Zaid Abu Hamdan’s Bahiya & Mahmoud (Jordan/USA) won the 2011 Palm Springs International ShortFest’s Best Of Festival Award last night [26] and becomes eligible for Oscar consideration.

The Panavision Grand Jury Award went to Elizabeth Tadic’s Australian entry Umoja: No Men Allowed, while the Future Filmmaker Award was presented to Mitsuyo Miyazaki’s Tsuyako from Japan/US.

The jury made a special citation for excellence in filmic storytelling to director Patrick Sarell and co-director Alistair Lockhart for Australian entry Nullarbor.

The Audience Favorite Live Action Short prize went to Christopher Stollery for dik, another film from Australia in a year that drew a high number of entries from the country. Miyazaki’s Tsuyako was named runner-up.

In the audience documentary category, Paul Detwiler and Michael Chen’s US film Johnny & Lyman: A Life Together prevailed. Julie Cohen’s The Unforgettable Hampton Family (US) was runner-up.

The Fantastic Flying Books Of Mr Morris Lessmore (US) by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg was the audience choice in animation, while Dave Isay and Tim Rauch earned runners-up status for Danny & Annie (US).

The festival – the largest short film festival and market in North America – ran from Jun 21-27 and screened 331 films from more than 3,000 submissions. Organisers reported a surge this year in entries and attendees.

“It’s been a remarkable year for ShortFest, with record attendance and a rapturous response to the programming by audiences, industry and filmmakers alike,” festival director Darryl Macdonald said. “The Film Market and industry programs were particularly active, adding hugely to the festival’s success. I’m confident a number of major future filmmakers emerged here this year and will go on to enliven the feature film world.”

“The extraordinary number of filmmakers attending both the festival and the market with their films this year, nearly 400 in total, added such a dynamic layer to ShortFest,” Kathleen McInnis, festival curator and director of industry programming, said. “This is what it is all about for us: bringing these emerging filmmakers into the spotlight of ShortFest where we hope they are inspired and empowered by their audience reception, industry interaction and peer to peer networking.”

For further details visit the official website.