The Reel Shorts Film Festival celebrates short films and the filmmakers who make them by screening gems of storytelling brilliance from around the world, across Canada, and here in the Peace Region. We entertain audiences, and inspire, develop, and showcase Peace Region filmmakers, thus helping to grow a filmmaking community in northwest Alberta and northeast British Columbia.

In 2006, Terry Scerbak attended the Edmonton International Film Festival as the Writer/Producer of a short film programmed in the Our Own Backyard series. She came back to Grande Prairie inspired to share some of the great short films she’d seen. As a volunteer with Grande Prairie Live Theatre, one of Canada’s largest nonprofit community theatres, she founded the Reel Shorts Film Festival with the first fest taking place in March 2007. It bounced around in April in 2008, 2009, and 2010, but finally found a home on the calendar starting in 2011 when it opened on the first Wednesday of May where it has remained.

In 2007, the fest screened 38 films over 3 days. In 2008, 44 films. The years 2009-2011 had programs of 62-72 films. In 2012, we screened 101 films from 26 countries over 5 days which was the largest program of short films presented by a film festival in Alberta. In 2013, two of the fest’s program of 102 films from 22 countries were produced by the festival: The Horizon Project which was shot in July 2012 as part of the 2-week internship program called Shoot for Reel; and HB which was shot in April 2013 as part of the 7-week Youth Film Mentorship Project.

Since 2010, audiences have chosen their favorite film. Winners of the Audience Choice Award have been:

The school program of screenings, workshops, and class visits is an important part of the film festival. School screenings introduce Grade 1-12 students to short films from around the world that help to broaden their world view while providing a basis for further classroom discussion. Over the first six years of the fest, filmmaking workshops for junior high and high school students introduced them to the most collaborative art form in the world and to the experience of sharing their films with an audience. Filmmaker class visits give students the opportunity to meet a filmmaker, watch his/her short film, and then participate in a discussion of the film and the filmmaking process.

Workshops offered to the public have included screenwriting, directing, acting, and editing.

The 2013 festival had attendance of 2,750 in Grande Prairie Live Theatre’s 165-seat theatre including 1,000 students from 16 schools in the region, some travelling from as far as Hines Creek (132 km) and Eaglesham (130 km) to attend the fest. It marked the first year that the fest joined the list of ACCT (Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television) approved Canadian film festivals for the purpose of submitting short films for Canadian Screen Award consideration.