London Short Film Festival, Q&A with the Artistic Director

“This is a festival not afraid to take creative risks and nurture new talent, something rarely seen in this age of austerity and conformity.”

– i-D Magazine,

The London Short Film Festival, now in its 12th year, has been recognized as the premiere UK showcase for cutting-edge UK independent film. For the January 2015 Festival (from the 8 -19th), they are opening to international filmmakers.
Renowned for daring cross-arts programming, we have showcased the very best of the country’s raw talent for 11 years.

The London Short Film Festival is a Mecca for the UK’s young creative talent and a significant date in the UK film calender.

Go to the festival website and learn more about the festival for January and a brief history:

Matthew Toffolo recently chatted with Artistic Director Philip Ilson
MT: What is the goal of your film festival?
Philip: It’s to create an exciting platform to champion new talent and challenging film work. Since it started 12 years ago, the plan has always been to show the stuff that we like and should be seen, away from mainstream cinema. Short film is hard to see on the big screen in front of an audience, as it’s rarely programmed outside of film clubs, but by using reputable venues such as the ICA and Picturehouse, it’s a chance for new and young filmmakers to see their work where they intended it to be. We also love to showcase filmmakers who we love, in a series of retrospectives and special events.
MT: How has the festival changed since is began 12 years ago until now?
Philip: It’s organic-style growth has been amazing. From 4 days in one tiny venue in 2004, to 10 days in 20 venues across London in 2014 has been an amazing journey (although for the January 2015 we have decided to focus the who;le Festival in just 2 venues to create hubs, even though the overall programme is bigger thanlast year). And of course, submission numbers go up every year, with an incredible 1500 entries this year, including our first time open to international submissions. But the remit of LSFF remains the same as year one, to really show what’s out there.
MT: How many films are you showcasing at your January 2015 Film Festival?
Philip: We actually accepted 370 short films this year (from the 1500 submissions), screening across 34 programmes in all genres from comedy to horror, experimental to documentary. Of course, there are the additional films that we ask for to make up our special events and retrospectives, so even I’m not too sure of the total number. But it’s a lot!
MT: Can you give us a sneak peak of what to except for the 2015 Festival?
Philip: You will definately see a cross section of what’s happen in the world of UK film, whether that be people doing it themselves with low budget gems, to more established funded work. Despite now being open to international filmmakers, we are still really shining a spotlight on UK based talent to really show what is out there.
MT: What kind of live music will be playing at the 2015 festival?
Philip: Film and music are instringincly linked, so even from out first festival, we’ve taken a look at what’s out there as regards music. Our cross-arts events mix live music and film & projection, and at the next Festival we’ve commissioned a live score by up-and-coming electronica artiste Gazelle Twin to perform alongside animtion by Carla MacKinnon. We also have a strong relationship with Domino Records who’s publishing arm works closely with the film industry, and they’ve been a great help providing lives acts for our summer fundraiser and our c;losing night party.
MT: Where do you see your festival in 5 years?
Philip: When I look at the success of what were once ‘arthouse cinemas’ such as Picturehouses and Curzon, and how these cinemas are now pulling in such big crowds for independent and foreign language film and creating friendly enviroments not just in the cinema screens but in the bars and cafes attached, where there is a real buzz about what’s on, I see festivals becoming even more attractive to audiences. We plan to position ourselves as a world class Festival and can only grow more.
MT: What’s the current status of the London Independent Film Scene?
Philip: Cinema is in an incredibly healthy position right now. I wouldn’t call the aforementioned Picturehouse and Curzon chains independent anymore, but away from these hubs there’s still a strong independent cinema circuit from the Rio Dalston to the Genesis Whitechapel to the Prince Charles Leicester Square, while film clubs showing short films or cult movies always attract good audiences in bars and alternative venues.
MT: What film have you seen the most in your life?
Philip: A tough question to answer, as this would probably be a different film to what are my favourites. My favourites are films I saw as a tenager when discovering cinema, at placs like the Scala in King Cross or BFI Southbank, such as work by Scorsese (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull) and David Lynch (Blue Velvet, Eraserhead); I’ve seen these films many times, but off the top of my head, I’d be happy to sit throughGhost World again!
Matthew Toffolo, Interviewer BIO
Matthew Toffolo is the current CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival. He had worked for the organization since its inception in 2007 serving as the Short Film Festival’s moderator during the Audience Feedback sessions.
Filmmaker of over 20 short films and TV episodes. Took over full reins of the WILDsound Festival in May 2013. From then to the end of 2014, he’s presented over 90 movies at the monthly FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto, plus has had over 60 screenplays and stories performed by professional actors at the bi-monthly Writing Festival.