The Manhattan Short Festival arrives on-Island Thursday, October 1, through Sunday, October 4, with nine potential winners. They include shorts from Australia, Finland, Iran, Russia, Israel, North Macedonia, Palestine, France, and the U.S.A. The Festival selected the finalists from 971 entries and 54 countries. They will be reviewed here next week.
This year, for the first time, the potential best short and best actor finalists will screen world-wide, starting September 24 and during the entire month of October because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Vineyard audience will vote on their favorites in the MV Film Center, rather than virtually.
From Australia comes “Safe Space,” about police corruption. Set in 1979 and directed by Jake Robb, this short describes what happens when two detectives interrogate “Witness 451.” This whistleblower wants to uncover police corruption. Finnish director Teppo Airaksinen’s film “The Stick” concerns Aava (Elina Patrakka), a Finnish girl who dreams of having a dog of her own when her parents are splitting up.
In “Exam,” a teenaged Iranian girl, played by Elaheh Afshari, is pressured by her father into delivering cocaine to a customer on the same day she is scheduled to take an art exam. This short, celebrated by a number of regional festivals, is directed by Sonia K. Hadad, who studied at Emerson College and received an M.F.A. in Film and Media Arts. “Hey, Grey,” a film from Russia, describes what happens when a dying businessman finds his dog Grey, whom he abandoned years ago. It’s directed by Nikita Khozyainov.
The Israeli film, “White Eye,” is about a man, played by Daniel Gad, who discovers his stolen bicycle locked on the street during the Jewish festival of Purim. The bike now seems to be in the possession of a stranger and now he has to figure out how he can retrieve it. “White Eye” won the South by Southwest (SXSW) Grand Jury Award for Best Narrative Short. In “Sticker,” from North Macedonia, Dejan (Sasko Kocev) fails to renew his auto license and finds himself challenged as a father.
“Two Little Boys” comes from the U.S. and concerns a 7-year-old boy, played by Trace Talbot, who loves another boy. His homophobic parents punish him, and he is forbidden to see his friend again. The animated short, “Maestro,” celebrates a squirrel conducting an orchestra of other woodland creatures. Finally, from Palestine comes “The Present.” In this short it becomes a challenge for Palestinian Yusef, played by Saleh Bakri, to head into the West Bank with his daughter to find an anniversary gift for his wife.
Viewers should also keep track of the six finalist actors from among the nine shorts. They include Elina Patraka, “The Stick”; Elaheh Afshari, “The Exam”; Daniel Gad, “White Eye”; Sasko Kocev, “Sticker”; Trace Talbot, “Two Little Boys”; and Saleh Bakri, “The Present.”
The Manhattan Short Festival celebrated its 23rd anniversary this year. The event began in 1998, when founder Nicholas Mason showed 16 shorts in New York City. They played on a screen mounted on a truck that was parked on Mulberry Street.
Last year’s short, “NEFTA Football Club,’ not only won the Festival’s Silver Medal but was nominated for a 2020 Oscar. During the Festival’s intermission, the Festival’s Featured Musical Artist will be singer/songwriter Jazz D’Arcy. She won Best Soundtrack Award at the Sydney (Australia) Indie Film Festival, among other prizes.
Over 100,000 viewers in 400 venues worldwide will watch the finalists that make up part of the Manhattan Short Festival. The Festival screening runs two hours and 15 minutes.
Information and tickets for the Manhattan Short Festival are available online at mvfilmsociety.com or at the MV Film Center box office by credit card.