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Do Your Laundry, Watch a Movie Jukebox

box[ur]shorts is connecting filmmakers to viewers by screening five- and 10-minute films at unusual places

We’ve all been there — nothing to do as you wait alone in a public place like a laundromat for the spin cycle to finish or for a friend who’s late meeting you at a bar.

Five years ago, two film enthusiasts, Giacun Caduff and Ryan Reichenfeld, created a solution with their idea to make a network of movie jukeboxes that incorporate short films into viewers’ everyday experience. The idea turned out to have merit and has evolved into a full-fledged international festival — box[ur]shorts. The festival will celebrate its fourth annual awards night this Saturday.

box[ur]shorts festival director Caduff — a Switzerland native and graduate of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television’s MFA Producers Program — was inspired as a producer to establish a direct connection between filmmakers and their viewers by screening at places where people have a chance to watch a quick five- or 10-minute film.

“When we first started brainstorming this in 2005, the main ways viewers could watch shorts at that time were to tune into the Sundance Channel on cable or attend film festivals. But as busy professionals ourselves, we knew there were other pockets of time in viewers’ days that could be filled with watching short films if we could make it fit to their on-demand lifestyles,” says Caduff.

The resulting platform was the box[ur]shorts movie jukebox, which screens short films in physical locations where the audience has time to watch — be that a coffee shop, laundromat, bar or even hair salon.  As Caduff puts it, “We ‘box your shorts’ by literally putting short films in a box.”

The inspiration for the project has its roots in a 1970s art project where Caduff’s uncle, Silvio Caduff, hung paintings in a menu box outside a restaurant in Basel, Switzerland. Combining the boxed still art concept with multimedia, the box[ur]shorts festival team added LCD screens and interactive panels, which officially gave birth to their movie jukebox model.

Building and designing the first movie jukebox was done by Caduff and Reichenfeld guerilla-style, and featured a 7-inch screen, speakers, headphone jacks and even a radio transmitter. Later, an interactive panel, start and restart button were added to the design. The owners of the locations where the boxes screened films could choose how they wanted their movie jukeboxes designed and painted. 

The film festival aspect of the project kicked off in 2006 to supply Caduff and Reichenfeld’s need for content. Once the festival launched, they started receiving hundreds of entries from around the world.
Film enthusiasts on the West Coast can catch box[ur]shorts movie jukeboxes in several locations, including the Cut Salon in Santa Monica, located on Ocean Park Boulevard near Santa Monica College. And, for anyone who has pizza cravings in between flicks at Sundance, Davanza’s Restaurant in Park City also hosts a movie jukebox for its patrons. 
Viewers also can watch the shorts at other U.S. locations, including New York and Atlanta; and internationally at locations in Switzerland and Japan. The film festival also offers 24/7, on-demand streaming of the films on its website.
The new concept appealed to an audience that has grown significantly since it started. As Denise Mann, head of the UCLA Producers Program and an associate professor, comments,"The arthouse is no longer hidden away in some small, dank theater, but readily available. There’s an immediacy to this way of experiencing film that is refreshing and exciting."
This week marks the once-a-year event when the festival’s “boxed” short films hit the big screen. The annual box[ur]shorts awards night for 2010 will take place on Saturday, Jan. 9, at the New Beverly Cinema in Hollywood. Doors open at 7:30 for the event, which will include a wine and Swiss chocolate reception as well as a performance by the Los Angeles indie rock band Derde Verde.
The top 11 finalist films will be screened and winners announced at the end of the evening. Winners will be awarded more than $7,000 worth of prizes.
The festival’s 2010 judging panel includes such industry professionals as Japanese writer-director Shunji Iwai ("New York, I Love You," "All About Lily Chou-Chou" and "April Story"); Sony executive Stacey Kalish; Erik Childress, film critic for the Chicago Film Critics Association and eFilmCritic.com; and last year’s box[ur]shorts Audience Choice Award winner, Michael Del Vecchio.
This year, two international audience groups from Switzerland and Indonesia also judged the short films from the everyday moviegoer’s point of view.

Kathy currently works as an independent writer-producer. She is a graduate of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television’s MFA in Screenwriting program. In addition to penning multiple feature-length screenplays and drama television pilots, Kathy has also written and produced several short films, has had several screenplays optioned and was a finalist for the 2007 NAACP & NBC Screenwriting Fellowship and awarded the 2008 Young and the Restless Fellowship in Television. Kathy can be reached at kathyacabrera@yahoo.com.