Scattered around a glowing pool, celebrities and filmmakers gathered at the W Hotel in Westwood on Wednesday evening to fete a medium that doesn’t often get much attention in Hollywood — the short film.
Film Independent hosted its signature diversity program, Project:Involve, which fosters support for filmmakers from communities underrepresented in the industry.
The celebration honored 38 filmmakers and showcased 10 of their short films, which were presented on a screen above the outdoor pool.
"I think there’s more and more opportunity for short films. And they’re always a great calling card for filmmakers," Cherien Dabis, the director of "Amreeka" who herself participated in Project:Involve as a young filmmaker, told TheWrap. "I made a short film right out film school and it’s really what enabled me to make my feature film — proving that I was able to direct a short film that did quite well and got some attention on the festival circuit. I think that’s why people were willing to invest in my feature."
But others said there’s often not enough of a platform for short films within the industry.
"There’s never enough to express creativity from a new voice," actor Cuba Gooding Jr. told TheWrap. "[We need to] just continue to accept shorts. A lot of times…a lot of award shows that don’t recognize them, so getting them recognized there might help."
A jury consisting of Don Cheadle, Zoe Saldana, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Effie T. Brown and Dabis awarded the Vanity Fair Jury Prize to "For the Last 6th Time," a film about a man who repeatedly lures his mate back into his clutches until she finally revolts. That filmmaking team took home an unrestricted cash award of $2,500.
The short film that received the highest number of votes on the the project’s website was "Market Price," the story of a young woman who learns lessons from her tough Grandmother about how to stand up for herself on a visit to a chaotic Asian supermarket. That film won the Banana Republic Audience Award and the filmmakers received $2,500 in gift cards to the store.