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Berlin Shorts

I grew up in KW but moved to Edmonton to do my Masters degree in Drama. My intention was to spend 3-5 years there, but ten years, 1 marriage and 1 kid later my wife and I decided to return to the land of free babysitting . . . I mean family. I wanted to return to Kitchener because I'd heard so much about the exciting things happening downtown and wanted to be part of the revitalisation. I wanted to lay down some roots, dig in and really focus some energy on planting seeds and watching them grow. And the thing I'm best at growing is creative opportunities.

I stayed in Edmonton because of the vibrant arts scene. I produced sketch comedy shows and did a lot of arts admin, but toward the end of my stay I began presenting a short film competition that really excited me in the way it connected emerging and established film makers. I liked it so much that I decided to start a festival here just like it. And so Berlin Shorts was born.

Berlin Shorts is a new and on-going adjudicated short film event presented in association with the Multicultural Cinema Club. Films are screened before a live audience and adjudicated by three industry professionals. Judges provide live feedback, and points are awarded based on audience and judge voting. Filmmakers whose films are selected for inclusion receive $50 IMAA screening fees. Top-scoring films get renewed for the next event and win prizes.

The notion is to stimulate continued and sustained creativity by setting deadlines and commanding repeat performances from film makers. The Multicultural Cinema Club provides a free venue for screening (the Queen Street Commons Cafe), but I pay screening fees, the cafe employee, and related costs out of my pocket. It costs me about $500 per event; I've done two events so far, and have a third planned for May 26, 2012.

I intend to keep investing my own money in this project because I believe in it. In the three years I ran a similar program in Edmonton I saw tremendous improvement in the quality of submissions, but even more exciting was how film makers met each other and started working together. Several of them now work professionally; one works for Kenny Hotz (Kenny vs. Spenny). After I get a few years under my belt, I'm certain that the funding I intend to seek from all three levels of government will come through to support this very worthwhile project.

But until then, every little bit helps . . .

Funded by Kitchener-Waterloo, ON (May 2012)