First the facts
Short films, often called "shorts" are productions that screen in 40 minutes and under. Films over 40 minutes are considered to be feature films. Contest entries for the Sandpoint festival were required to be 20 minutes and under, and the majority of entries fell in the under 10-minute category.
Filmmakers make shorts to showcase their skills, to inform, to entertain, or to introduce a longer production. Called "trailers" these introduction shorts are the previews of "coming attractions" that you see at movie theaters or on television.
Then the entertainment
The Sandpoint Film Festival premiered 32 films during their day-long event. I attended the afternoon and evening "blocks" of movies, consisting of 18 short films made by many local filmmakers and others from places as far away as Minnesota and Italy. Budding filmmakers of every age entered the contest: teenagers, church groups, music groups, computer animators, retired folks, and many others who just wanted to share their "story."
Before each showing, festival organizer Janice Jarzabek spent a few minutes interviewing representatives of the film, including producers, actors, cameramen, and/or writers. She often asked what the "inspiration" was for the film, or questions about the production. Hearing the motivation behind the films both fascinated and inspired me.
A second entry that tickled everyone's funny bone was "Caffeinated" by Dan Walden, a comedy about a guy who can't get his morning coffee-fix due to a series of unfortunate mishaps. Shot around Sandpoint, this 8-minute film won both an audience choice award and the third-place festival prize.
The film is an allegory about the moment when a child is forced to choose between ideology and humanity while living and playing in a dangerous war environment. - Eric Howell