30th June - 3rd July 2016

Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.

Judy Garland, The Wizard of Oz, 1939

In 2006, Sunderland established a prestigious Friendship Agreement with the capital of the U.S.A., Washington DC.

Fast forward a decade and, thanks to a collaboration between DC Short Film Festival and Sunderland City Council, Sunderland Shorts: Film Festival is gearing up for its second year – back after brilliant success with its inaugural event in 2015.


Sunderland Shorts Film Festival is a four-day event that celebrates filmmaking talent from all over the world.

From June 30 to July 3 Sunderland will play host to ten special screenings. This will include 50 high-quality short films, shortlisted from over 200 submissions and a screening of the 2016 Sunderland Shorts Award Winners.

The Festival will also feature a screening of Young People’s Films in collaboration with Custom Reel, from South Shields and the Award Winning Films from DC Shorts 2015.

Our Aims

  • To create a Film Festival which celebrates the art of short film.
  • To provide a platform for regional and emerging filmmakers to showcase their work.
  • To generate opportunities for regional filmmakers to launch their work internationally.
  • To increase the knowledge and skills of emerging filmmakers through networking and development opportunities with experienced sector professionals.
  • To foster a strong film and media business sector in Sunderland.
  • To become a major contributor to the cultural calendar of Sunderland.

What is a short film?
Technically, a short film is any film that isn’t long enough to be considered a ‘feature film’ – like what we see in the cinema. But for our festival we feature films that are shorter than 20minutes.

If you have ever left the cinema feeling underwhelmed after sitting through a tale that didn’t live up to the expectations and left you with nothing but a numb bum, then short films could be exactly the entertainment you’re looking for.

To tell a story, and tell it well, in under 20 minutes is a real talent. The result of talented filmmakers telling epic stories in short periods of time is the bite-sized blockbusters you can experience at Sunderland Shorts Film Festival.

Sunderland Shorts - Backstory

In 2006, Sunderland became the first and only non-capital city to sign a Friendship Agreement with Washington DC. Since then, the two cities have been working in partnership to develop economic, educational and cultural relationships, providing the people of Sunderland with new experiences and opportunities.

Sunderland Shorts Film Festival is one of many creative industry initiatives that have been developed through this partnership and has seen creative professionals from both DC and Sunderland participate in exhibitions and academic exchange visits.

Sunderland Shorts has developed in collaboration with DC Short Film Festival, which has gone from strength to strength and is now one of the most respected film festivals in the USA.

DC Shorts - the short of it

Through a series of regularly scheduled educational programs, screening opportunities, sharing resources via online tools, partnering with film, arts and business organisations, and hosting the annual DC Shorts Film Festival, DC Shorts provides opportunities for filmmakers of every skill level to explore and learn their craft — while entertaining and expanding the horizons of audience members.

Founded in 2003, the DC Shorts Film Festival was created by DC-based filmmaker, Jon Gann, in response to the dozens of festivals he attended that left him frustrated that many were focused on money and sponsors and not films and filmmakers. So he decided to start his own event, focusing on the form he loves — shorts.

In 2006, the DC Film Alliance, a non-profit arts organization, was created to present the DC Shorts Film Festival, and offer other programs and resources for Washington DC-based filmmakers. The Alliance helped to bridge the gap between other area film organisations, foster a community for regional film festival directors, and sponsored monthly Salons to educate filmmakers of all levels.

In response to the needs of the industry, DC Shorts has recently rebranded many DC Film Alliance activities, re-tooled others, and now hosts year-round programming, which includes:

  • DC Shorts Film Festival & Screenwriting Competitions
  • Online resources for regional filmmakers
  • Online films for audience development
  • Regional Film Festival Conference
  • DC Shorts MENTORS: Weekend courses on all aspects of short filmmaking
  • DC Shorts LAUGHS: comedy films and live stand-up comics
  • Pasties & Popcorn: sexy films and live burlesque and sideshow acts
  • Internship opportunities for college-age students


  • Festival Director: Anne Tye (Sunderland City Council)
  • Programming Team: Kristian Foreman (MAC Trust), Christopher Wilson, Michael Rowlands
  • Creative Team: Mat Tye, Rob Steele and Beth Dowd (Bureau Design)
  • Chair of Jurors: Mark Murray (Sunderland City Council)
  • PR and Communications: Creo Communications (Courtesy of Sunderland Business Group)
  • Volunteers Manager: Hannah Matterson (MAC Trust)
  • Festival Mentor: Jon Gann, Reel Plan. Washington DC

Our Partners

  • DC Shorts
  • DC Shorts
  • Sunderland City Council
  • Northern Bear Films
  • Bureau
  • FilmFreeway
  • Music Arts and Culture Trust