With over 2000 visitors from 47 countries, the first edition of the LJMU MA Short Film Festival exceeded our expectations. In addition to this, we received very positive feedback: from filmmakers, calling it very well organised; from audiences, who were surprised by the high quality of the films; and from our MA in Film students, who enjoyed the module on film festival research in which the festival was a significant factor. Some of our students have expressed an interest in pursuing a career in the festival industry, whilst others felt inspired creatively by the many films they watched during the selection process.
Visitors and Viewers per Day
Figure 1 below first of all shows the “eventness” of the festival, since website visitors and views clearly peaked during those dates (16-23 April). In particular, the opening weekend was well attended, perhaps owing to the newness of the festival and the Q&As. On Saturday alone we received over 500 festival attendees. Whilst Sunday saw a decline, the very well attended Fiction Q&A reinvigorated the festival, as we hosted 10 filmmakers. The Awards (both jury awarded Paper Bird and the Audience Award) will have sustained interest on top of the films alone. Furthermore, our programme release on the 1st of April is visible as a bump in the chart. The subsequent social media campaign, which consisted mainly of videos from filmmakers introducing themselves and their films, also attracted visitors in the lead up to the event.
Additionally, the numbers reveal a significant international reach, with visitors from 47 countries, covering all the continents of the world except Antarctica (not monitored). As the hosting country, it is not surprising that most visitors were based in the UK, see Figure 2 and the table below.
Beyond this, however, there are many surprises. We curated two Turkish films, one of which, Lost Ore Abdurrahim, was very popular and won the Audience Award. Interestingly, we also screened two Iranian films, but only recorded one visitor. This can partly be explained from the ban on Facebook and other social media in certain countries. Website views from Bangladesh are again explained from one film, in this case The Endless Circle. Polish attendance (#4) can be explained from the presence of a number of Polish films in the festival. The filmmakers also attended the Q&As and two Polish filmmakers won a Paper Bird Award: Blue Monday and End of the World. At the start, we had not expected such a strong Polish presence, and it even seems like a positive bias. Somehow the Polish films were deemed of high quality by our programmers, the MA in Film students, which was further acknowledged by the jury, none of whom were Polish (neither do we have Polish students). The Paper Bird Award for documentary went to Rain Pot, which perhaps explains the US on number 5, noting that the US filmmaker Rayna Buxton (Fáros) also attended the Q&A. Greece and the Netherlands showed significant interest, likely owing to the nationalities of the main organisers. Italy’s interest is less obvious, but could perhaps be explained from our Italian MA in Film student who may have raised awareness of the festival in her home country. (If so, well done Valeria!)
To conclude, the LJMU MA Short Film Festival is a relatively small festival with only one edition to date. Yet, these numbers already show a global reach underpinned by a complexity of factors, which will support and guide us as we plan for the Second Edition of the LJMU MA Short Film Festival in 2022.