April 13 2021 issue
IN FOCUS: When a film module became a global event
Giving students 'real world' experiences has been tough during the pandemic, especially in the arts.
Against the odds, the MA Film course has sought to widen apparently narrow horizons via a new festival that is putting LJMU on the movie map.
The MA Short Film Festival takes place later this week (April 16 – 23) amidst a flurry of media interviews, previews, social media and judging with industry professionals.
It has attracted an astonishing 3,000 films from 15 countries - and it's nearly all been organised by the students themselves.
What started as a module, named 'Exploring Film Festival, Distribution and Exhibition', is becoming a defining moment in the lives of the students, whose experience now ranges from selecting and programming films, to contacting filmmakers, preparing texts for the website, designing posters, editing trailers, coordinating the promotion and publicity and running Q&As.
Lecturer Lydia Papadimitriou, of Liverpool Screen School, who along with colleague Lars Koens set the ball rolling, 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."
Planning started back in December with an appeal for filmmakers worldwide to submit their work online. The response 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.
Master's student Katherine Morrison said: "The thought of organising an actual festival 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, one of the student selectors, 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.
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 and the competition will be decided by independent juries made up of student-academic-industry professional and winners announced in an online ceremony on April 21 on festival website.
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