Lift-Off Sessions Winners: May 2024

Thank you to all the filmmakers who participated in the May edition of the Lift-Off Sessions!
The festival platformed hundreds of films, each project worthy of recognition and celebration. We want to extend a giant thank you to everyone who took part and a special congratulations to all the incredible talent that went into making these projects.
Lift-Off Sessions is designed to be the entry into the Lift-Off Global Network. A platform for the avant-garde, Sessions isn't about selecting the 'best' or most 'commercial' projects; it is about providing a screening opportunity for everyone, connecting these new and emerging voices with new audiences. An option we hope highlights and educates each month!

Jury's Overall Winner

The Mirror

Director/Writer/Producer: Rui Don
Producer: Zuyou Liu

Country of Origin: United States
Genre: Horror, Drama

Synopsis: A grieving woman, Kate, becomes obsessed with a mysterious antique mirror, she begins to experience supernatural occurrences and visions of her deceased lover, leading her to a terrifying realization about the true nature of the mirror.

Season Award #15 Shortlist: Best Short Live Action Narrative


Audience Choice Winners

Out of a comfort zone

Director/Writer/Producer: Patrycja Anna Grabarek
Country of Origin: Poland

In the vast Atlantic, a cargo ship, led by unconventional Captain Sebastian Stepaniak, unfolds a compelling story. Initially stern, Sebastian transforms into a guardian, imparting values from his father - a navy captain arrested for refusing aggression. His unique blend of precision and empathy sets him apart. Under his guidance, the crew learns navigation, independence, work respect, and justice. Sebastian's story, beyond the sea, is about heritage, values, and courage. His teachings transform the ship into a hub of development and mutual respect. An epic narrative shaping both the crew's destiny and characters.

The Bone Harp

Director:Tasha Pinckney
Country of Origin: United States

I am a lab tech at Mayo Clinic working in the Diagnostic Genetic area. I have always been into making skits and short film starting at age 6 with my sister, continued throughout college, and now am blessed to have a creative group primarily made of my coworkers to continue. I took one college course on basic film making but besides that have learned primarily on my own. I love creating a story, turning that vision into a script, then seeing it come to life in a film. Majority of my actors and film crew are just friend and coworkers with not a ton of acting experience or camera experience, we do this mainly for fun. I make majority of the costumes, direct, film, and edit the footage. This is a hobby I love and plan to continue doing while getting more experience to enhance my films. I am excited to enter this movie in a competition among more experienced film makers..


Director/Writer/Producer: Luna Manuel
Country of Origin: Mexico

(The Nightingale and the Rose) delivers a night party that portrays the transformation of Toro, a young man fresh out of the cave who decides to explore the outer desert to know his truth, with the vampires that lives in it, he will enter in a metaphorical labyrinth that will seduce him on a musical journey under the effects of blood and curiosity.

Because You Were Always Smiling

Director/Writer/Producer: Carl Mitchell
Country of Origin: United Kingdom

During a car ride, two people talk about childhood memories, videogames, lost loves and pub crawls.

The Kiss

Director/Writer/Producer: Diego José Antonio Lentini
Country of Origin: Argentina

The night joins two strangers and their beast-like passion.?

Any Place

Director/Writer: Natalie Meyer
Country of Origin: Germany

A young woman moves to an island to leave her past behind her. Once there, she finds it difficult to perceive the beauty surrounding her. One evening she meets another woman that shows her everything that she couldn't see herself. She slowly begins to look forward and realizes what really matters.


Director: Sandeep Varma
Country of Origin: United States

Amid a casual get-together, four friends—John, Bobby, Samuel, and Aneesh—find their camaraderie tested when a fifth friend, Thomas, pulls out due to the strain in his relationship with his wife, Sofie. The group is divided over Sofie's alleged closeness to a college friend, with John and Samuel defending Thomas, branding Sofie dishonorable, while Bobby and Aneesh, the liberals, insist on her right to spend time as she pleases.

The Baloon Theft

Director: Gabriel Alves Soares
Country of Origin: Brazil

n comics, the speech bubble is an extreme resource used to give voices to characters in their exclusively graphic dimension. In this short animated short, this resource takes on a palpable materiality that promotes, at the same time, a fun surreal story and an exercise in metalanguage between comic book elements and animation language.


Director/Writer/Producer: Greygon Efetobor Avwokuruaye
Country of Origin: Nigeria

When the teenage daughter to a clergy parents discover she is pregnant, she decides to seek a way out. "OUT" is a social awareness movie that tends to throw more light on the high rate of suicide amongst teenagers.

Kissing Day

Director: Ligebita Libera
Country of Origin: Turkey

"Kissing Day" is a short animated film based on an interview with the famous Russian journalist and LGBTQ activist Elena Kostyuchenko. It tells the story of the "Kissing Day" action that Elena organized outside the Russian State Duma in 2012 during the first hearings of the law against "gay propaganda" among minors. In total, Russian LGBTQ activists organized four protests outside the State Duma. In June 2013, the law on "gay propaganda" was adopted by a majority vote.


Director/Writer: Venya Aggarwal
Country of Origin: Canada

A trip down memory lane with clips of nostalgic peaceful memories of celebrating Diwali in India.

The end of all things

Directors: Xavier Gonz, Anthony Xavier
Country of Origin: Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

Meridia is a girl who visits the city for the first time. On her way she meets Claudia and they both embark on one last journey towards what seems to be the end of their paths.

The Claw

Director/Writer: Youssef Samir Makar
Country of Origin: Egypt


A little child enters a magical amusement park, but it's empty. In there, the child finds a clown who leads them to a magical game that can give them everything they want. However, the price is unknown, yet somewhat free.

Lift-Off Season Awards #15

The Lift-Off Season Awards is an annual event that celebrates the very best of indie film. Following each Lift-Off film festival, films that have excelled in their respective category are short listed for a Season Awards Nomination.  At the end of the year, once all the 12 city-based festival have taken place, the shortlisted nominated films are reviewed again by the jury and Official Nominations are designated.  Click here for more information about the Lift-Off Season Awards.