A few months back I volunteered to be on the Short Films Selection Committee for the Cleveland International Film Festival. It seemed like a simple task: watch short films and score them. They were to be graded as an A, B, or C. Which to me translated to “must be in the Festival,” “could be in the Festival,” or “does not belong in the Festival.” It wasn’t that simple.
First, short films include any feature up to 45 minutes long because that is the limit established for the Oscars. Since the CIFF is a nominating Festival for shorts, the Committee abides by that definition. Second, I watched over 300 shorts within about six weeks and thus saw a fraction of the 1300 films that were originally submitted to the Festival for first round viewing. Once the films got passed on to me, it seemed like every free moment was spent watching shorts. (Add to that the fact that there were numerous foreign DVDs that could not be viewed on my player. I had to buy a region-free player from Amazon and then figure out how to hook it up.)
The most difficult part of this project was the actual grading of the films. Searching for films with the “wow” factor proved challenging although there were a lot of very good ones. The choice as to what made it into the final program of shorts at the Festival and what didn’t was tough and required some thoughtful, decision-making by the Committee. To give you some idea, over 600 films were considered by our Committee and of those, only 166 made it into the Festival. I was amazed at how well many shorts are done – a complete story, fully told, totally captivating, and memorable yet only 10 to 12 minutes long!
If you haven’t watched any short films, I encourage you to find a way to do so. There are really good filmmakers out there who deserve to be found. Much like Indie Authors.