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Tokyo-based illustrator Sarina Nihei’s “Small People With Hats” received the top award in the short film category at this year’s Ottawa International Animation Festival that ended Sunday.

The 26-year-old animator’s film was produced as a graduation thesis project at the Royal College of Art in London where she completed her studies in June 2014.

This is believed to be the first time a film made by a student has captured the top prize at the Canadian festival.

Nihei, a freelance illustrator and animator, said: “I’m truly honored. I will be happy if more people get to see the work as a result of this award.”

The film is about short people who always wear hats, drawing attention to themselves from the people around them.

It is “a brilliantly written absurd script with a compelling visual picture and sound that successfully interprets a political reality of our time,” the festival’s short film competition jury commented.

Nihei, originally from the city of Fukushima, graduated in animation from the Royal College of Art in 2014 after earning a degree in graphic design from Tama Art University in Tokyo in 2012.

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