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Sarah Wood
In 2000, at the beginning of the new century, a colleague and I decided to re-examine the first century of cinema through the history of the short film. With a small budget from the regional arts board we programmed a three day festival at the brand new Arts Picture House in Cambridge.

Our mission statement was very grand: "As the 21st century swings into place it seems only right to consider the future of the film form. How will the structures learned in the first century of film respond to technological changes in the second?.. In an attempt to answer these heady questions we found we should be looking at the earliest of film forms: the short."

We were working against a current feeling that short film was simply a calling card for would-be feature film directors. At this point the production schemes from the arts boards and the BFI suggested that short film makers were people trying out their fledgling directorial skills on a form that was quick to make, easy to disguise and cheap. This view seemed to ignore the great traditions of short filmmaking and we hoped that SHORTOMATIC could redress this balance. It was a view that didn't take into account a whole range of work from artists' film, pop promos, adverts, public information films to the brave pioneers of early cinema and the avant garde.uestions about gender, race and sexuality entitled Borderline.

This is the story of programming a festival against the grain, something we've been doing ever since.

Still of the Shortomatic Logo
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