Founded in 1995 as an excuse to showcase the founders' own student shorts, the now EFA-, BAFTA- & Oscar-qualifying festival hasn't lost its initial goal, always putting young, emerging film talent front and center. Taking place around the first weekend of December, the usually cold Belgian weather is easily countered by the many opportunities for filmmakers — both local and European — and their audiences to meet and mingle.
The Leuven Short Film Festival team is housed by Fonk vzw, an association also helming the year round programme at Cinema Zed (Leuven's prime arthouse cinema venue), the documentary festival Docville and the short film & documentary distribution company Dalton Distribution — among many other initiatives, actually. Fonk's love for cinema knows no boundaries. During the festival, this notion is represented in the large Flemish and European competitions — showcasing the best of fiction shorts of said regions. Additionally, highlights of animation and experimental filmmaking from all over the globe are presented in side programmes, alongside an artist and European country focus.
With its HQ at the Art Center STUK, all festival venues are gathered in a circle of max. 500 metres, providing a cosy and homely atmosphere for its visitors. STUK's central square has proven to be an excellent site for many different occassions, as in recent years you could find a Finnish sauna and extra large gaming arcade there — reflecting the Country In Focus or theme of the festival respectively.
Notably, the festival also hosts the distribution of the Flemish Audiovisual Fund Wildcards, which are considered the biggest monetary film prizes for student films in the Flemish region, making Leuven's award ceremony a much anticipated (and often quite emotional) event for Flemish film students. Those honoured to have paid a visit might understand what we mean.