Manhattan Short Returns to RI on September 30th and October 1st at Jamestown Center for the Arts

bravomanManhattan Short does not consider itself a travelling film festival per se. It screens simultaneously across the globe from September 23 to October 2, coining the phrase, “one world – one week – one festival.”

Each year, audiences around the world view the same program of 10 films and vote for their favorite. The results are totaled and the winner announced after screenings have concluded. This year’s winner will be announced on Monday, October 3.

gorillaThe program typically contains introductory and closing words from festival founder Nick Mason. Originally from Australia, Nick worked as a film actor as a transplant in New York City. Several filmmakers also prepare introductions with a quick greeting or commentary before their films.

So how did it all begin and become what is known today as the Manhattan Short? On September 27, 1998, Nick attached a screen to the side of a truck on Mulberry Street (NYC), projecting 16 short films to an audience of about 300, in what was the first Manhattan Short. The event stayed as a rather low-key local New York event until September 2001.

hold_onAccording to Nick, that year the festival was scheduled for September 23, just 12 days after 9/11. In the days leading up to this, Union Square Park had become a shrine where people gathered to grieve the loss of loved ones, and the park was surrounded by global media. On September 15, Nick received a call from the NYC Parks Department, who requested no matter what, to please go ahead with Manhattan Short in Union Square Park as scheduled on September 23.

The event then caught the attention of the global media, receiving double the number of film entries in 2002 to prior years. Nick found that the films collectively were more revealing as to what was happening in the world and how people in the world were feeling at that time. He was thus inspired to share his event with a wider audience outside Manhattan.

i_am_a_pencilBy 2004, the festival created the “You Be the Judge!” concept, taking the judging of films away from celebrities and handing it to the public. In 2005, the festival screened in 20 cinemas, and today it screens on six continents in over 250 cities worldwide.

The 2016 program has three films with a backdrop of performers in the arts. Bravoman, by Evelina Barsegian from Russia, is about a man who is paid to rouse theater audiences from their seats, turning him into a cynic until he meets a woman whose appreciation of the stage brings her to tears. France takes on 1952 Hollywood in Tibo Pinsard’s Gorilla, about a man who performs as a costumed gorilla on horror movies and adventure movies. Representing the Netherlands, Charlotte Scott-Wilson’s Hold On features a young, talented cellist who develops stage fright after one of her cello strings breaks during an important performance.

kaputtNorwegian director and screenwriter André Øvredal, known for his dark fantasy feature, Trollhunter, has adapted Alice Glaser’s short story, The Tunnel, into a short film, giving it more of an apocalyptic twist. The historical animated documentaries Kaputt from Germany and I Am A Pencil from Australia round out some of the highlights for this year.

Locally, Manhattan Short will screen at Jamestown Center for the Arts on September 30 and October 1 st at 8pm. It also screens in nearby Massachusetts at Bristol Community College’s Attleboro Campus on Friday, September 23 and Saturday, September 24 at 6pm. Tickets are available at the door at Jamestown Center for the Arts. More information about the event is available at manhattanshort.com or at jamestownartcenter.org.

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