Photo by Martin Sattler

CULT SHORTS is a new kind of film festival, inspired by the urgent need for a new approach to curating and exhibiting short films. This is a great new opportunity for filmmakers to find an audience and recognition for their works. We believe a short film is not just a step towards a feature – it is an amazing form of storytelling that should be appreciated in its own right.

We live in a time when it has never been easier to make a film but never been tougher to be a filmmaker. The number of excellent short films is growing every year, however, these films struggle more than ever to reach audiences. The sheer numbers of films submitted to major film festivals and the limited programming slots mean that a lot of excellent films will never see the light of day.

It is no secret that certain film genres, such as social realism resonates better with festival curators and critics around Europe, while certain others – like comedy or fantasy are often labeled as “popular culture” and dismissed by festival curators. The short film automatically falls into the “art film” category, which is typically a serious, independent film aimed at a niche market rather than a mass market audience. While the short is a great incubator of ideas, and thanks to its form it provides an opportunity for great experimentation with narrative and style, the showcase of short films is often limited by the dated division of high art and pop culture.

Another disappointment for filmmakers is the fact is that many film festivals throughout Europe fail to bring audiences for their short film screenings, which often proves to be an even greater disappointment to the film authors who already spent so much energy and money on festival submissions.

As filmmakers we strongly believe in the impact of independent cinema. We believe films can teach us about each other, we believe cinema will make the world a better place. But in order to do so, independent film should be able to reach more people.

While author and international film can still reach theatres in bigger cities, the situation in many small towns throughout Europe is that cinema culture has completely died out. With cinemas becoming an integral part of shopping malls where almost exclusively blockbuster American films are shown, the old theaters and the culture they used to bring, are now sinking into decay and oblivion. There are countless small towns throughout Europe where older people remember with nostalgia the sighs in the cinema theatre while many young people, don’t even know the feeling of watching a movie on the big screen. Read about the location of CULT SHORTS 2021 here.

Photo by Braden Tavelli

By making short films popular on the internet, we believe we can also make them popular on the big screen

We are on a quest to discover amazing short films that remained in the shadow of the festival circuit and bring them to the widest audience. We select a wide range of films and leave it to our audiences to make the final decision. At the end of every year, based on views, comments, and shares, Cult Shorts will nominate 40 finalists, out of which the most popular one will be awarded “Cult Classic of the Year” with a cash prize of 1000 euros.

But can a short film gain a cult following?

Is that even possible? If we had to answer this question ten years ago, maybe we would hesitate. But today our answer is shouting YES! How do we know?

Well, CULT SHORTS was first inspired by a cult short film “Shhh… Sing to me!”, written and directed by Andrey Volkashin and Peter Vulchev, a slapstick social satire comedy inspired by the so-called Balkan pop-folk culture. After the film was rejected by pretty much all the film festivals it was submitted to, the filmmakers decided to promote it themselves. The trailer became viral and to their great surprise, approximately 700 people showed up at the premiere, in a theatre with 400 seats. Consequently, the film became the first short with a commercial distribution throughout Bulgarian cinema theaters. Read more about this here!

“Shhh… Sing to me!” made us aware of all those short film gems that, dismissed by festivals ended up collecting dust in a file folder somewhere, or just randomly uploaded on YouTube or Vimeo, without any proper marketing, drowned in the bottomless sea of the internet. Cult Shorts is here to find these films and fish them out of the darkness, give them the loving audience they deserve.

But what is a cult film and how do we recognize one?

A cult is any film that was saved from the brink of oblivion by an adoring audience. It can be of any genre and style, any country in the world, and could have been produced yesterday or fifty years ago. Our mission is to recognize the films that have “cult potential” and give them proper space and marketing on our platform. Cult films tend to gravitate toward the strange and different.

A cult classic often times has a deep-seated theme or critique about society, but it tells these narratives in a less conventional way, often pushing the boundaries of film genre and style. We curate the films in respect to all of these characteristics.

We believe that short film distribution on the internet has merely scratched the surface of what is possible. The past decade has seen an explosion of video online.

While an online release has now become an integral part of a short film’s distribution in the English speaking world, in continental Europe, filmmakers seem to lag behind in understanding the enormous possibilities of online distribution. Part of the reason is that European film funds rarely evaluate a short film’s success with audiences, perhaps because of the wrongful assumption that a short film does not attract any audience.

Our understanding of the potential of a short film’s distribution online does not mean we want to limit the release of our films only on computer screens.

On the contrary. We believe by making short films popular online, we can motivate people to want to see them in cinemas too. We understand a film’s enormous power to communicate ideas and feelings, to cast light on urgent social matters and we believe that the best films do so, by also being entertaining.

Photo by Junior Skumbag

our core mission is to make author film mainstream

CULT SHORTS believes that forward-looking short films, should not be limited to an elitist audience of film connoisseurs, it should be made available for everyone.

We aim to promote films that can entertain as much as they can communicate important ideas. This is why, after
promoting the films we feel could build a strong following with various audiences online, we select the best performing 35 finalists and we screen their films in small towns throughout Europe where cinema culture has completely died out.


Each year, a sleepy small town will come to life with screenings, discussions, and parties, that will engage not only the local community but will also attract visitors from outside and abroad.

So many small towns, especially in the developing part of Europe dwell in complete cultural isolation. The impact of CULT SHORTS will not only bring life to cinema culture but will also breathe in new ideas, inspiration, and encouragement to the communities that desperately need it.

The festival invites the filmmakers of the finalists which provides the essential opportunity for networking, building friendships and future collaborations, as well as establishing a global film community united by CULT SHORTS.

Filmmakers will also benefit from getting to know a local culture with many preserved customs and different ways of life. This exchange we believe will be equally inspiring both for the visiting filmmakers and the locals. The main festival event of CULT SHORTS is organized in a different sleepy small town every year, but simultaneously has screenings in the towns that hosted previous editions of the festival. This is our vision to ignite the much needed cinema culture in these “middle of nowhere” little towns.


Submission entirely free by May 2021

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