By Heidi Simmons

The summer is hot, but the movies are cool! 

The Palm Springs International Short Film Festival & Film Market begins Tuesday, June 20 showcasing hundreds of films from around the globe highlighting international and emerging young filmmaking talent.

All screenings are held at the Camelot Theatre in 90-minute themed programs. The ShortFest runs one week, concluding with “Best of Fest” showing Monday, June 26.


Opening Night celebrates five short films at the Camelot Theater Tuesday, June 20 6:30 followed by the annual Opening Night Party at LuLu. This is the best time to mingle with creative filmmakers and film buffs.

In its 23rd year, the ShortFest has a new host at the Palm Springs Riviera Hotel & Spa. Throughout the week, the Riviera will be the home base for the Film Market, Stella Artois Filmmaker & Industry Lounge, ShortFest Forums, and the VR (Virtual Reality) Lounge.

With 338 films including 46 World Premieres, 12 International Premieres, 42 North American Premieres and 16 U.S. Premieres, there is something for everyone! Over the week, there are 55-curated programs, featuring star-studded casts and award-winning films from 60 countries.

Some of the big names appearing in ShortFest films this year include

Summer Phoenix in Across My Land (USA/France); Thomas Lennon and Lennon Parham in All Exchanges Final (USA); Tatiana Maslany in Apart From Everything (Canada); The Dark of Night (USA) directed by Robin Wright and starring Leslie Bibb and Sam RockwellSir Ian McKellen in Edmund the Magnificent (UK); Toby Jones in The Entertainer (UK); Julian Sands in The Escape (UK); Idris Elba in Five by Five (UK); Rick Fox in Game (USA); Carrie Coon in Great Choice (USA); Kate Winslet in The Lost Letter (Ireland);Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale in Martha Monster (Australia); Valerie Harper in My Mom and the Girl (USA); Helena Bonham Carter in Poles Apart (UK); Show Business (USA) directed by Clark Duke; and Super Sex directed by Matthew Modine and starring Kevin NealonEdward AsnerElizabeth Perkins and Efren Ramirez.

More than 4,200 of the festival submissions are available in the Film Market for industry attendees to screen. The PSISF is the largest short film event in North America.

Can’t wait for your short film fix? ShortFest Online can be viewed at the Palm Springs Film Festival website now! 

There are five short films easily available to watch online and the public is able to vote for a favorite with a click of a button. View the films and make your selection by 5:00 pm, Friday, June 23. The winner will be announced at the Closing Night Awards Ceremony, Sunday, June 25.

All the PSISF first place winners in five different categories automatically become eligible for consideration by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS®) for a possible Academy Award® nomination. Over the course of 22 years, the Festival has presented 101 films that have gone on to receive Academy Award® nominations. 

Being in close proximity to Hollywood, ShortFest is able to cull quality film industry pros to view and judge the competition. This year’s judges are: David Ansen (film critic/PSIFF Lead Programmer), Lindsey Bahr (Associated Press), Kate Bosworth (actress/producer), Ian Durkin (Vimeo), Sam Lansky (Time Magazine) and Heidi Zwicker (Sundance).

PSISF celebrates its filmmakers with over $115,000 in prizes, including $20,000 in cash awards, given out in 21 categories! The Panavision Best North American Short Award winner will receive the use of a camera package valued at $60,000. 

Beyond the competition and potential prestigious awards, the PSISF takes great pride in nurturing the participating filmmakers with ShortFest Forums that include seminars, master classes, roundtable and panel discussions. Some of the forum events are open to the public with a ticket (check program for details). 

