In Conversation with Helen Upcraft, IWM Short Film Festival Director

8th October 2018
In Conversation with Helen Upcraft, IWM Short Film Festival Director

Helen Upcraft

Helen Upcraft, IWM Short Film Festival Director



5 days, 10 programmes, 28 films

The 15th IWM Short Film Festival is returning to IWM London from 25-29 October 2018. After five months of shortlisting and judging, 28 imaginative and challenging films will be screened. Through the lens of animations, documentaries and dramas these films explore the IWM’s remit: to understand the causes, course and consequences of war.  These films will be screened daily from 10.00-16.00, and are free to attend.

Five awards will be presented at a private Awards Ceremony on 24 October, and audiences will have the chance to vote for their favourite film at the end of each screening. The winner of the Audience Vote will be announced via our social media channels at the end of the festival.

The festival will also be presenting free daily screenings of They Shall Not Grow Old, Peter Jackson’s (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings) artistic response to the First World War, co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW and IWM. Archive footage has been transformed to present never before seen detail, offering a new perspective on this 20th century conflict to a 21st century audience.



How is this year’s festival different from previous years?

This year the festival forms part of IWM’s Making A New World Season. The season focuses on how the First World War has shaped the society we live in today, and explores various themes such as remembrance and rebuilding. Being a part of this season has allowed filmmakers to re-examine the conflict, as we mark the centenary of the end of the First World War. This year we also extended our Archive package, to encourage filmmakers to use more of the IWM’s collections. The package included five films, five images and three sound recordings to be used free of charge.

How do people go about using the IWM’s collection in their films?

The IWM has a huge collection made up of different types of objects including 11 million photographs, 20,000 paintings and over 23,000 hours of film.  The collection can be searched online via the IWM website and can be licensed by contacting the Media Sales and licensing team, for various different projects. If you are just after film the IWM Film website has been built specifically for researchers - registered users can save selections, create clips and download time-coded screeners.

What do you look for when judging entries?

With five very different categories there is a wide range of criteria to consider when selecting the winning films - from the quality of the script and plot, through to the historically accurate use of archive material. However, we are always looking for films which approach the subject matter in an imaginative way, or tell lesser known stories.

What do you hope that audiences will take away from the festival?

That war and conflict has the power to shape people’s lives in many different ways. We hear thousands of personal stories every year at the IWM, all of which have the capacity to resonate with many different people. Film is a great medium to convey these stories, past and present, from across the globe. It allows people to draw parallels with other wars or people’s experiences, and I hope deepen their understanding of conflict.