Volume 11, Issue 3 / March 2007

Special Focus on Short Films

In this issue

Short films were once the staple of the theatrical experience, as they formed an integral part of the line-up before the feature film during the Hollywood studio period. Once the studio system waned and television appeared the short film was relegated to specialty screenings, educational contexts and/or as official calling cards for young directors. The latter function was largely a result of the appearance of film programs in university in the late 1960s, where the short film in super 8mm and then 16mm was the standard for school projects. The landscape for the short film has changed for the better in the last ten years, largely as a result of the increased importance (and quantity) of film festivals (many which focus on the short film), the appearance of cable and satellite television (with channels dedicated to the short film), the explosion of the DVD format (which usually feature short documentaries and films along with the main film), emerging digital technologies (for example, there are already film festivals dedicated to cell phone short films) and, most importantly, the growing cultural importance of the internet. As I wrote in a recent essay, the short film is the standard on the internet. Offscreen celebrates the short film with this special issue which exemplifies the broad range of what the short film can offer (animation, experimental, political, auteur, genre). The first essay looks at the excellent three DVDs put out by Cinema 16, which cover British, American and European cinemas. David Durnell follows with a study of an overlooked part of David Lynch’s oeuvre: his animated series, Dumbland. Up next is an in-depth coverage of another excellent recent short film DVD collection, the Fantasia Film Festival’s “Short Gauge Trauma.” The issue concludes with Zoë Constantinides’ overview of Richard Kerr’s collage-based installation/film work, Industrie/Industry and Peter Rist’s historical and stylistic analysis of the radical political/experimental works of Cuban documentary filmmaker Santiago Alvarez.

This issue marks an exciting new design for Offscreen –the cause for the slight publication delay– with a much improved visual presentation and a complete overhaul of the search and navigation tools to better facilitate accessibility to our vast archive of material. Offscreen once again thanks Pierre-Alexandre Despatis for his technical and design work. (Donato Totaro, ed.)

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