The Short Film Conference is a world-wide organization which came into being in 1970, and which has the task of promoting the distribution and screening of short films, calling attention to and improving the position of short films at international film festivals, providing support for festivals with a positive attitude towards short films, increasing the exchange of ideas and information between festival organizers and national short film supporters groups, as well as spreading world-wide information on new short films and their production in different countries. In a nutshell, the Short Film Conference works to promote the status of the short film by all the means at its disposal.
Over the years, the Short Film Conference has engaged in a useful dialogue with the FIAPF (Fédération Internationale des Associations des Producteurs de Films), a federation monitoring among other activities, the international festival scene.
Useful dialogues have also over the years taken place with other organizations, such as the AID (Association Internationale des Documentaristes), the FIPRESCI (Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique), the CIDALC (Comité International pour la Difusion des Arts et des Lettres par le Cinema) and the ASIFA (Association Internationale du Films d’Animation).
The Conference was founded on an initiative from Britain, from the National Panel for Film Festivals. The first meeting was held in Cork, Ireland in September 1970, and was attended by 16 representatives from 11 countries. Professor Asa Briggs, then Chairman of the National Panel for Film Festivals, was invited to take on the same task with the Conference, and the secretary-general’s job was delegated to Francis Howard-Gwynne. After Prof. Briggs, the Conference chairs to date have been James Quinn (UK), 1971-79 and Jean Lefebvre (Canada) from 1979, In 1979, James Quinn was elected Honorary Chairman as has been Jean Lefebvre in 1991 when he resigned after his 12 active presidential years. His successor was Prof. Gyögy Kárpáti from Hungary, now an Honorary President.
In the late 1970’s the Short Film Conference published on experimental basis a few numbers of its own bulletin. In addition, the Conference has published three editions of the catalogue List of Recent Best Short and Documentary Films, of which the latest takes in a world-wide survey of the years 1982-84. Earlier catalogues have covered 1979-80 and 1981 respectively. The position of short and documentary films and prospects for producing and distributing them have also been examined in two large duplicated reports from 1979 and 1982.
As well as these works, the Conference has also produced a number of guide booklets, including How To Sell Your Short Film commissioned from the Canadian distributor Jan Rofekamp. An Italian version of this was published in 1993 by the Festival Internazionale Cinema Giovani, Torino.
The minutes of the plenary meetings of the Conference, have often included such interesting information as the list of critics who cover short and documentary films or papers by guest speakers invited to the meetings, such as Short Films and the Press by François Ode or Psycho-physiology of Film and Video by Dimitri Balachoff, or The Video Revolution and Video Piracy.
In 1993 the Conference decided to publish a newsletter. The first issue, was edited by Angela Hardt and printed by the International Short Film Festival, Oberhausen.
The Short Film Conference has traditionally held its plenary meetings as guest of festivals dealing with short films. This habit has enabled its members to get acquainted with these events.