Interview with Festival Director Sean Gabriel (Shortfest International)

Shortfest International is aimed to promote as much as possible the productions created by our submitters. All foreign films must have English subtitles. Genres including: Sci Fi, Animated, horror, experimental, drama, comedy, thriller, action, documentary. Live screening will be held during the festival on 3 nights where elite personalities from the local scene will be attending this event. There will be a winner for each category. All those who will make it to the end and are nominated for the final award ‘The Best Overall Film’  will have the opportunity to attend or virtually attend to the final night as All films and any other kind of production which are submitted to this festival will be aired on an IPTV channel and it will be promoted on our websites and Facebook pages. This could be a one time opportunity!! Our aim is to turn this event in an annual event where here filmmakers will be able to meet and share their thoughts and ideas, hopefully from all around the globe.

Interview with Festival Director Sean Gabriel:

Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival ​succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Sean Gabriel: This is our first edition of The Shortfest International Festival and we are hoping that we can be a good helping hand to those producers who dedicate their time and money in creating short movies. Being ourselves a production house and having produced a couple of short films ourselves, we know the dedication and sometimes even financial sacrifices these producers do to get their film casted and produced. When the production is ready and presented to different festivals around the world, some succeed and others not, and are then put on a disk and archived to be forgotten and never given the opportunity to have the chance to screen them and get promoted properly. So we hope that through our initiative, where we created an IP TV channel dedicated solely for short movies incorporating both short film festivals and also content submission for free, we will be able to give the well deserved attention to all these productions having their films screened on an international platform.

Matthew: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2016)?

Sean: It will be a wonderful experience for everyone present at the festival. Being our first edition we are very limited financially but we are still giving it our best both in setup and organisation. Several distinct local producers and filmmakers will be present to this festival, some of which will be giving their contribution as part of the judging panel. This will be a good opportunity for those attending to meet up with some of the best local producers and filmmakers having the opportunity to meet in person and maybe share some ideas for future projects they might collaborate in.

Matthew: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Sean: There are no specific qualifications for the selected films. All short films are welcome as we believe that every film has its story, then it is up to our judges to determine whether a film should be qualified to the next level or not.

Matthew: Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

Sean: I don’t think that there are any specific reasons the way a film is judged and not given a fair shake but then again that is just my opinion. When we participated with our productions we always had what we thought was fair for us, always depending on which festival we were participating in.

Matthew: What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Sean: The need for more exposure and promotion for such small productions drove us to come up with the idea of this festival boosting it with the idea of having all movies promoted on our channel to which we asked the permission to have their films aired as part as the festival procedure. Some had other commitments and withdrew their submissions and others greeted this idea with enthusiasm to the extent to give us consent to air their production anytime we want during the year.

Matthew: How has the festival changed since its inception?

Sean: This is the first year of our festival therefore there has not been much time for changes even though i have to admit that from the the day we started this festival project to present day we have changed, added and improved alot the festival in terms of promotion and presentation….. and it keeps getting better.

Matthew: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

Sean: Our aim is to make this festival an annual event. In 5 years time we hope that we manage to make it a calendar event in the media industry in Malta, something that filmmakers, producers etc will be looking forward to. Hopefully with some help we could be getting some international professional people in the field to attend our Festival which will definitely make it an important event for the short film enthusiasts.

Matthew: What film have you seen the most times in your life?

Sean: One of the films i love and am never fed up of watching is Gladiator – watched it last week again in fact ….. probably it was the 300th time i watched it lol!!

Matthew: In one sentence, what makes a great film?

Sean: A great film is made when it has an artistic core and every aspect of filmmaking is well prepared and executed.

Matthew: How is the film scene in your city?

Sean: Malta has d same equivalent value in terms of the city you are referring to. With its 440,000 inhabitants the film industry is still very strong. We had some of the best blockbusters here in Malta, to mention a few Gladiator, Troy, Munich, Assassin’s Creed and recently 13 hrs. The people involved in the film industry are very competent and recently a new fresh overhaul in the Film Commission has given the desired results attracting more and more film producers and directors who chose Malta as part of the filming location for their film. As for the local scene unfortunately things are somehow different with alot of emerging filmmakers not having enough opportunity to express their creativity and passion for this industry. This happens just because in the technical dept of filmmaking locally we ar not given much opportunity as most of the films bring their technical crew with them which makes it even harder to get involved.


Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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