Leicester’s international short film festival The Short Cinema returns to Phoenix Cinema and Art Centre, celebrating local and international filmmakers across six days of screenings, events and workshops, culminating with a gala showcase of Midlands talent.

Launched on Wednesday 15th August, the festival will begin with a Q&A with local writer and director Deborah Haywood, whose debut work Pin Cushion opened the Venice Film Festival’s Critic’s Week last August. The film, shot in the director’s home town of Swandicote and starring Isy Suttie, will be shown after the Q&A portion.

The festival programme begins on Monday 20th August with the International Programme, a selection of some of the best festival entries from around the globe. Whilst always being a friendly and inclusive festival, this year’s event includes a specialist programme of shorts that give a platform to underrepresented voices. Screening in partnership with the London Short Film Festival, Lives in Sign Language is a selection of thought-provoking films which bring stories about deaf culture and experience to the big screen – including the Academy Award-winning The Silent Child.

For the second year, The Short Cinema is also proud to partner with the Iris Prize Festival to screen their latest shortlist of the very best in short films with LGBTQ+ narratives. This selection will be introduced by Rico Johnson-Sinclair from Birmingham’s CineQ – an LGBTQ+ film community group. Both screen on Tuesday 21 August.

In a time when #metoo and #timesup are so heavily in the public conscious, the festival’s Intersectional Feminism event on Thursday 23rd August explores the concept of intersectional feminism through the medium of short film. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion including curators, creatives and young local filmmakers, including Leicester filmmaker Jess O’Brien and Cynthia Rodríguez from Intrsktr – Leicester’s Intersectional Feminism group.

On Friday 24th August, comedy, drama and horror all come together to showcase individuals, communities and stories from our nation in the British Shorts screening, examining what it means to be British in 2018.

Younger audiences can enjoy a morning of family-friendly films with the festival’s Family Shorts. Curated by the Flatpack Film Festival, this collection of stories about kinship and belonging is suitable for ages 4 and above. Tickets for this event on Saturday 25th August are free, however seats must be booked at the Phoenix box office.

But this event is not just for enjoyment or to raise awareness – it is key in offering opportunities to individuals pursuing a career in film. To help support local filmmakers, the festival include workshops and sessions to offer advice on getting help in the industry. The British Film Institute network event on Wednesday 22 August invites new and emerging writers, directors and producers to a free networking event at the Phoenix cinema to learn about funding opportunities, before a screening of some of the recent short films they have funded. Filmmakers can also attend Film Festivals for Indie Filmmakers, a one-day course on Saturday 25 August, giving an essential overview of film festivals, with industry tips for getting your work selected. The course is £16, and is open to ages 18 and above.

The Short Cinema comes to a end on Saturday 25 August with its annual Midlands Showcase competition. Filmmakers and audiences can walk the red carpet before enjoying a shortlist of the best of short films submitted from the Midlands region, followed by an awards ceremony. This event offers a legitimate platform for filmmakers in Leicestershire and the Midlands to boost their career by broadcasting their work to an audience of influentials within film, and potentially offers the opportunity for Leicester to become more prominent in the industry. The festival will draw to a close with an after party until late in the Phoenix cafe bar.

For those with a keen interest in film, be it watching it or making it, this festival is an unmissable chance to explore the opportunities at your doorstep.

Tickets for screenings can be booked in advance by calling the Phoenix box office on 0116 242 2800 or online at www.phoenix.org.uk, where full details can be found of the forthcoming programme with dates and times of all screenings.

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Emily Burke is an English Literature student at the University of Leicester who constantly wishes she was still living in the North. Her interests include Law & Order and gravy.

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