The 2nd International Short film festival 2008 set off on a glorious note on the 25th January at the South Indian Film Chamber Theatre, Chennai. The inaugural ceremony began with the welcome dance, followed by the welcome address by Rev. Harris, the Chief coordinator of the SFFI 2008. The dignitaries present on the dias were Rev. Jegath Gaspar, Rev. K.M. Jose, Director Lenin, Director Karu Pazhaniappan, Director Haridas, Mr. Vasan and Actress Keerthi Chawla. After the felicitations to the dignitaries Dr. Haridas, the director of Das Management Services, Canada gave a brief background to the festival, highlighting the important role of short films and the bright future that awaited this genre. Rev. K.M. Jose, the Vice President of the Don Bosco Institutions in the inaugural address highlighted how short films are powerful and effective in communicating messages because they were a reflection of day to day life experiences and stressed that they could be used effectively for imparting values and paving way for social transformation. Rev. Jegath Kaspar, the founder of Tamil Maiyam and the director of Good Will Communications congratulated the hardwork, creativity and the social concern that short film makers exhibit in their creations. He applauded DBICA for playing a vital role in promoting short films in South India. Mr. Karu Pazhaniappan, the noted Tamil director started on a humorous note speaking of his dreams of making a short film, which was much more difficult than in making a feature film, and he affirmed that the best and powerful messages are the short ones like that in Thirukkural. The young budding actress Keerthi Chawla in her message showered her words of appreciation on all the short film makers and wished the SFFI a grand success.
Of the 120 entries that came in for the festival from 15 countries (90 foreign and 30 National) 48 films from 12 countries were short listed by two panel of juries, one in Canada and another in India and they were spread out to 8 streams. Each stream had roughly 6 to 7 short films based on the duration.
Several film makers and their crew also participated in the festival and added splendour to it. On the international side there were Sita Spada (Italy) who acted in the Italian Short Film, Sintonia and Will Eizlini (USA) the sound artist of Un Jour en Palestine, while on the National side there were Indian film makers like Suraj Varma (Chennai) for his film Continuum, Douglas D`gama (Mumbai) for his film A Muslim…but not a Terrorist, Leela Roy Ghosh (Mumbai) for the short film When Silence Sings, and other Indian film makers like Ajay Jaiswal (Secunderbad) and Raajeysh Mallik (Mumbai) who had also sent their entries for SFFI 2008.
The Award Ceremony of SFFI 2008 took place on the 26th January at 05.30p.m. in the presence of special dignitaries. The function began on a solemn note with a colourful cultural performance from the students of Fatima Matriculation School. Dr. Fatima Vasanth, the Principal of the Madras School of Ssocial Work delivered the words of welcome to the gathering. The Chief guests were felicitated by various heads of institutions. Director Lenin spoke on behalf of the jury, and explained the way the ratings were done and he stressed that there should be theatres that should regularly screen short films just as feature films and more organizations should promote short films and film makers. Rev. Stanislaus Swamikannu the head of the Don Bosco Institutions in his message brought into focus the challenges that awaited this genre of short films and encouraged the film makers to venture with more creativity and imagination. Director S.P. Jhananathan in his message acknowledged the service rendered by Director Lenin to the Tamil film industry and how he was a trendsetter with his short film `knock out`. Actress Ms. Mallika Kappor in her speech expressed her delight in participating in a short film festival for the first time and affirmed that the efforts of the short film makers were really praiseworthy.
The festival coordinator Mr. Antony thanked all the different sponsors and collaborators for the invaluable service they rendered to make the SFFI 2008 a grand success and they were honoured and presented with a memento. The prize winners of SFFI 2008 were declared and the prizes were given by Rev. Stanislaus. The first prize was given to the short film “The Night Before“ by Ricardo Preve (USA) and the second prize was given to “The Grayed Escape“ by Jeremy Dehn (USA) while the third prize was awarded to Stefanos Sitaras (Greece) for his film “Hitherto“. Among the national awards, the first place was bagged by Aneisha Sharma (Assam) for “Freedom at the Edge“, while the second place was given for “Hollow Cylinder“ by Kavita Bahl & Nandan Saxena (New Delhi) and the third place was given to “Ravi goes to School“ by Anu Menon (UK). The audience choice awards were given to “Blindness“ by Helio San Miguel (USA) and for “A Muslim…but not a terrorist“ by Douglas D`gama (Mumbai). All the film makers who participated in SFFI were also awarded by Director S.P. Jhananathan. The delegates of the different colleges were also presented with a certificate by Actress Mallika Kappor. The chief coordinator of the SFFI Rev. Harris proposed the vote of thanks and applauded the efforts of everyone who contributed to making the SFFI 2008 a grand success. The festival came to a joyous conclusion with the national anthem.
SFFI 2008 remains unique for the fruitful collaboration it manifested from several colleges and media institutions. DBICA – Don Bosco Institute of Communication Arts together with Das Management Services, Canada had Tamil Maiyam, Good Will Communications, South India Film chamber of Commerce, Culture & Communications Centre, Loyola College, Madras School of Social Work, Dept of Communications, S.R.M College, Govt Fine Arts College, Ethiraj Women`s College, A.M. Jain College and Guru Nanak College. The students and staff unanimously expressed their eagerness and joy to work together and plan already for SFFI 2009. It was another unique and memorable film festival time in Chennai.