Q&A: Leiden International short Film Experience

The Leiden International short Film Experience (LIsFE) will celebrate its 4th annual film festival on 9 June 2012 at the Kaasmarkt Gymzaal (Koppenhinksteeg 13). With more than 1,000 entries from over 45 countries, the event will feature a premium selection of short films —from fictional works to documentaries and animated movies— showcasing this most underrated of cinematic genres via exposition and competition. ✌

In anticipation of the LIsFE, the organizing committee shares their views on short film making as an art and what we can expect during the festivities:

This being the 4th LIsFE, what can we expect from the upcoming festival?

Thibaut Prod’homme:

“This edition has been flooded with submissions by filmmakers from all over the world. After 3 editions, we never received and expected such a wave of films; the quality, the diversity, and the creativity we encountered still surprise us.

The 4th LIsFE will thus offer the finest selection of films since the beginning of the festival. This is also because after three editions, both the selection process and the eyes of the participants have considerably sharpened. We are now more exigent than ever and aim at offering our audience the best quality, the most creative and diverse shorts so that they can have a rewarding and complete one-day experience of the short film art, since every new edition we expect them to have higher expectations and hungrier eyes.

This year we also put a particular focus, through special film sessions, on a set of genres within the short film art: dance films, documentaries, “not so short” shorts, and gore/horror shorts. By doing so we hope to offer our audience the possibility to choose and breathe during this very intense one-day festival.”

Sally Pasquarè:

“I am really looking forward to seeing what people will think of this edition. We really put a lot of work in it and as Thibaut mentioned, with experience comes a sharper eye so we really tried our best in finding the most diverse and interesting films from all over the world.”

Short film making is an art form most commonly overlooked. Why is this so?

Thibaut Prod’homme:

“Short films are overlooked because they do not comply with an economic model, they are not formatted (even the definition of ‘short film’ is not clear), they constantly break the rules. These specificities paradoxically are what make them so special and interesting. Short films also generally are not made to please an audience and to entertain a spectator but to challenge them; most of them offer a point of view on our past or present society or have an urgent message to deliver that can be artistic, philosophical, or political. Short films are extreme, ahead of their time, detached and anchored to reality at the same time: they are a parallel world in the universe of cinema that only few (institutions, media, festivals, spectators) dare exploring.”

Sally Pasquarè:

“Most people do not consider short films as a form of art as they are not easily accessible and often considered to be just an exercise for filmmakers who will then proceed to make longer features. In a world where everything is based on money matters, a short film goes unnoticed and unfortunately many times its artistic value is often overlooked. Many fail to understand that it is not easy to make a good short film, as the filmmaker has a much more limited time span to capture the attention of the viewers and make an impression on their minds. How some really small films manage to get to the core of you, so that you find yourself thinking about them even after years, is something that I still find amazing.”

Now that online platforms such as Youtube and Vimeo are becoming more accessible to film makers and the larger audience, do you foresee this genre gaining in popularity?

Thibaut Prod’homme: 

“It already has, but this is mostly true for very-short films that only suit the attention span of a web surfer.”

Minna Volanen:

“People are uploading, downloading and streaming a lot of stuff on the internet, but I believe that most of them are not interested in something as challenging as truly good short films. Also many professional short film makers prefer to show their work at festivals, in cinemas and on TV in order to earn from their work, so the good shorts are sometimes relatively hard to find on the internet.”

Sally Pasquarè:

“Youtube and Vimeo do increase the accessibility of short films, but these sites are often visited by people when they want to take their minds off of things and relax in a passive way and, as many things on the internet, they are therefore taken for granted, in a consumer’s way, without taking the time to reflect on the amount of work and thought that is put in this form of art.”

With 1,072 entries from more than 45 countries to choose from, how rigorous is the LIsFE selection?

Aude Guenole:

“It’s only a one-day festival with two screening rooms, which means around 20 hours of film in total. With an average of 15 minutes per film, we can only screen circa the best 80 from the 1072 received films. So Yes, we are extremely demanding with the quality and the originality of the films. As Thibaut said previously, the world of shorts is not governed by big production companies, shorts are highly subsidized which means that certain countries are less productive or have less financial support. We obviously need to take this into account for our selection.”

Minna Volanen:

“I would say very. Like Aude mentioned the event lasts only one day and therefore we are not able to show all the good films that were sent to us, but only the best of the best.”

What makes a short film “good”?

Thibaut Prod’homme: 

“For me it should tease my imagination, it must trigger emotions and/or reflections, then the technical aspects have to be impeccable. Most importantly I want to be surprised and after several hundreds of films reviewed it is a challenging task!”

Aude Guenole: 

“To me a good short should bring a clear message/idea in a short time. I need to be tricked, surprised by the story or the technique used. Shorts are intense because there is no time to slowly put the spectator in a certain atmosphere.”

 Minna Volanen:

“Short films are often made by amateurs and film students in order to get into the long-feature film business, also short film formats are not studied much in film or media schools and there’s not even consensus on the definition of it hence it is impossible to give a definite answer. That being said, personally I think that the best short films could be compared to poems and jokes, as I enjoy the similar characteristics they share: flexibility and abruptness of rhythm and flow, deepness of a moment and quickly passing over to moments of enlightenment. Good short films play with one’s mind like a good joke or a poem play with words.”

☞ For more information on the Leiden International short Film Experience, visit the website: Leiden International short Film Experience

LIsFE x phillipqgangan


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