Film Festival Brings Art to Subways and Malls Around the World

Digital artist Katie Torn gives us the inside scoop.


A film festival is happening in the streets of New York, Vienna, Rio de Janeiro, Mumbai, Beirut and Kinshasa. And it doesn’t stop there.

Launched on January 15, the Art by Chance Ultra Short Film Festival is screening films in public places around the world aiming to imbue everyday life with a little bit of color, spontaneity, and visually stunning cinematography. Through March 2, the broadcasts will be occurring at airports, subway stations, and shopping malls across five continents simultaneously airing films in over 20 countries and 200 cities. This remarkable initiative, which is now in its fifth edition, is one of the largest international public art programs.

In constructing their own outdoor arena, Art by Chance appropriates space that would have been reserved for commercial advertising or billboards. These marketable endeavors have been replaced by striking and dramatic art put in place to inspire us at unlikely moments in our daily routines.

Because these films are indeed so short, roughly 30-seconds, all of them possess attention-grabbing and visually stimulating content, like digital artist Katie Torn’s seductive post-apocalyptic scenes in the selected work Breathe Deep, which Torn had to cut down for the festival. The overly tactile quality of Torn’s digital work draws the viewer in immediately. Many moving pieces combine with unusual visual effects so that you can easily watch the film five times over and discover new components each time. In many ways her selected short is reminiscent of the Art by Chance project as a whole: fragments of moving scenes create a bigger picture, whether that is an aquarium-fairy land construct, as per Torn’s imagination, or a film festival at large.

This year’s apt theme, “discover,” steadily leads the festival back to its beating heart: a pioneering way for a massive audience to preview, or come across the important and irresistible work of short filmmakers.

On the jury this year were Dick Cook, Johanna Von Fischer, Neset Dereli, Tim Georgeson, Nick Roddick, Richard Raskin, and Ryan Harrington.

For more information about screenings and locations, check the Art by Chance Ultra Short Film Festival website.

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