Cinema fans across the region will head to Sunderland in January - the city is hosting a film festival which is also being held in Washington DC.

The Sunderland Shorts Film Festival launches on January 9. The event will be held at the University of Sunderland’s David Puttnam Media Centre. Organisers hope it will promote independent film within the region.

Sunderland has a long-standing relationship with Washington DC and it is hoped that the festival will strengthen the relationship when it takes place in 2015.

The partnership stems from the 2006 Friendship Agreement that was signed between the two cities to build on their economies, education and culture.

"There are a number of talented filmmakers in Sunderland and this will give them the opportunity to showcase their work,whilst providing an influential platform that will allow them to expose their talent to international markets in the USA and beyond."

Aman Sharma, University of Sunderland Graduate and Director of Northern Bear Films

The Sunderland Shorts Film Festival will be supported by funding from both the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, as well as Sunderland City Council.

The best films will be screened in both countries.