In the gamut of filmmaking, short films often lack the recognition they truly deserve. Limited mostly to select film festivals or film discussions, the short film dwells in a space of its own. However, it is a medium of importance to any kind of film-maker, be it a professional or a student beginner. The requirement is for a larger acceptance of short films and a greater reach to an audience.

This very thought sparked the idea of The East Side Story.

The East Side Story (TESS) was an initiative of the Symbiosis Institute of Media & Communication (UG) in Pune. Held on the 12th and 13th of October, the two-day festival was dedicated purely to short films where day one showcased an exhibition of certain acclaimed short films and day two followed with a competition for student directors. Being one of the only college festivals of its kind, the event provided the much needed space for short film makers to showcase and discuss their work in the presence of other film enthusiasts and a few film industry professionals.

“I always felt it is a greater challenge to make a short film. Feature length films are bound by budgets and you need to make compromises. But short films give you immense freedom, they have no set rules,” said guest of honour Umesh Kulkarni (the director of the National Award-winning film Girni) who was present on the day. The canvas which a short film provides is much different from that of a feature length film but the art remains the same.

The day of the competition was a winner for student film directors whose short film entries came from across the nation. The twelve short-listed films in the live action category were judged by Mr. Piyush Jha (director/novelist), Mr. Anjum Rajabali (screenwriter) and Mr. Ajit Bhatt (cinematographer/ad film-maker). The fourteen short-listed ad films were judged by Mr. Ajit Bhat and Mrs. Milinda Natu (art director). The wide spectrum of films opened the screen out to the entire audience, taking them on different journeys through different stories. The varied themes, sensibilities, artistic execution and cultural influences were an experience in themselves and made it a valuable takeaway for the entire gathering.

The festival was a celebration of the power of short films and the potential they hold. It was an assurance to student directors who may delve into making shorts that an audience exists and quite an enthusiastic one at that! The key, as jury member Ajit Bhatt said, is to remember that, “Filmmaking is a discipline. One has to tie together some of the ‘madness’ which is art and the ‘method’ which is technique.”

Short films have begun their rise and the expanse of the canvas is but a part of one’s vision. In Piyush Jha’s words, “These filmmakers of tomorrow should concentrate on stories,” and that, essentially was the theme of the festival.

So that was their story.

Now it’s time to go make ours.