According to researcher Stephen Follows there are around 3,000 film festivals currently active, with more opening every year – and 71% of these festivals screen short films.
How do you narrow down the list? How do you determine the best film festivals to submit your short film to? To offer some inspiration, below we’ve listed five of the most prestigious film festivals in the world – that often attract broad audiences, extensive coverage, and big names – and their most critically-acclaimed award-winners from 2019.
Aspen Shortsfest – This festival is an Oscar-qualifying, internationally-recognized event held annually. Your film submission can not exceed 40 minutes in length. The winners of the festival are eligible to receive a cash prizes of up to $2,500 (£1,975).
Cannes Film Festival – The Cannes Film Festival’s Short Film category accepts works of 15 minutes or less, with no fee upon submission. With no submission fee you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain from sending out your film to this prestigious festival.
Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival – This festival is the largest international film festival for short films, and has been for the past 40 years. The maximum runtime for short film submissions is 40 minutes, and there is no fee that comes along with entering your film.
Palm Springs International ShortFest – This Oscar-qualifying short film festival is the largest short film festival in North America. With a focus on nurturing new filmmaking talent, this festival is a must for submitting your short, especially if you are new to the game. Over 100 films have gone on to win an Academy Award since 1996 and your short must be no longer than 40 minutes to be considered.
Sundance Film Festival – This festival is the largest independent film festival in the US, with upwards of 50,000 guests annually. Sundance offers a number of different categories, in both feature-length and short. To qualify for the Short Film competition, the work must be 50 minutes or less, including credits.
Director: Soudade Kaadan
Winner: Short Film Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival 2019
A Syrian refugee in Lebanon teaches his wife how to drive his car, the only thing left from their home country. The lesson takes a wrong turn into madness and nostalgia, in this .
Director: Meryam Joobeur
Winner: Best Drama at Aspen Shortsfest 2019
Mohamed is a shepherd in rural Tunisia with his wife and two young sons. Their world is shaken when the oldest son returns after a long journey with a mysterious woman he says is his wife.
Director: Ariane Labed
Winner: Grand Prix – International Competition at Clermont-Ferrand 2019
Olla has answered an advertisement on a dating site for women from Eastern Europe. She comes to live with Pierre who lives with his old mother, but nothing will go as planned.
The Christmas Gift (2018)
Director: Bogdan Muresanu
Winner: Best of the Festival at Palm Springs International ShortFest 2019
Bogdan Muresanu’s film is set on the 20 December 1989 shortly after Ceausescu’s violent and destructive repressions in Timisoara. A father finds out his son has mailed a letter to Santa Claus wishing death upon Ceausescu in the belief that is his father’s fervent desire.
The Distance Between the Sky and Us (2019)
Director: Vasilis Kekatos
Winner: Palm d’Or – Best Short Film at Cannes Film Festival 2019
Two strangers meet for the first time at an old gas station. One has stopped to gas up his bike, while the other is just stranded. Lacking the €22.50 he needs to get home, he will try to sell him the distance that separates them from the sky.