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Highlights - 20/05/2005


Cannes 2005: considering dissemination of short films


A discussion organised in the context of the Short Film Corner between two exhibitors, members of Europa Cinemas and big fans of this format, plus a French distributor with an original strategy, focussed on theatrical screening of short films across Europe.

The Short Film Corner, set up in 2004, is the market for shorts at Cannes. This year, Europa Cinemas organised a meeting at this event for the first time. On Monday 16th May, Silvia Balea, the exhibitor of Le Latina cinema in Paris, Mark Cosgrove, exhibitor at the Watershed Media Centre in Bristol (who was also a member of the Europa Cinemas Label jury at Directors' Fortnight) and Thomas Ordonneau, a distributor from the French company Shellac Distribution, came along to present their initiatives to promote short films. The discussion was chaired by Antoine Leclerc, from Carrefour des festivals, an association seeking to facilitate relations between French festivals.

Antoine Leclerc first of all recalled the role played by the European Coordination of Film Festivals, which ensures that several short film programmes are screened widely. The 10th of these programmes, focussing on films from Eastern Europe, was furthermore presented during the Cannes Film Festival this year. In addition he mentioned that a European network of short film agencies is currently being launched.

These initiatives are a response to the undeniable interest in this format - as clearly demonstrated by programming schedules in cinemas in the network across Europe - but it is not entirely unproblematic for exhibitors to disseminate this format. In France there is a trend for the regular slot for short films shown at the start of a screening to disappear and to be replaced by special screenings and retrospectives. Silvia Balea, whose cinema specialises in films in Latin languages, underscored how difficult it is to regularly programme short films from the same country as the main feature, due to supply problems. However, links established with festivals, particularly in Spain, have enabled her to offer special events. Furthermore, she continues to be very keen to show documentary shorts to offer young cinema-goers a chance to discover other countries.   

On the distribution side, Thomas Ordonneau has come up with an original approach with his company, Shellac, opting to distribute medium-length films. After having already distributed around twenty films, which have often given young directors an opportunity to blossom (the Larrieu brothers, Yves Caumon, Alain Guiraudie,.), Thomas Ordonneau underscores how successful this initiative has been: he notes in this context that the films have always enjoyed good press coverage. Of course, these films are released in a limited number of cinemas, but clustering releases has allowed him to pool promotion costs. This initiative slots into a broader strategy of supporting young filmmakers, whose short films are sometimes screened as a complement to the medium-length films. The directors distributed by Shellac have very quickly moved on to full-length feature films . even if none of these first features have been distributed by the company.

Last but not least, comments from Mark Cosgrove, who's an active supporter of short films, particularly through the Brief Encounters Festival, stressed the importance of new technologies in disseminating short films. The emergence of platforms and Video On Demand has without a doubt considerably improved access to short films. In this context the evolution of digital cinema will certainly offer scope to foster screening of short films.

Carrefour des festivals:

Le Latina cinema:

Watershed Media Centre

Brief Encounters Festival:

European Coordination of Film Festivals:

Shellac Distribution:

Short Film Corner :


Jb Selliez, May 2005