Imagine telling an extremely intricate story in a few minutes, something like War and Peace (560,000 words, or approximately 1,400 pages in paperback). Better yet, condense the events of your Labor Day weekend into three tweets on Twitter (420 characters including spaces). Neither of these tasks seems plausible. What about telling an interesting, coherent, and compelling story on film in exactly one minute?
The odds don't sound any better, do they?
To the directors that compete in Filminute: The International One-Minute Film Festival, producing a film that is exactly 60-seconds long is an extraordinary challenge and opportunity to put their best creative, editing, and storytelling skills to the test against a global talent pool.
Haven't heard of it? That's not too surprising considering that the festival is just eclipsing its third birthday. Although the festival is relatively young, the competition and notoriety have increased exponentially.
A jury (consisting of international superstars from film, art, communication, and literary disciplines) is given the responsibility of judging the entries and awarding The Best Filminute and five commendations. The People's Choice Award is voted on by a global audience of film fans.
The Filminute festival was the inspiration of Canadian film-maker, John Ketchum, and is now considered one of the largest film festivals in the world when considering audience reach and participation. "We accept fiction, animation, documentary and fan films – the focus being on story," explains Ketchum. "The best one-minute films will resonate beyond one minute. These are films that we expect to affect viewers the same way any great film would."
Filmminute 2009 is set to run the entire month of September. If the competition evolves as expected, it will reach more than 94 countries and the Top 25 films will accrue at least 3 million minutes of viewing time.
The jury is required to grade each film using the same standards that would be expected for full-length films, which is a difficult task considering the Top 25 films can be viewed in under 30-minutes. Although this year's competitors have been determined, 2010 is coming fast. Preparation is key, and judging by this year's entries, there's no such thing as "too much time."
Unless, of course, it's 61-seconds.