Vimeo has crowned its first animated champion. The Vimeo Staff Pick Award took its act to Animafest Zagreb in Croatia last week where they awarded Rachel Gutgarts a shiny new piece of hardware for her short A Love Letter to the One I Made Up.

The film begs the question, does the '"perfect" partner exist or can they only live on in our dreams? A Vimeo curator explained that it's the way Gutgarts crafts her film, "utilizing repetitive images, carefully chosen words and a limited, but deliberate color palette," that drew the team to A Love Letter.

"This short film explores the recesses of our need for connection and our most seductive relationship fantasies. Poignant and frustrating, this abstract and painstakingly animated silkscreened piece manages to be immediate, meditative, and fleeting all at once," they expanded.

As a part of the prize package, Gutgarts also received a premiere on Vimeo’s Staff Picks. No Film School spoke briefly with the director after her win at Animafest Zagreb as part of our ongoing series exploring the benefits of having a simultaneous online and festival release. 

A LOVE LETTER TO THE ONE I MADE UP / מכתב אהבה לבחור שהמצאתי from Rachel Gutgarts on Vimeo.

No Film School: What was your inspiration for creating this film?

Rachel Gutgarts: I wanted to make a love story. My initial inspiration was my hometown city, Jerusalem, and the daily (and nightly) routine in it. I wanted to mix the mystical vibes with a big romantic love story. As I started working, I realized that the more authentic thing to do would be to talk about daily loneliness and the "waiting for the-knight-in-shining-armor" mentality. I asked a few talented women to write a love letter to an imaginary perfect man; they sent me those beautiful letters they wrote and I edited them to the poem read in the film.

NFS: What is your best piece of advice to aspiring filmmakers?

Gutgarts: You are unique and interesting. Don't try to fit into anyone else's models, be honest with yourself. Make something you would watch on Vimeo Staff Picks. 

NFS: Did you face any challenges when making this film?

Gutgarts: I made the film with absolutely no funding—completely independent. I had to build my own screen print workshop, so I'd have proper space to print the animation. Luckily, I have an amazing group of friends and mentors that were helping and supporting me through it. I built the screen print workshop at the independent STRAUS studio (an underground culture hotspot in Jerusalem) and asked my talented friend Aviv Stern to make an original soundtrack for the film. Without my beautiful friends, supporting mentors, and wonderful family I would have never made it, so I'm very thankful.

NFS: What’s the value of displaying your film at a festival versus releasing online?

Gutgarts: At festivals, I get to meet and talk with professionals, see new animations, and feel a sense of community in my field of work. Releasing online gives me a chance to show my film to a wider audience and reach many people; maybe my film can reach someone and help them feel less alone in their thoughts, and better about themselves, just like so many great films made me feel. Anyway, to me, both are very important and helpful for any filmmaker.

NFS: What does the Staff Pick Award mean to you?

Gutgarts: It's a great, great honor. I've been watching Staff Picks for a long time and I'm a big fan. It's so amazing to be a part of this list of talented creators.

NFS: What’s next? Any upcoming projects?

Gutgarts: I have a new project in early stages of development. I'm also looking for interesting collaboration opportunities. 

Source: Vimeo