Miami short Film Festival

  1. A film festival based in Miami, Florida that features short films of 20-minutes or less each
  2. A growing movement to exhibit and expand the art form of short filmmaking
  3. A venue to build community around the arts

Our Philosophy:  Short films, past and present, are true works of art, and deserve a venue dedicated to their exhibition.

Our mission is to present quality films from around the world as well as support, recognize and honor filmmakers creating a films under 20 minutes.

Serving as South Florida’s only short film festival, MsFF was founded to showcase Miami as a leader in contemporary filmmaking, and aims to exhibit the most captivating and innovative short content. In the process, MsFF hopes to build an audience for short film as well as induldge it’s current dedicated followers. For two weeks every fall, thousands will flock to Miami to view over 50 films from around the world. These films are organized thematically, in hopes of representing the full range of the human experience as reflected by our chosen filmmakers.

The Miami short Film Festival is a dedicated contributor to the cultural arts, economy, and education of Miami-Dade County. Through a highly effective strategic partnership model, MsFF has introduced its unique programs and programming year-round into theaters, classrooms, businesses, and organizations throughout Miami-Dade County.


    • Continually build audience for short film
    • Cultivate the careers of film directors, producers and screenwriters working in the short independent film sector
    • Increase diversity and collaboration in short film productions
    • Create local projections and installations that feature international content
    • Find and acknowledge innovative storytelling
    • Give short film an identity differentiating it from classical big screen and modern transmedia platforms
    • Expand awareness to local film happenings
    • Connect local filmmakers and industry professionals
    • Identify Miami as an epicenter for contemporary storytelling
Festival History


The Miami short Film Festival (MsFF) was founded in 2002 with a short film and a big dream. William Vela, veteran television actor and producer, produced 360˚ with director Erik Rubalcava and thirty of his closest friends from the acting community. After six rigorous months of production, Vela finished his short and  organized a “friends and family” screening to premier the film.

Vela rented a space, a projector, and 50 chairs for what he thought would be an intimate event, but as the word spread around Miami other directors and producers began to show interest in participating with their own shorts. Soon enough a total of 17 movies were collected for the showcase that would ultimately become the first night of the Miami short Film Festival.

Incredibly, 310 guests arrived in celebration of local short cinema, and they were eager for more. Thus MsFF was born, and those 50 chairs have been replaced by multiple theaters all over Miami.

The Teenage Years

As Vela’s dreams of a short film festival grew, he realized he had to bring in bigger partners. MsFF found its match in a collaboration with Miami Dade College Director, Dr. Jose Padron, who granted the festival use of the Tower Theater, a venue known for its unique focus on international films and strong local patronage. The Tower would host the first annual edition of the event, a festival that was truly the first of its kind in South Florida. MsFF held its 2nd and 3rd annual editions in the same location, attracting over 2,000 patrons and boasting the participation of short films from over 21 different countries. The MsFF bug was spreading to places as far as Australia, China, Italy, Israel, Argentina, Mexico, and the Middle East.

Branching out

In 2006, MsFF was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) in order to better serve its mission of supporting Miami’s burgeoning film industry by celebrating the art of short filmmaking, and exposing local audiences as well as the next generation of young artists to creative content from around the world.

In 2007, the University of Miami’s School of Communication presented the festival at the Bill Cosford Cinema, a local gem for cinephiles, students and the Miami community. Also with substantial financial underwriting from UMiami, the 7th annual edition of the Festival was able to expand to venues such as the Miami Science Museum Planetarium, the Miami Beach Cinematheque, The Miami Children’s Museum, all while maintaining its roots on Calle Ocho at the Tower Theater. As MsFF spread through the veins of the Miami art world, the festival began to see record submissions and attendance. Film selections included prize-winners at major Festivals such as Sundance, Toronto, and the Oscars.

Becoming an Adult

When the economy began to falter and the arts took a major hit, MsFF was able to pull through by tightening its budget and strengthening its bonds to the local community. Amazingly enough, short filmmakers seemed bolstered by the financial challenge. Films arrived in record numbers, and the content was worth fighting for. MsFF’s dedication to the art of short film continues to be the driving force behind the momentum of the fest, and as MsFF rounds the corner towards its 10-year anniversary there are no signs of slowing down.

Building a Family

In 2011 MsFF has been revived by new partnerships with companies and people that were impressed with the fortitude of the fest, and the impact it has had over the last ten years. With the help of these partners, and an experienced staff, MsFF is moving to the Colony Theater on Miami Beach. The Colony is a venue that has been desired since the festival’s inception, and represents a true induction for the organization into Miami’s collection of awesome and recognizable art events.

The Miami New Times will present the 10th Edition of MsFF, and the nine-day event will be a bit more action packed than previous festivals. After ten years, Vela remains at the helm as festival director. He knows its time to go big, and the festival team wouldn’t have it any other way. So buckle your seatbelts in 2011 and drive to the beach for cutting edge shorts programming, a fabulous party or two, and a tribute to some MsFF classics.

“The 10th Anniversary marks the perfect occasion to revisit past winners and see where these filmmakers find themselves now. MsFF’s philosophy has always been that today’s short films lead to tomorrow’s world-renowned filmmakers. Philosophy then becomes reality by highlighting these filmmakers and their journeys ‘post-short’.” states Diliana Alexander, Festival Programmer 2011.

Getting Older

The future is bright for MsFF. Although there may be a mid-life crisis (or two) along the way, the fest looks forward to growing old with its faithful audience and ever-expanding filmmaker family.


  • Best of Fest
  • Best Animation
  • Best Experimental
  • Best Documentary
  • Best Narrative
  • Best Environmental
  • Best Local
  • Best Music Video
  • Best mobileshort
  • Best Tomorrow’s Filmmaker of Today
  • Audience Award (possibly)