"The Battle of the Jazz Guitarist"
"The Battle of the Jazz Guitarist"

The 2012 Palm Springs International ShortFest received 3,000 submissions this year, and 324 lucky shorts were chosen to screen at the Camelot Theaters, a welcome respite from the oppressive heat where Palm Springs locals and out-of-towners delight in the films featured by the festival. (The winners are listed below.)

Here's the goods from the festival's Master Class with DP Robert Elswit and Q & A with Spirit of Short Film Award winner Gus Van Sant.

Palm Springs Shortfest

The Student Academy Awards' five winning films also screened at the fest, their first public outing following the awards ceremony on June 9. Among them, David Winstone's "For Elsie" (Best Foreign Film winner) is the standout, featuring an exceptional performance from Blake Ritson. The other winners are "The Reality Clock" (director Amanda Tasse, Best Alternative), "Eyrie" (David Wolter, Best Animation), "Hiro: A Story of Japanese Internment" (Keiko Wright, Best Doc) and "Under" (Mark Raso, Best Narrative), an impressive thriller.

Best Student Documentary Short winner "The Battle of the Jazz Guitarist" is easily my favorite of the fest, while Christoph Kushnig's powerful drama "Hatch," winner of the Best Student Live Action Short (over 15 minutes) Award exhibits impressive directorial restraint. Panavision Grand Jury Award winner "Paulie," from director Andrew Nackman, is sweet and hilarious, while Julio O. Ramos' Best of the Festival Award winner "Behind the Mirrors" is dirty, clever and now eligible for Oscar consideration.

Among the other films I caught that were not singled out with awards, stand-outs include Rupert Reid's hilarious charmer "Boo!" (Australia), Caleb Johnson's disturbing "Root," Rob Richert's "My Name is Your First Love" (both from the US), and Myriam Muller's "The Father, the Son...and Anna" (Luxembourg).

Winners are listed on the next page along with trailers for "The Battle of the Jazz Guitarist," "Behind the Mirrors" and "My Name is Your First Love."