"Welcome to The Short List , the Emmy-award-winning series showcasing outstanding short films from around the world." Jack Ofield has been introducing The Short List in the same way, with the same stately voice, for the last 13 seasons.
As filmmaker-in-residence at San Diego State University and executive producer of The Short List -a film series shown twice a week locally on Cox Channel 4 and nationally on hundreds of PBS affiliates-over the years, Ofield is da man when it comes to short-format cinema.
"There's a short-film world," explained Ofield, "and I'm sort of the short-film world here in this country. I think [ The Short List ] is the only program of any consistency that stays on and shows short films."
Almost every day, Ofield strolls into his office and finds up to six different packages from different countries sitting on his desk-all submitted work from hopeful filmmakers who know there aren't many distribution options open to them.
With the help of a few grad students, he sifts through the material and stocks the programs with quality films, ranging anywhere from 30 seconds to 30 minutes long.
Every 10th program, Ofield takes a step back from the worldwide market and hands over the highly sought-after airspace to SDSU student films.
In the past, he would air student films on Channel 4 and then replace them with professional shorts when the program hit PBS. But, Ofield explained, "the work just kept on improving."
Two years ago, he let student films reach PBS "just to see what happens." Nothing bad did; in fact, the feedback was positive. Now Ofield allows the student films to be broadcast nationally-quite a treat for young filmmakers who use their shorts as working résumés.
"They have very good credit there," said Ofield. "They're out on the network with their own film."
This year's showcase of student films includes Bartholomew's Song by Destin Cretton, Allison Welch and Lowell Frank; Change of Address by Chad Clabaugh; and Torah by Roselyn Supriyah.
The SDSU student films will be aired on Cox Channel 4 beginning at 9:30 p.m. Thursday, March 23, and will continue at the same time every Thursday and Sunday through April 30. Visit www.the shortlist.cc.