As I made my way into the Metrograph movie theater in New York City, I felt like I was attending a screening for the Tribeca Film Festival. There was a red carpet, people posing for professional photographers, an official film guide and, of course, drinks and popcorn. This isn't quite what I expected when I learned I'd be attending Giphy's first Film Fest. If that name sounds like an oxymoron, the event was a showcase of 118 videos of 18 seconds or less from five different categories: narrative, animated, stop-motion, experimental and wild card. Considering that most of my GIF consumption happens on a laptop or phone, I wasn't expecting this big a to-do.
But that was Giphy's goal for the event: to show that GIFs can also live on the big screen as "micro-films." That's why the company and sponsor Squarespace went all out to make the Film Fest feel like a traditional movie theater, the kind used for premieres at Sundance or Tribeca. Giphy said it had more than 900 submissions, 118 of which were picked as finalists and had the chance to compete for the grand prize, which included $10,000, a Squarespace membership and the chance to curate a Spotify playlist.