5 Favourite Films: Kristian Foreman, Film Programmer

Hello internet people, my name is Kristian and I’m part of the programming team at Sunderland Shorts. This is the second in the series of blog posts from the festival team about our favourite films. I hope you enjoy my recommendations!

As a film festival programmer, I think the most important thing to possess is an appreciation of film. It is essential to hone that appreciation and hone your ways of trying to express that to other people. So as a bit of an introduction to myself, I thought I’d write about my top 5 favourite films and the reasons I enjoy them. The internet loves a good list, right? I believe you can tell a lot about a person through their favourite films. Hopefully my enthusiasm and passion for cinema will be communicated in these short reviews.

So here lies – in no particular order – the most formative, resonating, and thought provoking movies I have seen (or at least what came to my mind when I was asked to write this):

The Apartment (Dir: Billy Wilder, 1960)

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Whenever I talk about my favourite movies with my friends, Billy Wilder’s The Apartment always comes up. It is such a bittersweet, heartfelt, and clever comedy about real people. Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine star as two essentially good souls trapped in a tangle of office politics. Even though the plot is slightly predictable, it is a deeply involving dramatic romance with some great dialogue and three-dimensional characters.

In-spite living in a time where fantastical, multi-million dollar Hollywood blockbusters are coming out every week, I always prefer seeing plausible characters on screen who are just trying their best to make their way through life with all its struggles. This is not to suggest I don’t also enjoy big blockbusters, I mean who doesn’t love living vicariously through the eyes of a Spiderman swinging from building to building in New York?! I am just a big fan of movies that take very small situations and make them feel more epic. I like movie experiences that tend to oscillate between comedy and drama, and The Apartment does that to perfection.

Hannah and Her Sisters (Dir: Woody Allen, 1986)

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Woody Allen changed my life and is undoubtedly my favourite filmmaker. Like The Apartment, the way he seamlessly drifts between frivolity and pathos appeals to my taste.

At the youthful age of 17 I had no idea who Woody Allen was, only that I heard his name crop up in radio interviews of comedians and writers I admired. One afternoon as I was aimlessly wandering through a second hand DVD store I passively picked up a copy of Annie Hall for 79p. Later that night, with limited expectations, I popped it in the DVD player – and it genuinely transformed my cinema experience forever.

Woody Allen was the first person I saw who combined humour with big ideas. I’d never seen anything like that before. He was silly and funny whilst still talking about something legitimate. To a 17 year old angsty, romantic Sixth Form student who had just discovered reading philosophy and questioning whether the table was really there or just a sensory illusion (I still have no idea), it filled a perfect cinematic hole in my life. I immediately became a mega fan and began working my way through his interminable oeuvre. It was fantastic (even the not so great ones).

“I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.

So I feel I have to include a Woody Allen film in this list. It is hard to pick a definitive one, but I always seem to go back to and re-watch Hannah and Her Sisters. This seems to be his most literate movie, and as an English Literature graduate it resonates with me. It is filled with universal themes such as fear of death, desire for love, transient lust, and hesitant decision making.

Boyhood (Dir: Richard Linklater, 2014)

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Richard Linklater’s epically constructed masterpiece Boyhood. It is nearly 3 hours long. There is almost no plot. But I loved every minute of it. It was absolutely fantastic. Again, it is very similar in tone to the other films I’ve mentioned in the list. A sort of domestic comedy-drama, but very, very truthful, and brilliant performances again.

It is just a story of a kid living his life between the ages of 6 and 18. And that is it. No crazy plot twists. No mad adventures. No kooky characters. It is not building towards any sort of plot twist or cathartic ending. It’s just about a group of people aging, with significant and insignificant things happening in their life. Like Linklater’s well-crafted Before trilogy, it is filled with smart, but natural dialogue.

The actors playing the young children at the beginning of the film are the same actors playing those characters as adolescents and young adults. Which makes it all the more special because you really get to know these characters and feel a connection to them. I am a sucker for teenage coming-of-age stories. Movies like Stand By Me, Almost Famous and The Breakfast Club invariably have my eyes glued and my emotions on the edge of a precipice.

