The internationally co-produced animated documentary film “Flee” continues to receive accolades during awards season. Last weekend, Animation is Film awarded the grand prize, the festival’s highest prize, to “Flee.”

Written and directed by Jonas Poher Rasmussen, “Flee” follows the story of Awin Nawabi, an Afghan refugee who is suddenly forced to face life-altering effects of a secret that he has kept for 20 years. Neon and Participant are distributing the film.

“In the touching and innovative documentary ‘Flee,’ Jonas Poher Rasmussen takes great care in sharing the personal history of an Afghan refugee. The filmmaker uses the process of animation to protect the identity of his subject, while also bringing an added layer to the material, capturing the impact of trauma on memory and identity in the process,” stated Jury chair and Variety chief film critic Peter Debruge.

The special jury prize was awarded to “Belle.” Writer-director Mamoru Hosuda’s science fantasy film chronicles the adventures of a 17-year old high school student who enters a virtual world and meets with a mysterious creature. GKIDS has licensed the film in North America and will be released in the United States on January 14, 2022.

Studio Chizu’s newest film “Belle” is set to debut in American cinemas January 14, 2022.

“With extraordinary visual imagination and technical skill, Mamoru Hosoda reinvents the classic Beauty and the Beast story for this century. In his telling, a teenage Belle finds her voice and takes a stand on an important social issue,” commented Debruge.

The audience award was given to “The Crossing,” a dramatic film that follows the dramatic journey of two siblings, Kyona and her brother Adriel, who are running away while being pursued by an unspecified Eastern European country. Florence Miailhe directs.

The other films in the competition included “The Summit of the Gods,” “Josep,” “Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko,” “I Am What I Am,” “Nahuel and the Magic Book,” “The Deer King,” “Pompo: The Cinephile, Poupelle of Chimney Town,” and “Where Is Anne Frank.”

AIF kicked off opening night with the North American premiere of Netflix’s “The Summit of the Gods,” a traditionally animated feature about scaling Mount Everest directed by Patrick Imbert.

In addition to the contest, AIF hosted multiple special events. A behind-the-scenes look at Disney’s upcoming “Encanto,” the fantasy musical set in a magical Columbian village, with songs written by Lin-Manual Miranda, and directed by Jared Bush, Byron Howard, and Charise Castro Smith. The event also presented a showcase featuring some of the best animated shorts directed by women in 2021. Programmed in partnership with Annecy and Women In Animation, this special program featured a diverse array of beautiful, thought-provoking short films from around the world.

“At a time when audiences everywhere are still easing back into theatres, we were positively awestruck by the steady hum of enthusiasm on display this weekend at Animation Is Film,” AIF director Matt Kaszanek said in a statement. “With sold-out screenings every day of the festival, Los Angeles announced itself once again as an epicenter for cinema and animation lovers. We were so happy to see everyone again.”

The Animation Is Film Festival was held from Oct. 22-24 at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood.