“Life is great, without it you’d be dead”

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Artistic Director, Philip Ilson and Programme Director, Jo Duncombe introduce you to the 13th London Short Film Festival: from cat videos to filmmaker retrospectives, from 38 new UK short programmes, to dedicated documentary and international screenings. There's something for everyone.

Harmony Korine is a filmmaker who isn’t afraid to take chances. As someone who is loathed by many, but a cinematic icon for others, he perfectly fits the LSFF ethos that follows on from our last Festival slogan “we’re not here to entertain you, we’re here to make you feel uncomfortable” (attributed to musician Viv Albertine). For this reason, we’ve decided to have a weekend focus on Korine in partnership with MUBI, where we will present his short films and music videos along with a special screening of his 1997 masterpiece Gummo. This debut film, made when he was just 24, is a stream-of-consciousness series of short vignettes, loosely themed around a small town in Ohio. Gummo’s ethos is one of originality and a “not giving a fuck” attitude, which is also what we love discovering in the best short films.

This independent ethos carries over into our retrospectives this year. We’re always looking for the next talented auteurs before they break through; in previous years we’ve held focusses on Andrea Arnold, Paul Wright and Carol Morley before their debut features. For 2016, we’re proud to be showcasing the short film work of Fyzal Boulifa, Taina Galas, Joern Utkilen, Jessica Sarah Rinland as well as Derek Jarman collaborator Richard Heslop and the late Beastie Boy Adam Yauch. We’re also excited by London’s vibrant film curation scene, and we’re hosting guest programmes by Rich Pickings, MicroMacro Film, Short Sighted Cinema, and New Queer Visions.

In keeping with our DIY attitude, it’s time to look back over the 20 years since the co-founding of the Halloween Society short film night, out of which grew the current London Short Film Festival we know today. We’re taking a trip back both via an exhibition of flyers, photos and brochures from those heady 90s and early 00s days, when screening and events existed outside the confines of the film industry, as well as a showcase of the no-budget short films made by myself and schoolfriend Tim Harding.

Celluloid is alive and well, and we’re proud to be projecting 16mm at events across the Festival, particularly at Analogue Precurring (as part of our Analogue Basement event) and at a revival of Mark Webber’s Little Stabs at Happiness music & film club night. Finally, music remains incredibly important to LSFF, so we’re excited for events looking at the Berlin underground scene of the 80s, outsider musicians David Thomas Broughton and Arvid Sletta, plus various live bands across the ten days.

And don’t even get me started on cats… actually, I’ll leave Jo to tell you more…

Philip Ilson, Artistic Director

Cat surprised by cucumber. Cat chews on cactus. Cat rides automatic hoover. Cats&Cats&Cats. The internet’s bloody full of cats, but this January we’re going to reclaim the cat-video. We’ve commissioned three artist filmmakers – Jennifer Reeder, Nick Abrahams and Vivienne Dick – to make three new cat films. The films will screen at a one-off cross-arts event called CATS&CATS&CATS at the beautiful Round Chapel in Lower Clapton, that will see the brilliant Stealing Sheep live score two classic experimental cat films.

Big up to Arts Council England for their continued support in helping us venture further into the world of artist film commissioning. They’ve also funded a project with experimental filmmaker Jessica Sarah Rinland where we will present a programme of work by forgotten British nature documentarian Mary Field (1896 – 1968). Excitingly, we’ve commissioned Jessica to create a new film in response to Field’s which will screen in our special event programme NATURE MIXTAPE.

So yeah, cats are massive this year. And so is the festival. We’ve selected just under 400 films to present across 45 new shorts programmes at our partner venues Hackney Picturehouse, the ICA and, for the first time, ACE Hotel in Shoreditch, along with a delectable industry programme in the Hackney Attic.

This year, we’re extremely grateful to have the support of the BFI Festivals Fund to help make January’s edition the most accessible LSFF to date. More details on our large print programmes and venue accessibility.

Big thanks are also in order for our pals at Jameson UK, who we’re working with again to support their brilliant Jameson First Shot competition, and to partners Mubi, Creative England, Warsteiner (prost!), Domino Publishing, London College of Fashion and Yplan.

The ever supportive British Council are this year hosting a delegation of international festival programmers, which means the top British filmmaking talent on show at the festival will be exposed to some of Europe’s most influential film festivals. Finally – I’d like to say a massive thank you to the LSFF team and to all the people, filmmakers and cats along the way that have supported the festival. Check out the back page of our print programme for the names of all these heroes. See you in Jan!

Jo Duncombe, Programme Director