2023 Festival Poster Reveal!

As the festival draws ever closer, we’re proud to reveal the official poster for the 2023 edition. This year, we’re placing the focus firmly on the filmmaker, as we’re getting ready to showcase the work of some of the most talented, emerging student filmmakers from across the globe.

As in previous years, the Liverpool skyline features predominantly, punctuated by a striking image of a supermoon, captured by Dr Keith Marley. The poster is the creation of the incredibly talented interdisciplinary artist and former MA Student, Alejandra Cardona-Mayorga, who, along with current MA Student Phillip Cole, was also gracious enough to pose for the poster. We’d love to hear your thoughts about this year’s design, so why not leave us a comment?

More of Alejandra’s work can be found at her website – https://alejart.myportfolio.com

New Festival Coordinator

Photo by Georgia Flynn

We’re pleased to announce that Martin L. Jones has been appointed as the new Film Festival Coordinator and Tutor for the LJMU MA Short Film Festival. As a filmmaker and academic, Martin is keen to utilise his current experience to help guide the festival through its third edition and beyond.

Martin, Lydia, and the MA students are all hard at work behind the scenes as the as the 2023 edition of the festival draws nearer. Keep an eye out on our social media, as we’ll soon be releasing some exciting information about this year’s Festival poster!

Submissions for the 2023 LJMU MA Film Festival are now closed.

After receiving over 1400 entries from almost 100 countries, our students are now hard at work deliberating and cogitating. Keep an eye on social media for further announcements, and we look forward to seeing you in March for the 3rd edition of the LJMU MA Film Festival!

Now Taking Submissions For The 2023 LJMU MA Short Film Festival!

Last year, we received a staggering number of submissions that showcased the filmmaking talents of students from almost 100 countries! Not that we’re greedy, but this year, we want to see even more of your work – as such, we’re excited to announce that submissions are now being accepted for the 2023 edition of the LJMU MA Short Film Festival.

Submissions are open to students and alumni from ANY institution of higher learning and/or film school, provided the film submitted was made as part of their student work, was completed after January 2020, and is a maximum of 20 minutes in length.

We’re really excited to see what you’ve been working on! Click on the link above to submit your film or head over to https://filmfreeway.com/ljmumashortfilmfestival – happy submitting!

Festival Closed: Audience Award Goes To…

It’s been an amazing week at the 2nd LJMU MA Film Festival that saw over 16,000 visits to our website to watch all our amazing films, participate in our live Q&A sessions, and attend our award ceremony.

We can’t thank you all enough for making the festival so successful and we can not emphasise enough what it means to the filmmakers to have their work viewed by audiences from quite literally around the world – those 16k views came from 45 different countries!

Graphic courtesy of WordPress

And of course those visitors were also voting for their favourite film! We used a website called crowdsignal to help us track the votes and this allowed us to do something very important in the interests of fairness – we could compare number of votes to number of individual voters through IP address.

As we stated on the website, films should only have been voted for once. We know how exciting it is and how much people want to support these filmmakers but we’ve taken the decision to count only one vote per voter. So with that in mind, the winner is…

13 Hertz! With an astounding 300 individual votes, 13 Hertz is the clear audience favourite and it’s no surprise. A visually stunning and emotive piece, told almost entirely through imagery, 13 Hertz uses mise-en-scène and editing with sophisticated intensity.

Thank you again to our filmmakers and audience and a special thank you from Jacqui & Lydia to the MA Film students for doing such a fabulous job! Looking forward to seeing you next year!

Did you enjoy the festival? Tell us in the comments!

Award Winners Announced!

Today we held a live awards ceremony on zoom/YouTube with our jury members and filmmakers to announce the winners in our Paper Bird Categories for Animation, Documentary, and Fiction!

(Don’t worry if you missed it, you can always catch the ceremony again on our YouTube channel)

We’re very proud to announce that the following films have been given Paper Bird Awards and even more proud to mention that the categories were all very tight and the jurors made a specific note of what a great selection of films from across the globe we had!

The awards themselves have been 3D printed for us by the ever-talented Ivan Mack, who also helped refine our design for the awards! His expertise really helped take the design from “impossible” to the reality we have now!

Paper Bird Award for Best Fiction

2022 Paper Bird Award in Best Fiction goes to Well, You Are A Fool Lisa by Oleksandra Konoplia. From the jury:

Oleksandra Konoplia’s Well, You Are A Fool Lisa is the wonderfully witty and whip-smart winner of the Paper Bird Fiction Film Award. An unapologetic expression of the often unrealistic expectations and disappointing realities of early sexual experiences, the kitsch mise-en-scene and bold composition ironically reference archetypal rom-coms of the 1980’s & 1990’s. The film’s fantastical daydream sequences speak to a naive romantic outlook, undercut by Lisa’s alienation, and through tightly cut, energetic performances, Konoplia creates a distinctive aesthetic which encourages discussion around these complex issues. An outstanding student film.”