Prominent industry organizations participating in the forums this year include AMPAS®, Anonymous Content, CAA, Cartoon Network, FX Networks, ICM Partners, NASA, Preferred Content, Seed&Spark, UTA, and Vimeo. For three full days, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, a wide range of emerging trends will be discussed from music composition to film funding. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

11:00 a.m.  The Real Deal About Virtual Reality – The future is already here. As virtual reality comes into its own as a new frontier for exploring emotion, narrative and character in thrilling new ways, hear from these experts on the latest trends, tech and storytelling applications in VR, and find out how you can get involved in this unique platform for short films.
Guests: Ian Forester, VRPlayhouse; James Kaelan, WeVR; Sasha Samochina, NASA
Moderator: Rich DeMuro, KTLA

12:30 p.m.  Composing for Film (Roundtable) – When you are weary of watching endless cuts of your film, with its ability to change the emotional impact, music can make you fall in love with your film all over again… IF you get the right composer. Using multiple examples, composer and Professor Peter Neff will teach you how to collaborate with composers to make your vision come to life on screen.

2:00 p.m.  Funding, Funding, Funding . . . – How do you build your audience, crowdfund, attract a financier, or find a way to get your film off the ground? The industry’s leading experts are here to discuss the realities of independent producing, fundraising and getting your project made. Our panel of experts will walk you through the basics and give you the tools you need to get started.
Guests: Emily Best, Seed&Spark; Natalie Difford, Cinereach; Peter Van Steemburg, ICM Partners; Hailey Wierengo, United Talent Agency

3:30 p.m.  Episodic and the Small Screen – We live in a new golden age of television. With more content than ever being produced for the small screen, and opportunities for both established auteurs and fresh voices. In these uncertain times for film, how can you break into the episodic medium?
Guests: Barbara Crawford, FX Networks; Katie Krentz, Cartoon Network; Kim Sherman, Stage 13; Caleb Ward, SeriesFest
Moderator: Katherine Tulich, HFPA/

Friday, June 23, 2017

11:00 a.m.  Short Film Festival Strategy (Roundtable) – So, you have a film and are ready to hit the festival circuit. What festivals do you hit? Do you send a cover letter? Should you put your film online? Come find out from our festival insiders.

Guests: Kimberley Browning, Hollywood Shorts; Eileen Chiao, USC School of Cinematic Arts; Nancy Collet, Collet Cinema; Paul Sloop, Cleveland Film Fest

12:30 p.m.  How to Pitch Like a Pro (Workshop) – Do you have an idea you’re ready to pitch? Then you need to know how. Our industry panel will show you the ropes, and share stories on the do’s and don’ts of making your pitch. Perfect training for anyone signed up for Saturday’s speed pitching roundtable. Don’t miss this workshop.
Guests: Emily Best, Seed&Spark; Nick Ogiony, CAA; Peter Trinh, ICM
Moderator: Liz Marion, Palm Springs ShortFest

2:00 p.m.  All About the Docs – After all these years, short-form documentary filmmaking is still a thriving art form and tool for change and justice. The right length and topic in skilled hands can be just as transformative as a feature length or televised counterpart. Learn the ins and outs of short-form documentary filmmaking, and how to get your work seen by those who need to see it.
Guests: Hussain Currimbhoy, Sundance Film Festival; Abby Davis, Preferred Content; Raegan Hodge, CARE; Tom Oyer, Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences; AJ Schnack, Bonfire Films of America
Moderator: Jeremy Kay, Screen International

3:30 p.m.  In Conversation with . . . Kate Bosworth – Moderated by Gregg Kilday from The Hollywood Reporter, join us in conversation with actress/producer Kate Bosworth and get some insight into navigating a hyphenated career path and making the move from the spotlight to behind the camera with her new production company Make Pictures Productions.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

10:00 a.m.  Speed Pitching – Have a feature script up your sleeve? If you’re ready to venture out into the world, our collection of industry professionals – agents, studio executives, financiers, producers and filmmakers – are ready to meet with you one-on-one. You pitch. They respond. After 10 minutes it’s musical chairs.
Guests: Emily Best, Speed&Spark; Kimberly Browning, Hollywood Shorts; Abby Davis, Preferred Content; Adam Galen, Preferred Content; Kate Hurwitz, Cinetic Media; Matthew Lessall, Lessall Casting; Nick Ogiony, CAA; Linda Olszewski, Shorts HD; Morgan O’Neil, Southland Productions; Michael Polish, Director, The Astronaut Farmer; Luke Rivett, Anonymous Content; Peter Trinh, ICM; Peter Van Steemburg, ICM Partners

