The Dragon*Con Independent Short Film Festival presents Two major awards, one for Best Short Film and the other for Best Animated Film.  The winners of the Best Short Film and Best Animated Film awards were selected from the first-place winners in the non-animation and the animation categories, respectively.

  • 2003 Film Festival Awards

    Best Short Film: Family Tree
    Best Animated Film: Dear, Sweet Emma

    Screenings & awards for 2003:


    1st Place The Erl-King, 8 min, animation by Hannes Rall.  A stark and powerful version of Goethe’s classic tale of a father and his child traveling at night through a haunted forest.

    2nd Place Rendezvous with Rama, 4 min, animation by Aaron Ross.  An extraordinarily detailed animation sequence, depicting key scenes from Arthur C. Clarke’s classic story.

    Dandelion, 11 min, animation by Hal Forsstrom.  A soldier’s personal battle to survive in the wasteland of a future war, told in pen-and-ink and watercolor.

    Destroy Old Things, 9 min, animation by Jeff King, Jim Fairchild, and Lewis D’Aubin.  A rocking anthem from the Consortium of Genius is matched by a vibrant mixture of animation techniques.


    1st Place Dear, Sweet Emma, 6 min, 3D-animation by Rebecca Cernak. A sweet, little old lady is puttering around in her lemon-lime kitchen, as the radio announces that the search for her lost husband has been discontinued.  Then we learn more about the twinkle in her eye.

    2nd Place Puphedz: The Tattle-Tale Heart, 27 min, puppet animation directed by Jurgen Heimann.  A Guignolesque re-telling of Poe’s classic tale, as told by a bizarre traveling puppet troupe.

    A Pizza for Sprinkles, 2 min, animation by Hillary Clark.   Short delight, involving a pizza delivery made at an animal shelter, and the surprising tip given to the reluctant driver.

    Project Mars, 15 min, directed and animated by Dug Ward.  A farce about the search for water on Mars, mixing silly live action with sillier animation.

    Virtual vs. Real, 10 min, directed and animated by Jamie Pilarski.  A rivalry develops during a casting call when the auditioning actress finds that her competition is a computer construct.


    1st Place Bluefish, 25 min, directed by Lucas Howe.  A friendship develops on a remote prison island.  Beautifully shot in black and white, this film combines harsh contemporary realities with mystical, other-worldly elements.

    2nd Place Keys of Life, 13 min, directed by Jeremy Rall, produced by Rachel Curl.  During the worst day of his life, a locksmith learns an important truth.  Beautiful images within a harsh, ironic tale.

    Anna’s Room, 20 min, directed by Patrick Boyton.  A cautionary tale, wherein a 16-year-old girl, with a controlling father, is lured into the world of a dangerous stranger.

    Backfire, 23 min, directed by Ron Etemad.  Disaster results when a teenage boy attempts to win new friends and join a violent gang.

    Eternal, 7 min, directed by Freddie Arnold Jr.  Dark, tightly edited images illustrate the tale of a young man trying desperately to help his brother deal with their abusive father.


    1st Place Frazetta, Painting with Fire, 60 min, directed by Lance Laspina, produced by Jeremy DiFiore.  A richly detailed look at Frank Frazetta’s amazing life: his battles, his triumphs, and his incredible artwork.

    2nd Place  UnWound, 45 min, directed by Jeff Cioletti.  A detailed look at classic toy robots, movie robots, and battling robots.


    1st Place String of the Kite, 24 min, directed by Michael Fallavollita.  A grandfather teaches kite-flying and other lessons to his grandson.  An exquisite performance by John Schuck.

    2nd Place Professional Courtesy, 27 min, directed by Mark Price.  The codes of conduct affect dealings between medieval thieves.  A delicate battle of wits in a lush forest setting.

    Fantasy Comedy

    1st Place Tea Time, 6 min, directed by Jay Bogdanowitsch.  A tasty bit of Pythonesque battlefield intrigue, centering on a gooey pastry.

    2nd Place Red Wagon, 14 min, directed by Alison Marek.  A delusional woman finds a shipwrecked man on the beach, but will her sister let her keep him?

    Time Copy, 11 min, directed by Matt Rosen.  Farce about an office boy who finds that the photocopier has a very special button, one that resets time.

    General Comedy

    1st Place Spidermen, 8 min, directed by Harry Kellerman.  A young boy adopts the guise of his favorite super-hero as he endeavors to find where his Mom hide his basket of Halloween candy.

    2nd Place Getting Out, 21 min, directed by Aaron Fishman.  A California trust-fund dude tries everything he can think of to get rid of a stifling girlfriend.

