Introducing: Edinburgh Short Film Festival

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Originally part of the Leith Festival, Edinburgh Short Film Festival has been an independent Fest since 2009. The Festival is currently open for submissions, and we wanted to introduce you to the cineastes who founded it. Here's Paul Bruce with more about the ESFF!

Programming and curating the Edinburgh Short Film Festival is quite a job! The ESFF is a digital film festival, and so much of my curating and programming consists of shuffling digital files, transcoding and file conversions, as well as liaising with filmmakers and producers, venues and media outlets. The rewards come when you discover a little gem of a short film you can share with a large audience.

The programming has increasingly adopted an international outlook. In 2008 we oversaw our first film exchange project with the Montelanico Film Festival in Italy, which screened a clutch of Edinburgh-made short films. This year we are planning to hold three nights of selected short film from 2014’s festival in Shanghai. But, despite our collaborations abroad, we still retain our traditional links with the Leith Festival where it all began – and on the Leith Gala Day this year you’ll still find us holding short film screenings at the Granary Bar on the Shore.

The ESFF started life as the Leith Short Film Festival in 2005 when a group of filmmakers, who had separately completed short films, discovered that there were few opportunities for their films to be screened locally, outside of being selected for the Edinburgh International Film Festival. The Leith Festival stepped in and offered us a space to screen these shorts in the back room of the Carrier Quarters Bar on Bernard Street. Here, the first film – a grungy, short comedy called ‘Trailer Trash,’ played to a packed snug audience of around forty people. Even in those early days we received some gems; we screened the first film made in Somalia for twenty years, and films from as far afield as a Navajo Reservation.

In 2011, we made the decision to move festival uptown into the city centre and so the Edinburgh Short Film Festival was born. Last year's standouts included Isobel Peppard's Academy-award qualifying short 'Butterflies' and Kate Sullivan's award-winning documentary 'Walk Tall'. We’ll be screening these shorts again as part of the Hidden Door Arts Festival on Friday 4th of April.

For the 2014 Festival in June, we plan to hold a night of films curated by our partner organisation, the Shanghai-based KanKan Media. We are also delighted to host a rare screening of the film ‘Reels on Wheels,’ which tells the incredible story of the 2012 cultural Olympics project ‘Hansel of Film’. This project saw hundreds of short films transported by volunteers on a film odyssey from Shetland to Southampton and back again via Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The vast majority of our programme comes from submissions, so programming the festival requires a thorough knowledge of the films selected. What I like to do, and I think it works well for us, is to programme the films in such a way that the audience is constantly kept surprised and encounters the unexpected at every turn. We like to take the viewer on an emotional roller-coaster ride - they just don’t know what’s coming next!

The 2014 ESFF will be held Friday June 6th - Sunday June 15th 2014 at various venues across the city; ranging from Summerhall to the Middle Meadow Walk Coffee Kiosk.

For more information on ESFF, visit Got a question? contact

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