With a tagline riffing on a suitably apt quote from iconoclastic director Luis Buñuel – We’re not here to entertain you, we’re here to make you feel uncomfortable – the London Short Film Festival sets out its stall: they are here to challenge, inspire and engage, and they’ll do it just the way they want.
Not for this festival the bland or mainstream – it contains some of the finest, daring, thought-provoking cinematic short works from emerging and established filmmakers, with an expertly curated ten day programme designed to showcase the best in bold, raw and experimental short features.
The London Short Film Festival (LSFF) began life in 2003 as the Halloween Short Film Festival, eventually morphing into the LSFF in 2008. Now in its 12th year for 2015, the fest has grown to become the biggest platform for UK short film and an unmissable event for hungry young filmmakers and cinephiles alike, while broadening its scope further with international entries now accepted for the very first time. It is recognised as the place in the UK to screen and showcase envelope-pushing indie shorts, but despite its ongoing success, the LSFF maintains a wild, exciting and progressive atmosphere, and a borderline anti-establishment attitude to mainstream cinema and its governing bodies. In short: it does its own thing and does it very well indeed.
Its latest edition saw 34 programmes of new shorts from the UK and international artists selected from a record 1,500 submissions, with films grouped into various genres – such as horror tales, documentaries and low budget goodies – and themed events, including long-time crowd-pleasers Surreal Worlds and Teenage Girls Go Crazy!, and new categories like WTF: Outside the Box and Tales of the Unexpected. Recent editions of the festival have seen a huge growth in terms of attendance, submissions and that all-important industry cachet, with 2013 seeing more than 7,000 tickets sold, over 75 events held across 25 venues and 300 films screened.
Alongside the screening programme, LSFF presents a series of prestigious awards in categories such as the British Council Award for Best New Short Film, the Shooting People Award for Best Student Film, and the Encounters Award for Best Animated Short, while its list of supplementary events – live music, industry and training symposiums, gala parties and panel discussions – create a rich, immersive environment.
The London Short Film Festival takes place each January at the Hackney Picturehouse, Oval Space and the ICA in the UK capital.