13 thrilling, funny, and strange shorts in one evening – highlights, favourites and awarded movies from this year’s British Shorts Film Festival, Berlin. Yes, that’s the summer edition of the festival. Make sure to be at Freiluftkino Insel, Cassiopeia, 3rd of August if you want an extraordinary experience. Read all about it and win your tickets right here…
In January the 11th edition of British Shorts Film Festival, Berlin took place. No doubt, the festival is an annual – and independent – success (seriously packed cinemas prove this to be a fact!). Same goes for the summer edition presenting highlights from the festival. The line-up consists of weird, wonderful, and thrilling flicks – genres include comedy, drama, documentary, animation, horror; and even music video. They’re all different. Some are done by pros, others by amateurs. This festival’s got it all.
It started in a typical Berlin art space – a run-down basement gallery. Here the autonomous film club Lichtspielclub was screening uncommon films: underground movies, forgotten classics, silent films with live soundtracks. Everything. And here the first British Shorts took place back in 2007 – exclusively with with films made by students from the University of Bedfordshire.
But why British films? And why do a festival? Jürgen Fährmann, Co-Director of the festival, has been on board from the very beginning. We had a chat with him about the adventure…
indieBerlin: What’s the vision of the British Shorts Festival?
Jürgen Fehrmann: The most important thing is bringing people together: filmmakers and audiences, international filmmakers and local filmmakers, established directors and film students – and even people making their very first film at our festival workshop. The festival always requires a setting where basically everything is possible. Of course you can to watch a lot of films and get to know the people who made them – but you can also go to concerts and parties, visit exhibitions or be creative yourself. Essentially we want to create a special atmosphere and a lively festival promoting the exchange between everyone attending.
indieBerlin: How has the festival developed over the years?
Jürgen Fehrmann: The festival has grown each year and now takes place over seven days in five venues. Moreover, it’s become very popular in the UK – and this means many of the filmmakers we encourage to submit films have already heard good things about us and because of that they’re more than happy to send us their work. That’s really cool because it leads to a very high level of quality – for example films winning BAFTAs or Oscars in the festival programme. We also put a lot of value into maintaining that particular mix of big budget and no budget productions – and keeping the independent spirit alive. From the very beginning British Shorts has been loved by its audience. This January every single screening was completely packed. That really touched us!
Independency & creative freedom
indieBerlin: What has been the biggest challenge?
Jürgen Fehrmann: Keeping a festival this size alive without a budget and without sponsors is always a huge challenge. Especially because we don’t take submission fees from the filmmakers. We do it for fun and there’s no money in it for anyone. Our reward is that we get to do exactly what we want – and that’s really worth a lot.
indieBerlin: Why do a festival in Berlin with only British shorts?
Jürgen Fehrmann: When we started British Shorts as a two-day student short film programme, it was not a conscious decision to make more out of it. It just happened. But of course we fell more and more in love with British films and many very special aspects of them – the humor, the inventiveness, and the ability to outline even very difficult topics in ways that won’t bore you to death but rather blow your mind.
indieBerlin: How do you choose the films for the Festival – and for the summer event?
Jürgen Fehrmann: Since 2007 we’ve been a team watching the submitted films together. Films convince us for very different reasons – meaning we have no specific criteria. The selection process is full of of night-long discussions. But we still really like each other after 11 years – honestly! For the summer edition of the festival we’re presenting a broad selection of favourites and highlights from the festival in January: films winning the Audience Award, Jury Award, favourites of the festival team, and films of all genres – comedy, drama, documentary, music video, animation, and even a little slice of horror.
Hot & ready for the future
indieBerlin: What’s the “hottest” movie theme at the moment?
Jürgen Fehrmann: Currently it’s very interesting to see how filmmakers react to the topic of Brexit. The 2018 Jury Award winning film British by the Grace of God – a very moving drama – deals with it in a unique way. But it’s also thematised in both animated comedy and in experimental documentary films.
indieBerlin: What’s the dream for the future of the festival?
Jürgen Fehrmann: There’s no one and only big dream. But there are a few people – actors and directors – who have done some amazing work that we’d like to celebrate. But I can’t tell you exactly how or who these people are…
indieBerlin: Why go to the summer edition of the British Shorts Festival?
Jürgen Fehrmann: Very different stories, perspectives, moods, genres, and worlds are shown in no less than thirteen films… It’s gonna be a great experience and a lot of fun – right under the Berlin (summer) night sky! What could be better?!
We think he’s right. It will be quite a night on the 3rd of August at Freiluftkino Insel, Cassiopeia. Here’s the link to British Shorts on Facebook and to the Facebook event.
If you wanna win some tickets – we’ve got no less than 2×2 up for grabs – try your luck by sending an email to win[at]indieberlin.de. See you!