Short and sweet is the name of the game for Santa Barbara’s newest film festival on the block: The first-annual Santa Barbara Minute Film Festival creates a new definition for brevity. Held at the Faulkner Gallery of the Santa Barbara Public Library last Saturday, the inaugural, volunteer-run event was a success. Preceded by an opening concert on Friday, April 30 featuring L.A.-based band Fogelfoot and local act Rorocar, the festival featured a wide spectrum of films produced by novice and professional filmmakers alike.

For many years, Santa Barbara has been a prime film festival location: Every year, residents (and hordes of out-of-town spectators) have a chance to visit the prestigious Santa Barbara International Film Festival, the Human Rights Film Festival, OUTrageous (SB’s LGBTQ-oriented annual festival), the Israeli-Palestinian Film Festival and, of course, UCSB’s own Reel Loud Film Festival. What sets the newest festival apart from the rest is its unconventional emphasis on brevity.

However, as far as content, materials and subject matter go, anything was fair game. The festival’s panel, which spent about a year in preparation, invited filmmakers of all ages from all around the world to exhibit all kinds of movies —  from animation, horror, documentary and beyond.

Out of 132 submissions, 51 works were selected to be played at the film festival. Viewed by highly acclaimed judges, including Academy Award-winning screenwriter David Self (“Road to Perdition”) and production manager for DreamWorks’ Artistic Development Program Angela Lepito, the selected films delivered fascinating and diverse representations of the world.

Films such as “Green Screen Downtime,” which traces the movements of three people wearing green bodysuits, comprised a 21st-century version of painting. Short animations were mixed with wit and insight into daily life. Films were international not only in their directors’ nationalities but also in the settings of the films.

In this sense, films like “They Eat Dogs, Don’t They?” and “Heat Wave” inspired a good deal of conversation among attendees. “Ultra Ping Pong 3000,” a highly technological work, conveyed the festival’s appreciation for experimental works. Conventional film subjects — memories, life lessons and thrillers — were also screened with extremely abbreviated formats.

Betty Johnson, the executive director of the Santa Barbara Minute Film Festival, realized the power of short-format film after she was invited to a one-minute film festival at the Echo Park Film Center in Los Angeles. Johnson said she was surprised how many non-professional and professional film directors submitted their films in the competition.

“I feel wonderful after the festival. It was amazing how so many professional and non-professionals came together to put on such a marvelous show. Also how the community supported the screening by attending, and obviously it was enjoyed by all,” Johnson said.

Grace Franco, the assistant director of the festival, showed a satisfied view toward this first anniversary. She expects the festival to continue for years to come.
“As a recent film school graduate, I recognize how far an opportunity like that goes for someone who is shooting for a career as a filmmaker. I know the festival will continue to support those filmmakers in 2011,” Franco said.

For further information on the festival, log on to or call (805) 563-0218.