Since 1994, short filmmakers, programmers, distributors and other industry professionals have ascended on the unfurling desert town of Palm Springs (which is located about a hundred miles from Los Angeles) to attend the Palm Springs International ShortFest and Market—arguably the most important short film festival in North America (the other contender is Toronto's CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival).
I attended the film festival (for the first time) to screen films, speak on a panel, and—whenever possible—lounge in the desert sun (after all, this town was built for relaxation). But the thing I was most looking forward to was a special presentation celebrating the short films of the inimitable Gus Van Sant—although perhaps not as much as my friend and colleague Lauren Avinoam, who not only considers Gus her favourite filmmaker, she wrote a dissertation about his films in university.
Lauren, by the way, is the founder of LA Publicity, which provides independent filmmakers with film festival consultation, strategy, submissions and publicity. She represents several films in the market and two films that screened at the festival—Neighbors (directed by Rachel Goldberg) and A Thousand Empty Glasses (directed by Andrew Nolan), the freshman effort of London-based Take Cover Films, a new collective of writers, actors, and filmmakers who were all present—and very popular—at the festival.
Below you will find the trailer for A Thousand Empty Glasses (which has been called both beautiful and disturbing by none other than Sir Ian McKellen), along with trailers for some other exceptional films that I screened at this year's festival. But first, here's a link to Gus Van Sant's 1978 short film The Discipline of DE, an adaptation of William Burroughs' short story Do Easy (and my personal favourite of his shorts screened at the festival).
Sirocco (directed by Mikko Kuparinen)
Prora (directed by Stephane Riethauser)
French Quesadillas (directed by Michael Lukk Litwak)
Behind The Mirror (directed by Julio Ramos)—BEST OF FESTIVAL AWARD
A Curious Conjunction of Coincidences (directed by Joost Reijmers)—AUDIENCE AWARD FOR BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT
The Boy in the Bubble (directed by Kealan O'Rourke)—AUDIENCE AWARD FOR BEST ANIMATED SHORT
The Globe Collector (directed by Summer DeRoche)—SECOND PLACE, BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
Battle of The Jazz Guitarist (directed by Mark Columbus)—BEST STUDENT DOCUMENTARY SHORT
The 2012 Palm Springs International ShortFest and Film Market screened 324 short films from more than 3,000 submissions and ran June 19 until today, June 25.