Updated (June 3rd, 2018): The following interview originally appeared in May 2018 prior to the BJISFF screening at Camera Stylo in Beijing. We’ve updated the information at the bottom of article ahead of their encore event at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Arts (UCCA) on Sunday, June 10th, 2018. Ticket and screening details down below.
The countdown is on for indie film fans as the latest edition of the Beijing Indie Short Film Festival prepares to take over
Camera Stylo the Ullens Center for Contemporary Arts (UCCA) for what looks to be another sold out event. Now in its third year, BJISFF 2018 will showcase more than a dozen projects and is already promising to be one of the festival’s most-anticipated screenings to date.
Looking back on the origins of the event, festival organizer ProfessaJ explains it all started as a way to get the films he and his friends were working on out to a larger audience.
“I’m a cinematographer and an editor, so I’m on quite a few film and video projects,” he says. “But, I found it frustrating that there weren’t any places to show the films we were making, so I started putting together small screenings.”
Since then, ProfessaJ explains the support the event has received from the community has not only kept it going, but has also allowed BJISFF to develop its own unique identity.
“The festival continues to stand out because it focuses on the films and the filmmakers. Our niche is showing films made by people in China,” he states. “It’s particularly good for the community because it gives film fans and filmmakers a chance to meet, get inspired, and collaborate.”
In addition to the focus on local filmmakers and the community, ProfessaJ explains that the 2018 edition of the event will also include a number of exciting surprises.
“This one has a whole new batch of films!” he says. “And, this is also the first time we are doing a VR segment.”
Although the details about this year’s festival have only recently been announced, preparations for the event have been on-going for the last twelve months and have included more than their fair share of obstacles.
“There are many challenges. For me, it’s not having financial sponsors or grants to pay for things to improve the event,” ProfessaJ states. “It also took me over year to get the festival onto FilmFreeway.”
And, while leveraging the popular submission platform did help, ProfessaJ says the unique conditions of being in China meant needing to explore other channels to attract the right interest.
“FilmFreeway did help us bring in some really interesting films,” he admits. “But, since the festival has a focus on short films made in China or by filmmakers connected to China, I still had to use other avenues to find films to fit our niche.”
For ProfessaJ, putting together an event like this also means being tasked with the challenge of ensuring the festival maintains a high standard of quality amongst the films being screened.
“Another big thing is inspiring people to make quality short films,” he explains. “Keep it short, keep it interesting.”
Moreover, his role as a festival organizer has also put him in a unique position to offer filmmakers a few pointers on getting your work selected for BJISFF or other similar events.
“Twenty minutes is way too long,” ProfessaJ says. “An ideal time is under ten minutes. If you’re not sure what to cut, ask a friend to show you where the film drags.”
With less than two weeks to go until the big event, ProfessaJ says he is already looking forward to watching some great shorts together with an audience and reminds us that the films themselves are at the heart of what the event is all about.
“At the end of the day, our mission is to give indie short films an inspired audience,” he says. “And, I hope we can find a way to help support Beijing- and other China-based filmmakers make good short films.”
Ultimately, whether you’re a creative, a filmmaker, or just a cinephile, this is one event you probably won’t want to miss.
“Expect to feel inspired to create films,” ProfessaJ says. “You’ll likely meet filmmakers there who want to collaborate with you. Please, come and enjoy yourself.”
Updated (June 3rd, 2018): The Beijing Indie Short Film Festival will host an encore screening of films on Sunday, June 10th, 2018 at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Arts (UCCA) in Beijing. Scan/extract the QR from the poster below to access UCCA’s public WeChat account and purchase tickets.
Follow ProfessaJ on Instagram @professaJproductions or check out his website here.