History Lessons: The DEATH TO SHORT FILM Manifesto

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Rest in peace, we guess?

Festival-goers who’ve stuck with us our sixteen years might be aware of our tendency towards titles with a touch of the grandiose (‘go big on the existentially confused prog-rock reference or go home!’ is a little motto we chuck about the LSFF office) and today’s throwback you could probably consider a benchmark. 

With just a week to go ‘til our regular submissions deadline creeps up, we’ve dug out the DEATH TO SHORT FILM Manifesto! 

We’ve all known for a while now that Cinema Is Dead as highly successful white men filmmakers keep periodically announcing it at Cannes (exhibits A, BC), but back in 2006 our Creative Director Philip decided prevention was the best cure for its shorter sister. Written to accompany one of his London Film Festival shorts programmes, the manifesto then found its way to the pages of Time Out and became a bedrock of LSFF (just a wee four years old and still calling itself *[The Halloween Society*]( and our programming principles. 

Alas, we couldn’t find the original napkin it was scribbled on (because it was in fact printed on A4 in highly questionable Copperplate Gothic) but we’ve popped it below word for word for the rallying of the short film masses. 

Thoughts/feelings on how it’s aged? Still relevant twelve years post or way off base? Too heavy handed or too soft a touch? Give us hell @LSFF. Our regular submissions close next Friday 29 June.


Short films must not act as a calling card to work towards making a feature film or to move into TV.

Short films must not be a showcase for technical ability, such as to prove the filmmaker’s talent at cinematography or editing.

Short films must not have an optimum running time; they can be 5 seconds or 40 minutes.

Short films must not have a finite ending to tie things up, such as a last minute twist, but must feel as though the story can continue after the credits have started rolling.

Short films must not be made with an audience in mind or believe that the said audience will require that final twist or happy ending.

Short films must not be restricted by genre.

Short films will not open with an alarm clock going off and the main protagonist waking up in a brightly lit room.

Short films will be made purely for the filmmaker, with no outside influence from its potential audience. This will prove total honesty on behalf of the filmmaker.

Image still: For Rest, dir. Shinya Isobe, 2017