Local film lovers will be able to unite with more than 100,000 people all over the world the first week of October to view--and vote for their favorites in--the 18th annual Manhattan Short Film Festival. It's billed as the only global audience-choice film festival in the world. And once again this year, the Missouri State University campus is the only location in Missouri where you can view the films and participate in the voting. The Festival returns to the MSU campus Saturday October 3rd starting at 7:00pm in Plaster Student Union Theatre, 1110 E. Madison.
Mark Biggs, MSU Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Letters, calls Manhattan Short "one of the best short-film festivals out there. It is a truly international film festival, not only because films from all around the world are a part of the festival, but because the festival itself is an 'audience choice' award. We'll be joining audiences in over 250 cities in more than 56 countries on six continents across the world. For a full week audiences will be viewing and voting for the 'Best of Fest,' Best Actor and Best Actress. It's pretty interesting to think that folks in India and Australia and Europe will be seeing the same films and making their decisions, and together all of our votes--over 100,000--will be cast to decide what is the Best of Fest."
Out of 678 entries submitted by filmmakers from more than 50 countries, the Manhattan Short committee selected a total of ten short films for the festival. (They obviously had their work cut out for them!) "It's a very exclusive bunch (of films)," confirms Mark Biggs. "And almost every year at least one or two of the films that are in this festival go on to be Academy Award-nominated shorts."
Mark has taken a sneak peak at about half of this year's slate of films. "And the one thing that really struck me was that the common theme that emerges this year is that of 'strangers helping strangers' in a variety of different situations--the stranger stepping forward to help someone in need." And it seems to have been purely coincidental, as "this is not a 'thematic' film festival at all."
One of Mark Biggs's favorites this year is the French entry Grounded, directed by Alexis Mikhalik. "It's an incredible short film about a woman desperately trying to get through an airport to get home to her mother's funeral. She has a young baby with her, and she encounters one complication and hurdle after another, until somebody actually steps forward and runs her through the circuits, if you will."
There's also a "great American short film, set out in the Southwest desert, called El Camino Solo, where strangers literally intervene to help a person who's had car trouble."
The MSU screening October 3rd will run about two and a half hours for the ten films, which range in length from six to about eighteen minutes each.
Admission is $10 per person, and all proceeds go toward the MSU Media, Journalism and Film Digital Film Production Scholarship. Mark Biggs says that of the various MSU film series presentations throughout the school year, this "is the one and only time where there is a fee." He says there are about 180 active filmmakers in the department, out of a total of just under 400 students.
They treat Manhattan Short each year as "a kind of celebration," says Mark Biggs, "and give away door prizes, including student films that have been made by MSU students and have gone on to win awards."
Doors will open at 6:30pm on October 3rd at Plaster Student Union Theatre. For more information, visit http://blogs.missouristate.edu/mjf or send an email to MSU Associate professor Dr. Timothy White at firstname.lastname@example.org.