The IWM Short Film Festival returns for 2014

I am pleased to announce that the IWM Short Film Festival resurfaces after a three year break!

Whilst there are thousands of film festivals running annually, the IWM Short Film Festival has always been a bit different.  The brainchild of Senior Curator Toby Haggith in 2000, the festival was originally set-up to provide student filmmakers with the opportunity to have their work screened in our 200 seat cinema at IWM London. To qualify for submission, films needed to be inspired by IWM’s remit or use material from our rich and varied collections.  From a curator’s perspective, it is exciting and insightful to see how filmmakers use our film, photographs, and sound in their work. Often veterans are interviewed by filmmakers and it is always cheering to hear the compelling human stories and observe the inter-generational relationships that often develop between the interviewee and the filmmaker.

Image from “No Mines Land” Dir: Sarah Barber and Daniela de Angel, 2006

It is sometimes the case that a number of films have used IWM collections but have little or no direct connection to warfare – we’ve had documentaries about lidos in the past and abstract pieces by artists.  It is also heartening that we have received films from across the world including powerful and moving work from the students of the Independent Film & Television College, Baghdad.

At the core of the festival remains the educational aim of identifying and encouraging inexperienced and talented filmmakers and giving them the chance of having their work screened to a wider audience in a professional and supportive environment. It is also gratifying that many filmmakers submit films year after year, which indicates that the festival is seen as an important and welcoming outlet for people’s creativity.  Moreover, it is a testament to the success of the festival that a number of filmmakers consider their participation an important stepping stone in pursuing a career in media production and broadcasting. We also wanted to make the festival experience more participatory for our audiences as well – this manifested itself in the audience vote and award, where visitors are invited to express their preference for the films screened and to choose a winner.

Image from “Writing Dachau” Dir: Genevieve Simms, 2006 – Winner of Audience Award at the IWM’s Film Festival 2006

The festival has evolved over the years and in 2008 it was opened up to non-professional filmmakers. To coincide with the re-launch of the festival in 2014 it will be open to all, although we’re still strongly encouraging student and amateur filmmakers to participate. Running in parallel with the festival will be a documentary master class taking place at IWM North on 15 May 2014 where people can learn about the commissioning, funding and the production of historical documentaries and the practical, technical and ethical issues surrounding the making of war-related films.  This event is always enjoyable as there is often spirited debate, a sharing of ideas and creative advice for would be filmmakers.

In a new departure, and to coincide with IWM’s programme for the First World War Centenary in 2014, the judging panel will also present a Special Award for the best filmic response to the subject of the First World War. What’s more, research has never been easier as much film from the First World War is now digitised and available here.  What else is new? Well, the winners and runners up will be screened on our website and the festival screenings will be now be running for three weeks in late October and early November 2014, with further screenings of the winners and runners-up at IWM North in December 2014. The festival concludes with an evening awards ceremony in December 2014 with bigger and better prizes than ever before from our two partners Prime Focus World and October Films.

Submissions for this year’s festival are now open and will be accepted until 31 July 2014. To find out more visit


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