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Palm Springs to celebrate 20th Annual ShortFest film festival

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The 20th Annual Palm Springs International ShortFest and Short Film Market will begin tomorrow, June 17, 2014, in Palm Springs, Calif. The festival will showcase 330 short films, which will include 22 U.S. premieres, 71 North American premieres and 84 world premieres. The thematically programed shorts will include star-studded casts and award-winning films from 54 countries from around the world.

“This 20th anniversary edition of Palm Springs ShortFest is the year of ‘more,'" said Festival Director Kathleen McInnis. “This year we've had more films submitted from more countries than ever before. We saw stronger work from all our submissions, as well as a shift in storytelling—away from the angst-ridden drama of the past few years, and more towards hopefulness and sheer fun. There are more high profile actors lending their weight to the short films in our program, which speaks directly to both the quality of filmmaker and filmmaking. And we have more premieres, especially World and North American, than in years past—a direct result, I think, of the active, year-round outreach we do on the festival circuit. All in all, it’s an extraordinary year in which to celebrate our 20th birthday!”

Many of us know so little about short films, yet they are the important first step of new filmmakers from around the globe to tell their stories and showcase their visions. For most of us, what we know of short films, is the few short film winners at the Academy Awards each year. ShortFest allows fans to gather once a year and bask in the glory of the short film. ShortFest winners (in four categories) will automatically become eligible for consideration by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) for a possible Academy Award nomination.

The selection of films is as varied as the stories of the human condition. The Polish film "Joanna," directed by Aneta Kopacz will be making its North American debut and delicately tells the story of a terminally ill mother and wife during her last few days with her family. This understated, yet powerful short documentary is punctuated with the things that are left unsaid.

The star-studded list of directors include, Sarah Paulson, Natalie Dormer, Rufus Sewell, Academy Award nominated actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rose McGowan, Edoardo Ponti, Jenna Fischer, Bebe Neuwirth and Taylor Kitsch.

The festival always offers up a varied selection of forums and panels. This year, ShortFest will be featuring a master class featuring director Allison Anders ("Gas, Food Lodging," "Grace of My Heart") and her daughter musician/musical supervisor Tiffany Anders ("Smashed," "Grace of My Heart") and they discuss using music in film.

Other forums and panels that will be featured are a panel exploring reality as entertainment, a panel on casting, a master class lecture on digital media by Ted Hope (Fandor CEO), a panel on publicity and many more.

The Palm Springs International ShortFest will award $115,000 in prizes, which will include $21,000 in cash awards. Panavision will be honoring one award winner with a camera packaged valued at $60,000. Winners of ShortFest will be announce on Sunday, June 22 at the Closing Night screening and reception.

Can't come to ShortFest? Well now, in its fourth year, select films from the festival will be available on the festival's web page, starting June 10 and will be available to watch and vote on through June 21. Festival website is at: www.psfilmfest.org/shortfest

ShortFest runs from June 17 - June 22.

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