The vibrant 1990s.
In a natural way and purely out of a love for the art, we started showing short films made by friends in the Palacio de la Música cinema. We'd do it with style, right on the Gran Vía of Madrid, giving the star treatment to each short film. Every time, in a cinema on the most cinematographic street in the capital city. One of the many films we hosted like this was 'Cazadores' by the young Achero Mañas, who would win the Goya Award for best short film in 1998. Soon thereafter, all our friends started asking us to have their shorts shown there.
15 premiers a year
With things going as well as they were, and since more and more people were wanting to premiere their short film on the Gran Via as though it were a feature film, we decided to create an annual program of short film premieres, with the Cine Capitol as its main venue.
At that time, we charged each short filmmaker a small fee. It was a magical time, receiving shorts on 35 mm and organizing 15 premieres a year with 5 shorts at each session (which comes to 75 short films per year!). If you were living in Madrid at that time, it wasn't weird to spend a night watching shorts on the Gran Vía. Thank you for that, by the way.
Cortogenia is born!
We become a FESTIVAL (in capital letters).
A historical year for us, as we decided to take a leap and totally change the structure of the festival. In order to become a full-fledged Festival, we made a call for entries and did a selection of short films (boy was it hard to tell our friends we weren't selecting their short!). It was that year that the awards and the competitive section were started. And of course, the famous Closing Ceremony at the end of the year, with the red carpet and spotlights, in true Hollywood style.
And this meant more expenses and less revenue, but it changed everything for the better. And for good.
We all make mistakes
When we started putting a number to the festivals in 2006, we counted wrong. A few years later someone counted them right and we realized we had done one edition more than what we were saying, we didn’t bother to change it because it would be odd to jump ahead two editions in one year.
What is a festival without tributes?
We have a blast organizing Cortogenia. We get a thrill out of seeing the bustle of the audiences in a jam-packed cinema, the comments, laughter, applause between short films... but what we probably like the most is organizing the tributes.
In 2010 we decided to pay tribute to the director and screenwriter Daniel Sánchez Arévalo and we have never looked back. After him came the tributes to Txema Muñoz (coordinator of the Kimuak program), the Festival of Alcalá de Henares (Alcine), the actors and directors Marta Aledo and Natalia Mateo, the Plataforma de Nuevos Realizadores (“New Filmmakers Platform”) (PNR), Canal Plus, the production company Lolita Films, the actor Luis Callejo and Pilar García Elegido (film consultant for the Community of Madrid). Organizing these tributes has given us the opportunity to learn more about the careers and work of all these people.
The boy becomes a man. We move to the Palacio de la Prensa!
After 18 years at the Capitol Cinema, with Cortogenia now come of age, we decided on a change of scenery. With a bit heartache but also really excited, we decided to move the festival venue really close by, to the Palacio de la Prensa. One of those moves that you enjoy making, from one building to another on the Gran Vía, but a truly memorable one and with stories we will never forget.
The years take their toll
The years take their toll. At first the screenings were held at 10:30 pm so when the film was let out, there would already be a lively atmosphere at the spots we'd head to afterwards. With the passing of time, our interests started changing and we ended up doing them at 9:30 so we could get home early, not feeling up for that kind of thing so much anymore.
We go online!
For those of you who know cinema, you'll understand just how important the villain is. 2020 had one. One straight out of a film. Covid-19.
When we started in 1999, there were hardly any short film festivals in Madrid and it was hard for the public to see shorts. Little by little, other festivals started sprouting up, along with other ways of seeing short films, too. Even though we had already started thinking about putting more of the festival online in order to reach a wider public, what happened this year ended up tipping the scales all the way.
In 2020, after 20 years of doing the festival in person, the pandemic forced us to transform it into an online format. Despite being such a big change, it is a natural step for the festival; short films will be seen by more people and we continue to hold the red carpet event for the Closing Ceremony.
An ovation for the sponsors!
And you'll forgive us for taking this opportunity to send out our thanks to all the companies and institutions who have sponsored the festival all these years: The Community of Madrid, ICAA, Ya.com, Fox Tv, Toyota, Trident, Renfe, LG and a long list of partners, led by EPC, Kodak, Freak, ECAM, Feelmakers, Evasión… and many more. Figuring out how to finance the festival has always been our big headache and, without the support from all these companies, we would not have been able to put on the festival, so many thanks.
And of course, to the audiences who have filled the cinema for every screening as well, who we hope will now be crashing the servers from watching our programming so much. All this we do for them and without that audience, none of it would make any sense.
See you at Cortogenia!