History of SSFF & ASIA

History of SSFF & ASIA

In 2018, Short Shorts Film Festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary,
and Short Shorts Film Festival Asia is celebrating its 15th anniversary.
In 1999, SSFF&ASIA’s first year, 30 films were screened in 3 days in Harajuku.
Fast forward 20 years, and the festival now receives approximately 10,000 film submissions from around the world.
We believe that the culture of short films has really blossomed in Japan over the last 20 years.
Most importantly, Short Shorts will continue to show its value
by creating a bridge between Japan and the rest of the world to create a new generation of filmmakers.

SSFF & ASIA 2019 is calling for entries!

The submission period varies depending on the competition. For details please see the Submission Guidelines.




~Looking back at Short Shorts’ history over the past 20 years~

American Short Shorts Film Festival was born.

On June 4th, 1999, the first international short film festival in Japan was born in Harajuku, Tokyo.

American Short Shorts Film Festival screened high quality short films featured at the Academy Awards, Sundance Film Festival, and early works of George Lucas for their overseas premiere. George Lucas has since supported Short Shorts every year.

Photo. In 1999, Laforet Harajuku
Photo. Tetsuya Bessho & George Lucas

The era of growth and the overseas expansion of the festival


After the festival in Tokyo, Short Shorts toured nationally to Sapporo, Nagoya, Osaka, and Okinawa.


The name of the festival changed to Short Shorts Film Festival (SSFF), and began to screen not only American shorts, but also films from across the world, shifting its focus to become more global.
SSFF went to LA, USA for the first time and the festival was held at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.


SSFF received accreditation from the Academy Awards. The Grand Prix winner has the chance to be nominated in the short film categories.
“Japan and Asia” became an added focus for the festival. Being co-organized by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, it then changed its name to Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia (SSFF&ASIA). The two festivals are held at the same time every year.


Short Shorts Film Festival EXPO 2005 was held at the 2005 World Exposition in Aichi, Japan, and followed the theme: “Wisdom of Nature”.

Photo. In 2002, Roger Donaldson_Tetsuya Bessho_Colin Farrell
Photo. In 2004, SSFF ASIA

Opened a movie theater specializing in short film and new programs for the festival were introduced.


10th anniversary of Short Shorts Film Festival and the 5th anniversary of Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia.
Short Shorts opened a theater only for short films, named Brillia Short Shorts Theater.
The STOP! Global Warming Competition was introduced, which has since been renamed the Save the Earth! Competition.


The Music Shorts Competition was established, as well as the Let’s Travel Project with Japan Tourism Agency.


With the aftermath of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, Short Shorts produced a charity film and organized a charity auction under the theme of “Smile Japan by Power of Film!”
Short Shorts started festival partnerships with foreign short film festivals such as Asiana International Short Film Festival (Korea) and Kaohsiung Film Festival (Taiwan). In exchange, SSFF & ASIA selections are screened around the world.


Short Film Day was established on June 4th, the same day that the festival was held in its first year.


The 15th anniversary of Short Shorts Film Festival and the 10th anniversary of Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia.

Photo. In 2008, Brillia Short Shorts Theater
Photo. In 2011, Koichi Sato, supervisor for the charity short film

Supporting young filmmakers in making films across the world. The era of launching new projects.


“TABIMOJA” was created to introduce attractive regions of Japan using local movies.
“Oh Lucy!” directed by Atsuko Hirayanagi, which won the Grand Prix in 2012, received a lot of attention at Cannes and Sundance Film Festival.


“BOOK SHORTS” was introduced; a project that solicits short novels to be produced into short films.


“Branded Shorts” was established for branding companies and organizations.


2016 Grand Prix winner “Sing” directed by Kristóf Deák won the Oscar for Best Live Action Short at the Academy Awards.
Carried out a new project with LDH called “CINEMA FIGHTERS”, led by EXILE HERO.
Brillia Short Shorts Theater closed its doors after 10 years of history.

Photo. Branded Shorts 2017 conference Photo. Directors and cast of Cinema Fighters

REUNION and Moving Forward

Opened “Brillia Short Shorts Theater Online”
20th anniversary of SSFF, 15th anniversary of SSFF ASIA



2nd Place Award
at the 67th Cannes Film Festival Cinefondation category

Atsuko Hirayanagi

After “Mō ikkai”…Congratulations on celebrating the 20th anniversary of Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia. This is the reward of strong will and the enthusiastic support of a lot of people.To me, a great point of short films is that we are …

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Best Live Action Short Film
at the 89th Academy Awards

Kristof Deak

Our journey to the Oscars started at the moment we won the Grand Prix at SSFF & ASIA in 2016. This would not have been possible without our first major festival win and the entire festival experience leading up to this night was fantastic…

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Nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards,
making hit feature films

Jason Reitman

“In God We Trust” won the Audience Award in 2001. After that, Jason Reitman and scriptwriter Diablo Cody made the feature film “JUNO” and “Up in the Air” (featuring George Clooney). “Up in the Air” was nominated at the Academy Award…

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George Lucas

My experience with my initial short film set the tone for a filmmaking career full of tales of fantasy and adventure that continues to this day.

Wong Kar Wai

A short film is a challenge of precision and poetry. For the young filmmaker, it is also a wonderful platform to showcase their talents.

Robert Rodriguez

I'm a big fan of short subject films and believe that as an art form they are as relevant now as ever before.

Martin Scorsese

Short films are a great opportunities to express creativity while learning the craft of filmmaking.

Milos Forman

The two shorts with which I started my film career were very important in finding my own cinematic “Handwriting”

Naomi Kawase

Film Festival is the place that we can feel like we want to come back again. We can share with our buddies (young filmmakers) who making films in the world, and we get energy for making films, then go back to each place.

Hirokazu Koreeda

If you make short films, you can begin to see things, more clearly, that you can turn into a 2 hour feature film.

Shinya Tsukamoto

If you want to be moved by films, short is better. I long for this to be the ultimate goal.

Shunji Iwai

In short films, there is an atmosphere that is not present in anything else. It is a world where an artist's distilled essence can be appreciated.

Nobuhiko Obayashi

Movies are an enduring form of journalism. Movies make philosophy.