2021 CIFF Winners Announced

May 4, 2021

The winners for the 2021 Centrally Isolated Film Festival have been announced. Thank you to those who viewed this year's selected films online, and congratulations to all of the talented students who submitted films for the festival! 

2021 Winners

Best Narrative Film

"The Bag" — Sam Azghandi, Syracuse University

  • Muhammad is a Male to Female Transgender person from Iran, in her late 20's who is struggling to come out into family and society. She recently moved to USA for studying and now willing to find a way to come out.... 
  • Sam Azghandi is an Iranian independent filmmaker. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Medical lab from Tehran University, Branch of Medicine. After several years of working in the medical field in Tehran, he started a new adventure in the United. States. attending the school of Visual Performing Art’s M.F.A. program in film in 2019. Most of his work explores themes of gender, race, and class in queer and immigrant lives.

Honorable Mention: "Remember Me in Therapy" — Jacob Mollot, Ithaca College

  • After waking up one fateful morning, George discovers that Earth has been destroyed by an intergalactic alien race/corporation called "The Gleebloys." With the help of a 'therapizing' alien named Ruben, the two must piece together what led to the planet’s destruction. 
  • Jacob Mollot is a 22 year old multi-media artist interested in exploring the surreal, emotionally evocative, and funny aspects of life and art. His two main forms of expression are film and music.


Best Documentary Film

"What An Ivy League Restaurant Taught Me About Success" — Ryan Ng

  • A group of friends form an unlikely bond with a university store owner as they film the last days of the shop's existence.  
  • Based in the Greater New York City Area, Ryan Ng is a filmmaker and YouTube content creator. Ryan is most known for his online docuseries, A Ryan Ng Experience, where he captures behind-the-scenes footage of his life as he tries to build his production company.

Honorable Mention: "Jornada" — Mary Conlon, Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY

  • Jornada, which means "day" or "journey" in Spanish, is also the name of the largest food pantry in Flushing. The amount of families La Jornada feeds each week has increased tenfold since the pandemic started. Through the eyes of the pantry's volunteers, this short documentary examines the human cost of providing for so many people. 
  • Mary Conlon is a video journalist based in New York City. Her written and visual stories have been published by Univision, City Limits, the NYCity News Service, iPondr, and Latino Rebels. She graduated from CUNY with her Master’s in Spanish-language Journalism in December of 2020.


Best Experimental Film

"Bibi Amir" — Zelikha Zohra Shoja, Syracuse University

  • In the absence of photographs and material evidence of a life, a family traces a maternal presence through an archive of feelings and corporeal memory. 
  • Zelikha Shoja (she/they) is a video artist based in Central New York. Their artistic practice and academic interest is in communal storytelling, land memory, and post-memory, or the transmission of memory, specifically through embodied explorations and deep listening. She holds a BA in Diaspora Studies and is currently pursuing an MFA in Art Video from Syracuse University.

Honorable Mention: "Pictorial Abstraction" — Nick Rockwood, Binghamton University

  • Exploring the connections in a collage of disparate images. 
  •  Nick Rockwood is a 2020 graduate of Binghamton University. He majored in cinema and is especially interested in experimental film.


Audience Award

Winner: "La Cena Italiana" — Alex Chu, Colgate University

  • Inspired by the 2003 Danish documentary 'The Five Obstructions' by Jorgen Leth and Lars Von Trier, a man takes a cigarette break to get away from the burdens of reality, however he soon finds out that reality never ends no matter how much he tries to pretend it does not exist. His jaded reactions are a testament to resilience and an absence of regret for one's actions. 
  •  Alex is from Morristown, NJ and he studies economics at Colgate University, however he's always held a deep interest in filmmaking. He thinks taking a filmmaking class for the first time last semester was one of the best decisions he made in college and it has allowed him to express himself in ways he never thought possible before.

Honorable Mention: "Panto" — Justin d'Emilio, Ithaca College

  • "Panto" is a short film that follows a young man struggling to deal with the death of his father in the midst of the pandemic, and his future career as a mime. 
  •  Written and directed by Justin D’Emilio, during the first virtual-semester of his freshman year. He is very appreciative to all the friends and family who helped make this short film possible.
Centrally Isolated Film Festival