DC Shorts Film Fest at Milestone; 5-Year Mark Makes Event Eligible for Academy Awards

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This year marks the fifth anniversary of the DC Shorts Film Festival, an important milestone. Why? Because upon completion of this fifth year, the festival is eligible for accreditation by the Academy Awards.

They only look at festivals that are five years plus, programmer Jon Gann says, but age alone doesn't guarantee accreditation. It's a lot of paperwork on our end, and a lot of begging.

Sandwiched between the Toronto Film Festival and the New York City Short Film Festival, the District's festival - which runs through Thursday at Landmark's E Street Cinema - risks getting lost in the shuffle. Mr. Gann tries to mitigate that worry by making the festival especially attractive to burgeoning filmmakers.

Our deal with filmmakers, Mr. Gann says, is that if you can get to Washington, we will house you and feed you as best we can. A number of private homes are housing artists, and restaurants around the city have donated meal tickets; the Hotel Monaco also is offering a steeply discounted rate.

From an artistic point of view, the festival offers a number of attractions for would-be directors. Most film festivals, you apply and send your check and get rejected and never know why, Mr. Gann explains. We wanted a completely open system. .. As a filmmaker, you just want to know why you were rejected To that end, he devised an Internet-based judging system. Creators can log onto it once the lineup is announced and see critiques about their films' strengths and weaknesses and the reasons for their inclusion or rejection.

This year's festival also features two seminars led by Kelley Baker, aka the Angry Filmmaker : Making the Extremely Low Budget Feature and Guerilla Marketing and Self Distribution of Your Film. Both are offered free on Friday, with priority given to filmmakers in the competition. …