×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Oscar-Qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival Celebrates 15th Anniversary

The annual Oscar-qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival is celebrating its 15th anniversary. Running Aug. 8-17, the shorts film fest brings together premium story creators, top-flight industry leaders and dynamic companies, launching filmmakers into the next stages of their careers.

“We had submissions from 80 countries this year. The event has truly become an explosion of phenomenal short-form content,” says Theo Dumont, co-founder of HollyShorts.

Of a record 6,000 submissions, roughly 400 official selections have been made, spread out over three categories: short film, live action and animation. HollyShorts also engages the community and spotlights short films year-round through monthly screenings, panels and networking events.

“It’s been remarkable to see the exponential growth of the festival over the years as we’re always searching for the next wave of talented filmmakers,” says co-founder Daniel Sol.

The opening night red carpet celebration will be held at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. Taking place concurrently with the festival is the HollyShorts Film + TV Conference, which features panels, workshops and think-tanks with industry leaders. 2019 official selection, “The Trap,” directed and written by Lena Headey (“Game of Thrones”) and starring Michelle Fairley (“Game of Thrones”), is set to play on opening night, with Headey in attendance.

“It makes me feel incredibly proud to be part of HollyShorts, as I’ve wanted to direct for such a long time,” Headey says. “It’s the most natural thing for me. I wrote this script for Michelle Fairley, as she’s one of my favorite actors.”

“Another great part of the festival is that so many alumni return to take part in the festivities,” says Dumont.

This year, producer Andrew Carlberg and writer-director Guy Nattiv from the 2018 short winner “Skin,” which then went on to win the Oscar for live-action short, will be in attendance.

“HollyShorts has been such a consistent and supportive aspect of my career,” says Carlberg. “My first professional short played HollyShorts in 2010, and they’ve been a driving force in featuring my short form work ever since that festival. I believe so much in their mission, and the importance of short films in our industry.”

Past HollyShorts Indie Maverick honorees Anthony Russo, Jennifer Morrison (“Once Upon a Time”) and Matthew Modine will make special guest appearances.

“Distribution is perhaps the most complicated obstacle for budding filmmakers,” Modine says. “Once you’ve made a film, how do you find your audience? HollyShorts has been a successful amplifier and distribution platform for these new, undiscovered talents to present their work.

“I’m honored to be a small part of their amazing efforts and legacy.”

The roster of new talent showcasing projects at this year’s shorts festival is loaded with potential, with buzzed-about titles including Janina Gavankar and Russo Schelling’s “Stucco.”

“My mission statement as an artist is to examine the parts of ourselves we’re least proud of,” Gavankar says. “This is a short about mental health, anxiety and guilt.”

Schelling adds: “This film is heavily autobiographical for both of us, in ways you may not expect. It’s an amalgam of emotional bits and pieces. There’s something to be said about what happens when you’re a clinically depressed person, and there’s a misconception that people rally around to support you. But in actuality you distance yourself from everyone. Then, it’s left to you to reclaim your life.”

Actress-turned-director Brittany Snow’s “Milkshake” is another film riding a strong wave of anticipation.

“I wanted to tell a personal story about how your life becomes shaped by the various sacrifices your parents make for you when you’re growing up,” says Snow. Helming her own project “was an experiment of sorts and extremely rewarding.”

Other notable entries include Dane Cook’s “American Typecast,” Sterling Milan’s “About the People” and Roger Guenveur Smith’s “My Father Belize.”

The Seattle Film Summit, which combines the art and business of filmmaking to advance the funding, creation and distribution of stories reflecting the thriving, socially aware film culture of the Pacific Northwest, returns as a partner.

“One of my first partnerships was with HollyShorts,” says Seattle Film Festival founder Ben Andrews. “We really want to give the Pacific Northwest the cinematic exposure that it deserves. And we’re proud to return for a fourth year as a provider of grants to the winner of the HollyShorts screenplay contest.”

Impossible Dream Entertainment is also getting on board this year.

“We’ll be giving a development deal to a short film that we feel has the most break-out potential,” says president Shaun Redick.

“We’ve been paying close attention to HollyShorts over the years, and we’re hoping that this becomes an annual partnership,” says Impossible Dream partner Yvette Yates. “We’re looking to support new voices from all backgrounds — that’s our company mandate.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Joker

    'Joker' Sequel Being Explored by Todd Phillips, Warner Bros.

    “Joker,” the $1 billion-grossing comic-book smash, may take another look at the fraying mind of Arthur Fleck. Warner Bros. film chief Toby Emmerich has met with writer and director Todd Phillips and co-writer Scott Silver to explore possible ideas for a sequel to the drama about the early days of the Clown Prince of Crime. [...]

  • Mindy Kaling photographed by Victoria Stevens

    Mindy Kaling to Host 22nd Costume Designer Guild Awards

    Mindy Kaling announced Wednesday that she will host the 22nd Costume Designers Guild Awards. “I’m thrilled to be hosting the Costumes Designers Guild Awards. Costume design and fashion are close to my heart, and I promise many, possibly too many, outfit changes,” Kaling wrote on Instagram. View this post on Instagram Hey guys! I’m so [...]

  • FROZEN 2 - In Walt Disney

    Will 'Frozen 2' Heat Up a Frosty Box Office?

    How enduring is “Frozen” fever? Six years after audiences were first introduced to Princesses Anna and Elsa, Disney is returning to Arendelle this weekend with the big-screen debut of “Frozen 2. The original made history as the highest-grossing animated movie ever, raking in $1.2 billion worldwide in 2013. This time around, the powerful sisters are [...]

  • Nederland, Amsterdam, 09-10-2019-Orwa Nyrabia, artistic director

    IDFA Artistic Director Orwa Nyrabia on Documentary Cinema's Bright Future

    “Where do you want to start,” Orwa Nyrabia says, with a smile. “I’m in full festival mode!” Just a year into the job and Nyrabia, IDFA’s artistic director, can’t wait to get stuck into his second edition. The festival’s founder, Ally Derks, who bowed out in 2017 after 30 years at the helm, was a [...]

  • Timothee Chalamet poses for photographers at

    Timothée Chalamet to Make London Stage Debut With Eileen Atkins in '4000 Miles'

    Timothee Chalemet is set to take to the London stage for the first time, appearing next spring in Amy Herzog’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated play “4000 Miles.” Matthew Warchus will direct the production at The Old Vic, which will also star Eileen Atkins (“The Crown,” “Gosford Park”). The play opens April 2020. It turns on the story [...]

  • CJ-CGV Cinemas

    CJ CGV Sells $286 Million Stake in Asian Cinema Businesses

    CJ CGV, the Korean movie theaters giant, is to raise $286 million from the sale of a slice of its Indonesian, Vietnamese and Chinese businesses. The company, which has its own stock market listing and is affiliated to the CJ Group, which includes CJ E&M and CJ Entertainment, said this week that it had sold [...]

  • Taiwanese director Fu Yue

    China, Taiwan in Film Awards Face-off With Roosters, Horses Scheduled on Same Day

    Despite rising political antagonism, China and Taiwan have for years been able to put aside their differences for a night of shared glitz and glamour at the annual Taipei-based Golden Horse Awards, known as Asia’s Oscars. But with cross-strait relations at a nadir, that’s about to change.  Chinese-language cinema is set for a showdown the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content