    Sticky Fingers, 19 min, directed by Douglas S. Jones.  Complications ensue when a bride finds her mate’s collection of porn, and calculates that he spent less on her engagement ring.


    1st Place The Patchwork Monkey, 10 min, directed by Susan Bell.  A young boy receives a hand-made gift from his babysitter; his sister teases that it’s going to get him.  Little does she know.

    2nd Place The Visage, 40 min, directed by Kirk Henderson.  A man is hired to watch the corpse of a spiritualist for three intense nights.

    Endings, 12 min, directed by Danishka Esterhazy.  This dark, atmospheric film presents a young man meeting a young woman who can see when and where people are going to die.

    Horror Comedy

    1st Place No Witness, 10 min, directed by Michael Valverde, story by Steve Antczak. A crafty politician orders the hiring of a contract killer, with the stipulation that there be no witnesses.  Cross-cut storylines and handheld shots reflect the escalating chaos.

    2nd Place Fun with Clones, 11 min, directed by Matthew Pristave.  In this heady farce, you can use clones to satisfy your desires to take revenge on teasing classmates, evil bosses, and teens blasting music.

    Blood Shot, 22 min, directed by Dietrich Johnston, produced by Jacqueline Johnston.  The CIA’s top agent is a vampire, sent to wipe out terrorists, but he’s being stalked by a police officer.

    Run, 5 min, directed by Katharine Leis, edited by Gary DeJidas.  A woman is stalked while jogging at night.  Tautly cut, filmed in low light, with a neat kicker.

    Magic Realism

    1st Place Family Tree, 36 min, directed by Vicky Jenson.  Inspired by Ovid’s tale of Baucis and Philemon, this film presents a bickering family’s celebration of Thanksgiving.  Harland Williams gives us the outsider’s perspective, as a man struggling to understand the quirky family he has married into.  Talia Shire and Ethan Phillips play the grandparents, in a uniformly excellent ensemble cast, all creating vivid characters who reveal life-long passions, rivalries, and frustrations in scenes laced with humor and warmth.  (Family Tree was Jenson’s first project since co-directing Shrek.)

    2nd Place The Mother Tree, 27 min, directed by Shaeri Scholzman Richards, Sedona, Ariz.  Mysticism meets domestic abuse, as an orphaned boy encounters an African drum healer.

    The Appointment, 16 min, directed by Earl A. Hibbert.  A businessman, pre-occupied with success, has to wonder, after an auto accident, if he has been sacrificing too much family time.

    Science Fiction

    1st Place Phoenix , 19 min, directed by Steven Bordelon.  Something is dangerously wrong in a school for telekinetic children—three failures lead to elimination.  Strong cinematic tale, with minimal dialogue.

    2nd Place Circle, 13 min, directed by Whitney Hamilton.  An NSA agent discovers that extra-terrestrials are after him.  For once the men in black are not in charge, not by a long shot.

    Night Cap, 16 min, directed by Brandon Kahn.  A beautifully filmed, scored, and paced tale of a perfect future, and one young man who discovers a book of poems and dares to think.

    Sci-Fi Comedy

    1st Place Untitled: 003 Embryo, 28 min, directed by Mike Goedecke.  An agoraphobic man receives a package containing an ultra-hi-tech helmet, that proceeds to capture other people’s dreams and promises to make his own dreams come true.  Ethan Phillips has an outrageous cameo.

    2nd Place New Verdiform City, 13 min, directed by Brad Abrahams. In glorious retro black-and-white, this film presents a fantastical alternative version of 1952, where obsolete humans fight a robot takeover.

    Stranded, 13 min, directed by Don Waters, produced by Franco Calabrese, Don Waters, Phil Mell, and Joel Austin.  After crashing on a strange planet, two bounty hunters wonder who’s on top of the food chain.

    Mon Star, 10 min, directed by Glenn S. Abbott.  An absolutely unique sci-fi monster musical, with a truly bizarre creature and rousing battle songs.

    The Mazinga Paradox, 28 min, directed by Joseph Gressis, produced by Michael D. Yates.  This film sends up every time travel story as the hero decides to go back in time and snatch his classic sci-fi toys before he could open them on Christmas morning.


    1st Place I’ll Save You!!!, 6 min, directed by Damian Beurer.  When a purse is stolen in New York City , who comes to the rescue?  A veritable plethora of classic, head-knocking, Marvel super-heroes!

    2nd Place The Convention, 12 min, directed by Georgia Clark.  It’s her son’s birthday, but a woman has to go to work, waitressing at a Superhero Banquet.

    King Blade, 16 min, directed by John Stewart.  Part camp, part horror—the tale of an abused janitor who turns to the ghost of Elvis for advice, help, and inspiration.

    Continue reading →