Shnit International Shortfilmfestival

2011-10-14 12:45
Greg Evans
What, you may ask, is Shnit? Well, from 5 – 9 October it was an international short film festival held at the Labia on Orange Street in Cape Town. This year marks the second time that Cape Town has participated and it's grown from humble beginnings in Switzerland in 2003 to include six host nations.

Over 300 films from countries across the globe made the final cut and rigorous vetting ensured that all entries were of a very high standard. The emphasis was on exploration and experimentation in a medium which was kept accessible thanks to the efforts of a diverse range of film-makers from all walks eager to share their experiences.

The films were divided into several competition categories and audience and jury prizes worth R340 000 were up for grabs for the best films in each category. The Open section screened a stunning range of offbeat, edgy, funny and at times shocking shorts. South African short films competed in the South African Made section and there were additional opportunities for local directors to showcase their talents in the out-of-competition Kaapse Bobotie screenings. The Hummus section hosted Middle-Eastern shorts and there were slots for Queer shorts and other alternative film genres.

Injection of creativity

In addition to the film screenings, several supporting events were organised around town to give film-makers and cinephiles a chance to talk about film and exchange ideas. Auteur sessions were held at the trendy Grand Daddy Hotel on Long Street. For those with a yen for more risqué and experimental cinema, alternative screenings were held at 95 on Hout. And if you happened to be out of town for the Rocking the Daisies festival, no worries, Shnit had it covered and ran 24-hour screenings in dedicated tents at the venue in Darling.

Above: Schnit at Rocking the Daisies

The festival provided a much needed injection of creativity into the cultural arts scene in Cape Town. Labia on Orange was a great choice of venue because, like the films themselves, it is a little quirky, offbeat and playful. The shocking pink decor and cute themed cupcakes added to the sense of fun. I was intrigued to learn, too, that Shnit marked the first time a local festival has been run off of an iPad, and without any of the usual technical glitches. My only regret is that the organisers seem not to have marketed the festival very effectively in the local news media. It’s a shame because this was the best in avant-garde film-making I’ve seen all year. I’m already looking forward to next year’s Shnit. See you there!

Above: Schnit at the Labia Theatre in Orange Street