Honourable mention in this category was also given to Traffic Lights Islom Rustam o’g’li Riskulov.

“The Jury would like to offer a special mention to Traffic lights by Islom Rustam o’g’li Riskulov, as we were struck by the powerful integrity and social conscience at the very core of this work. The nuanced ways in which the film offers us a portal into the lives of young people on the margins of society in Uzbekistan was both deeply moving, and sketched with exquisite care and compassion.”

Best Animated Film

2022 Paper Bird Award in Best Animation goes to The Pattern by Peter Bogyo!

The Pattern, for its distinctive and clever design, its original and polished generation of three different worlds, each built in a unique style that nevertheless chimes with a consistent whole: this is an entertaining film whose surreal, complex story is laced with subtle humour and enhanced by an atmospheric soundtrack.”

Our animation jury awarded not one but two honourable mentions!

Reduction by Réka Anna Szakály, for its truly beautiful design of a post-apocalyptic world, in which a friendship between two characters through unspoken emotions and gestures; this is a provocative and mysterious film that thrives in its own ambiguities.”

Subway by Robert Kuźniewski, for its delicate and finely crafted use of light and colour, its excellent expansion of clay animation’s possibilities, the detail of its characters and the humour and tension with which it paints a bitter social metaphor.”

Best Documentary

Last but definitely not least, the 2022 Paper Bird Award in Best Documentary has gone to Milo by Nadia Szymańska!

“With confident cinematography, a satisfying direct cinema sensibility, and a mature humanistic approach, director Nadia Szymańska offers audiences an honest depiction of single motherhood and a celebration of the quotidian in her arresting debut Milo. Carefully toeing the line between the perspectives of mother and child, Szymańska never takes sides, rather expressing immense empathy for both experiences, and is comfortable presenting difficult material without resorting to didacticism. It’s a film that allows us to re-experience adolescent wonder while recontextualizing that feeling by showcasing the labor that allows it to flourish. The jury greatly looks forward to the next work from Szymańska.”

They have also awarded honourable mention to Behind the Jugular by Zoë Armit!

Audience Award

Don’t forget, there is still time to vote for your favourite film to win our audience award! This will close at 2pm British Summer Time on Friday 8th April.

Thank you to all the filmmakers and jury members! What do you think of our winners? Tell us in the comments!

2022 Festival Now Open!

You’ve been waiting patiently and it’s finally here! The 2022 LJMU MA Short Film Festival is now open! Use the links below to view the 39 stunning student films we’ve selected for you from across the globe:

And don’t forget! We’ll be holding live Q&A’s with some of the filmmakers. First up is our Documentary Q&A on Saturday April 2nd at 4pm. We’ll be broadcasting right to YouTube at the link below, so don’t forget to subscribe!

We then have the Animation Q&A on Monday April 4th at 4pm, followed by the Fiction Q&A on Tuesday April 5th at 4pm. Subscribe to our youtube channel so you don’t miss us going live.

And don’t forget to participate in our Audience Award! Look for the following symbol on each film’s individual page:

Simply click this to register your vote for this film. You can only vote once per film but feel free to vote on as many films as you want!

Have you had a chance to watch some of the films? Tell us what you think in the comments!

Back on the BBC & Festival Opens Tomorrow

We are honoured to have been featured once again on BBC Merseyside this time with the fabulous Ngunan Adamu. Check out the amazing interview with students Beth and Josh, about 1 hour 19 minutes in to the recording here.

Additionally, the festival officially opens TOMORROW so be sure to check out the entire film programme and see all the amazing short films our MA students have selected for you this year.

You can find the films here: Fiction, Documentary, Animation all films will be live from 10am tomorrow.

What are you most looking forward to? Tell us in the comments!

Message from Ukraine

We reached out to all our filmmakers asking if they could provide a short introduction to their films. When we received this video from Aleksandra Konoplia, director of Well, You Are a Fool Lisa, we felt that it was too important to simply be used as promotional material.

Please, watch this video and share it with your friends, family, and on social media. Leave any comments or responses for Aleksandra below and we will pass them along to her.

For more info, go to our website here

Announcing: 2022 Jury Line-Up!

