Judges will select the best of the best from 106 short film (15 minutes or less) entries. Submissions are restricted to filmmakers who are students of college or high school age or younger in the U.S. and Canada.
The festival, held at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Winchester (181 Kernstown Commons Blvd.), extended its original April deadline to September due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The goal is to support and encourage young filmmakers to discover and use film as the incredible tool of expression and communication it is and can be, especially during their high school and college years of inner exploration.” – Paul DiFranco, director of the Film Studio at Shenandoah
Each submission only costs $3, so that expense is not a barrier to participation, DiFranco added.
Entries will be considered for twelve categories: best film, best drama, best animated short, best documentary, best comedy, best director, best editing, best actress, best actor, best cinematography, best score, and best first-time filmmaker. The Film Studio at Shenandoah, Project Write, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, and other industry professionals judged the films. Project Write’s Young Screenwriters’ Conference is also being held this weekend in conjunction with the festival.
“At the Alamo, we pride ourselves on our support of the arts and the local film community,” said local Alamo co-owner Steve Nerangis. “I wanted to be a filmmaker when I was growing up, and there were no outlets to learn about film production locally. At the time, there wasn’t even a theater that supported independent film on a regular basis. We are so fortunate to have a growing film program locally with The Film Studio at Shenandoah, and I would have been so excited to have access to Project Write and The Young Screenwriters’ Conference when I was younger.”
“The Virginia Emerging Filmmakers Festival is one way that we feel we can encourage young artists to pursue their filmmaking aspirations and help cultivate an independent film community in the area.” – Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Winchester co-owner Steve Nerangis
Shenandoah is home to a film production program that provides students with hands-on learning on feature films, two of which have been co-produced by Capital Arts Entertainment. One of the two, “Santa Girl,” is a holiday favorite available on Netflix, and the second, “Cupid for Christmas,” is awaiting release. At the first festival, several Shenandoah students were among the winners (two are shown in the photo above).
Screenings of selected films will occur in two blocks at 6 p.m. and 7:25 p.m. on Oct. 1 and at 3:45 p.m. on Oct. 2. Winners will be announced after the last screening block on Saturday, DiFranco said.
The festival closes with a 6:15 p.m. Saturday presentation of shorts and clips by special guest Rebekah McKendry and her husband/filmmaking partner David. The pair will also discuss their progression as filmmakers. Rebekah previously has worked as the editor-in-chief at Blumhouse Productions and as the director of marketing for Fangoria Entertainment. Rebekah, who holds a doctorate in media studies from Virginia Commonwealth University, teaches at University of Southern California, is also a podcaster and author. In addition, she is serving as the keynote speaker for the Young Screenwriters’ Conference.
Tickets for most festival showings/events are $3.
McKendry will also lead a discussion on Oct. 1, following a 9:45 p.m. VEFF/Psycho Cinema showing of the low-budget 1982 sci-fi thriller “Nightbeast,” accompanied by the presentation of three VEFF shorts. An out-of-competition short, “Serial,” will also play as part of an 11 a.m. Oct. 2 showing of 1987’s teen vampire classic “The Lost Boys.” Tickets for “Nightbeast” and “The Lost Boys” are $7.
Tickets for all VEFF events are available at https://drafthouse.com/winchester.