I went to see Boyhood on the last day it was playing in the UK at the cinema. It was a matinée showing at there was only four people in the movie theatre, including me and my friend. After about 90 minutes in, the other two people in the room said ‘Why is nothing happening!?’ and walked out of the screening. Although rather distracting, I quite liked this moment as it practically mirrored a line from the movie during a scene when the mother character is talking to her son about being disappointed with how her life has turned out:

“I just thought there would be more than this…

Boyhood is a refreshing escape from the monotony of real life, to the monotony on a big screen. However Linklater somehow manages to make those everyday moments feel magical and special.

The Truman Show (Dir: Peter Weir, 1998)

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How prophetic this film was. Jim Carrey gives a remarkable performance as a man learning that his entire life in an idyllic coastal village has been the subject of a live, 24-hour-a-day womb-to-tomb television drama. The premise of this movie is both reasonable and ludicrous, with a sublime execution. It is as endearing as it is provocative.

The bigger themes of media manipulation, authenticity, reality TV and the American Dream it tackles are just as relevant now (if not more so) than they were when the film was first released theatrically back in 1997. 

The colour of the film is perfect, the pace of the editing is exemplary, and there is an attention to detail that you rarely see in a film. I’ve seen this film many, many times and each time I watch I notice something new and interesting.

The Darjeeling Limited (Dir: Wes Anderson, 2007)

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Amazing soundtrack, beautiful locations and a great cast. Wes Anderson is another favourite filmmaker of mine. His unique and quirky directing style is always refreshing to my eyeballs and I believe The Darjeeling Limited is one of his most underrated films.

Themes of brotherhood, travel and spirituality are something I ponder over a lot. Being a person who dabbles around in spirituality, watching this movie is always a comfort to me. The characters set out on a spiritual journey and find closure at the end in India. The ride along the way to this enlightenment is hilarious and fun, in only the way that Wes Anderson can show. The rich colours of southeast Asia combined with the wonderfully aesthetic talent of Anderson makes the entire experience a pleasure to watch.

There is an extraordinary amount of incident and observation perfectly squeezed into a mere 90 minutes. The brothers bicker, fight, reminisce, and accuse each other of trivial things. Very relatable family moments.

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Hope you enjoyed reading about my opinion on films. If you live in the North East and are remotely interested in film then I encourage you to find out more about Sunderland Shorts: Film Festival at www.sunderlandshorts.co.uk and come along in 2017. Also, if you haven’t seen our new promotional video you can check it out here.

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Kristian Foreman, Film Programmer

5 Favourite Films: Anne Tye, Festival Director


Hello, I’m Anne and I have the dubious honour of writing the first in our next series of blogs, written by each member of the festival team, as a way of getting to know us.

I work for Sunderland City Council and my role is to deliver business support and development projects to the city’s creative businesses.  I’ve also managed the logistics for getting Sunderland creative businesses and their work to Washington DC as part of the Sunderland /DC Friendship Agreement, to take part in exhibitions and exchanges there, mostly related to glass and ceramics.  And that’s how Sunderland Shorts started …

In 2013, Jon  Gann of DC Shorts and I hatched a plan to start a film festival in Sunderland to be a platform for filmmakers and related talents in the city, and we applied to the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities for some funding to support Jon to travel to Sunderland in 2015 to get us started.

I worry that being Festival Director implies that I’m a film expert but I’m not, although I do know a bit about running creative businesses. That said, I’ve always appreciated what a great film can do, whether it provides a bit of escapism, thought provoking subject matter, laughter or tears, and I have a very eclectic taste and a long memory.  I could go on about watching Abbot and Costello films with my Dad and Fred Astaire / Frank Sinatra / Gene Kelly movies with my Mam,  Jason Bourne or James Bond – the list could be endless.

So, here you go, in no particular order, 5 of my ‘can watch anytime’ films:

The Ladykillers 1955 Dir.Alexander Mackendrick, Studio Canal

Cast: Danny Green, Peter Sellers,  Cecil Parker, Herbert Lom, Katy Johnson, Alec Guinness

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Mrs Wilberforce (Katie Johnson), an elderly widow living in an ancient, lop-sided house close to St Pancras station, likes to report suspicious behaviour to the police. Unaware of this habit, the charming but dastardly Professor Marcus (played by Alec Guinness with additional teeth and looking remarkably like  Alistair Sim) rents rooms in her house for himself and his gang of thieves.  Posing as a string quartet, the gang commit a bank robbery but let something slip in front of Mrs Wilberforce while trying to get away and her suspicions are roused.  The crooks agree they need to kill her off but in an effort to double-cross each other they manage to kill each other off instead.  In the meantime Mrs Wilberforce goes to the police, but has her reputation preceded her?

