ESFF has only just begun

November 6, 2017

The Edmonton Short Film Festival (ESFF) has had a successful fifth year. With two days of screenings, a full-festival appearance by Hollywood actor Josh Emerson, three courses in lighting, sound and directing actors and a free 48-hour mobile film challenge, the ESFF was packed with value for the filmmaker. That, however – according to the two founders, Daniel Foreman and Sharlene Millang-Borst – is just the beginning.

“We’re thinking of bringing in a screenwriting contest where short screenwriters can compete to win the reward of getting their film made by a team of seasoned professionals,” said Foreman.

“We’re also looking at possibly screening for another night,” Millang-Borst continued.

With all these ideas, it would seem the only way for this festival to go is up, and the numbers only support that. This year’s festival sold even more tickets than last year, with 370 at the gala, nearly another full house. The festival also received 150 short film submissions from all over Alberta.

The festival’s second day of screenings was for family and student projects: “We were thrilled at how many students submitted this year,” said Millang-Borst.

“We screened a lot of student films from NAIT, Red Deer College and the Victoria School of the Arts, and it was a lot of fun. Many of the student filmmakers attended the festival too,” said Foreman.

“Right at the moment, we have so much content that students submitted to us—and really good content—that we need to figure out how to [modify our] program for next year.”

Although the ESFF was mostly a success, the future location for the festival is still a little cloudy, since it was held at the soon-to-be closed Royal Alberta Museum this year.

“It was bittersweet being at the museum, because in the backs of our minds there was always that thought of, ‘This is our last time here.’ We’ve been there long enough that everything flowed well. We had more volunteers this year than ever before, so we’re super happy about the volunteers we have, they just make everything run so smooth,” said Millang-Borst.

The big challenge now is where to go next year. On the list of possible venues for next year’s Edmonton Short Film Festival is the John L. Haar Theatre, the Garneau Theatre and our very own NAIT Shaw Theatre.

“We really believe in positivity and moving on, and we’re looking at what’s next,” Foreman said “We’re looking at where we are going from here and where we can help take the the Alberta film industry, because that’s our mandate: to help elevate and promote the Alberta Film Community; that’s where we are right now.”

Its readiness for growth and solely Alberta-based submissions are what make the ESFF unique. Instead of falling back to the same limits, they are constantly adapting to their growing viewership; instead of keeping the same festival durations, they are changing with the increase in film submissions, which is something very few film festivals— regardless of their scope or popularity— actually do. Foreman explains, “[Expansion] is probably our biggest plan for next year; and we’re going to do it.”

– Bryn Lipinski