3Qs with Shorts Fest curator Lynn Holley

By Steven Libowitz   |   August 5, 2021

After three years and five festivals screening at SBCAST, Lynn Holley’s 3 Minute Film Festival is going back online for its ninth iteration, with all 31 selections culled from twice as many entries from a dozen countries being screened on its website beginning August 1. Dubbed “The best little boutique film festival on an international platform,” the fest is known for attracting some of the most diverse films imaginable from directors who accept the challenge of limiting themselves to creating something that runs under 180 seconds. 

Holley, who also runs the International Fine Arts Film Festival, talked about selecting entries for the super-short categories that will screen online at www.3MinuteFilmFestival.com through September. 

Q. How did you start the 3 Minute Film Festival? 

A. I was at SBCAST trying to figure out how I could do more film festivals beyond the International Festival, and someone suggested making the films shorter. Everything in the world is three— the Rule of 3, three strikes you’re out, things like that. It’s very attractive to new filmmakers to have to make something that’s only three minutes long, whether in digital or film or whatever format they’re working in. You can actually complete your film without a big budget. On the other hand, it can be difficult because it’s like giving a speech — it’s harder to be short. But the truth is, some of the best ones we’ve had in the festival are actually one-minute long. 

Given that we’ve been living with the pandemic for almost more than 15 months, is this festival reflective of our times? 

The majority of things coming in are extremely contemporary, covering both COVID and the Black Lives Matter movement. The animation is also superb this year, and they’re coming from younger people for the most part, ones who are studying here at very fine film schools. 

It’s hard to be anything other than direct with a super short film, I imagine. How, then, are the films adjudicated? 

Well, I curate all of the films in terms of making the decision of what gets into the film festival as an official selection. The judges have free rein over their categories, but it’s getting a little bit more fine-tuned lately. For me, in both the animation and narrative categories, I’m looking at whether there’s a story that they’re telling and if they tell it well. The experimental category can be almost anything, so there’s different criteria. It’s more about if it’s entertaining and if there is any value to the filmmaking.


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