Gong Shorts Fest Returns to San Antonio With a Bang


Gong ShortsA trip to a Tucson movie theater in 2010 provided San Antonio-based filmmaker Kimberly Suta with the inspiration to start what may be one of the Alamo City's most dreaded and fun-filled interactive film festivals.

In its third round, Gong Shorts promises to return with a bang at 7 pm tonight at the Alamo Drafthouse Park North in San Antonio. 

The festival invites filmmakers of all ages and genres (except pornography) to submit their 3-15 minute films for the opportunity to be screened in front of a live audience. The catch: After three minutes of screen time, if audience members dislike the film they have the opportunity to yell "Gong," eliminating the filmmaker from the competition.

However, filmmakers may rework and resubmit their (hopefully better) film for future Gong Shorts events. 

Suta co-owns NiffNot Productions, which runs the fest, with fellow San Antonian Catherine Nored. Suta has heard people are intimidated by the short film festival's theme, feeling as though they are being set up to fail.

"If it's a good film, people are going to watch it," she said. "People want something to win, but they're definitely happy to gong it."

In an effort to continue to help filmmakers hone their craft (and possibly save future audience members' time), a new formatting change will allow this year's 20 contestants a chance to ask the audience for feedback.

San Antonio-based performer Jade Esteban Estrada, who said he first met Suta at a voice-over audition, is no stranger to rejection or approval. As a stand-up comedian, Estrada said he can handle negative audience feedback better than filmmakers because he is performing live and can recover more easily. This year's Gong Shorts audience members can judge for themselves when Estrada reprises his role as emcee, a job that may not be all it is cracked up to be when having to maintain order in a movie theater that serves alcohol to its patrons. 

Whether audience members are laughing at or with the contestants' films, Suta said the purpose of the event is for people to have fun.

Don't worry, the winner will still receive a $100 cash prize and bragging rights.