The last of the Ealing Comedies, this is an incredibly charming film with comedy, tension and intrigue in equal measure.  The Alec Guinness and Herbert Lom characters are particularly sinister while Katie Johnson gradually reveals that the genteel and seemingly unsuspecting elderly lady hides a wily, steely core.  The film captures the smoke, grime and darkness of post WWII London which adds to the menace but there are also light touches such as a cameo by Frankie Howerd as a hapless barrow-boy.  It doesn’t matter how many times you see it, you see something new every time.

Charade 1963 Dir. Stanley Donan, Universal Pictures U.S.A. 

Cast: Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Walter Matthau, James Coburn, George Kennedy, Ned Glass

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Regina Lampert (Audrey Hepburn) returns to Paris, after a holiday in the Alps, to find her home stripped of furnishings and her husband murdered. Peter Joshua (Cary Grant) whom she met in the Alps, offers to help her solve the mystery.   Her husband had hidden 250,000 dollars, stolen from the US Government along with four accomplices who pursue Reggie to find their “share” of the take. Peter Joshua, along with Walter Matthau as CIA agent Hamilton Bartholomew, are the only people she can trust, or can she?

Like The Ladykillers, Charade manages to mix mystery, suspense and villainy with light touches of comedy, but with added romance and an original score by Henry Mancini.  Then there’s the wonderful elegant Audrey Hepburn wearing Givenchy, set against a Parisian backdrop . What’s not to love?

Jackie Brown 1997, Dir. Quentin Tarantino , Miramax PIctures

Cast: Pam Grier, Robert de Niro, Samuel L Jackson, Bridget Fonda, Robert Foster, Michael Keaton, Chris Tucker, Michael Bowen.

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When flight attendant Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) gets caught smuggling cash for arms dealer Ordell Robbie (Samuel L Jackson), along with a small amount of cocaine, agents Ray Nicolette (Michael Keaton and Mark Dargus (Michael Bowen) see an opportunity. They persuade her to help them bring down Ordell in exchange for avoiding jail time. She doesn’t agree immediately, is charged and put in custody pending bail.

Ordell instructs bail bondsman Max Cherry (Robert Foster) to pay her bail and release her from jail and there’s immediately a clear attraction. Jackie knows Ordell will try to kill her and steals Max’s gun from the glove-box – she’s ready when Ordell turns up and sends him packing.   She’s going to end up either dead or in jail and she decides to double cross both the agents and Ordell in a bid to keep the money … helped by Max who has fallen in love with her.

I’m a Tarantino fan, and this choice could easily have been Pulp Fiction or Inglorious Basterds.  I love his dialogue and there’s a line in Jackie Brown, when she’s facing down Ordell, that comes into my head far too often!  It’s a very tense film with some shocks and surprises and you really can’t predict anything. Samuel L Jackson’s Ordell is cool, charming and dangerous  but de Niro’s character, Louis, is alongside most of the time and he’s just too quiet, too acquiescent, until he’s finally challenged.

The soundtrack is fabulous, starting and ending with Bobby Womack’s Across 110th Street, along with the Delfonics, Randy Crawford, The Brothers Johnson, Johnny Cash and more.

Bellville Rendezvous 2003, Dir. Sylvain Chomet

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Madame Souza is trainer to her grandson and cyclist, Champion.  During a mountainous leg of the Tour de France, Champion goes missing. He has been kidnapped along with two other competitors by villains who want to use their cycling skills and stamina for a gambling scam. Along with Champion’s overweight and faithful dog Bruno, Madame Souza sets out to find Champion, intrepidly crossing the ocean in a pedalo to the town of Belleville. With no money, Madame Souza and Bruno are befriended by three eccentric elderly women, who were once a famous jazz trio, Les Triplettes de Belleville. The triplets help Madame Souza and Bruno in their quest to find and rescue Champion.

This is one of the most delightful films I’ve ever seen – it’s eccentric, chaotic and a bit odd (catching frogs with grenades to make frog soup) but it’s a brilliantly warm, moving story about a Gran’s dedication to her boy. The artwork is beautifully detailed and sometimes hilariously exaggerated, especially the cyclists with overly massive calves and thighs. The music of the triplets is very much in 30’s Jazz style but it’s so fast and light it just makes me smile.  Need to watch this more often !

