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Top Shorts 2020 Nominations Announced

Updated: May 2, 2020

The 6th annual Top Shorts nominations have just been announced, and over 300 films and screenplays are in the run for an annual award, in 48 categories overall.

Among the Top Shorts nominees, Jane Doe (dir. Brett Rickaby) received the most nominations with 12, including Best of Fest, Best Actress (Amanda Lamberti), Best Duo (Paola Deocampo & John Elsen) and Best Ensemble.

Amanda Lamberti in Jane Doe

The 12 nominees for Best of Fest (film of the year) have already won notable awards on the festival circuit: Chocolate Man (dir. Murat Eyup Gonultas) won Best of Fest 2019 at the New York Film Awards; Don't Croak (dir. Daun Kim), an animated film which recently won Best Picture at the Los Angeles Film Awards (July 2019); Man in the Woods (dir. Kevin O'Neill), Best Narrative Short 2019 at Rome International Film Festival, USA; and The Sunset Channel (dir. Matthew Kinahan), which was nominated for the Golden Egg award at the 2018 Reykjavik International Film Festival.

Avicii - Heaven (dir. Levan Tsikurishvili)

Among the nominees for Best Music Video, are some of the world's most popular musicians, including Avicii ("Heaven", dir. Levan Tsikurishvili), The Avener ("Under the Waterfall", dir. Sebastien Caudron), the Turkish singer Defne Samyeli ("Cry", dir. Umut Evirgen), and PLS&TY ("Run Wild", dir. Sean Cartwright).

Two of the most prestigious categories, Best Actor and Best Actress, include some well known actors, such as Diane Farr (Thumb Runner), Marie-Jeanne Maldague (Caducea; Best Actress at Festigious 2019), Morgan Kelly (Cleverly Disguised), William Baldwin (Talk), Micah Fitzgerald (Butterfly), and James Martin Kelly (Man in the Woods).

Diane Farr in Thumb Runner

William Baldwin in Talk

The judging team, which will soon be revealed, is currently reviewing the films and screenplays, and the winners will be announced on May 20, 2020.

Here are the 15 films that earned most nominations this year, and the complete Top Shorts nominations 2020 list below.

Jane Doe

Writer & Director: Brett Rickaby

A pair of detectives pursue an elusive predator kidnapping women in the San Fernando Valley when they stumble across a victim uncertain she wants to be saved.

Jane Doe examines the loss of identity when mental, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse occurs. What actions are justifiable to prevent the loss of self in a battle of wills and the abuse of power?

The Listener

Writer & Director: Petr Melnikov

Nick hears how his girlfriend is sleep talking about an eerie murder. Next night she gives more details and he becomes paranoid.

Chocolate Man

Director: Murat Eyup Gonultas

An emotionless war photographer and a group of mercenaries encounter a mysterious little girl in a small town, which got destroyed by an AI.

Thumb Runner

Writers & Directors: Dylan Bruno, Kasper Vejlø Kristensen

Waking up to find his wife missing, Johnny is forced, by an awkward and irritable mob boss of unknown nationality, into a twistedly violent but comedic gauntlet of tasks that he must complete to win her back. One hell of an epic scavenger hunt. As Johnny's situation goes from bad to worse, it also leads him places we never expect, as he discovers the disturbingly simple and twisted reason behind the hunt. Expect action, expect drama, expect comedy. But don't expect to see your average plot scenarios. Thumb Runner takes us places that are both disturbing and weird, but also silly and fun. A cast of bizarre characters with outlandish backgrounds and talents makes for mindless entertainment at its essence, dragging us through the strange world of low level gangsters who haven't fully realized their dangerous and violent schemes.

Man in the Woods

Writer & Director: Kevin O'Neill

Lost, with nothing to guide him but a broken compass.

Blue Pig

Writer & Director: Yaxiong Shao

After a group of scientists' technological innovation, a newborn pig's highest aspiration and sole value in life become being consumed and enjoyed by humans. In this story, a family takes a genetically altered pig home and prepares to slaughter it.

The Sunset Channel

Director: Matthew Kinahan

A housebound man thinks he might be the only witness of a disturbing event on his television.

Places We Won't Walk

Writer & Director: Enyi Zhu

Places We Won't Walk discusses the conflict between individuality and socially-defined responsibilities. Through a struggle of lung cancer patient Anne, we catch a glimpse of West and Eastern different ideology of family responsibility and personal freedom when she and her son Connor struggles to express their love for each other at the end of her remaining life.

Hollow Heart

Director: Emilie Marloth Frøkjær

Ellen has achieved great success on the art scene with her installation piece "Hollow Heart", where she scans and projects her sick daughter's heart in front of a live audience. As the press begins to doubt Ellen's talent, she chooses to restage the piece bigger and wilder. But as her daughter Adalyn enters puberty and is more fragile than ever, Ellen must choose between chasing fame or assuring Adalyn's health.


Writer & Director: Bonnie Foster

A fashion model leaves her life for the desert...and meets a mysterious stranger who finally brings the change she's been looking for.

Written Words

Writer & Director: Chelsea Nwasike

A psychological thriller about a woman who tried to come to terms with a traumatic childhood experience through her murder/mystery novel. She starts to see things more clearly after finding her father's suicide note.

The Assistant

Writer: Brent Crable, Director: Peter Calvin

Being an assistant can be tough, being a social media influencers Assistant is impossible. How long can Derek last as Cali Calvin’s assistant before he snaps?

Ghost in the Gun

Writer & Director: Andrew Chen

A man left for dead encounters a possessed gun and transforms into a gunslinger bent on avenging his wife's murder, but unbeknownst to him the gun has a vendetta of its own.


Director: Antony Stone

John, a Karoo-farmer, fights to prevent corporate greed from fracking his land. Irresponsible action thrust his daughter Lily into a dystopian future. Lily inspires others to stand up against Fracking.

Darkest Age

Writer & Director: Isabella Jacqueline

Craving unconditional love that he has never found at home, sixteen-year-old Leon ventures into unknown territories and instigates a string of events that he feels has no control over.

The complete Top Shorts nominations 2020 list:

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