DC Shorts: 12th annual film festival gets underway

November 29, 2021 | (Jason Fraley)

WASHINGTON — Moviemaker Magazine recently dubbed it the “World’s Coolest Short Film Fest.”

Now, the DC Shorts Film Festival returns for its 12th annual year from Sept. 10-20.

This year’s festival received 1,300 entries from 54 countries, which were pared down to 125 films from 24 countries, including the U.S., Germany, Australia, France, Argentina, Mexico and Brazil.

“We have a record number of filmmakers coming in from around the globe and hopefully a record number of audience members coming to enjoy it,” founder Jon Gann tells WTOP. “A lot of film festivals seem to be about money and parties and stuff. Ours is really about films and filmmakers. … I think most filmmakers are just really grateful to be in such an amazing city where incredible audiences really appreciate film. They don’t just watch it, they devour it.”

Presented for your devouring pleasure are 15 different showcases screening across town. Each showcase is a 90-minute block of roughly nine or ten short films, so if you don’t like one particular movie, just close your eyes for a few minutes and a new film from a different genre will arrive.

“We usually program what I call the tapas platter,” Gann says. “Lots of different themes, animated, drama, documentary, live action. … I think we also have about 15 local films this year.”

Gann says he’s particularly happy with the growing diversity of the entries.

“About a fifth of our films this year are from women directors, which I’m really excited about,” Gann says. “Women are really underrepresented in the film industry. Another 40 percent of our films are produced, written or directed by a women, which is fantastic.”

The majority of screenings will be held at the E Street Cinema and U.S. Navy Memorial.

There will also be a free family show simulcast across eight D.C. libraries at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Perhaps the most exciting addition comes next Tuesday night with the Modern Relationships showcase, featuring a block of relationship-themed movies followed by a discussion with Ellen McCarthy, feature writer for The Washington Post’s Style section and author of the book “The Real Thing: Lessons on Love & Life Through a Wedding Reporter’s Notebook.”

“It’s a really provocative collection of films,” McCarthy tells WTOP. “It’s just going to be a really great night out, if it’s a date night, or if it’s you and your girlfriends or guy friends, and you just have some things to say, or have some questions, or want to do some venting about modern relationships.”

If you’re in the mood for more mingling, check out the festival’s public parties, starting with the Der Biergarten celebration of German films, food and drink Friday at the Goethe-Institut in Chinatown.

“While the party’s going on in one room, in the theater we’ll be showing nine of the German films, so that’s going to be great,” Gann says.

Saturday brings the annual City View party at The Roof at Carroll Square near Metro Center.

“It’s just a great way to dance the night away under the stars and meet lots of filmmakers from around the world,” Gann says.

If you can’t make it downtown, you can embrace your inner couch potato by streaming more than 100 of this year’s films from the comfort of your home — as well as 350 films from past years. Online access is only available during the festival and will be turned off at midnight, Sept. 20.

Of course, the best option is to take advantage of both opportunities, hitting a few screenings downtown for the communal experience, then checking out the films you missed by streaming them at home.

Either way, the short film community is a wonderfully unique experience.

“It’s like poetry,” McCarthy says. “They’re these short, succinct, distilled, beautiful works of art.”

Click here for more information. Listen to the full interview below:

November 29, 2021 | (Jason Fraley)

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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