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Sarah Wood
Cambridge had a great reputation for its long established film festival. In a small town like Cambridge, where knowledge and learning are considered important you have to hope that audiences will take risks on names they haven't heard of and with film forms they are not so used to.

A lot of assumptions are made about who watches short films. Funders often look at it as a kind of community outreach project for filmmakers - a way of a larger organisation reaching out to fledgling film makers, alone in their artistic worlds, brought together by the sight of other peoples' work, to warm themselves at the fireside of other people's imagination.

To some extent that's true. A large and essential part of our audience for SHORTOMATIC is made up of other filmmakers. They're critical of the films we show in a very particular way. There's a filmmaking agenda: an eye on what gets funded and an eye on innovation. Each year at the Cambridge Film festival we house an audience prize where audiences are invited to vote for their favourite short film in each programme. Uncannily, the self-declared filmmakers in the audience can always spot the winner. To be in the audience, to feel the reactions of the people round you is an invaluable education in itself. To see a programme of new work from around the world can be a complete eye-opener to the possible approaches to film making.

In the UK, there's also a belief that if short film audience aren't actually filmmakers then they're definitely under 25. It's a lazy assumption that imagines the short form appeals only to a generation brought up on MTV and cartoons and advertising whose imagination works to shorter and faster synapse connections.

Luckily age seems to play no part in who watches our programmes. We welcome a very mixed age audience. This was apparent when we showcased the film work of the American designers and filmmakers Charles and Ray Eames. The audience ranged from people happy to see films they'd watched in the 50s and 60s alongside students, architects and people who knew the Eames' name from the pages of Elle Decoration. At the end of the day good films are always good films.

Still from a Communications Primer by Charles and Ray Eames
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