We are incredibly honoured to announce the fabulous line-up of jurors for this year’s LJMU MA Short Film Festival. There are three jurors per strand for a total of nine talented contributors choosing the winners in the categories of Best Fiction, Best Animation, and Best Documentary.

Not only are there three strands, and three jurors per strand, we’ve drawn from three specific places to choose our jury: industry professionals, undergraduate students at LJMU, and the previous winners from last year’s LJMU MA Short Film Festival.

In the fiction strand we’ve invited Lydia Beilby, programmer for the Black Box strand of the Edinburgh International Film Festival, Karol Ulman whose film End of the World won the Paper Bird Award for Best Fiction, and Aiden Walsh a third year film studies student at LJMU with a passion for directing and film criticism.

For documentary, we’ve asked Arlin Golden of the Video Project to join us alongside filmmaker Gordon Moore whose film Rain Pot won the Paper Bird Award for Best Documentary, and Faye Moffitt also a third year film studies student at LJMU with a keen interest in Classical Hollywood cinema.

Last but not least, in the animation strand we welcome critic and curator Michael Pattison who is a Director of Alchemy Film & Arts, Katarzyna Orłowska whose film Blue Monday won the Paper Bird Award for Best Animation, and Toby Winter another third year film studies student at LJMU with an interest in animation.

The groups of jurors will get to preview the films and then deliberate, ultimately choosing just ONE film to put forward as this year’s winner. The winner will receive the Paper Bird Award (currently being made!) and of course, the recognition from the jury and programmers.

The juries certainly have their work cut out for them as competition will be stiff this year – the 39 films selected represent the very best out of over 1400 submissions. We can’t wait to see what they think!

Find out more about our jury and award here and tell us what you think in the comments!

Meet the Programmers!

We’ve made no secret of the fact that the LJMU MA Short Film Festival is programmed, promoted, and run by students as part of their MA course at Liverpool John Moores University. But who are these mysterious students? Now is the time to find out, as we tell you a bit more about some of them and their journey on the module.

This has been one of the most exciting educational modules I’ve taken throughout my academic career.

Elysia Smith, ljmu ma student

The students begin the module with a hefty list of films to watch and select. Thus begins the curatorial process. It also allows the students a unique insight into the industry they’re studying. Freya Yeldman, an MA Film Student says, ‘I’m loving the opportunity to select and programme films. Not only has it given me the chance to see some breathtaking work, but I’ve been able to see how that work can progress through the festival system. In the long term, I’m really excited to see what becomes of these filmmakers as their work has rekindled my hopes for a bright future for the film industry.’

Students were broken into strand-specific groups after the initial selection process and then worked together to discuss and narrow down their given programs (Fiction, Animation, or Documentary). It’s an intense and thrilling time, as the festival begins this process in late January and then only has a few short months to curate the films, notify filmmakers and receive and collate materials, and begin promotion before the festival takes place on the 1st of April.

As MA Film Student Elysia Smith remarks: ‘This has been one of the most exciting educational modules I’ve taken throughout my academic career. Not only am I learning something entirely unique, I am also able to use my own learning to provide a platform for other creative students and help student filmmakers broadcast their work.’

Submission for the Festival opened back in December, when the festival’s page on FilmFreeway was once again launched inviting student filmmakers from all across the world to submit their shorts. Surpassing the previous year in terms of student film submissions, we received a total of 1495 films which were then divided up for each student to watch about 80 each to narrow it down to the final highest quality, innovative, exceptional films.

It has been an opportunity to expand my film studies and understand the collaborative nature of such a distinct part of the industry.

alejandra cardona mayorga, ljmu ma student

With the programme of 40 films across the 3 individual strands finalised, the students embarked on the promotional work in different groups. Poster design, finalised by student Alejandra Cardona Mayorga, was the first port of all call. Alejandra had this to say on taking part in the festival organisation: ‘’The experience of being involved in the thinking, creation, and curation of a real film festival has been a delightful adventure. It has been an opportunity to expand my film studies and understand thecollaborative nature of such a distinct part of the industry. The co-creational practice can be very rewarding.’

Meanwhile, the other students have had more than enough tasks to keep them busy. Elysia Smith, Sarah Holdaway and Kieran Izquierdo focused on distribution of posters. Ellie Halfpenny, and Kelsey Hoskins created content for Instagram, Freya Yeldham, Natalie Ashcroft and Thomas Owens for Twitter, Ayse Ayfer, Aron Griffith, and Adam Maggs for Facebook, Cait Milner, Katy Ehlen, Jorge Atherton, and Elysia Smith for TikTok, while Laura Brooks catered for LinkedIn – all boosting our digital marketing. Beth Bennett, Josh Hinnett and Luke Beck are communication with local and national press and shared their press release (much of which has made it into this very blog).