12:30 p.m.  Meet the Programmers – Navigating the festival circuit can be challenging, but with a cool head and a strategic plan, you can maximize your film’s visibility, make amazing connections and drive your filmmaking career forward. A group of programmers from top U.S. festivals will provide candid insights into the programming process, deciding which festivals are best for your project, and making sure you make the most of your festival experience.
Guests: Sarah Harris, Denver Film Festival, Dallas Intl. Film Festival, Seattle Intl. Film Festival; Adam Piron, Sundance Institute; Amanda Salazar, San Francisco Intl. Film Festival; Paul Sloop, Cleveland Film Festival Moderator: Sudeep Sharma

2:00 p.m.  Meet the Press – Who is behind film and festival reviews? Learn from industry pros about how to catch the attention of the top writers and get your films reviewed.
Guests: Jeremy Kay, Screen International; Malina Saval, Variety; Anne Thompson, Indiewire
Moderator: Lili Rodriguez, Festival Director

3:30 p.m.  Short Film Postpartum – So you’ve made a short, or maybe a few, and perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to play the festival circuit. What happens next? And where do you go from here? Learn about the many paths your short can take beyond film festival screenings and how to make the most of your audience and future opportunities from a panel of experienced industry experts here to help keep the dream alive.
Guests: Jeff Deutchman, NEON; Ian Durkin, Vimeo; Kate Hurwitz, Cinetic; Linda Olszewski, Shorts HD
Moderator: Malina Saval, Variety

The VR Lounge is a community event free to the public. For two days during the ShortFest — Thursday and Friday, June 22 and 23 from 11:00am to 7:00pm — you can experience this astonishing, cutting-edge technology.. 

In partnership with the University of California Riverside, four Virtual Reality experiences are ready to immerse the viewer. There is a documentary, an animated short, a narrative film, plus a game. 

One of the great pleasures of the PSISF is meeting the filmmakers and international visitors. Many of the programs include Q&A’s with the director, writer or actor. The ShortFest has a creative and youthful energy that is different from its more formal, sister festival in January. With so many films, filmmakers are everywhere and love engaging with film fans. Which is why the PSISF Parties are such a blast. 

There are scheduled parties (check the website for tickets and info) and there are spontaneous parties all over town. 

Trio will host Palm Springs Speaks FrenchToucan’s Tiki Lounge returns with their annual Gay!La dance party, Ace Hotel & Swim Club kicks off the weekend with Polaroid Eyewear’s Be Free, Let Loose Party and the Lexus Short Films Party will be held at The Bank. The Closing Night Party follows the award ceremony at the Hilton Palm Springs Resort.

Why not spend a hot summer day in a cool theater with some amazing and memorable films you will likely never see anywhere else? Peruse the schedule of programs and parties, and enjoy!

For more information and tickets, visit Tickets can also be purchased now at the Camelot Theater Box Office 2300 E. Baristo Road 10am -5pm or by phone 760 778 8970. 


  • PALM SPRINGS, CA - JUNE 26: Joe Jent, David Anson, Mark Wilkins, Alison Willmoore and Jim Cummings attend the 2016 Palm Springs International ShortFest - Closing Night Awards & Reception on June 26, 2016 in Palm Springs, California. (Photo by David Crotty/Getty Images )

  • PALM SPRINGS, CA - JUNE 25: Guests attend the 2016 Palm Springs International ShortFest - Saturday Forums & Roundtables on June 25, 2016 in Palm Springs, California. (Photo by David Crotty/Getty Images )