The Best Short Film Festivals in the World 2022
By Caleb Hammond • November 22, 2021
Short films are crucial for aspiring moviemakers: Film students cut their teeth shooting shorts with their classmates. A “proof of concept” can help a director get investors. And the best short films tell stories even more pointedly than features. With the assistance of filmmaker Anderson Matthew (Baja Come Down) and producer Katie White (Best Summer Ever, Caity), we’ve assembled a panel of filmmakers and producers who helped us evaluate and narrow down this list of the Best Short Film Festivals in the World. While short film blocks at other film festivals are also important, the following 20 film festivals celebrate shorts by placing a special emphasis on the form.
Aspen, CO // April 5-10, 2022
“Maybe the best selection of short films I’ve ever had the opportunity to see and filmmakers I’ve had the chance to meet,” says producer Megan Leonard, who notes that “the programming doesn’t overlap, so you can easily watch everyone’s films.” Every April at this festival, audiences, filmmakers and special guests from around the globe take part in screenings, panels, workshops, and other events devoted to the art and craft of short films. The latest edition included a talk with Reinaldo Marcus Green, whose King Richard has been making the Fall festival rounds to great reviews. Many of this Academy-qualifying fest’s programmed films go on to the big dance: In 2020, four of the shorts were nominated for Academy Awards. Of course Aspen also has a thriving food scene, and you might just catch a spring ski day.
Clermont-Ferrand, France // January 28-February 5
Megan Leonard says making industry connections is a major plus at this gathering in the Auvergne-Rho?ne-Alpes region. “They put us up in France, and we screened to full houses in a 1,000+ seat house. We met international filmmakers from around the world, including co-producers that brought international financing to our next short film,” Leonard says.
“I was blown away by the audience attendance at Clermont ISFF,” says producer Kate Chamuris. “The shorts in competition blocks were screened about once a day during the festival — about seven screenings. Every screening was packed. I have never seen such a thing. Whole families attending in the middle of a weekday. Lines for every screening.”
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil // Fall 2022
The November edition of this three-decades-old festival will feature almost 200 shorts from a diverse pool of moviemakers from Brazil, surrounding South American countries and worldwide. Curta Cinema often hosts retrospective screenings alongside the new works, and the “Great Directors in Small Doses” program has included shorts by directors like Gus Van Sant and Jane Campion.
Curta Cinema also presented a special program of Brazilian shorts at another shorts fest, Shorts Me?xico, in September.
Vila do Conde, Portugal // July 9-17 2022
This coastal festival hosted many sold-out screenings this past July, and the programming team then traveled with their competition winners to Cinema Trindade in Porto and Cinema Ideal in Lisbon, attracting similarly robust turnout. The festival also hosted an online component for those who couldn’t travel to one of the three cities.
With 245 films screened from 46 countries, Curtas Vila do Conde makes a special effort to balance local and international film. Diogo Costa Amarante’s special exhibition of 13 video pieces, “Be Your Selfie,” was a highlight of this year’s festival. Scottish moviemaker Lynne Ramsay was honored as part of the Curtas’ 2021 InFocus program, which programmed three of her early shorts alongside her better-known features.
Prizren, Kosovo // August 2022
Moviemaker-programmer-critic Courtney Stephens had a film at the 20th DokuFest and describes its Balkans appeal perfectly: “DokuFest often gets described as a ‘magical’ festival, and it is—tucked into the mountains of Kosovo, with screening venues that range from old Yugoslavian movie houses to the ruins of an Ottoman palace. A lot of heart has gone into making this festival an international destination, and you feel it.”
This festival plays features, but elevates short films. At nine days, it is longer than many festivals, allowing time for documentary photo exhibitions, debates, master classes and live music, among other enjoyments. DokuFest’s website notes the festival’s “aim of revitalizing cinema and the cultural life in Prizren.”
DokuLab is another noteworthy initiative of DokuFest. It consists of a digital library with over 150 films and 80 film guides for students.
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