True Romance 1993, Dir Tony Scott.

Cast: Patricia Arquette, Christian Slater, Brad Pitt, Gary Oldman, Christopher Walken, Val Kilmer, Dennis Hopper, James Gandolfini, Michael Rapaport, Bronson Pichot, Samuel L Jackson.

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Written by Quentin Tarrantino and Roger Avery

Clarence (Christian Slater) and prostitute Alabama (Patricia Arquette) fall in love and marry.  While breaking the news to Alabama’s pimp, Clarence kills him and grabs what he thinks is a suitcase of Alabama’s clothes.  But it’s full of cocaine belonging to the mob. The two hit the road for California hoping to sell the cocaine, but the mob is soon chasing them.

This is a classic road movie and you’re never in doubt about the intense love between Clarence and Alabama and the extremes they go to to protect each other.  As you might expect with Tarantino as co-writer, it is blood-soakingly violent, with sharp, sometimes hilarious dialogue and scene stealing cameos. I think it’s a beautiful film, thanks  to the direction of Tony Scott.  An ear-worm of a theme tune too, by Hans Zimmer.

My Experience Volunteering with Sunderland Shorts

With preparations for the third Sunderland Shorts Film Festival now underway, it’s clear that the event has proved to be a great success and an important addition to the cultural scene in Sunderland as the city bids to be UK City of Culture 2021.

My own involvement with the event began when I responded to an advert requesting volunteers to help out at the inaugural festival in July 2015 – being new to the area and myself a filmmaker, I jumped at the opportunity to get involved and meet like-minded people who shared my interest in film and culture. The prospect of an international short film festival being held in the city was also an exciting one.

Arriving at Sunderland Minster for the launch event, I was greeted by a friendly festival team who immediately made me feel welcome, and I was extremely impressed by the quality of films being screened, ranging from light-hearted comedies and animations suitable for children to dramas and films with much darker adult themes.

My experience at the first festival was such a positive one that I put myself forward as a volunteer reviewer, which involves watching and reviewing a selection of the films submitted by filmmakers from all over the world for inclusion in the festival. The diversity of genres and subject matter, reflected in the final programming for both the 2015 and 2016 festivals, ensured that this was an entertaining and stimulating experience, and seeing films that I had reviewed being screened at the 2016 festival was very satisfying.

13592198_1723657987906115_4798011597117694563_nVolunteering with Sunderland Shorts has been hugely rewarding, which is why I returned this year and continue to volunteer as a reviewer. The link with DC Shorts Film Festival in America, as well as the visiting filmmakers from all over the world and the inclusion of foreign language films, all add an exciting international element to the festival, resulting in a rich and engaging experience.

I’m convinced that the festival will continue to gain momentum and has a bright future ahead of it, becoming a key event in the city’s cultural calendar, and I would encourage anyone with an interest in film and arts to consider volunteering as a reviewer or to help out at some of the events. With work on Sunderland’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 now in progress, this is a particularly exciting time to get involved with Sunderland Shorts and a great way of supporting culture in the city.

- Sarah Winslett

Become a Reviewer

With Sunderland Shorts: Film Festival entering its 3rd year, we’re looking forward to seeing our Film Freeway site filling up with new and exciting short films, all hoping to be screened at next year’s festival. Regular submissions have now opened and we’re expecting hundreds of films to be submitted to us over the next couple of months from all around the world and covering every genre imaginable. We’ve seen it all here!

But how do we whittle those films down to the final 50 or so that will be screened in the festival itself? Of course we have our programming team who are responsible for putting together the screenings and making sure the flow of them is just right, and they have the final word on all the films that we screen. These guys are not alone though! We are very lucky to have, what can only be described as, a small army of volunteer reviewers as part of our team.  

c0082-mp4-07_53_01_49-still002Reviewers are assigned several films at a time to watch, casting a critical eye over every film that is submitted to us. With the help of a trusty reviewer’s guide and support from the core team, each film is watched by at least three of our reviewers and marked on various criteria such as the storyline, production quality and overall rating. This stage is also the opportunity for reviewers to make any constructive comments about the film. It is not possible for us to screen every film that is submitted to the festival, but we are dedicated to giving valuable feedback to filmmakers who don’t quite make the cut. You won’t find things like ‘OMG best film EVER!!!’ as part of these comments or ‘This was rubbish’, but you will find comments based on plots, characters and overall quality.

