CANNES–Finnish film student Juho Kuosmanen’s “The Painting Sellers” (“Taulukauppiaat”) nabbed the Cinefondation Selection’s First Prize for best short on Friday.

“Sellers” turns on three people who embark on an eventful road trip across Finland on the eve of Christmas to sell paintings, and strike up a friendship.

Kuosmanen previously competed at the Cinefondation with “Galaxien Ritari” in 2006 – which took third place and nabbed the Locarno film fest’s Eastman Kodak nod — and “Roadmarkers” (“Kestomerkitsijat”) in 2007 –which also camd third.

The Second Prize went to Paris-based film school La Femis’ Vincent Cardona for “Anywhere Out of the World” (“Coucou les Nuages”), a comedy about a young man who’s obssessed by the idea of flying into space.

Meanwhile, the Third Prize was awarded to two shorts – NYU student Vatche Boulghourjian’s coming-of-age feature “The Fifth Column” (“Hinkerort Zorasune”) and Serbian student Dane Komljen’s introspective drama “I Already Am Everything I Want to Have” (“Ja Vec Jesam Sve Ono Sto Zelim Da Imam”).

The jury was headed by Canadian helmer Atom Egoyan, and made up of Brazilian director Carlos Diegues and Spanish helmer Marc Recha, as well as French thesp Emmanuelle Devos and Russian actress Dinara Droukarova.

The four winning shorts will receive Euros15,000 ($18, 877) for the First Prize, $14,158 for the Second Prize and $9.438 for Third Prize

Before announcing the winners, Egoyan also pointed out that the animated-short “Miramare,” Michaela Muller’s drama about the struggle of illegal immigrants, also deserved to win a prize.

“All the films strove to find unique ways of harnessing cinematographic vision with delicate and often haunting performances,” said Egoyan.

Added the jury prexy, “It’s amazing to see the level of enthusiasm from the students, and the commitmment of the Cinefondation to use the prestige of the festival to create a link with these filmmakers.”

Egoyan started his directing career as a student at the University of Toronto where he helmed multiple shorts including suspenser “Open House.” Since then he’s become a central figure of international auteur cinema and a Cannes vet. Five of his films have competed at Cannes. “The Sweet Hereafter” nabbed the Grand Jury Prize in 1997.

This year’s Cinefondation Selection featured a strong presence of Eastern European student films with four out of 13 shorts coming from Croatia, Serbia, Slovakia and Hungary, pointed out Dimitra Karya, the Cinefondation’s artistic director.

More than 1,500 shorts were submitted.

Four Cinefondation Selection alumni have films screening in different sections this year in Cannes — Kornel Mundruczo’s Competition title “Tender Son – The Frankenstein Project,” Agnes Kocsis’s Un Certain Regard screener “Pal Adrienn,” Alicia Duffy’s “All Good Children” at the Directors’ Fortnight and Gonzalo Tobal’s “Cynthia Still Got the Keys” at Critics’ Week.

Created in 1998 by Gilles Jacob and run by George Goldenstern, the Cinefondation Selection has been dedicated to accompanying the work and development of new talents from all horizons.