For decades, short film festivals have been considered the stepchild of the glitzier feature film festivals, like Cannes or Venice. But shorts have been making their mark as more people recognize the value of the short film, beyond its capacity to produce talent for feature film work. Consequently, short film festivals have been increasingly popular, attracting top filmmaking talent and movie lovers alike. The best short film festivals showcase a wide variety of short films and filmmakers’ visions. Though there are many fine short film festivals, there are five festivals in particular that stand out as the best.
L.A. Shorts Fest (July 21-29)
This is not only the largest short film festival in the world, but it is also recognized by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Films accepted and screened in the festival may go on to be nominated for Academy Awards. In fact, 37 of their past submissions have been nominated and 12 have won Oscars. More than 8,000 attend the festival every year, some looking for the next hot thing and others to be discovered, while the majority just show up to be entertained. The festival hands out awards for the best short of the festival as well as best foreign film, drama, comedy, animation, experimental, and documentary.
Canadian Film Centre’s Worldwide Short Film Festival (June 5-10)
Every year thousands of short filmmakers submit their work to Toronto’s Worldwide Short Film Festival. Festival organizers cull those submissions down to the 250 best, which they go on to screen over a six day period. The best of the festival will be taken on tour and screened across Canada, which is a great way for emerging filmmakers to gain exposure. Like the L.A. Shorts Festival, the CFC is also accredited by the Academy, meaning winners of the Best Live Action and Best Animated Shorts are eligible for Oscar nominations.
Brief Encounters Short Film Fest (September 18-23)
Every year, filmmakers, industry insiders, and movie lovers converge on the seaside town of Bristol for the Brief Encounters Short Film Fest. In conjunction with the Animated Encounters Film Festival which is now known simply as the Encounters Fest, this festival has become the largest for short films in the United Kingdom. In the past, the festival was held in March, but organizers have moved it to September for 2012.
FlickerFest International Shorts Film Festival (January 6-15)
The FlickerFest International Shorts Film Festival is considered the top short film venue in Australia and attracts entries from around the world. In order to assure the maximum amount of exposure for these films, organizers take several of the best films featured on a tour around the country after the festival. They screen the films in many areas that would otherwise not be able to see these films.
Palm Springs International ShortFest (June 19-25)
Don’t confuse this one with the Palm Springs International Film Festival held in June. For seven days, Palm Springs, the posh desert weekend getaway for Los Angeles, becomes all about shorts. Designed to nurture young talent, this festival is a great way for young filmmakers to meet the established artists and industry insiders.