Runway’s Second Annual AI Film Festival is over, but it’s just the beginning…

Runway’s AI Film Festival is 2 years old now, can you believe it? Last year, the inaugural edition received 300 submissions, but this year’s the entries surged as high as over 2,500, indicating a significant increase in interest in cinematic AI. That’s almost 9 times more! How do you select the top of the tops?It was definitely not an easy task for the jury. The films, which had to be between 1-10 minutes long and incorporate AI at any stage of their creation, were evaluated by a panel of filmmakers and executives.

“With gala screenings planned in both New York and Los Angeles, this year’s festival seeks to point a spotlight on those who are leveraging new tools and technologies in their existing filmmaking

And indeed hundreds of viewers gathered last week in two-screen movie theater modeled after a 1920s-era cinema on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and a larger version of the film festival at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles a bit earlier to see the 10 winning productions. The festival screenings program began with a discussion panel, featuring filmmaker Joel Kuwahara (The Simpsons) and multi-disciplinary artist, writer, and director Paul Trillo, musician Claire Evans, and Runway CEO Cristobal Valenzuela. They discussed ethics, job displacement fears, and the evolving nature of AI in film, also addressing the tensions over the tech in Hollywood. Having said that, the festival according to Valenzuela can help to cut through some of the noise and open up direct dialogues around the technology between filmmakers. It is clear that nowadays, AI enables people to tell stories that are difficult to finance, making these narratives more personal.

The New York gala was also a witness to a discussion between Runway CEO Cristobal Valenzuela and Jane Rosenthal, CEO and executive chair of Tribeca Enterprises, who announced that due to Tribeca Festival’s new partnership with Runway, the festival will showcase a host of AI-generated short films and music videos.*

The 2024 AIFF stakes were high! The Grand Prix winner received a prize of $15,000 and 1,000,000 Runway credits. Gold finalist got $10,000 and the Silver one $5,000. Both also earned 500k credits. This year’s Grand Prix winner is Daniel Antebi‘s and his production entitled “Get Me Out”, a touching narrative that demonstrates how AI can enhance the visual and emotional depth of cinematic storytelling.

Get Me Out by Daniel Antebi / Every time Aka tries to escape this bizarre suburban American house, it doesn’t let him leave. The house tortures him, making him face his past.

Pounamu by Samuel Schrag / A kiwi bird chases a dream through the wilderness.

e^(i*π) + 1 = 0 by Junie Lau / A retired mathematician creates digital comics, igniting an infinite universe where his virtual children seek to decode the “truth,” grappling with profound existential equations across time and space.

To see the other great productions listed in the top 10 AI Film Festival winners please visit Runway’s festival site here. Get yourself a comfy seat, some snacks and enjoy.