From gun control, immigration and political canvassing to the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the DC Shorts Film Festival will reel out an array of political and current-event-based short films starting today.
Independent short films from all over the world will gain their 15 minutes of fame at the festival, which runs through Sept. 20. The DC Shorts Film Festival is the metropolitan area’s only film festival dedicated to showcasing and discussing films and screenplays that are 25 minutes or less.
“Washington is the third-largest film town in the country. Anything we can do to showcase not only films from around
the world, but especially local films, is a great opportunity,” said festival director Jon Gann. “There are few things in this city for local filmmakers to showcase their wares and this is an opportunity to do so.”
The festival is open to all filmmakers, and there is a special focus on films created by metropolitan Washington, D.C.-based directors and writers. Films are selected from every genre for the festival’s competition screenings.
This year, there are are a handful of films focused on politics and current events that will be shown together on Monday night in a screening called “Politics as Usual.”
“I think we definitely get a disproportionate share of political films because we are based in D.C., and because a lot of local filmmaking is in that genre. This year we have some really interesting films I think run a political gamut,” Gann said.
Most of this year’s political films deal with either war, personal experiences in Iraq or individual fears of war and terrorism. After each screening, filmmakers have the opportunity to speak to the audience as part of a moderated panel.
“Do You Have a Minute?” director Eric Gernand believes D.C. is the ideal location to feature his film, as he hopes his short will help individuals realize where they actually stand in politics.
“I am certainly excited that the film is playing here since it has a political slant to it,” Gernand said. “My film deals with the relationship aspect of two different people who come from different political sides of the aisle. Everyone has to cross over the aisles at some point in their lives, whether it is politics or religion, since we are such a divided country right now.”
For many of the participating filmmakers, their ultimate goal is for the viewers to walk away with innovative thoughts and intriguing conversations.
“I hope people will leave the festival talking and with new conversation,” said Jonathan Browning, writer and director of “The Job.” “When people have a conversation, as a filmmaker our goal is not to convince people or make people think a certain way, but hopefully to influence communication among individuals from both sides of the fence.”
The political films featured in this year’s DC Shorts Film Festival seem to share a goal of creating empathy rather than making a political statement. Many filmmakers say they are just looking to create an opportunity to carry out an intelligent conversation.
“I don’t have any illusion of grandeur, nor saying I am going to change the world, but I would like if two people could just talk and have a conversation after the film, whether it’s a politician in Washington or somebody that’s sitting in Idaho in their home. Then, I think I’ve done my job and that’s most important,” Browning said.
The films showcased in this year’s festival are top-notch, Gann said, which should help get those conversations started.
“I think that this year’s films in general are very strong, and we are really showing the cream of the crop. Many of the films we are showing have been picked up by other major film festivals, so I know we are picking up the right films to show. It gives Washington audiences a chance to see some of the best filmmaking out there,” Gann added.
This festival will present 89 films and seven live script readings culled from 14 countries. All will be shown at the Landmark E Street Theatre in Penn Quarter.