Vienna Shorts in the Online Thicket

(c) Vienna Shorts Animace Animacia / Jan Svankmajer, Narodnifilmovyarchiv

The Vienna Shorts Film Festival offers filmmakers a digital stage.


Tonight the international short film festival opens its 17th edition, the Vienna Shorts – Online Edition. In addition to local short film talents from the fields of documentation, feature film, animation and music video, exciting works from all over the world will be shown.


he first film programme of this year’s festival is all about cohesion and the impression of the past weeks and months. Six films have been selected for it – as it were, as a protest against thoughtlessness and as a promise to raise awareness. “For us, cinema functions like an empathic, utopian mirror of life,” explain Doris Bauer and Daniel Ebner, their approach. “And we believe that we are not alone in it.”

The opening programme can be found on the website under the new programme ATTRACTION. The evening will be presented by British film critic Neil Young. Following the opening gala, the first competition programme will be available at the Vienna Shorts Festival Hub and a large part of all non-competition programmes will be unlocked. In total there are more than 50 film programmes and about 280 films at the Festival Hub.

Under the title “Streams are my Reality”, international music videos will also be shown tomorrow, Thursday, in cooperation with and on the FM4 website (from 10 pm) to share the acoustic element of the traditional opening party with the audience. A second music video programme on will be available on June 2nd, following the award ceremony, as it were at the end of the festival.

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For many films, a festival is the first window to the public. We have a responsibility to the filmmakers who have submitted their films to us.” Daniel Ebner, director of the Vienna Shorts, is committed to the decision of transferring this year’s short film festival into the digital world and wants to create a festival-worthy setting online as well.

Just as planned, the 17th edition of the Vienna Shorts Filmfestival will take place from May 28th to June 2nd. In cooperation with several international festivals, a new streaming platform will be created on which all competition films as well as a selected side programme will be presented.

With a kind of digital festival pass, around 100 short films, music videos and animated films under 30 minutes will be available online. Like, for example, the Chinese-American co-production “The Speech” by Haohao Yan, which exactly matches the latest topic. A Chinese school is in total quarantine during the 2003 SARS epidemic and is fenced off from the rest of the city. The film accompanies three schoolgirls during the lockdown and causes unpleasant shivers in times like these.

As a qualifying event for further film awards, including the Oscars, it is important to weigh

up what is best for the films and their public without endangering the further career.“Everything that we especially appreciate about festivals – the exchange of ideas, the contact to the filmmakers, the conversations at the festival bar – is lost in digital space,” Ebner says. “The
challenge was: how do we create a festival setting that maintains an exchange and “live character” under fair conditions?”

In addition to screenings, live performances are also planned, for example by the Austrian collective Total Refusal, which will close the gap to the analog programme. In their film “How to disappear”, filmmakers Robin Klengel, Leonhard Müllner and Michael Stumpf explore the question of whether it is possible to desert in an online shooter game and reflect on war and game, discipline and disobedience.

Short film goes online

The Tricky Women/Tricky Realities Festival has found another way to present its films despite the festival being cancelled: The festival for ani- mated films by women shares films, lectures and interviews on its social media channels and wants to stimulate an exchange about feminism and civil society.

“For the future, we will consider what a com- bination of digital and analog festival might look like,” says Ebner. “With the hope that a traditional cinema experience and analog festi- vals can soon happen again.”