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NYICFF has closed its 2021 edition with a presentation of the Best of the Fest short films and the announcement of the 2021 Festival award winners. For the first time in the Festival’s 24-year history, audiences expanded from the New York metro area to across the country, drawing viewers from 47 out of 50 states to the virtual Festival.

The Festival received thousands of submissions from around the world to select and curate a collection of inventive, diverse, and artistically ambitious films for its annual event, held virtually from March 5-14. Audience and Grand Prize Awards are presented to the films and filmmakers with the highest-ranking votes from Festival audience members, while Jury Awards are selected by an esteemed jury of filmmakers, actors, and industry leaders.

In the Jury Award competitions — which juror Nora Twomey (Oscar-nominated director of The Breadwinner, co-director of The Secret of Kells and Cartoon Saloon co-founder) described as “A strong selection of thought provoking films, beautifully made & truthfully told” — the Best Animated Short prize was presented to Matilda and the Spare Head by Lithuanian director Ignas Meilūnas, who previously showed his 2017 short Mr Night Has a Day Off at the Festival. The winning stop-motion film centers on a clever little girl who comes to the conclusion that two heads are literally better than one.