“It’s Short Time” at the Krakow Film Festival
by Laurence Boyce
- At the 58th KFF, representatives of some of the biggest film festivals came together to explore the ever-vital role of the short film
Representatives from Cannes, Berlin, Venice and the European Film Academy took part in a discussion examining the value of short films at an event held at the 58th Krakow Film Festival. Entitled “It’s Short Time”, the panel discussion was organised by the festival and Munk Studio-SFP, Poland’s biggest producer of short films.
One of the biggest issues debated amongst the panel was the intrinsic value of short films. Shorts are often seen as a stepping stone before going on to a feature – sometimes couched in more derogatory terms such as “practice before a real film”. Sarah Schlüssel from Berlinale Shorts was keen to point out the importance of celebrating shorts as an art form in their own right, as she talked about Berlin’s efforts to present a strong and diverse selection of shorts that not only showcases the medium but also explores the boundaries of what cinema can achieve.
It was acknowledged that it is sometimes difficult to allow the short film to stand out. On an institutional level, many of the short-film funding activities – if they exist at all – are carried out purely with a view to filmmakers subsequently going on to make features. Enrico Vannucci, short-film advisor at Venice and an organiser of the Torino Short Film Market, also mentioned how unprepared many film students are to take part in the short-film world, with their tutors showing them features, rather than shorts. All of the panel members agreed that they felt the industry would be stronger if young filmmakers also invested their time in watching short films.
It was acknowledged that the short is still very much a vital part of the road to creating a feature film. Wim Vanacker, a member of the selection committee for the Official Short Film Competition of the Cannes Film Festival and project manager of the European Short Pitch, talked about the importance of being able to learn your craft as well as the networking opportunities available for filmmakers beginning their careers in short films. Christoph Bovermann from the European Film Academy mentioned the EFA nominees for Best Short Film, which sees short-film festivals from across the circuit (including Krakow itself) put forward a short film, and these titles all then compete at the end of the year at the annual European Film Awards. By putting the nominated films together in a screening package entitled Short Matters!, screened at many festivals across the circuit, audiences get a great opportunity to see the movies.
The contemporary short-film market was also discussed. While the industry is small, it does exist. Broadcasters such as ARTE and Canal+ are buying shorts, as are a number of other distributors that are looking closely at the short-film product. The money involved is comparatively small – and it is exceedingly difficult to make a living from making shorts alone – but there is an industry to be found.
With three A-list film festivals on the panel, alongside the European Film Academy, the panel was an important reminder that short films are a vital part of the industry, not only because of their role in talent development, but also due to their intrinsic value as an art form in their own right.
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