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Short Films, Long Run

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The 10th Annual Love Your Shorts Film Festival is coming in February, marking a major milestone for this homegrown event

if Nancy Kruckemyer had a better sense of direction, there probably wouldn’t be a Love Your Shorts Film Festival. But because she took a wrong turn during a sightseeing trip out West, the festival not only exists, it will celebrate its 10th annual showcase of award-winning short films this Valentine’s Day weekend in Sanford.

In 2010, Nancy and her husband, Gene, were en route to visit Hoover Dam in Nevada when she accidentally drove the wrong way. The couple ended up in nearby Boulder City, a quaint, artsy town that reminded them of Sanford, where they had lived since 2004. Instead of leaving, they explored the town and came across the historic Boulder Theatre and the Dam Short Film Festival, which is screened there every year.

Intrigued, they settled in to watch a block of comedy shorts, and that’s when inspiration struck Nancy. She recalls telling Gene, “We could do this in Sanford. We could do this in our town, and people could see what a nice place it is.”

Gene liked the idea, so after they returned home, the Kruckemyers pitched it to three friends who were gung-ho about teaming up to launch a film festival. And voila, Love Your Shorts was born. After a year of planning, the festival – which celebrates the art of short films and the creative types who make them – made its debut in 2011.

“We must be doing something right to get to 10 years,” says Gene, president of the festival’s board of directors. “It’s really been a community and volunteer collaboration. We’ve gotten so much support from everyone.”

Nancy agrees, adding, “We’re in a town where people really believe in the idea of a film festival. It takes a community working together to make this happen, and that’s what I love most about this festival.”

The 10th annual Love Your Shorts Film Festival will run February 13-16 at the historic Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center (WDPAC) on Magnolia Avenue. The first year, the movie selections were screened at the Greater Sanford Regional Chamber of Commerce headquarters. However, festival organizers realized right away that they needed a bigger venue, and WDPAC became home to Love Your Shorts in its second year.

The 2020 festival will feature more than 75 movies from the United States and 12 other countries, all running less than 30 minutes each. This year’s chosen films were culled from more than 400 entries, which is the most the festival has ever received. Genres that are screened include comedy, drama, animation, documentary, sci-fi/horror, the family-friendly E for Everyone, Florida Flavor, and the newly-added foreign film block.

The audience votes for its favorite film in each category, and the winners advance to the Best of the Fest competition on closing night. A panel of judges then determines the overall Best of the Fest winner.

Love Your Shorts may not be the biggest film festival around, but it has one of the best reputations.

Filmmakers from near and far give Love Your Shorts glowing reviews for its warm, welcoming atmosphere, and they often attend the event to network and get feedback on their movies. One of the filmmakers dubbed Love Your Shorts as the best boutique festival that he’s ever been part of, a description the Kruckemyers think is fitting.

“We are a boutique film festival, and I kind of like that,” Nancy says. “We’re never going to be Cannes or Tribeca [major festivals in France and New York City, respectively], and I don’t want to be.”

The small-but-mighty Love Your Shorts festival generates a buzz in downtown Sanford every winter, with filmmakers and film fans alike bonding over their shared passion for movies.

“The festival creates a community of people who love films and want to talk about the movies they just saw, whether they loved or hated them,” Gene says.

For tickets or details, visit LoveYourShorts.com.

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