A range of trailers for the festival as a whole and for for each strand, are being created by Luke Beck, Carl Henderson, Alejandra Cardona Mayorga, Josh Hinett, Thomas Aitken, Adam Maggs and Cait Milner – all consistent with the film festival branding, to tease the films being premiered. These trailers will be released over the next two weeks.

Despite all this hard work, the students seem to be really enjoying themselves! Kieran Izquierdo says: ‘The whole project has forced me to re-evaluate what I’m capable off and pushed me out of my comfort zone to achieve great work as a collective unit.’

Adds Sarah Holdaway: ‘This experience has been extremely rewarding, the process has allowed [us] to learn various aspects of curating a film festival. From programming to PR, I can now say that I have an in-depth understanding on the inner workings of film festivals.’

And from Josh Hinett: ‘I’ve really enjoyed exploring aspects of the film industry that I never thought I’d be able to study at university, especially learning how the organisation/promotion of films and events are handled and then actually being able to do it myself. What’s made the experience better is that I loved working with the films that were submitted and have been captivated by ones that made it onto the programme. Some of the animated shorts features styles I would’ve never thought could be so emotive. Also, the documentary and fiction films put subject areas to film that I had no idea existed before I had watched them.’

This week the students continue their hard work – make sure you follow their efforts on our Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Do you have questions for our students? Ask them in the comments!

LJMU MA SFF In The News!

We are extremely honoured to be featured in this week’s issue of Mersey News Live, a publication by student journalists at Liverpool John Moores University. The article, by reporter Oli Johnson, overviews the creation of the festival, how its run, and highlights what there is to look forward to from the festival this year.

Head over to MNL now to read it: Read it now

What do you think of the write up? Is there anything about the festival you’re dying to know? Tell us in the comments!

Industry Pros Give Insight to the Students

One of the great parts of this module for our MA Film students is that we invite members of the industry with particular areas of expertise to take part in the festival not only as jury members but to also deliver a short lecture to the students. This gives the students the exciting opportunity to learn from ecperts in a given field, ask them questions, and learn about film festivals from new perspectives.

This year we invited Lydia Beilby of Edinburgh International Film Festival, Michael Pattison of Alchemy Film & Arts, and Arlin Golden of The Video Project to join our jury and additionally asked them to speak to the students. Thanks to the newfound ease of Zoom, this was relatively simple to arrange despite significant time differences and distances!

First up we spoke with Lydia Beilby about the incredible artform of curation and how this affects the students’ work on the module. An experienced programmer for EIFF, and in particular their Black Box strand, Lydia was able to talk about the difficult challenge of separating personal taste from film curation, keeping your audience in mind, and developing themes over the course of a film bloc.

A zoom screen capture from Lydia Beilby’s lecture, where she showed the class two incredible short films by experimental filmmakers using analogue film

Next up, Michael Pattison joined the class to discuss the variable ups and downs of hosting an online film festival. The pandemic caused film festivals, formerally almost exclusively in person, to radically shift their offering. It has a lot of positives, not least of which widening audiences and accessibility. However, it comes with its downsides, in particular the added cost and administration required to run hybrid or online events.

The class had the opportunity to ask questions and engage in discussion with the three guest lecturers

Last but not least, we heard from Arlin about how distribution works, the current state of distribution in the film industry, and how festivals play a part. Arlin was able to speak from a specialist perspective – The Video Project focuses excusively on documentary and does a lot of business through educational license agreements on platforms like Kanopy. This was perfect as many of our students have a keen interest in the genre and Kanopy is available to LJMU students through the library!

Arlin discusses exactly what it is that distributors do

And now we’re extremely honoured to have all three guest lecturers return as part of this year’s jury to detemine the Paper Bird Awards in Fiction (Lydia), Documentary (Arlin), and Animation (Michael). Make sure to attend the award ceremony – you might even have the chance to talk to one of them yourself!

Loving the New Poster for 2022!

As we mentioned in a previous post, we are over the moon with the design for this year’s official festival poster! This was put together by MA student Alejandra C, who also put together the banner and instagram image that went up last week. Like with the banner, Alejandra worked with fellow MA Film student Natalie A. to come up with the overall concept and then created the poster itself in Adobe Illustrator.

This poster was a combination of Alejandra’s and Natalie’s original concepts, which were submitted and voted on by the rest of the MA Film students. While Alejandra’s idea to create shadowpuppet birds with hands, carrying over from the feather theme used in 2021, was the favourite, Natalie’s own concept of using iconic Liverpool imagery was a close second.

