Awarded in the animation "Run Away", "Bell" and "Crossing" is the film 2021

L.A.'s Animation Is Film has announced the winners of its fourth edition, which was held in person on October 22–24.

Flee (Denmark/France/Sweden/Norway) continues its stellar start to awards season: Jonas Poher Rasmussen's documentary about an Afghan refugee in Denmark took the grand prize. The film has already won several big awards, including at Sundance and Annecy, and been nominated for best documentary feature at the Gotham Awards. Yesterday, it was named Denmark's submission to the Oscars' international feature category.

“In the touching and innovative documentary Flee,” said jury chair Peter Debruge, “Jonas Poher Rasmussen takes great care in sharing the personal history of an Afghan refugee. The filmmaker uses the process of animation to protect the identity of his subject, while also bringing an added layer to the material, capturing the impact of trauma on memory and identity in the process.”

The special jury prize went to Belle (Japan), Mamoru Hosoda's spin on the story of “Beauty and the Beast.” The anime feature premiered this year at Cannes, where it reportedly received a 14-minute standing ovation. Hosoda collaborated on the film with high-profile artists, including Disney veteran Jin Kim and a team from Ireland's Cartoon Saloon.

“With extraordinary visual imagination and technical skill,” said Debruge, “Mamoru Hosoda reinvents the classic Beauty and the Beast story for this century. In his telling, a teenage Belle finds her voice and takes a stand on an important social issue.”

The Crossing (France/Germany/Czech Republic), a tale of two refugee children traveling across Europe, won the audience award. The feature, which has been in the works for more than a decade, was painted with oil on glass. Directed by Florence Miailhe, it won the jury distinction award at Annecy this year.

Neon will release Flee in the U.S. on December 3. GKIDS, which co-hosts Animation Is Film with Annecy Festival, will release Belle on January 14, 2022. The Crossing has no announced distributor in the country.

The other films in competition this year were The Summit of the Gods, The Deer King, Josep, Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko, I Am What I Am, Nahuel and the Magic Book, Pompo: The Cinephile, Poupelle of Chimney Town, and Where Is Anne Frank.

The jury consisted of Myke Chilian (animator, creator, Tig 'n Seek); Deborah Cook (stop-motion costume designer, Laika); Peter Debruge (chief film critic, Variety); Sandra Equihua (character designer, Maya and the Three); Dan Krall (artist, producer, Dexter's Laboratory); Kristin Lowe (CCO of features, Dreamworks Animation); Erick Oh (director, Opera); Ray Pride (film critic); Raye Rodriguez (creator, executive producer, High Guardian Spice); Charles Solomon (critic, historian); Ramin Zahed (editor-in-chief, Animation Magazine).