So it’s pretty easy really. You don’t need to have any qualification other than an interest in film and let’s face it, who doesn’t enjoy a Friday night in with some popcorn and a good thriller/comedy/drama… ?

c0077-mp4-07_51_58_02-still001Is it a big commitment? No. Well. Not really. We appreciate all the help we get when it comes to reviewing the submissions as sometimes we find ourselves swimming in a sea of shorts, but we understand that not everyone will have the time to watch 50 short films that are anything between 3-20 minutes long! All we ask is that you do what you can and let us know how you’re getting on. We know some of our reviewers almost binge watch their allocation, whereas others prefer to fit one in on their lunch breaks over the course of a week or two. It’s totally up to you! We want our festival to be catered to our audience, so it’s important we have a wide range of people volunteering to be reviewers. We’ve got people of all shapes and sizes as part of the team!

Once all the ratings are in, we pick the films with the highest marks to go into the festival competition. That’s when the responsibility is handed back over to our programming team.

So if you fancy yourself as a bit of a film buff and can spare some of your time to help Sunderland Shorts: Film Festival 2017 be the best one yet, then why not sign up to become a reviewer today!

Email the team at volunteers@sunderlandshorts.co.uk or visit the website for more details www.sunderlandshorts.co.uk

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What’s  a Short Film? 

In the early days of capturing and projecting moving images, ‘short’ was the norm. Everyday activities depicted on screen for just a few seconds, or a few minutes, captivated or terrified Victorian audiences in equal measure.  The most famous of these is L’arrivée d’un train en gare de la Ciotat (Arrival of a Train) by the Lumière Brothers (1895).

As technologies improved throughout the 20th century, full length feature films took precedence in commercial cinemas but the short film remained a useful tool as newsreels and in disseminating government information, particularly in wartime.

By the 1980s, shorts had just about disappeared from High St cinemas, although their popularity as an art form remained strong with visual artists who weren’t constrained by production values and deadlines and brought a sense of freedom to the medium.  The Oberhausen Short Film Festival, now in its 63rd year has been celebrating and supporting innovation in short film since 1954.

Today, thanks to the arrival in the 1990s of lightweight, portable, recording equipment and ever advancing digital technology, along with the arrival of the internet, the making of short film is enjoying a renaissance.  Short films are no longer the poor relation to the full length feature film in the world of cinematic story telling but are being celebrated in film festivals, TV (Channel 4’s 4Shorts), media (VirginMedia Shorts competition) and of course online via YouTube, Vimeo etc.

In the world of film festivals there seems to be a general consensus about how short a short film can be. Most film festivals agree that a short film needs to be at least 1 minute long – otherwise, blink and you’ll miss it.  There isn’t, though, any official definition of how long a short film can be.

At the Sundance Film Festival any film shorter than 50 minutes qualifies as short film, while at the Academy Awards, any film of 40 minutes or under is eligible for the shorts categories. Here at Sunderland Shorts we ask for films which run for no longer than 20 minutes including all credits.

A short film can be a great way for both script writers and directors to show their skills. Whether a drama or a documentary, an animation or a comedy, an art or a sci-fi film, a short has to grab the audience’s attention straight away and tell its story concisely and beautifully to carry the viewer on the journey.

Programming Sunderland Shorts

As a huge film enthusiast, amateur filmmaker and Sunderland native, I was delighted to be given the opportunity to attend and volunteer at the very first Sunderland Shorts Film Festival in 2015. It was a thoroughly entertaining weekend full of emotional and exciting short films. I was even more delighted when an opportunity arose for me to be part of the team for the 2016 festival, which I eagerly jumped at.

My main responsibility has been leading on the programming for this years festival. The festival’s team of excellent volunteer reviewers watched each of the 240 films that were submitted from all around the world, and together we whittled them down to the best 50.

Due to the high calibre of films it was very difficult (and time consuming) process deciding which ones should stay and which ones should go. But we’ve done it and are very pleased with the final selection. We can’t wait for people to see them!

I thought long and hard about how I was going to programme the festival. Fundamentally at the base of great programming is all about communication and flow. Even though we’re screening 50 films about 50 different stories, it’s about taking the audience on one journey. Creating a flow of emotions that feel natural and is easy to watch.

