Short film festivals take off in Japan

Tokyo and Yokohama jointly host the Short Shorts Film Festival in mid-June, the first in a rapidly growing genre of events in Japan.

First held in 1999, the festival has grown rapidly and became an official qualifying festival for the Academy Awards in 2004. Scheduled to run for 10 days from June 26, the festival has received 4,000 entries from around the world and will be screening around 100 films, all of which can only last a maximum of 25 minutes.

An innovation at this year's event is the introduction of a screening of 3D titles at the Cinemart Shinjuku - attracting films from the United States, France, Holland, Colombia and South Korea - and an all-night screening at the Toho Cinema in Roppongi Hills.

When it began, the event was the only short film festival of its kind in Japan and was looking to emulate the popularity of similar events around the world. Among the best-known events are the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival, which opened in the French city in late January, the Aspen Short Film Festival held in September, and the Montreal World Film Festival, also in September.

Domestically, the festival has also encouraged other cities to put on their own short film festivals.
Sapporo, the largest city on Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido, launched the Sapporo International Short Film Festival and Market in 2006 with the aim of showcasing films that are "intriguing, funny and moving, with stories depicting the essence of love and life."

Sections are devoted to short films by children, filmmakers based in Japan and international entries. The event is held in mid-October and also includes workshop events as well as symposiums with directors and filmmakers.

The Miyukino Snow Theatre International Short Film Festival is unusual in as much as it takes place in the northern prefecture of Nagano in mid-February and is staged in a theater that is carved entirely out of ice. Everything from the big screen to the audience's seats are made of ice and the organizers advise festival-goers to wrap up warmly.

The Con-Can Movie Festival is unique in a different way, taking advantage of the simplicity of streaming so that short films play on the festival's website, with viewers around the world able to watch the entries and vote on which they like best.

The winners are then given more conventional screenings in Tokyo in mid-December.

Short Shorts Film Festival:
http://www.shortshorts.org/2011/ja/index.php#icon2

Sapporo International Short Film Festival and Market: http://www.sapporoshortfest.jp/en

Miyukino Snow Theatre International Short Film Festival: http://miyukino.snowcollective.com

Con-Can Movie Festival: http://en.con-can.com

JR

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