The two worked together with Lydia and Jacqui and came up with a way to combine both concepts into one cohesive design. It’s proven to be extremely versatile, eye-catching, and unique. We think it’s fabulous!

What do you think of this year’s poster design? Tell us in the comments!

New Banner Hits Facebook

As you may have seen, we have recently put up a new Facebook banner! This design is a re-sizing of the poster design that was created on by Alejandra from this year’s MA class. Alejandra made the design based on her own concept, as well as a concept by fellow MA student Natalie, as both concept designs were strongly favoured by the rest of the class.

The full poster will be released soon, but in the meantime feel free to have a look at the new banner and give it a like!

According to Alejandra, the concept plays upon the idea of shadow puppets and the existing theme of birds and wings the festival established last year. She then incorporated Natalie’s concept of the Liverpool cityscape outline, highlighting the Radio City Tower in particular.

As the banner (and forthcoming poster) state, we can’t wait to see you all from the 1st to the 8th of April for the 2nd LJMU MA Short Film Festival!

Crunch Time: Finalising the Programme

When our submissions closed on Film Freeway, we had over 1400 films that were sent to us from around the globe! Our student programmers worked diligently over the winter break and now have that number down to under 300, but there’s still a long way to go!

How do we manage the selection process?

The LJMU MA Short Film Festival has an incredibly fast turnaround from submission to actual festival. The reason for this is because it is run as part of an MA module at Liverpool John Moores University (find out about the MA course). What this means is that the festival is entirely run by students, under the supervision of festival director Lydia Papadimitriou and festival coordinator Jacqui Griffin.

The students work to pick out the films for the festival, first as individuals and then as groups. Each student is initially assigned a certain number of films and every film gets reviewed by at least two students. After the students select an initial long list of films, they break into three groups (fiction, documentary, and animation) and further fine-tune the selection list.

That’s the stage we are at now!

Who are the students?

I’m glad you asked! We will be “meeting” some of them in our upcoming blogs. They’re a lovely group of young people from all over the world, including several native Liverpudlians. I know they can’t wait to bring the second edition of the LJMU MA Short Film Festival to you.

The LJMU MA Short Film Festival will take place the 1-8 April 2022.

Submissions Closed!

We have just closed submissions for the 2nd LJMA MA Short Film Festival. I’m proud to say we got a whopping 1485 films from 90 countries! The students have been working hard already on screening all the entries and will be narrowing down their choices very quickly over the next few weeks.

Courtesy of Film Freeway: The world map has positively lit up from all the film submissions

We’ll be doing our best to keep you updated and informed as those decisions come to a head and we publicise our program ahead of the festival in April. Submitters, be sure to keep an eye on your Film Freeway accounts!

Many thanks to all the student filmmakers (and their cast, and crew) who submitted their work. It will be a grueling competition for sure to see who takes home those Paper Bird Awards this year.

New Festival Coordinator

Photograph by Kamila Nowak

We are very pleased to announce that Jacqui Griffin has accepted the role of Film Festival Coordinator & Tutor for the LJMU MA Short Film Festival! Jacqui’s background with filmmaking and as Festival Founder & Director of the Drunken Film Fest make her an exciting addition to the LJMU MA Short Film Festival staff.

Jacqui looks forward to working with Lydia and the students as the next festival races ever closer! Right now, submissions for the 2022 edition of the festival are wide open and it is 100% free to submit, so Jacqui’s hands are full organising and tracking all of the amazing films coming in from all over the world.

Submission Map created by Film Freeway

Films fly in from literally every corner of the globe. Our amazing MA students are already beginning the process of sifting through the hundreds of submissions to create a high quality and interesting program for April. It’s a truly unique opportunity for film students to not only take part, but actively create a professional film festival with curation and Jacqui is so excited to be on the team!


A new post of ‘Film Festival Coordinator and Tutor‘ at the Film Department of Liverpool John Moores University has just been announced (closing date for applications: 6th September 2021): https://jobs.ljmu.ac.uk/…/film-festival-coordinator…

We are looking for someone with a range of technical and creative skills (web design, graphic design, post-production skills), knowledge/experience of how film festivals operate and the ability/willingness to teach MA students. The post has emerged out of the success of the LJMU MA Short Film Festival (https://ljmumashortfilmfestival.org/) that was launched last year, and the successful candidate will work closely with the module leader (Lydia Papadimitriou) to develop future editions of the festival.

The festival is embedded in the MA Film, so students are involved at (almost) all stages of the production of the festival. Please feel free to circulate further.