Why are short films important to the festival?
The popularity of them has grown. When I started 11 years ago, we probably showed maybe 50 shorts. Last year we had 160. They don’t get released in theaters, and every once in a while you can catch some on IFC or the Sundance channel, but festivals are the place to see short films.
Explain how Cleveland has a stake in choosing Oscar winners.
For every Oscar cycle, there’s a huge list of requirements to become a qualifier. One is for a short film to win an award at a qualifying festival. Last year there were 25 U.S. festivals that qualified for awards, with an additional 35 international festivals. If a short film wins one of these awards and is eligible in other factors determined by the Academy, they are put on a list. The Academy voters watch the films on that list and pick the nominees.
We’re really looking forward to how it affects next year in the submission process. I know there are a lot of filmmakers that only submit to nominating festivals, so I think we’re going to have a big bump in submissions. We’ll have more to choose from.