Vilnius Short Film Festival unveils new identity in move towards greater accessibility and inclusion

News 2023-12-14

Vilnius Short Film Festival, marking its seventeenth edition in January 2024, presents a new identity, with strategic and visual solutions being one of the first steps towards the broader audience inclusion and the organisers’ commitment to increase the Festival’s accessibility to people with disabilities and to other socially disadvantaged groups.

“As a Festival, we have always strived to present and reflect questions that are important today, both in film industryand public life. And today we feel it is very important to do our best to welcome as many people as possible to our events and short film screenings. Therefore, in our 17th edition, we have decided to take certain steps to make our visual identity not only attractive but also to help us speak louder on the subject of accessibility. We see this identity change as a sign of maturity and a major process that has given us an opportunity to reconsider our goals, audiences and priorities. At the same time, this step and the topic “encoded” in it is a great responsibility towards our audience to create better  conditions for them to see our programmes and participate in our events,” says Rimantė Daugėlaitė-Cegelskienė, Head of the Vilnius Short Film Festival.

The Festival changes its logo, visual identity and name

Vilnius Short Film Festival has lost the word “international” from its name, making it clearer and easier to read, and its new visual language is inspired by film subtitles as elements that open up films to wider audiences, regardless of their language. However, not everyone perceives the world through language, sound or image, so the festival is exploring and studying this complex topic. The development of strategic moves as well as the new visual identity has been done with the help of creative agency Autoriai, which has been actively exploring the topics of accessibility and inclusion in communication and advertising. The Festival first collaborated with the agency back in 2012.

Giedrė Ona Šileikytė, founder and creative director of Autoriai creative agency, says: “This project is incredibly unique. We wanted to come up with a visual identity that had the greatest possible accessibility and was both functional and conceptual. It’s no secret that in arts and culture, graphic design solutions often favour aesthetics over function, resulting in elaborate visual solutions which eliminate the fundamental function of design – making people’s lives easier to read, understand or discover. Working on this new visual identity for the Vilnius Short Film Festival, and knowing that it serves as the festival’s symbolic commitment to making short films more accessible, we have tried to focus on these fundamental functions and accessibility rules of graphic design, in a sense going back to its roots. 

The new visual identity is centred on subtitles and dialogue, elements that help every film reach other worlds, nations and contexts. The use of contrasting graphics and colours, clear hierarchy of elements and very minimal design solutions not only ensure the accessibility of the visual identity, but also send its key message: the aim to be equally understandable, visible and comprehensible to all rather than a specific group of people.”

Call for film community to share experiences and be the change they want to see

Film industry and cinemas in Lithuania are facing serious accessibility challenges, and the Festival would like to contribute to addressing these issues and bringing them to the attention of both cinema managers and decision-makers. For instance, only a very small number of screening venues are properly adapted for use by persons with physical disability. In addition, the Festival pledges to increase accessibility through a variety of means, such as audio description for the visually impaired, subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing (SDH), sign language interpretation of events, or efforts to increase accessibility to short films for seniors, families or other socially vulnerable groups.

Vilmantas Balčikonis, representative of the Lithuanian Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired, says: “The topic of accessibility is becoming increasingly prominent in public discourse, from accessibility of physical environment to information and cultural products. While the efforts of institutions, organisations and communities are bearing fruit, there is still lack of breakthrough in certain areas. This includes cinema accessibility: there is a shortage of films with audio description, a lack of understanding that instead of being a burden for the filmmakers, it offers an opportunity to bring in new and undiscovered target groups.”

Within the context of these strategic changes, the essence of the Festival remains unchanged – it will continue to showcase the most interesting short films from Lithuania and abroad, highlighting the latest film trends and present-day issues, whereas the audiences will be invited to enjoy the diversity of the short film genre, its inventiveness and openness to experiments. 

The 17th edition of the Vilnius Short Film Festival will take place on 17-23 January 2024 in Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda and Šiauliai cinemas and on Žmonės Cinema VoD platform throughout Lithuania. The festival is organised by the Lithuanian short film agency Lithuanian Shorts.