Watch Us Surprise You: The PBS Online Film Festival

by Anaïs Cayo, New Media Content Editor, PBS Interactive

On February 27th, PBS will launch its first-ever Online Film Festival in partnership with CAAM, ITVS, LPB, NAPT, NBPC, PIC and POV.

For five weeks, we’ll premiere 20 short films from a selection of the best of public media on and YouTube.

Why a film festival?

In the coming year, we plan to highlight web original content from across public media in new and exciting ways. We thought a film festival was a great way to celebrate a collection of short films from our partners, get the audience involved and experiment with a festival format.

The films were chosen because they all have “surprising” qualities to them- the characters and stories are unexpected for public media films; that is why we have chosen “Watch Us Surprise You” as our tagline. These are stories that only PBS can tell.

Watch Sizzle Reel on PBS. See more from PBS Online Film Festival.

What Kind of Films Can You Expect to See?
The 20 films range from 3-20 minutes in length. You’ll watch strong women and girls take charge, join millennials in action, discover true stories, examine who we are, and uncover the little more off-beat.

We have a great selection of films – both documentary and fiction -- from our producing partners, all dedicated to presenting each group's unique stories in the digital age.

Where Can We Watch?

You can now watch all the nominated short films on as well as PBS official YouTube Channel!

All these films will be embeddable so we encourage you to share these virally.

How Can Fans Vote?

Please encourage your friends and fans to vote on or on YouTube. On PBS’ YouTube channel, you’ll be able to “thumbs up” each film.

On, click the Facebook "like" button on the video player on each film's page.

We will hand-count all votes that way to determine a People’s Choice award-winner for the first-annual PBS Online Film Festival!

What Social Media Promotion Can You Expect?
YouTube: We will be taking over the PBS YouTube channel (complete with a film festival skin) for the first few weeks of the festival. We will also be debuting the PBS YouTube redesign with this festival.

Facebook: PBS will have a special Facebook tab on its fanpage to highlight the film festival.

Twitter: @PBS will be tweeting every week throughout the festival to promote the films and user voting. Please use #PBSolff

Tumblr: Make sure to “reblog” pbstv on tumblr. We will be posting all the videos for each category every week. We’ll post one a day to keep interest until the following category.

Badges: We have commissioned graphic “badges” for each film to be used in promotion of the festival by the filmmaker, partners, and you! There’ll be more to come on where you can pick them up soon.

SXSW: We have made postcards to be handed out at SXSW (which is during the second week of the festival). If you’re at SXSW, make sure you get your hands on one!

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