Sunday, 26 May 2013


How much of a story can you tell in 15 or 20 minutes? Quite a lot, if the short films shown at the Cannes Film Festival are anything to go by.

The annual festival in the southern French city has expanded its short film categories, welcoming hundreds of short-film directors from around the world. The festival this year “received 3,500 short films, representing productions from no fewer than 132 countries,” according to the selection committee.

A scene from the short film "The Marvelous Girl".
Over the past 12 days, nine films have competed for the Short Film Palme d’or, including the 14-minute Palestinian film “Condom Lead”, the first time that a Palestinian movie has taken part in the Short Films Competition.

The top prize was announced at the festival's closing ceremony on Sunday evening, going to Korean director Moon Byoung-Gon for the 13-minute-long "Safe".

In addition to this contest, Cannes’ Cinéfondation category comprised shorts from various film schools, with 18 chosen from the 1,550 movies submitted by 277 institutions, and special awards going to four.

“Shorts are a liberating form. There is really no limit to what a short can be: an atmosphere, a stab in the dark, a mood, a portrait, a provocation, a whimsy or an event,” said New Zealand director Jane Campion, who headed the Cinéfondation and Short Film Jury this year.

The festival’s Short Film Corner, which has been boosted since 2011, pulsed with youthful energy as young directors presented their films in mini screening rooms in the Palais, the huge festival venue.

Some, supported by government agencies, gave screenings at the Village International, a string of white pavilions on the beach where 54 countries, from South Africa to Canada, showed off the “richness” of their film industries.

Dancer Taylor Gill in Vong's film.
For Johnny Vong, a Canadian director of Chinese-Vietnamese descent who screened his 14-minute film “The Marvelous Girl” during the festival, shorts can even be triggered by artwork.

Taking inspiration from the painting “Christina’s World” by American artist Andrew Wyeth, Vong’s vibrantly shot film tells the story of a paraplegic girl who longs to dance. But it could also be a fable about the power of imagination over disability, as the story gives rise to various interpretations.

Vong, who worked with a multi-cultural team on the project, says one of his goals is to inspire a mixture of emotion through the compact power of a short film.

“I like people going into the movie, not knowing what it’s about and then coming out with a range of emotions,” he said.

The 14 minutes of film took about eight months to complete, Vong told SWAN, proving that keeping it short doesn’t necessarily mean less work. He hopes to take the film on the road to other festivals, and one can expect to be moved by the cinematography and story, as well as by Hiroto Saito's choreography.

For more information on Vong's film: