If I'm pushed to name the country that makes my favourite feature films, I'll waver between Japan in the 1950s, the US in the 1970s, Germany in the 1920s.

If I'm pushed to name the country that makes my favourite short films, I'll say Scotland. Perhaps that's due to limited exposure on a personal level, but it's true nonetheless: I believe that the best short films I've ever seen are Gasman by Lynne Ramsay and Fridge by Peter Mullan.

In a nation that contains George Mackay Brown, AL Kennedy, Ali Smith and Agnes Owens - writers who have made the short story format their own and something distinct from our heritage in novels - maybe it's not too surprising that Scotland punches above its weight when it comes to short films. It's a broad brushstroke, but a lot of Scottish cinema seems to me to look outwards to a more poetic European tradition than downwards to a grittier UK social realist style, and that suits the more condensed, more abstract short film format.

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Think of the uniqueness of Peter Capaldi's Oscar-winning Franz Kafka's It's A Wonderful Life or the emotionally devastating mood of Paul Wright's short works prior to his feature breakthrough with For Those In Peril.

"The strength of Scottish shorts is that, when they're good, they're not made as stepping stones to features," says Matt Lloyd, director of the Glasgow Short Film Festival, Scotland's own showcase for this brand of cinema. "People are making shorts because they want to, not because it's a stage in their career. A short film works when it's sincere and made for its own sake."

The GSFF has been growing in stature in recent years too. In 2015, for the first time, it leapfrogs the Glasgow Film Festival and fills a five-day calendar slot in March rather than acting as the warm-up act for the feature-length event. There are nitty-gritty industry reasons as to why this is a good move; previously GSFF fell directly after Clermont-Ferrand, the Cannes of the short film circuit, and clashed with Berlin, which limited the number of international programmers who could attend. But there's also the fact that, given its own space to breathe, it's more obvious now how complete and self-contained the festival has become, with its mix of Scottish and international programmes, live one-off events, pop-up screenings and retrospective.

"I started programming for Glasgow in its third year, in 2010," says Lloyd of the festival's evolution. "At that point we had one competition of five or six programmes and had a couple of Scottish shorts in each programme. That wasn't entirely satisfactory because sometimes when you're choosing the strongest and most interesting films you can find from around the world, not all the Scottish films are going to stand up next to them. But at the same time we wanted to be supporting as many local filmmakers as possible.

"So, over the next couple of years, we built up an international competition rather than focussing too much on local filmmakers. We raised our profile with international programmers and then introduced a second Scottish competition. Those programmes are perhaps less curatorially put together, they're not thematic, more a case of what's happening in Scotland this year in terms of filmmaking. We then cherrypick the ones that can stand up against the best international work, so they go in both programmes. We've always wanted to place Scottish shorts in an international context and ensure that we had as many international filmmakers about so that there's a cross-pollination of ideas."

This year the Bafta-winning animation Monkey Love Experiments, by Will Anderson and Ainslie Henderson, will screen in both programmes. The festival will also screen What Happens After Six, a new work by Ewan Stewart, whose film Getting On was named Best Scottish Short at last year's GSFF.

One of the first events to sell out, however, is the brainchild of a Dutch company called Sonic Arts. Vertical Cinema, which will take place at The Briggait on March 11, is a programme of ten specially commissioned films that are projected, as the name suggests, onto what's effectively a vertical cinemascope screen. It's a spectacular addition to the GSFF programme, one whose scale goes against many people's definition of short filmmaking.

"Vertical Cinema is like the ultimate anti pop-up event," adds Lloyd. "It has become fashionable to show films in any venue, but this event turns that on its head because you have to find a very specific kind of venue that has the height and also the depth of room as well. There's no point in showing these films unless you show them really, really big. They're all screened from 35mm, so it's a special projector which has to be put on its side and then placed on a massive platform. The sonic element of the films is crucial too; it's very much an audio-visual experience. It's such an insanely singular, unwieldy, truculent behemoth of an event - it sort of proposes a future for cinema but uses obsolete film equipment and can only ever happen in very particular spaces."

Among its many other highlights - a music video masterclass with Daniel Wolfe (whose acclaimed feature Catch Me Daddy was released last week); the Let Glasgow Flourish programme of archive urban renewal documentaries; a set of comedy shorts curated by Still Game's Greg Hemphill - is a retrospective of work by Ohio-born filmmaker Jennifer Reeder, built around a premiere of her latest work, Blood Below The Skin, contexualised by screenings of some earlier pieces including her much-feted 2014 film, A Million Miles Away.

"Jennifer has made about 45 films in the last 20 years, so what we're doing is showing a very small part of that," notes Lloyd. "I'd hesitate to even call it a retrospective. But you can see a clear progression towards Blood Below The Skin in terms of setting and tone and character and motifs. She started off as a video artist - she has an art school background rather than a film school background - and she's gradually moving towards narrative filmmaking but has continued to maintain her unique style in the way, say, Lynne Ramsay has.

"They're gorgeous, beautiful works that draw on David Lynch a little bit, and Miranda July maybe, but they're very much her own unique style. They're witty films that explore how we're all pretty messed up and continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. You grow up but you never really mature; you're still a teenager at heart and have the same obsessions and hang-ups and fears and insecurities. Jennifer shows all this through a very stylised visual palette and also draws on the tropes of US high school movies. Sometimes her dialogue seems as if it's spoken in speech marks, like quoting a John Hughes film, but behind it is an amazing torrent of emotion and sadness and comedy and messiness."

Elsewhere in the GSFF programme, the Focus On Ukraine events seem to define what a modern short film festival should be: finger on the pulse not just in terms of subject matter but also, particularly in the Babylon 13 programme of web-docs (at CCA on March 12), in terms of available technology too.

"All those films in the Babylon 13 programme are available online," Lloyd admits, "but the festival is very much about the shared communal screening experience as well as the curatorial element of selecting those films and putting them together to put forward an argument.

"A lot of people ask 'Why would I want to go to a short film festival? What's interesting about short films?' And actually they don't realise that they're watching short films all the time, more than ever before, whether it's commercials or YouTube or little bits that people put up on Facebook. There is a visual language there, a visual culture, that we're all much more used to than we're aware of."

Glasgow Short Film Festival takes place at various venues, including GFT and CCA, from March 11-15, www.glasgowfilm.org/gsff