Sunderland Shorts Film Festival 2016 will be a four-day festival showcasing 50 short films (under 20 minutes) by filmmakers from all over the world, in venues across Sunderland.

There will be a total of 10 screenings with an average run time of around 80 minutes each. The festival will open on Thursday, June 30, and screenings will be taking place at various times through Friday, July 1; Saturday, July 2; and Sunday, July 3. Throughout these dates there will also be family-friendly screenings to ensure everyone can experience the entertainment of short film. As well as a horror/sci-fi only screening for the people who don’t mind the more scary and intense films!

In every screening there is broad mix of themes, genres and tones so that there will (hopefully) be something for everyone in the audience to tap into. There will be highs and lows, laughter and sadness, reflection and relaxation over the course of every 80 minutes. I am very excited to watch the audience react to this year’s films, and can’t wait to talk with people afterwards about their thoughts.

Kristian Foreman

Introducing Sunderland Shorts Festival Sponsor: See it Do it Sunderland

seeit-doit-cmykIf you’ve made it this far you’re probably a bit of a film buff. So there’s a pretty good chance you’ll understand exactly what the Sunderland Shorts Film Festival is all about. But why a film festival in Sunderland; what’s the city all about… and what else is there to do here?  See it Do it Sunderland talk about some of Sunderland’s treats on offer to our visiting film buffs and filmmakers.

If Sunderland was a film, it’d be one of those tricky works that you couldn’t place into one genre. Where the story line grips you and reels you in, is never as you expected it, but leaves you with a feel good factor that is hard to put your finger on.

Sunderland is a city by the sea with miles of golden sands and all the traditional fun of the seaside. But it’s also on a major river, the Wear. It’s got a busy and vibrant city centre. But it’s also within minutes of rolling countryside. It’s home to new and exciting creative industries. But it’s got a phenomenal heritage ranging from early Christianity to heavy engineering.

The city’s twin resorts of Roker and Seaburn have been a favourite spot to relax and unwind, or let off steam, for generations. If you’re coming with the family then it’s a sandcastle builder’s paradise. Either way you’ll have no bother finding refreshment to suit regardless of whether ice cream or a full meal take your fancy.

Just a short stroll through the marina and onto the riverside brings you to the National Glass Centre  Sunderland has been big in glass since the 7th Century when Bede brought glass making to the Britain… and modern Christianity for that matter. As well as taking in cutting edge glass and ceramic arts, there are opportunities to get hands on in glass making demonstrations.  Right next door lies St Peter’s Church , which incorporates parts of the original 7th Century monastery created by the aforementioned Bede and Benedict Biscop. For fact fans, it’s right here where the date of Easter was set.

Even in the middle of Seaburn’s sandy beach, you’re only minutes away from the city centre where Sunderland Shorts is hosted.  Obviously you can expect a good choice of pubs, bars, restaurants and shops. On top of that there’s the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art to investigate. If you want a sneak preview of the next big thing in contemporary art then this is the place to be. Names like Sam Taylor-Wood and Adam Chodzko shot to prominence after early exhibitions here.

If history is more your thing, Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens  is just around the corner. You can meet local icon Wallace the Lion, see the first Nissan car built in Sunderland or study works by LS Lowry and others. The glass rotunda of the Winter Gardens is home to over 2,000 species that can be appreciated from the ground or an elevated walkway too.

Another of Sunderland’s cultural gems is Sunderland Empire Theatre . It’s the biggest theatre in the North East and the only one capable of hosting the biggest ‘West End’ style shows like Billy Elliott, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, or The Sound of Music. Beautifully decorated in true theatre style, it’s a favoured venue for all manner of big name performers.

Or, if you’ve got time to travel slightly further afield, Penshaw Monument  is a must. Modelled on the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens, it was built as a memorial to the Earl of Durham, John George Lambton. In summer months the National Trust offer the chance to climb to the very top where the views across almost the whole of the North East are simply phenomenal.

That’s far from an exhaustive list of course; we haven’t even mentioned Washington Old Hall , the ancestral home of George Washington, of United States presidential fame, for example  If you’re not already convinced, we hope that the warm welcome you’ll get when you visit Sunderland Shorts will change your mind.

Sunderland Shorts FREE Taster Sessions

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If you didn’t make the festival last year, here’s a way to find out what you missed.

Are you wondering ‘just how short is a short?’  Then come along to one of our FREE Taster Sessions and see what all the fuss is about.

