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Award Winner

Festival Season:

April 2024





C. A. MacFinn
Clare Kohavi, C. A. MacFinn


C. A. MacFinn, Clare Kohavi

Run Time:


Awarded for the following Category(s):

Awarded Category(s)

In the world of the Ottoman Sultans, a poor child from Jerusalem makes an unimaginable desert journey to Cairo and back to save his mother and siblings from a rapacious aristocrat. He has nine days…


Submitter Statement

Ariel draws it’s inspiration from two sources: the richness and history of the Sephardi / Mizrachi (MENA Jewish) world, and the delight this folktale’s doughty teen hero brought me when I was young enough for bedtime stories. Writing the film, I also opened up the story to portray the important cultural role of women in a society so often perceived of as solely patriarchal. Ariel was created by an international team as diverse as the 19th Century Ottoman Empire in which it is set. Each team member brought their own wizardry and grit to this magical story, and together we breathed life into this ancient tale of a Middle Eastern Jewish boy’s quest to save his family and preserve their inheritance.
C.A. (Conor) MacFinn is a Canadian / American filmmaker. His most recent film, Glooscap and Noogami, was nominated for Best Animated Short at Red Nation International Film Festival in Los Angeles, the largest Native Indigenous Film Festival in the world. His animated shorts have been distributed by AOL On, Roku, Amazon and Tribal TV on Hulu, and have won awards and been official selections at over 40 festivals internationally. Other animated storytelling includes mobile media twice selected for SIGGRAPH’s Appy Hour showcase of creativity and innovation, and distributed through iTunes. His 3D character animation credits encompass work for The Museum of the Dog in New York City, Pearson and Behrman House. A 2019 New York State Council on the Arts Arts Alive grantee to support the storyboarding and development of Ariel, Conor also received a 2020 Artist’s Support Fund grant from The Arts Council of Rockland. Conor was honored that his trilogy of shorts inspired by his Native heritage was invited to show at Mní Wičhóni Nakíčižiŋ Owáyawa (Defenders of the Sacred Water School) at The Water Protector's Camp in Standing Rock, North Dakota. The inspiration for Ariel is drawn from other parts of Conor's family inheritance. This magical story of a Middle Eastern Jewish boy and his widowed mother fighting to save their family and their trade routes is set against the diverse ethnic and cultural tapestry of Sephardi life in the 19th century Ottoman Empire.

Key Cast

Daniel Sean Smith, Clare Kohavi, Conor MacFinn, Jerry Schlapak, Mike Duckworth

Other Credits

Editor: C. A. MacFinn; Composer: Josh Kaye; Color & Finishing: Brian Maffitt; Sound Producor: Bob Pomann; SFX Editor: Max Conklin; 2D Animation: Lee Corey; Animation: Donald Hebel, C. A. MacFinn, Matthew Mottegew, Niki Shah; Storyboards: C. A. MacFinn, Erica Murphy; Cultural Consultant: Ely Allen
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