AFI Fest is the longest-running international film festival in Los Angeles, and its shorts program always contains some of the best examples. Since it runs in November — relatively late in the movie year —AFI’s programmers are able to cherry-pick films that have already won awards at some of the the most prestigious international festivals. It’s no surprise that top producers mine these programs for fresh talent, which not only produces consistently great programming, but also gives audience members the opportunity to eavesdrop on intriguing conversations before the screenings.
The Holly Shorts Film Festival
For something more under the radar, try the Holly Shorts Film Festival, the benchmark festival for most up-and-coming writer-directors. Providing an excellent crash course in what viewers new to shorts have been missing, Holly Shorts is dedicated to advancing the careers of its participants. A week’s worth of screenings are complemented by parties, panels, and networking events.
The NewFilmmakers Series
Once a month TheNewFilmmakers Series shows some of the best shorts being produced by emerging filmmakers from across the globe. Because the festival’s organizers ate dedicated to connecting underrepresented filmmakers with audiences and other industry professionals, it’s a place where established names on the festival circuit can get a little more exposure. Pre-sale tickets are only five dollars so attendees can spend their money on drinks at one of the pleasantly low-key receptions held after the screenings.
Dances With Films
Originally marketed as the “Festival of the Unknowns,” Dances with Films has been running a defiantly independent festival for nearly two decades. Unlike just about every other film festival in the world, it has never programmed known writers, producers or directors in the competition slates. But that doesn’t stop industry headhunters from showing up in droves to get their hands on the next generation of talents before anyone’s heard of them.
The LA Shorts Fest
Now hosted at L.A. Live, L.A. Shorts Fest offers a compelling mix of little-known talent and star power. Its Showcase Shorts program features projects from popular actors and directors, and offers a great opportunity for them to try their hand at short-form cinema. Local and young filmmakers also to get a chance to show their wares.