From Saturday, Nov. 24, until Saturday, Dec. 1, the Miami short Film Festival (they make the “s” in short lower case) will screen its latest entries in Miami. The festival was founded in 2002 by William Vela, who (with some friends) scraped together 17 movies and 50 chairs for an opening night. What happened was a reverse Clint Eastwood type of thing — there were no empty chairs when 310 arrived to watch. These days, the MsFF is less rudimentary.
You’ve got to wonder at times — who is making this kind of films? Moreover, who is watching? In short (pardon the pun), these films are stepping stones. To make one, you still need some dollars since no one is paying to see them. Non-profits, grants, sponsors and personal pockets supply the necessary ends. However, if you make a good one — hello venture capitalists!
Early on, influential Miami-Dade College Prez Eduardo Padrón offered support as he has often done for the arts in the city (although the website called Dr. Padrón by his middle name José), and the festival grew up. UM got involved for a spell, as did the Miami New Times; this year, the primary venue is the Paragon Grove 13.
What is a short film? In 1932, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented awards for Best Short Subjects in comedy and something called novelty. For two decades, awards were presented for one-reel and tworeel short subjects. Since 1974, there has been an Academy Award for Live Action Short Films. These short films can run from three minutes to 40 minutes.
So this brings us back to Miami, where more than 700 films of fewer than 20 minutes were submitted to this year’s MsFF; 74 were chosen. Categories include Narrative, Local, Animation, Documentary, Music Video, Experimental and Environmental, with potential winners in each grouping, plus one “Best of Festival” selection. There are a handful of trailers available for view on the website at www.miamishortfilmfestival.com/nominees/.
There are three venues this year besides the Grove; inside Carl Fisher’s Historic City Hall on Washington Avenue, the circa 1927 Miami Beach Cinematheque; Watson Island’s Miami Children’s Museum; and the North Beach Bandshell. By the time you read this, the calendar will have been assembled, so tune into the website mentioned above for details.
Check it out! You’ll like it.
Carl Rachelson is a regular contributor to this newspaper. He has a Masters Degree in the Humanities and is an English teacher at Palmer Trinity School. He may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org