Where Wild Bisons meet Short Films – Zubroffka International Short Film Festival

A place in-between East and West Europe – the 9th Zubroffka International Short Film Festival is an event not to miss for short filmmakers this winter. The FilmFestivalLife festival is situated at Białystok, one of Poland’s most mystical locations, a place where you can meet wild bisons outside and hot never ending parties inside. We had a chat with Artistic Director Maciej Rant and Program & Media Coordinator Marcin Łuczaj about their festival, the harsh Polish winter and short filmmaking.


Jana Dietze, FilmFestivalLife: What is new this edition what filmmakers should know when applying?

Maciej Rant: First of all we don’t charge submission fees. We don’t care about premiere policies or if your film has made it to 5 or 100 festivals. This year we’ve added a new competition for kids films. We also continue our partnership with ShortsTV, who are offering a distribution deal for the Grand Prix winner. And the most important thing – for most of the filmmakers that is – is that we keep cash prizes as high as our budget allows us.

Marcin Łuczaj: We’re looking for new films all the time. We travel to other festivals, scout new talents, asking our friends who are programmers for tips from their own country. It’s really a process of digging! We’re also trying to be a bridge between East and West. That’s why we’ve separated the international competition from the Eastern and Central Europe one, but when they come, and they are often willing to make a long trip here, they all meet together in one place…

What makes a good short film for you? What does a film require to be selected?

ML: We’re simply looking for really good films. I know it sounds pretty silly, but I’ve never read a recipe for a good film. We like short films that aren’t just a condensed feature film.

MR: The film has to be up to 30 mins. Well, actually it doesn’t, because if it’s really kick-ass, we even select films that are a little longer! We’re not looking for classical films in terms of story – we like it when the director shows the world as it really is. We also like crossing borders, especially cultural and geographical ones, as we are based in the middle of East and West.

Do you have any tips for filmmakers?

ML: We wish we could share some tips, that really work. We believe that there is a festival for every film, so first of all don’t go crazy if you’re not selected. When we finish watching submissions, our short list is far bigger than the 70-something competition films we have each year. We’re also very supportive of filmmakers selected to our festival. We use our networks to help them get selected at other festivals and we suggest films to friends from other festivals for example.

Why should a filmmaker attend Zubroffka?

ML: The winter here is quite an experience, but we know how to keep you warm. We have a lot of industry attendees every year, but at the same time it’s an atmosphere to make friendships first and business second. We lock them all for a few days in our cinema, festival club and other venues and everyone has to keep close to each other, because this ain’t California! I’m kidding slightly – it’s not Siberia either. Anyway, a lot of the festival attendees are coming back here every year. If you’re not looking for a red-carpet, but a cosy and filmmaker-friendly festival, note down our dates. We are the hometown of Dziga Vertov and the infamous ZUBROWKA vodka. And don’t forget that we even have wild bisons here!

Why online submissions?

MR: In the last two years we kind of grown faster than we expected and it started to be very problematic keeping and managing all DVDs. So this year we decided to go with online submissions whilst also keeping the traditional DVD mailing system, because some people still like it. We usually select films in groups of 10 people and most of us have other jobs. Sometimes we have to wait for some colleagues to send us the DVDs back. Online submissions are an easier and faster way to share.


Maciej Rant, Artistic Director
Marcin Łuczaj, Program & Media Coordinator

Zubroffka International Short Film Festival
Dec 03 – 07, 2014
Białystok, Poland

Submit to Zubroffka on FilmFestivalLife:

Submit to BOFA on FFL

Late Deadline: 01 September 2014
Late Deadline: 01 October 2014 (Only Polish filmmakers)


Read more FOCUS features from FilmFestivalLife:
:: BOFA’s ‘Crowd Judge’ – A New Way for Festival Programming?
:: ‘I expected more’ Razor Reel about Cannes’ Marché du Film and Genre Films


Read more of Jana’s articles

Jana Dietze

Jana Dietze is the Head of Communications at FFL. Her editorial background includes positions as Editor of N24 News channel and Editor of Fulmidas Media Agency. Her film experience is grounded in studying Film Science, Georg-August University, Göttingen. Reach her at jana(at)filmfestivallife.com