With cinemas and arts centres shut by the pandemic, LJMU film students could be forgiven for feeling a little uninspired.
But far from it; they have organised their own film festival … and it’s set to put the university on the movie map.
The MA Short Film Festival (April 16 – 23) has attracted 3,000 films from 15 countries giving them a full month of popcorn time – and more insight into the art than any prospectus promise.
What’s more, they’ve done it all themselves; from selecting and programming the films, to contacting the filmmakers, preparing the texts for the website, designing the poster, editing the trailers, coordinating the promotion and publicity and running the Q&As.
Planning started back in December with an appeal for filmmakers worldwide to submit their work online. The response, from creatives with ideas but no outlet, was tsunamic. 2,962 films were received, more than a third of them from undergraduates.
Viewing 1,000 hours of film eventually led the team to select their top six-to eight in three categories: fiction, animation and docu-reportage.
Student Katherine Morrison said: “The thought of organising the festival, selecting the films and running the event seemed a daunting task at first. But we’ve all stuck to our plan and thoroughly enjoyed the process. It really feels like our own festival!
“It was really pleasing how well-made and professional the films are, that quality is the most important thing.”
With films from the US, India, Russia, Poland, Bangladesh, Span and elsewhere the diversity is enormous in genre and in technique.
Connor McAllister, a student selector, said: “There is a huge amount of creativity here, resulting in distinctive and varied films ranging from experimental to dramatic and emotional. Hopefully, some of these filmmakers will go onto be directors and producers and well-known in the world of cinema.
April 21 ceremony
Although online only, the festival has opened up dialogue between Liverpool and students all over the world and online Q&As allow all entrants to connect. The students have also been interviewed by the BBC and the event featured in local media, including The Guide and Liverpool Life.
The best film in each strand will receive a ‘Paper Bird Award’, designed by MA student Beth Moore. The competition will be decided by three independent juries made up of student-academic-industry professional and winners announced in an online ceremony on April 21 on festival website.
Lecturer Lydia Papadimitriou said: “Putting together this public-facing film festival was a unique opportunity for the students to have a hands-on experience of what it takes for such an event to materialise. Not only did they understand the complexity of festival organisation but they acquired transferable skills highly valuable for almost any workplace.”
“It was amazing to see how much talent there is out there and that clearly there is a need and appetite for the LJMU Short Film Festival. Student films deserve more of a platform!”
-Masters students on the organising committee are: Matt Issa, Rosie Foster, Ciaran Wainwright, Dan Robertson, Matthew Hogan, Alex White, Ben Donnely, Sophie Jones, Katherine Morrison, Cammy Glover, Ciaran Wainwright and Megan Williams. On the staff side Lydia was ably assisted by Lars Koens.
The festival will take place online from the 16th to the 23rd April on the LJMU MA Short Film Festival’s website: https://ljmumashortfilmfestival.org/. It is free to access, and no registration required. Or follow the events on Facebook: @LJMUMAShortFilmFestival, Twitter: @ljmumasff and Instagram: @ljmumasff