Short but sweet: Alberta’s annual Reel Shorts film festival
After a burst of inspiration at the Edmonton International Film Festival where Reel Shorts founder Terry Scerbak felt compelled to share some of the phenomenal short films she saw, Reel Shorts was born. The annual Canadian short film festival based in Grande Prairie, Alberta has been inspiring audiences with the same level of diminutive cinematic excellence since 2007. Devoted to entertaining, educating, and engaging audiences while also nurturing the Peace Region filmmaking community by helping to develop and showcase work, Reel Shorts has garnered a reputation for being an independent film festival full of opportunity and insight.
Since 2007, the festival has continued to flourish and grow. Not only has the number of movies showcased more than tripled since the inaugural festival, but Reel Shorts has also moved forward with new programs and opportunities. For example, in 2016 the Reel Shorts Film Society was set up by Reel Shorts volunteers to produce all subsequent festivals. For 2017 that meant curating 107 short films from 22 countries to an audience of 3,600 people.
As well as four juried awards (Best Live Action Short Under 15 Minutes, Best Live Action Short 15+ Minutes, Best Animated Short, and Best Documentary Short), the festival also includes an Audience Choice Award and a Youth Audience Choice Award. That last one is particularly important, as the festival attracts the largest school program audience of any film festival in the prairie provinces.
As well as these awards, Reel Shorts also conducts the Frantic48 Film Challenge, inviting Peace Region filmmakers to write, shoot, and edit a short film in 48 hours with a Jury Award and an Audience Choice Award up for grabs to the two best.
In 2018, Reel Shorts is taking place between May 8 and 14, when it will celebrate and challenge filmmakers while also inspiring them with workshops including Acting for the Camera (on May 12). Proclaiming how “grateful” she is that “Grande Prairie has this gem of a festival,” Reel Shorts audience member Laura Dawn Beauchamp succinctly spotlighted everything wonderful about the short film fest on Facebook. “If you love travelling, learning new things, laughing, seeing the world through someone else’s eyes, and creativity, the Reel Shorts Film Festival is a way for you to do all this without leaving the comfort of your theater chair.”