Syracuse International Film Festival

2021 Winners


And the awards go to…

While all of our films are carefully curated and selected because of their excellence…these few stand above as the best of the Best

Best Documentary Short

Slow Burn & the Muse
Directed by Darah Golub

Two songs, many years and one fruitful night tell the story of a singer/songwriter’s road to success.

Guided by her 2020-self performing “The Muse,” a song she co-wrote with her legendary bandmate David Crosby, this verite, lyrical look inside the career of singer/songwriter Becca Stevens finds the Brooklyn-based artist deep in songwriting mode. As she methodically takes us through her creative process, Becca’s wide range of talents and experiences come to life, and the slow burn of the work and of the artistic living is revealed. Ultimately, the muse leads her to the revelatory moment of literally finding a groove that scores her a 2021 GRAMMY nomination for the arrangement of her song “Slow Burn.”

Best Documentary Feature

Crossing Columbus
Directed by Cathy Lee Crane

History haunts the border town of Columbus, N.M. when riders on horseback drive north to commemorate Pancho Villa’s 1916 raid. This year, Villa’s grandson delivers his grandfather’s death mask as a symbol of binational friendship. His is one of many stories that struggle to define the crossing of this borderline.

Best Animantion/ Experimental

New York Minute
Directed by Lynn Bianchi

This work continues Lynn Bianchi’s relationship with New York City and its inhabitants – her home and inspiration since 1968. New York Minute was developed and created during lockdown – the year of loneliness and isolation – yet Lynn never felt lonely because the city was right outside her window – still alive and forever hopeful. A love letter to New York, this work is an abstraction of one day in the city – from dawn till dusk – moments that last a minute, or maybe a lifetime.

The Owen J Shapiro Award for Best Director

The Kicksled Choir
Directed by Torfinn Iversen

Shortlisted for the 93rd Academy Awards for Live-Action Short

Ten-year-old Gabriel loves to sing and has one desire: to sing in the local choir. The group rides kick-sled through the snowy landscape of Northern-Norway and is known for their kindness and charity towards the village refugees. But when Gabriel’s father gets into a fight with one of the local refugees, Gabriel’s quest to join The Kicksled Choir becomes challenging.

Best Narrative Short

Radio Silence
Directed by Kerren Lumer-Klabbers

Linn knows that it is time to break it off with her boyfriend, Tor, but as she is finding it too hard to just be honest with him, she tries an unusual alternative method.

Judges Award of Excellence

The Pirates of Somalia
Written and directed by Sophia recipient Bryan Buckley.

In 2008, rookie journalist Jay Bahadur forms a half-baked plan to embed himself with the pirates of Somalia. He ultimately succeeds in providing the first close-up look into who these men are, how they live, and the forces that drive them.

Judges Award of Excellence

The Rules of Lacrosse
Directed by Joanne Storkan

What do Wayne Gretzky, Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger (Maryland), and David Grohl (Foo Fighters / Nirvana) have in common? You guessed it, they all played lacrosse, the sport that’s been dubbed, “The fastest game on two feet.” In an interview with the filmmaker, Wayne Gretzky emphatically states, “I always say this to people—you think football and ice hockey are physical? The most physical sport I ever played in my life was lacrosse.”

However, these “Rules of Lacrosse” were not ripped from the pages of the official rule books for men’s lacrosse, but rather by observation over the past years by a screenwriter-turned-producer, who was writing a lacrosse-themed movie script that required a lot of research on the sport, much more than anticipated. After amassing files of the subject of lacrosse, an opportunity arose to produce a film about the sport! Thus, the birth of this 10-part docuseries.

Judges Award of Excellence

Directed by Dani Menkin

Aulcie tells the inspiring story of Aulcie Perry, a basketball legend who led Maccabi Tel Aviv to an upset win in the European Championship. During the summer of 1976, Aulcie Perry was spotted by a scout for Maccabi Tel Aviv while playing at the Rucker courts in Harlem and was quickly signed to play for their fledgling team. The Israeli players immediately responded to Aulcie’s leadership and that year they had what one Sports Illustrated writer described as “the most extraordinary season in its remarkable history” and what Perry later called “the best nine months of my life.” In 1977, Perry helped the team to its first European Championship, a prize they took four years later again under his leadership. After the season, to the surprise of many, Aulcie Perry converted to Judaism, adopted the Hebrew name Elisha Ben Avraham, and became an Israeli citizen. This inspiring film tells the story of this remarkable athlete who captured the spirit of a nation, triumphant and victorious against all odds, and put Israel on the map.