Rhode Islanders are lucky to have a number of niche film festivals happening in our state, and the upcoming Short Short Story Film Festival’s niche is how small the films are. On Saturday, November 28, the ninth edition of The Short Short Story Film Festival will present 35 short short films from around the world at AS220 in downtown Providence. Each film shown will last fewer than 6 minutes.
The SSSFF program features two themed blocks of shorts, Heartstrings and Headtrip. Each block has a mixture of animation and live action films and will screen twice throughout the day. The films range in topics and styles as well as in country of origin. This year’s festival features films from the US, Europe, Australia, South America and The Middle East, and of the total program of 35 films, 26 of them are US premieres.
The SSSFF is organized by local arts organization MergingArts Productions and I asked their creative director and festival co-founder, Toni Pennacchia, a few questions about this year’s festival.
Joshua Gravel (Motif): What attracted you to the short short story format?
Toni Pennacchia: I have long been a fan of the short film format, which seems to be more popular internationally than in the US. I like the ability to tell a story in a lot less time than the 90 minutes or more of a typical feature film. Attending many festivals in the area, I noticed that sometimes even at 10 or 15 minutes, some shorts would feel a bit long.
JG: What are the criteria a film has to meet to qualify for your festival?
TP: The film, including credits, needs to be under six minutes. Films also need to be over a minute, so they can’t be just a one-line joke type of thing.
Originality is key too. As we’re now on our ninth year, we have reviewed literally thousands of short films, and if you are going to submit a “the main character is dead but doesn’t know it” film, we won’t be too thrilled. Or things that feel too much like a comedy sketch or have a very predictable “gotcha” ending. It really is a challenge – and a talent we respect – for a filmmaker to craft a really short work that feels complete and not just a shtick.
JG: What are some highlights people should look for at this year’s festival?
TP: It’s hard to pick just one or two films. It’s always a matter of the overall flow – with the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.
And while we do have our two themed programs – the Heartstrings, which tends toward the poignant or charming, and the Headtrip, which tends toward the bizarre or unsettling – some of the most intriguing films combine elements of each. One such film is Grouillons Nous (Hurry Up), an opera about the adventures of fruit on the subway – it’s cute and fun but pretty out there, too. Another example is White, a strange but oddly touching film about the fate of a light-emitting being who becomes defective within a sort of dystopian society.”
The Short Short Story Film Festival takes place on Saturday November 28, at AS220 on 115 Empire Street in Providence. The Heartstrings block, featuring 18 shorts, will screen at 3pm and 7pm, and the Headtrip block, featuring 17 shorts, screens at 5pm and 9pm with a reception to follow the 9pm screening. For more info visit mergingarts.org.