award 

GSFF describe the Bill Douglas Award, named after that great Scottish filmmaker, as “a showcase of new international short films that reflect the qualities found in the work of Bill Douglas: honesty, formal innovation, and cinematic storytelling that places sound and image centre stage.”

The GSFF23 Bill Douglas Award for International Short Film was decided by a jury featuring German TV commissioner Catherine Colas, Lebanese producer Nicolas Khabbaz and Berlin-based director Pavel Mozhar, who won the Bill Douglas Award last year with Handbook. The award went to Lebanese artist and filmmaker Lawrence Abu Hamdan for 45th Parallel, a monologue film set within The Haskell Free Library and Opera House, a unique space that straddles the Canada–United States border.

The Bill Douglas Audience Award went to Flores del otro Patio, a vivid film following a group of queer activists from Colombia who use extravagant performative actions to denounce the disastrous exploitation by their nation’s largest coal mine. 

“I am really thrilled to see such exciting choices by both our juries and competition audiences,” says Lloyd. “The award winners have made works that in different ways feel urgent, compelling and timely. Congratulations to all of them!”