Tokyo's Short Shorts Film Festival Celebrates 15th Anniversary

Tetsuya Beshho P

Founded by actor Tetsuya Bessho, the festival will submit its Grand Prix winner to the short films category at the Oscars.

TOKYO -- The 15th edition of the Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia runs from May 31 to June 8, with programs organized around a range of themes, in and around Tokyo and Yokohama.

The festival, Japan’s first international event dedicated to the short format, was founded by actor Tetsuya Bessho, inspired by his time in L.A. at the beginning of his career.

“When I worked in Hollywood, people talked about going to screenings of short films, and I couldn't understand why they were even interested in shorts,” recalled Bessho. “After going back to L.A. years later, I finally ended up going to see a screening of 10 shorts and was so surprised at the quality and what could be expressed in that length.”

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Returning to Japan, Bessho decided to launch a short film festival in Tokyo, beginning in 1999, screening only American titles at first, including some old works by George Lucas that he received permission to show. Hoping that the event would act as a bridge between U.S. and Japanese filmmakers, Short Shorts soon after began screening domestic productions too.   

In 2003, the festival received accreditation from the Academy Awards allowing it to recommend entries for the short films category at the Oscars. The following year, it expanded its line-up to include more films from the rest of Asia, adding the region's name to its title.

The program this year includes a collection of short films related to soccer, which is being presented in Tokyo and Yokohama in cooperation with the professional soccer J-League as part of its 20th anniversary celebrations.

Bessho believes that the demand for short films is set to grow as the need for quality shorter visual content to be viewed on mobile devices increases.  

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