Sunderland Shorts Film Festival launch is huge success

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The Sunderland Shorts Film Festival launch took place at the University of Sunderland's David Puttnam Media Centre over Friday and Saturday 9 and 10 January with a hugely enthusiastic audience who will no doubt be looking forward to the main festival in July.

The festival is part of a number of cultural initiatives that Sunderland have undertaken with Washington, D.C. under its Friendship Agreement. This special relationship is due to its historical connection to the American capital with Washington in Sunderland being the ancestral home of the family of George Washington first President of the United States.

The Sunderland Shorts Film Festival will work with DC Shorts, a festival and organisation based in Washington, D.C. that supports and provides opportunities to film makers at every level.

DC Shorts was created in 2003 by Washington DC based film maker Jon Gann and from that beginning has gone from strength to strength. In 2014 the festival showed an incredible 135 films, from 25 countries over a period of 11 days at various locations in and around Washington, D.C.

At the launch Jon Gann introduced the audience to two programmes of shorts that included; comedy, drama, documentary, romance and much else besides. The films included both live action and animation and were from a whole host of countries.

At the end of each programme the audience took part in a lively Q & A with directors from the films. At the Friday showing both Devon Avery and Scott Calonica proved to be erudite and intelligent speakers letting the audience into the workings of short film making with their insights of the industry.

Devon Avery, originally from London, is currently based in Los Angeles. His film 'One-Minute Time Machine' is a clever comedy about a slightly nerdy scientist who tries to impress and win over a very attractive woman with his invention of a time machine. The film is scripted very well, has high production values and a somewhat dark twist, on top of all that the film also features TV stars Brian Dietzen (from NCIS) and Erinn Hayes (from Children's Hospital) and is both a festival favourite and winner of numerous awards.

Scott Calonica, a film director based in California explained to the audience that his film was based on a phone conversation, or should we say rant, by President John F Kennedy to the top brass of the U.S. Airforce about a leak to the press about the cost of a hospital room at an airforce base prepared for Jackie Kennedy, who was eight months pregnant at the time. The press report included a photo of smiling airforce man Ernest Carlton standing by the bed. Ernest Carlton was the 'Silly Bastard Next to the Bed' which was the phrase used by the President and is the title of this award winning documentary.

While both 'One-Minute Time Machine' and 'Silly Bastard Next to the Bed' may well have been festival launch favourites there were plenty of other films on show that the audience loved including the beautifully drawn animation 'My Milk Cup Cow' by Yantong Zhu, the clever and very well acted 'Verbatim' by Brett Weiner and the tense drama 'Business as Usual' by Lenn Kudrjawizki, to name just a few.

While the Sunderland Shorts Film festival in July will bring some of the best international short films to Sunderland it will also be an opportunity for film makers from Sunderland and the rest of the North East to find an audience for their work.

Whether you are a local film maker or someone who just loves film Sunderland in July will be the place to be when the Sunderland Short Film Festival lands in the North East.

Find out more about Sunderland Shorts Film Festival.

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Did you know?

Sunderland's Friendship Agreement with Washington DC makes us the only city in Europe to enjoy such a relationship with the world's most powerful city. Washington Old Hall is home to the direct ancestors of the first president of the United States of America.

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