Ricarda Vidal - Visual Culture

Betting on Shorts

BoSs 2009

‘Betting on Shorts’ (BoSs) was an annual short film competition which brought together cutting-edge venues and film festivals across and beyond Europe in a unique simultaneous screening: “More than a Eurovision of Shortfilm”. It ran from 2005 to 2009. Each year a themed open call for submissions was posted worldwide. 10 – 15 shorts of any genre (but under 10 min) were selected for the competition, which was screened simultaneously in all participating cities. A local winner was chosen by a jury of critics, curators and other film professionals in each city. Once all juries had compared their results, the overall winner was awarded glory, fame and cash.
So the audience could have some fun as well, we invited everyone to bet on which film would win. Bets had to be placed before the screening based on the trailers of the participating films, which were screened in all venues and on the website a week in advance of the competition. Those who had placed their bet well, could win cinema tickets, dvds, books and the like.

A Little Bit of History

BoSs was launched in 2005 by Ricarda Vidal and Louise Höjer, as an annual short film competition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London. From 2007 to 2009 it was run by Ricarda, Irini Marinaki and Konstantinos Stefanis and in 2009 Sarah Sparkes joined the team. The BoSs archive is now run by Ricarda, Irini and Konstantinos.

In 2006 an invitation to programme three screenings in the Kunstfabrik in Berlin (‘Vacant Films’) in collaboration with a local artist group marked the beginning of our international presence and formed the starting point of what was soon to grow into a large pan-European network of cultural organisations and institutions. With the aim to make BoSs into a truly international event, we contacted film curators, professionals and enthusiasts across the continent. In November 2007 we launched the first edition of “More than a Eurovision of Shortfilm” in collaboration with 10 partners.

Past and present partners since 2007 have included:

The ICA in London, the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin, Mikrokosmos Prince in Athens, Kino Rialto in Poznan, Pitkofi in Rostov-on-Don, KIBLA Multimedia Centre in Maribor, NFC Kinoklub in Novi Sad, the CCCB in Barcelona, Bilgi University in Istanbul, Point Ephémère in Paris, exground filmfestival in Wiesbaden, The Romanian Cultural Institute, Bucharest, art|house in Thessaloniki and Teater Scenario in Stockholm.

The Selection Process

A longlist of ca 40 films was selected by the BoSs team in London from the bulk of submissions. The shortlist of 10-15 films was chosen later in the year at a convention with representatives of all partner institutions, which took place in a different city each year. For “More than a Eurovision of Shortfilm” the shortlisted films were screened simultaneously in all participating venues and judged by a panel of renowned film-curators and critics (in London, for example, the panel included leading UK film-curators from Tate ModernICAFuture ShortsLondon Short Film Festival and LUX).

Each jury chose only one winner. In an audiovisual-conference (skype and Facebook) we compared results in all venues and determined the overall winner. The winner was awarded a cash prize to help realize future projects.

Why ‘Betting’?

Decisions that are based on the personal tastes and opinions of cultural critics and curators are always to a certain degree arbitrary. Whether a film wins is not only based on its outstanding quality but also on luck. It’s a bit of a gamble. We liked that and decided to give the audience a chance to play as well.
Therefore, we invited everyone to bet on which film will be the winner.*

The overall framework and schedule for the event was synchronised across all venues: The audience placed their bets, watched the same programme and adjourned to the bar to wait for the local judges to come to a decision. The integration of the audience through the betting created an intimate atmosphere where everybody felt involved with the films on a more personal level.

What interested us was to create a situation which took on a different shape in each city and inspired a different reaction. The audio/video conference transgressed geographical borders by creating a space where people could meet and communicate on an international common ground, which encouraged a playful and creative cross-cultural exchange.



To sidestep the issue of a betting licence no money could be bet. It was more like a game than a gamble: The audience would simply be asked to fill in a form with their name and the title of the film they believed to win.