The Literally Short Film Festival makes its return to Houston this week, with 33 films from 15 countries vying for a series of juried prizes. An offshoot of the local Literal Magazine, the festival is designed to expose audiences to films that don’t normally get much screen time.

“Short films don’t get as much exposure,” said Lori Simón Salum, the festival’s director. “So this is a unique experience for our viewers. We’re such an international city, and we have films from all over the world in the festival. It’s a chance to see these stories of the human condition.”

The week of events includes screenings of documentaries, international films, films by Texas filmmakers, comedies, and a host of parties and even a poetry workshop. Screenings take place at Literal’s flagship at 5425 Renwick Drive with afterparties and a trivia night at the Richmond Arms and The Phoenix.

Salum said that one of the event’s most-anticipated evenings is the awards ceremony on June 8. That’s when winners will be announced for the Grand Jury Prize, Best Picture, and the Award of Excellence. Attendees will be able to see the ceremony and then watch the winning films. There will also be a reception with canapés, beer, and wine.

Throughout the festival, attendees will have the chance to chat with filmmakers about the inspiration behind the movies and learn more about their process.

“It’s exciting,” Salum says. “You get to have a behind-the-scenes look at what the filmmakers were thinking. It’s also a way to hear a different perspective about movie making. We have filmmakers from Switzerland and Mexico, and they approach the craft in a different way than we’re used to here in the U.S.”

None of the films submitted was longer than 25 minutes, and Simon estimates most average around 15. She thinks that festivalgoers will not only gain a deeper appreciation for the craft of filmmaking, but will also have an important reminder that these are stories about who we are as human beings.

“Sometimes it seems in the world today, we’re more and more split up,” she says. “But this festival shows us that a film from Switzerland can resonate as much as one from the Ukraine, to know we’re more alike than we are different.”

Literally Short Film Festival, June 5–9. Tickets from $10. More info and tickets at literallyshort.com.

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