North America’s Best Short Film Festivals

July 31, 2014

From California to Quebec, these short film festivals are the best.

During the first decade of the 1900s, also the first decade of cinema, all films were shorts.  As the medium grew and audiences became more accustomed to projected moving images, the demand increased for longer films.  The feature film then took over as the more popular type of film.  During the ‘80s and ‘90s the birth of music videos and the rise in affordability of recording equipment led to a comeback for short films.  Now, with websites like YouTube, Vimeo and The Audience Awards, short films are becoming increasingly widespread. The following list is a compilation of the best film festivals from the U.S. and Canada that are completely dedicated to the short film genre.

1. Palm Springs International Shortfest: Palm Springs, California

This June, the Palm Springs International Shortfest celebrated 20 years.  They open every festival with their “Make ‘em Laugh” themed short comedy night.  ShortFest also has an online Film Festival comprised of 11 short films that runs until the end of August.

palm springs short fest, short film festivals, palm springs, the audience awards

Image courtesy of Ballkoni.

2. Aspen Shortfest: Aspen, Colorado

“When was the last time you went a movie without knowing a thing about it? Shorts are the joy of moviemaking that comes in small packages,” claims the Shortfest.  This festival happens every April, and accepts submissions until December 31.  This year’s Aspen Shortfest was dedicated to filmmaker and festival staple, Stewart Oskenhorn.

aspen shortfest, short films, festivals, the audience awards

Photo courtesy of Then I Go.

3. LA Shortsfest: LA, California

Happening right now in L.A., this festival has an extensive library of films ranging from romance to documentary to shorts for children.  They have a Disney Screening and Panel Discussion focused on animation films. The closing night is July 31, when they will host the Awards Film Program and announce festival winners.

la shorts fest, shorts, film festivals, good things don't last shorts fest, the audience awards

Image courtesy of LA Shorts Fest.

4. Indiana Short Film Festival: Danville, Indiana

In it’s third year, the Indiana Short Film Festival showcases independent short films from around the globe.  All films are 40 minutes or less.  It runs October 10 and 11 at the Royal Theater in Danville Indiana.  This festival also has an open call for submissions.

Indiana shortsfest, royal, danville indiana, the audience awards, shorts, short film festivals

Photo courtesy of Inside Indiana Blog.

5. Chicago International Reel Shorts Film Fest: Chicago, Illinois

chicago reel shorts film fest, chicago international shorts fest, short film festivals, the audience awards

Image courtesy of Project Chicago.

The 11th annual Chicago International Reel Shorts Film Festival runs from October 9-12.  The festival is held this year at Theater Wit in Chicago’s Belmont Theater District.  They have an open call for entries, and the submission deadline is coming soon. The festival strives “to provide a ‘REEL person’ atmosphere with low entry fees and low cost ticket prices.” 

6. 24fps International Short Film Festival: Abilene, Texas

24fps international short film festival, short film festivals, the audience awards

Image courtesy of 24fps Fest.

24fps is an independent short film festival that began in 1999.  It is also a juried competition in which filmmakers have the opportunity to win cash prices for the top films in six categories.  This festival accepts open submissions and is held this November 7-8 at the Paramount Theatre in Abilene. Texas.

7. REGARD Short Film Festival: Saguenay, Quebec

regard film festival, quebec, short film festival, saguenay, the audience awards

Image courtesy of Regard Short Film Festival.

The Regard Film Festival hosts Canadian and International films.  Held in March, this year’s festival hosted a library of 1,200 short films that were available for the entire Festival on ten TVs in the Hotel Chicoutimi.  “The REGARD Short Film Festival in Saguenay is an example of regional cultural development.  We exist primarily to uncover, to disseminate and to celebrate images
from exceptional filmmakers.”

8. Reel Shorts Film Festival: Grande Prarie, Alberta

alberta film festival, grand prairie alberta, short film festival, the audience awards

Image courtesy of Adonis The Movie.

Held every May, the Reel Shorts Film Festival “celebrates short films and the filmmakers who make them by screening gems of storytelling brilliance from around the world, across Canada, and here in the Peace Region.” This year, the festival featured 101 films from 28 countries.

9. Vancouver Short Film Festival: Vancouver, British Columbia

The Vancouver Short Film Festival opens submissions to filmmakers from British Columbia or to films that have been produced in BC.  The festival is dedicated “to the celebration of the vibrant community of short film, video, and animation artists on the Canadian West Coast.”

vancouver short film festival, short film festival, the audience awards

Image courtesy of Vancity Buzz.

10. Shorty Film Festival Calgary: Calgary, Alberta

The Shorty Film Festival is held every February.  The audience votes on the best film, which determines the winner of the cInéMAGINE Audience Award.  The festival is bilingual, screening shorts in both English and French for audiences 18 years and older. It is sponsored by the Big Rock Brewery and complimentary beverages are provided during intermissions.

shorty film festival, calgary alberta, big rock brewery, the audience awards

Image courtesy of Cine Imagine.

Craving a short film showing?  Check out the Audience Awards’ online library.


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