We want to spread the word about Sunderland Short Film Festival throughout the city and  the region and get more people coming along in July to watch our new selection of brilliant short films. Over the coming weeks we’ll be appearing at a community space near you with a selection of some of our best films from last year’s event.

We’ll even stand you a cuppa and a cake and if you do well in our quiz – Famous Lines from the Movies – you’ll win tickets to a festival screening.

Evening screenings are suitable for 16yrs+.  Each screening lasts about 1 hour and will feature a mixture of drama, comedy, animation, sci-fi and documentary.

‘Family Friendly’ screenings are about 30 minutes long and the films are specifically selected for  young people under 16yrs.

Where better to start than at Pop Recs Ltd?  Join us next Friday 18th March at 7.00 pm for some chat, films and a bit of a laugh

Oh and by the way …..it’s FREE !!!

Here’s the schedule to date, but there’s more to come:

18th March  7.00 – 9.00pm  Pop Recs Ltd , 27 Stockton Road, Sunderland  Over 16s

29th March  3.30 – 4.30 pm Back on the Map, Villette Road Hendon, Family Friendly

5th April       6.00 – 8.00 pm Back on the Map  Villette Road, Hendon, Over 16s

6th April       2.00 – 4.00 pm City Library, Fawcett Street, Sunderland   Family Friendly

7th April       5.00 – 7.00 pm City Library, Fawcett Street, Sunderland   Over 16s

5th May       7.00 – 9.00 pm Canny Space, Holy Trinity Church, Hendon,

1st June      3.45 – 4.45 pm Pallion Action Group, Eastmoor Road, Sland, Family Friendly 

Submissions have closed and it’s looking fab!

Lots of amazing films are in the bag and the 2nd edition of Sunderland Shorts is well on the way.

Our small army of volunteer reviewers is being nothing short of heroic, working diligently through the very high calibre submissions to sift out the very best films for you lovely people.

Once again, we have received films in a really wide variety of genres from all around the world, from 28 countries in fact , including South Korea, China and Nepal! Equal top though were the U.K. and the U.S.A and it’s fantastic that several of last year’s filmmakers have returned to the festival with brand new projects. Several filmmakers are keen to travel to join in the festival and do audience Q and As or workshops while they’re here.

There has also been a great response this year from regional filmmakers who have submitted work ranging from brilliant to thought provoking.

We’ll be announcing the full details in early May when we will have the final selection but we can promise we’ll be bringing you some really impressive work with the odd famous face or two to spot!

There’s so much more to tell in the weeks ahead so stay with us !!!

Introducing Jon Gann…

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With Sunderland Shorts Film Festival only a matter of weeks away, we’re fast approaching our big countdown!! Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun…

So, having already introduced you to the faces behind our Sunderland-based festival team, we thought it was about time that took you on a trip over to Washington DC to introduce you to the inspiration behind our inaugural festival – Jon Gann.

Jon is a highly acclaimed DC-based filmmaker and the Programming Director of the prestigious DC Shorts Film Festival. His long standing relationship with Sunderland stems from the city’s 2006 Friendship Agreement with Washington DC – which was formed with the aim of fostering and developing economic, educational and cultural relationships between the two cities.

The unique relationship has paved the way for a number of creative collaborations that have taken place since 2008, Sunderland Shorts being one of them.

Having forged strong connections with Sunderland Council representatives, Jon had always been keen to bring new cultural activities to the city, particularly a film festival that would provide an international stage for film makers from around the region and beyond.

And, with a wealth of experience in running his own internationally renowned Film Festival, he was perfectly placed to help us with Sunderland Shorts. Well, we certainly think so!

“I am really looking forward to bringing the film festival to Sunderland. Your City Council has a great focus on the arts and I think that this is really important. I have also always wanted to start a film festival somewhere outside of DC and this was the perfect opportunity to do so.

“ Sunderland is a city that looks like it wants to have more arts. It also has very little going on with film right now, so if I can help create something that grows into something large and important for the region, then that’s a fabulous thing for me to do.” Jon Gann

From the offset, Jon has been integral to the development and planning of Sunderland Shorts, guiding us through the process of setting up a festival for the very first time and offering his expert advice whenever it’s needed (via Skype of course!)

We look forward to welcoming Jon back to Sunderland in July when he’ll be helping us to make sure the festival is a success (and no doubt entertaining us in the process).