40th Oulu International Children's and Youth Film Festival
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The juries have made their decisions. The winners were published 20 Nov. 2021.
Children’s Film Competition
Oulun Energia's Starboy given by the Children's Jury to director: Guðjón Ragnarsson
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ECFA Award
Given by the International Jury:
Director: Linda Hambäck
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ECFA Short Film Award
Given by the International Jury:
Director: Jerry Hoffmann
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Youth Film Competition
Oulu 4H:n Global Future Prize given by the Youth Film Competition Jury:
Director: Daniel Fahre
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Finnish Competition
Look at Me... Award of the Media Foundation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland:
Director: Taavi Vartia
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The Children's Jury gave the Starboy Award, sponsored by Oulun Energia, to the director of the best film in the Children's Film Competition. The award consists of 2500 euros.

The winner of the Children's Film Competition is Guðjón Ragnarsson with his film RAISE THE BAR.

Jury statement: ”The award-winning film differs from more conventional documentaries because of its strong, developing and surprising plot arc as well as its unexpected twists and climax, all of which result from real events. 

From a humble hobby rises a more and more goal-oriented team under the guidance of an enthusiastic and unprejudiced parent-turned-coach whose methods are questioned by outsiders from time to time. 

Confusion and irritation are caused by restrictions to progress determined by gender rather than skill. 

The key messages of the documentary, as noted by the children's jury who are the same age as the team in the film, are the important and topical aspects of equality, acceptance and striving for a common goal. 

The completely unexpected, suspenseful, studiously emphatic speech of the team representative and her refusal to accept the medals already hanging on their necks were unanimously considered justified, honourable and very courageous. 

The consequences of the team's response were also strongly felt, as the events are real.”

Director Guðjón Ragnarsson comments: “It was such an honour to hear that our film 'Raise the Bar' won the Starboy award in the Children's Film Competition. It gives me extra pleasure to hear that the film resonates with the young audience. Young people are the future and the film was made with that as a guiding light. I am so happy with this award! I'm truly humbled and speechless. Thank you!”

Honourable mention

The Children's Jury gave an honourable mention to director Martin Miehe-Renard for his Danish film BUSTER’S WORLD. “The film looks at topics that adults find difficult to encounter, such as dying and being different, through the eyes of the 11-year-old title character in a natural and positive way. Bewildering and mishap-ridden moments are approached with humour. The possibility of relating to emotions helps with overcoming different situations. With the compassionate Buster, it is easy to follow the plot and experience the world optimistically even in moments of grief. However, you get through everything with the power of love and magic.” 

The ECFA Award was founded by the European Children's Film Association in 2010. It is given to the best European film in the Children's Film Competition by the International Jury – foundress and director of “Ojo de Pescado” International Film Festival of Children and Youth Alejandra Fritis Zapata from Chile, director, screenwriter and producer Vivian Papageorgiou from Greece and a teacher of Film Studies at Oulu University Aino Isojärvi from Finland.

The winner is THE APE STAR directed by Linda Hambäck.

Jury statement: “This year's feature film selection was bold and versatile and gave a lovely insight to contemporary European children's film. 

The winning feature, The Ape Star, is a delightful, self-aware and self-confident 2D production with creative, colourful aesthetics and a rebellious spirit. The film offers diverse representation of intriguing characters seeking beneath the surface. It embraces heartfelt themes of loneliness and acceptance, extending the significance of having a family to fondness, togetherness and communality.”

Director Linda Hambäck: ”Thank you so much for giving me and the film The Ape Star, me and my team, this fantastic award of ECFA. I'm very very happy. Thank you so much!” 
ECFA Short Film Award: 90%

ECFA Short Film Award was founded by the European Children's Film Association in 2018. It is given to the best European short film by the same International Jury this year for the first time in the history of the festival.

The winner is 90% directed by Jerry Hoffmann.

Jury statement: ”It was an honour to have the opportunity to watch seven amazing films with different cinematic approaches and techniques that reflect important thematic issues. Although it was a tough decision, we found that the short film 90% stood apart, because it demonstrated sophisticated cinematography full of youthful energy, from the choices of camera angles to lighting. The use of costumes allowed for a flexible, non-binary identity play. Overall, the exploration of cinematic means constructed a narrative which, although portraying difficult and very personal themes, shedded intimate, yet comforting and joyful light on the various screen encounters and their significance. The acting of the protagonists was convincing and passionate and also the music complemented the film's atmosphere, uplifting its occasionally dark tones.” 

Awarded by The Finnish 4H Organization's Association in Oulu, the 1000-euro Global Future Prize is given by a jury of young people to the best youth film in the festival. The winner is BORN2DRIVE, directed by Daniel Fahre.

Jury statement: ”This year’s winner of the Youth Film Competition is an eventful and exciting film. It is very fast-paced and gives you shivers. The film is well shot and its sound well recorded. We were able to identify and imagine ourselves in the film. The choice was clear.“

Director Daniel Fahre: “Thank you for this award. We are truly honoured to receive it. I wish to thank all the crew, and the Solberg family for letting us follow them with a camera. Our goal with this film was to make an action packed and entertaining documentary for a young audience, so to win at Oulu International Children´s and Youth Film Festival means a lot to us. Thank you!” 

The Media Foundation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland grants a 1500-euro award to a Finnish feature or short film at the festival. This year the recipient was chosen by Paula Heino. The award goes to FINDERS OF THE LOST YACHT and its director Taavi Vartia.

Comments by Paula Heino: ”Finders of the Lost Yacht is based on Väinö Riikkilä´s book Viimeiset kaanit (1951). The stories, quite familiar in Finland, are situated in Kotka, a seaside town in South-East Finland. Like a fairytale, the story allows children to step safely into an adventurous world. The movie´s central themes are friendship, trust, sense of community and caring for each other. The screenplay shows how polluted the Baltic Sea is, and how South-Eastern Finland goes through structural change. The circumstances affect the lives of the main characters and their families. The music composed by Panu Aaltio and presented by Kymi Sinfonietta, local child actors and their grown-up actor colleagues give the film a genuine touch.”

The Media Foundation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland grants Look at Me… -Award to a Finnish feature or short film at the festival. The award is intended to support Finnish films for children and young people and encourage film makers to examine Christian responsibility and values.

Director Taavi Vartia: “Dear festival audience, colleagues, organizers and honourable jury. On behalf of myself and the entire production, I would like to thank you for this recognition. At the same time, I thank the crew and the actors for throwing themselves into the project and the enthusiasm that made possible the completion of the film in very challenging times, with the shadow of the pandemic hovering darkly above us. 

Special thanks to our young heroes Olavi, Oskari and Sara, your commitment and bubbling fresh attitude to film making made the story fly. 

And I would like to thank separately the heirs of the author Väinö Riikkilä, who has trusted me with this classic subject for several decades. It is a great honour to live great adventures for real and in make-believe, respecting the subject and the original stories, but at the same time exercising artistic freedom. 

This delightful accolade we have now received from Oulu is yet another important milestone for our film and also for our great adventures to come. 

Thank you. 

Taavi Vartia 


Operative Director Mika Anttolainen

Festival press officer Marja Seppänen
Hallituskatu 7 (2nd floor of Cultural Centre Valve), 90100 Oulu