DC Shorts International Film Festival gets remix with new location and new leadership

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the D.C. Shorts International Film Fest (Part 1)

Even the best local traditions sometimes deserve a remix. The annual D.C. Shorts International Film Festival returns in-person this Thursday through Sunday with an additional week of virtual programming next week from Sept. 12 to Sept. 18.

“This is my first crack at it and I do have some grandiose ambitions for the D.C. Shorts International Film Festival brand,” new Executive Director Beau Canlas told WTOP. “I just hope that with this being the return to in-person that we can remix things a little bit, but bring back the traditions that have made D.C. Shorts so great since 2003.”



Hailing from Rosslyn, Virginia, Canlas has experience running various festivals in the area, most recently bringing 18,000 people to the Asian Festival on Main in Fairfax, Virginia.

“There’s narrative short films, documentary shorts and avant-garde shorts — and the avant-garde is where I fit in,” Canlas said. “Experimental vibes!”

Not only is the festival under new leadership, it’s also at a new location, moving from the usual E Street Cinema in Downtown D.C. to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Northeast.

“The Alamo Drafthouse is a franchise, but the one in Northeast actually has a Smithsonian and Spy Museum theme,” Canlas said. “With the lineup this year, there’s 29 different countries and six continents that are being showcased. […]There have been more shorts directed by women than any other previous year with a total of 51 female film directors.”

While the lineup is international, don’t miss the local filmmakers. “Barry Farm” director Sam George will present the world premiere of “Keep Talking,” while Sara T. Gama explores renowned D.C. muralist MISS CHELOVE. “Those beautiful murals that you see on the sides of buildings as you drive through D.C., there’s a whole story,” Canlas said.

The 94 films are grouped together into nine thematic showcases: Homegrown, The Gamblers, Animation Domination, Midnight Munchies, Culture Vulture, Family Ties, The Humors, 9 to 5 and Different Perspectives, as well as extra online offerings.

Tickets are $15 for each in-person showcase and $75 or an online all-access pass.

You can also attend four filmmaker workshops: The Art of Make-Up, Entertainment Law 101 for Filmmakers, Immersive Storytelling and Embracing Your Crazy Ideas.

After the movies, you can enjoy an after-party at The Highbinder Bar attached to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, and the closing awards ceremony at Bar Deco.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the D.C. Shorts International Film Fest (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

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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