One year ago, a group of University of Calgary students banded together to create a film festival as part of their film class practicum. What resulted from that experiment was the three-day Show Us Your Shorts film festival celebrating the craft and potential of short films along with the intrepid spirit of short filmmakers, both locally and abroad.
Devoted to showcasing films 40-minutes-or-less in length, Show Us Your Shorts is back for its second installment with U of C art history student Jeanette Burman returning at the festival's helm. Burman says that she began the festival with low expectations and merely hoped to fill a void in the Calgary arts community.
"I didn't think we'd get submissions," Burman admits. "I was like, 'I'm going to try it and see how it goes,' and then it went really well. We got submissions and they were good. There were films not being screened in the city, not really having a forum for whatever reason, and I thought it would be a fun idea just to have a festival dedicated to short films."
The 2009 installment of Show Us Your Shorts boasted a workshop, a showcase party and a gala awards night and screening. The festival's finale at the Plaza Theatre drew 125 keen film fans and was the crown jewel of the event. This year's festival continues in the same vein, screening The Toe Tactic, the debut feature of short filmmaker Emily Hubley, along with films from the 2009 Ultra Short Film Festival, where films under 30 seconds in length were featured. Burman notes that the success of the festival led to a dramatic increase in submissions, which in turn makes the task of cutting the submissions down to a manageable amount difficult for the organizers.
"The submissions went up three times this year," relates Burman. "We had 120 submissions this year, which was great, and they were from all over the world -- from the U.K., Czech Republic, Montreal, Winnipeg, Florida. I had a filmmaker from Hong Kong writing me after the submission deadline was over asking if he could still submit a film."
One noteworthy addition to this year's fest is the screenwriting competition presented in collaboration with Sled Island Film, which Burman also curates as part of the Sled Island Music Festival. Inspired by a screenwriting class, Burman says the winner of the screenwriting prize will have their script produced by local short filmmakers. She notes that the ability to produce on a small budget is a significant advantage short films have over their feature-length counterparts.
"Short film is a great way to do that because it is way less expensive to make a short film," says Burman. "You can do it with five people, you don't need 500 people. You can do it with $500 and not $500 million. Anyone can make a film, really, with some proper technology. On one hand, that might lead to not the highest crafted film, but on the other hand it gives the people that really are passionate about making film an opportunity to make it."
The challenge for organizers will be to manage the festival's inevitable growth over the next few years as the event matures from its infancy into, hopefully, a permanent fixture in Calgary's festival circuit.
"I think we're evolving as a festival," says Burman. "It's growing, it's evolving. I don't know where to yet, exactly."