With the explosion of online independent video content throughout the past few years, it has become clear that the 21st century’s silver screen will be more accessible to indie filmmakers. On June 8, the web’s best and brightest in video were given a chance to walk the red carpet in front of an enthusiastic audience in New York City at the second annual Vimeo Festival + Awards.
Vimeo, which has become the site of choice for emerging filmmakers to showcase their talent, opened this year’s competition to the public on February 20. Applicants submitted their videos online to compete in thirteen different categories, with a $5,000 prize awarded to the winner of each and a whopping $25,000 presented to the competition’s overall winner. Due to the anticipated growth of quality entries this year, Vimeo decided to introduce four new competition categories: Fashion, Action Sports, Advertising, and Lyrical.
In addition to playing host to a diverse selection of talented applicants, the Festival featured live performances from comedian and musician Reggie Watts and London’s beatboxing sensation Beardyman. The competition’s panel of judges was equally star-studded, with — among others — Parks and Recreation star Aziz Ansari judging the original series category, James Franco judging the narrative category, and Radiohead’s Colin Greenwood evaluating the music video submissions.
Vimeo Festival attendees were also given a chance to learn pro tips from industry veterans at many of the scheduled artist conversations while others got their feet wet tackling the newest editing software or honed their storyboard writing skills at educational workshops.
With 14,567 entries from 147 countries around the world, the competition was as eclectic as it was packed with talent. Here’s a taste of some of the winning submissions:
The judges chose the film “Symmetry”, by directing collective Everynone, as this year’s $25,000 Grand Prize winner. Made in collaboration with the popular New York City public radio program Radiolab, “Symmetry” has gone viral with over 2.4 million views on Vimeo alone. NYC-based Everynone’s split screen exploration of the two sides of life’s common moments is laced with an almost uncanny amount of relatable nostalgia that can stir up any viewer’s emotions in less than three minutes.
The Remix category was open to submissions that were created using sequences from existing works to make a new, original, independent video. Master editor Jeff Desom took the Remix prize for his short, “Rear Window Timelapse.” Featuring a moving tilt-shift panorama comprised of samples from Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1954 film Rear Window, Desom’s piece brings the half-century old film back to life in this stop-motion masterpiece.
Despite this category’s white-knuckle title, the Action Sports award went to a short film that sensitively explores the harrowing beauty of Ireland’s dramatic coast. Through the internal dialogue of an adventurous surf photographer, Astray Films’ “Dark Side of the Lens” weaves poetic narrative and chill-inducing nature footage to tell the gritty tale of Celtic wave riders.
Montreal-based Malcolm Sutherland’s took home the $5,000 Animation prize for his short, “Umbra.” Set in an unknown world, Sutherland’s piece uses subtly charming shapes to take the audience through a puzzling space continuum. The style of this film’s spastic hand-drawn scenes, while familiar to many indie film fans, comfortingly speaks to a forgotten era of animation.
Videos submitted to the Captured category had to feature the filmmaker’s own artistic expression or performance as the piece’s subject. Video production duo SWEATSHOPPE took the prize with a piece that captured their ethereal “video painting” of public spaces around Europe. Tagging up walls and statues from Berlin to Belgrade and beyond, this brilliantly simple form of ephemeral street art will leave you thinking, Why didn’t I think of that?
Feeling inspired? It might be time to dig up that old screenplay hiding on your computer. A skilled eye and a handsome helping of elbow grease could land you on the red carpet. But there’s no shame in kicking back with a fresh bag of popcorn and leaving the directing to the pros. We’re about to do just that.