For billions of people around the globe, the pull of the cinema screen and the entertaining, informing spectacles that are screened on them make for an unrivalled experience. Equally, for millions of people throughout the world, the history of war (the whys and wherefores of it) makes for a fascinating pastime. In which case, if you’ve a healthy interest in both, why not combine them on a trip to London this autumn by taking in the IWM Short Film Festival?
Hosted by the Imperial War Museum – an easy-to-reach venue should you be staying at one of the London 5 star hotels like the Montcalm London City – and taking place in mid-to-late November (17th-26th), this year’s event is the latest of the annual festival that celebrates and rewards the greatest short films dedicated to the subject of warfare (and everything related to it).
Indeed, its programme of short films truly runs the gamut, their content covering everything from suffragette surgeons of yesteryear to emotionally moving war art and the horrors of modern terrorism to the complex darkness of the all-too-current Syria conflict.
A fine blend of dramas, documentaries and animations created by a coterie of filmmaking talent drawn from across the world, some of the short films are edgy and challenging, for sure, but others are entirely suitable for a family audience. And all of them are, in their way, informative and educational when it comes to past and contemporary conflicts, especially in terms of exploring themes like fear and displacement.
You’ll find that the films are screened according to a daily schedule, with showings at 12noon, 2pm and 3pm – as well as additional showings on 18th, 25th and 26th November at 1pm.
Beyond the general festival, there’ll also be special evening events which focus more specifically on a single subject – namely, how filmmakers and frontline war reporters cover warfare and catastrophic events in the age of terror we’re currently living through. There’ll be a panel discussion featuring both filmmakers and journalists (‘Documenting Terror: Conflict Journalism Since 9/11’, which takes place on 22nd November) and a workshop (‘Filming Under Fire: Hostile Environment Experience’, which takes place on 23rd November), this one fascinatingly is set to offer first-hand details on how those in the know need to plan and get ready for entering a conflict zone.
Moreover, the festival itself fits into a broader event at the museum, the ‘Age of Terror: Art Since 9/11’, which runs until the end of May next year and features works from more than 40 British and international artists (including major names like Ai Weiwei and Grayson Perry); showcasing their responses to worldwide wars and conflicts of the post-9/11 era.
Additionally, as is the custom with many film festivals around the world, awards will be handed out for the short films deemed to have been the best screened at this year’s event. One of which is the Audience Award, for which, yes, every attendee can vote. The other five award categories are for ‘creative response’, student films, use of IWM archive material, documentaries (the Annie Dodds Award) and a category covering the wider theme of the festival, ‘the age of terror’.
Awards winners are set to be announced at a ceremony on 15th November, apart for the Audience Award, whose winner should be announced shortly after the festival itself has concluded. Obviously, you should check online (see the link at the bottom) if you’re interested to find out who’s won what.
Dates: 17th-26th November 2017
Address: Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road, London SE1 6HZ
Nearest Tube stations: Borough (Northern line), Elephant & Castle (Bakerloo and Northern lines), Kennington (Northern line), Lambeth North (Bakerloo line), Southwark (Jubilee line) and Waterloo (Bakerloo, Jubilee and Northern lines)
Nearest Overground stations: Elephant & Castle and Waterloo
Tickets: no pre-booking is necessary for any short film screenings and attendance is free of charge
Further information: https://www.iwm.org.uk/corporate/projects-partnerships/iwm-short-film-festival