Big cities can be quite overwhelming. For one, it might be difficult to keep up with your social and cultural calendar since too many exciting events take place every day. If that city happens to be London with its almost nine million citizens, the task of organising a relevant annual event might become almost impossible. And yet, the London Short Film Festival has been doing just that for over twenty years now. Founded in 2003 by Philip Ilson, the festival has become a staple in the London cultural calendar and beyond.
Conveniently placed in January—when we’re still recovering from the festive holidays while at the same time energetically preparing for the twelve months to come—the festival is one of the year’s first highlights. With its numerous venues spread across London, it also provides a perfect opportunity to discover the city and the festival at the same time. Its programming is quite diverse, from new and exciting short films in the competition sections to very lovingly curated special programmes, often focused on under-represented films and communities. One of the festival’s strengths is its ability to curate compelling interdisciplinary events that go way beyond the normative short film screenings. With a young and enthusiastic team creating new and stimulating spaces to breach the gap between the audience and the audiovisual—often held in interesting locations only a city like London can offer—the festival gives off a hip and contemporary vibe without it feeling forced.
Like many cultural institutions in the UK right now, the festival also sees itself faced with funding cuts and the increasing costs of running a cultural event. However, the fact that it has existed in a city like London for over two decades gives room for hope that this creative team will be able to secure the festival’s rightful spot in the short film calendar for at least another twenty years.
Text by Anne Gaschütz
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