Turning 10 years old this year, Sanford's Love Your Shorts Film Festival has always been a local favorite thanks to its commitment to Orlando filmmakers. But with a new emphasis on international selections, the event is drawing increased interest from around the globe. Turns out it's a short world after all.
"We have long had strong international submissions," says Brian Casey, screening and programming director. "What changed this year is ... we noticed that we had so many great international submissions, and we have talked about a block for foreign films for several years. [So] we felt it was time to take the step and do it this year because when we grouped some of the international films together ... it freed up space in other blocks to show more films in general."
Indeed, the festival, which is scheduled for Feb. 13-16 at the Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center, will screen more films than ever – 81 total. As usual, all movies are less than 30 minutes and are divided into genre blocks. With the addition of the international program on Saturday at 5 p.m. (a time filled in past years by a discussion panel), the festival now contains 10 blocks. (International films are not confined to the international block.)
To kick things off, organizers hold a free "education day" on Thursday, Feb. 13, with a discussion panel and films by UCF students. The festival then gets underway in earnest on Friday evening with a block of films from all genres. It continues on Saturday with E for Everyone, animation, documentary, international, comedy and sci-fi/horror, and concludes on Sunday with drama, Florida Flavor and Best of the Fest, which compiles the audience winners from the previous blocks. A panel of judges then picks the overall winner.
France's Sabine Crossen and England's Andrew Margetson both hope to hop the Atlantic Ocean for Florida. Margetson's movie will screen in the international block, while Crossen's will play the drama program.
"I hope to meet fellow filmmakers, exchange with film buffs and make myself available to the public to talk about my short film, Resurrection ... and film in general. I would love to visit local places and, well, if the film is well received, why not bring back an award from Sanford to Paris?" Crossen jokes.
"I first heard about Love Your Shorts from the Film Freeway website," Margetson says. "My film, Housekeeping, had just shown at Naples (Florida) International Film Festival, where I'd had a great experience. ... If I come [to Sanford], I will use the opportunity to meet as many other filmmakers and industry people as possible, plus see a load of shorts. If I have any spare time, I'll look into trying to do some fishing!"
Other filmmakers will also be fishing – for feedback. Moviemakers from around the world often submit to the festival to receive both compliments and constructive criticism from Sanford audiences, which often differ from those in the filmmakers' own countries. Those nations include Australia, Canada, China, Czech Republic, England, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, Moldova, the Netherlands and New Zealand.
Despite the international attention, the festival's success is due mostly to its local connections. "None of this could have happened without the involvement of the Sanford community: our sponsors, volunteers, partners and friends of the festival, who have supported this event from the beginning," says festival co-founder Gene Kruckemyer. "The right people have become involved at the right time along the way."
Perhaps Australia's Henry Boffin, director of Lavender, says it best. "The vibe I got from the festival was that the coordinators truly believe in making a showcase of films that the community will respond to and they wish to celebrate those who pour their all into the often thankless task of filmmaking," Boffin says. "I can tell that Love Your Shorts does exactly what it says in the name."– This story appears in the Feb. 12, 2020, print issue of Orlando Weekly. Get our top picks of the best events in Orlando with our weekly Events newsletter.