Paul Haggis Picks Shnit Short Film Festival Winners: "Beautiful, Touching and Narratively Succinct"

Clint Spaulding/
Olivier van der Hoeven and Paul Haggis

"Film is an emotional medium. At the end of the day, which ones provoked the strongest feeling?"

Paul Haggis sat with friends in a booth at New York City's No. 8 on Sunday evening, waiting for the Shnit Short Film Festival's awards ceremony to begin and reveal his winning picks.

"The quality of the filmmaking was extraordinary," Haggis told The Hollywood Reporter. "I've judged several film festivals, and you always expect a few turkeys to sneak in there! But there weren't any, and it was so hard to choose. ... They were beautiful and touching, their storytelling and craft was very high-level, they're all well-structured and well-shot and well-acted."

The director of Third Person and Crash became involved with the international fest on behalf of Artists for Peace and Justice, his non-profit organization that provides film, music and arts education in Haiti for 2,800 high school students.

"Early on, we knew we weren't gonna solve Haiti's problems, but given a chance, maybe some of these kids will," he explained. "Many of them have grown up in homes the size of this booth, with dirt floors and tin roofs, and they're making films and earning a living at it! They're earning twenty times what their parents did, and they're doing it in the arts because Haiti is a vibrant community."

Read more Paul Haggis Receives Millions From Bovet Watches for Haiti Help

How did he select the three Shnit winners? "Film is an emotional medium. At the end of the day, which ones provoked the strongest feeling? That's basically how I chose," said Haggis, pictured with festival director Olivier van der Hoeven and told the winners that short films can outshine features because they must achieve the same goals while being "narratively succinct."

After guests enjoyed sliders, shrimp, chicken and cocktails while listening to beats by DJ Uncle Mike, the Flying Faun trophies were awarded to the following:

No Kissing by Manuel Arija de la Cuerda
Millionaires by Stéphane Bergmans 
Terre Brûlée by Julien Meynet

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