4th August 1981
The Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival is organised by Sauve qui peut le court métrage (roughly translatable as "Short Film: S.O.S!"), a registered association which was created on 4th August 1981 out of the need to set up a major event around short films.
In 1979, a Short Film Week was organised by the Clermont-Ferrand University Film Society. This event was repeated in 1980 and 1981, was enthusiastically received by the audience and responded to the expectations of many professionals.
Members of the film society then created "Sauve qui peut le court métrage" in order to develop their project into a genuine Festival. A registered non-profit organisation, "Sauve qui peut le court métrage" gradually obtained support from the City of Clermont-Ferrand, the Puy-de-Dôme District, the Auvergne Region, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Foreign Affairs, the French Film Centre and the Regional Arts Council.
The Festival became competitive with a jury attributing awards to films selected from the recent French short film production. International films were shown in special programmes highlighting a particular theme, genre, country or region of the world. The audience was also presented with tributes to the great short film makers of the past and present. The organisation depended mostly on the passion and determination of a voluntary staff.
A permanent staff of 4 people moved into a small place which they used as their offices and projection room. The audience grew regularly along the years. As the event got bigger, more financial support was secured, and more permanent and temporary staff were needed.
Due to the growing interest of the industry, the first Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Market was organised, with the support of the Festival's historical institutional partners and the European Union. The determination to raise the economic profile of the short film production has been confirmed by the ever-growing number of French and foreign television buyers, distributors and festival programmers who have attended the Short Film Market to make their selections. Many international agencies and organisations working with short films have also become regular attendees.
The 1st International Festival was presented, alongside the 10th National Festival, thus contributing to establish Clermont-Ferrand as the major international platform for short films. In 1989, the Festival attracted 28,000 spectators.
100,000 spectators attended the Festival to celebrate the first century of cinema with a programme that once again testified to the vitality and creativity of generations of film makers.
The Auvergne Film Commission was born. A branch of "Sauve qui peut le court métrage", the Auvergne Film Commission offers free services to any production wishing to shoot in the region, and helps to facilitate the work of the film crews and provide them with information on local resources, services and professionals.
The association moved into "La Jetée", a building named after Chris Marker's short film. "La Jetée" is home to the offices of "Sauve qui peut le court métrage", the Auvergne Film Commission and a unique Resource Centre dedicated to short films.
And there was Lab… With the arrival of digital technology, the festival opened to films on video. The introduction of a new competition dedicated to digital creation marked a first step in this direction. Yet the programming of films according to their original format was rapidly discarded. And soon, all competitions accepted professional video formats. The 5 new programmes on offer quickly became the Lab Competition, where the festival public can discover works combining various genres, techniques and artistic backgrounds. The Lab has become an established feature of the festival and has influenced similar sections in several international festivals.
After hosting over two million spectators, thousands of films, hundreds of filmmakers, eleven French Culture Ministers, eight general managers of the French Film Centre, the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival celebrated 30 years of an unrivalled enthusiasm for shorts.
The Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival has become the world's premier cinema event dedicated to short films. It is the second largest film festival in France after Cannes in terms of audience and professional attendance. It is at the heart of many all-year-round activities and missions conducted from La Jetée by the collective team of Sauve qui peut le court métrage. Its permanent staff of 17 all live in the Auvergne region, where a lively environment has developed around filmmaking.
In 2009, the Festival attracted 137,196 admissions and over 2,800 professional delegates.