Sunday saw the closing ceremony of this year’s Short Shorts Film Festival take place at the Meiji Shrine in Harajuku. The festival was started in 1999 as a way to introduce Japanese people to the short film format, before incorporating the Short Shorts Film Festival Asia into the lineup in 2004 to highlight emerging talents in Asia.

This year marks something of a milestone as the SSFF Asia celebrates it’s 10th year of bringing interesting short films from Japan and Asia to an ever widening audience.

The festival is actually accredited by the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences and as such the Grand Prize winner is eligible for Academy Awards nomination. The short film is an increasingly popular format due to changing viewing habits, in particular on the internet, and also the fact that anybody with an idea and a video camera can have a go. Short Shorts is an excellent opportunity for young filmmakers to get noticed and for audiences to catch the stars of the future.

The winner of the Grand Prix & Best Short Award in the International Competition is the UK-produced The Mass of Men from director Gabriel Gauchet. The story concerns an unemployed man named Richard, who upon arriving late for his interview at a job centre is forced into taking desperate measures when the advisor is forced to punish him for his lateness.

Taking away the prize in the Asia International Competition was Tina Pakravan, for her effort It Was My City, a tale of life and struggle amidst war. A former banker, Kimie Tanaka won in the Japan competition with Kotobuki/For Us a tale of a girl who now lives in Tokyo (pictured above) returning to her hometown to realise that she perhaps does not belong there anymore.

In the final two competition sections Meghna Gupta won with her UK/India co-production Unravel in the Save the Earth! Catergory and Aude Danset & Carlos De Carvalho won in the CG Animation Competition for Autumn Leaves.

Although the competition is now finished, screenings will continue until June 16th at the excellent Brillia Short Shorts theatre in Yokohama. Each screening contains around six shorts of different genres, including drama, comedy, documentary and animation.

The films usually run somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes apiece, so there’s bound to be something you like – some of the screenings (click here for more detail) are free of charge. There will also be another opportunity to catch the winning films between June 19th and July 15th.

by Christopher O’Keeffe