CANNES– Annie Silverstein’s “Skunk” won the top prize of the Cannes Film Festival’s Cinefondation, whose jury was presided by Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami.

Created by Cannes’ prexy Gilles Jacob and run by George Goldenstern, the Cinefondation honors the best student shorts. This year’s selection comprised 16 student shorts chosen among 1631 submissions from 457 schools.

“Skunk” turns on a 14-year old girl who lives in a rural area of Texas who learns how to stand up for herself and loses her innocence after her beloved pit bull gets stolen by a dog fighter. Silverstein, a graduate of the University of Texas, received a grant of 15,000 Euros ($20,475) as part of her prize and will be invited back at Cannes with her feature debut.

The second prize was awarded to “Oh Lucy!” directed by NYU student Atsuko Hirayanagi. It turns on a 55-year old office lady in Tokyo who is given a new identity.

Meanwhile, “Levito Madre” from Italy’s Fulvio Risuleo (Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia), and “The Bigger Picture” from U.K. director Daisy Jacobs (National Film and Television School), shared the third prize.

The second and third prize winners received 11,250 Euros and 7,500 Euros, respectively.

Kiarostami led the jury which comprised Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (“Grigris”), Noemie Lvovky (“Camille Rewinds”), Daniela Thomas (“Paris, I Love You”) and Joachim Trier (“Oslo, 31 august”).

Speaking to Variety about the selection process, Kiarostami said he and the rest of the jury came in with very high expectations and  found that most of the shorts presented were not audacious or experimental enough.

The Iranian helmer explained he was always busy making videos in between directing movies and was considering unveiling some of them to the public one day.

Kiarostami also said he was currently writing his next project, a story of impossible love.