Every vote counts at the Manhattan Short Film Festival


The Manhattan Short Film Festival begins at the M.V. Film Center on Thursday, Sept. 28, and continues through Sunday, Oct. 1. It’s the 26th event featuring the top 10 entries. The Best Film and Best Actor will be determined by ballots from across the world over a 10-day period. Each short will automatically be qualified for the Oscar.

The eight countries with films in this event are the U.S., Australia, Afghanistan, Finland, Iran, Switzerland, the U.K., and Canada. The best shorts in 2023 represent a total of 850 entries from 72 countries.

The final 10 are “Sunless,” U.S.; “Voice Activated,” Australia; “Yellow,” Afghanistan; “Tuulikki,” Finland; “The Family Circus,” U.S.: “Career Day,” U.S.; “Snail,” Iran; “The Record,” Switzerland; “The Stupid Boy,” U.K.; and “Soleil du Nuit,” Canada. The common theme for these finalists is

how we face adversity, whether imposed by others or arising from personal circumstances.

“Sunless” is an American entry about a submarine crisis. A crack in the port window starts growing, and the two researchers involved, played by Ben Holtzmulller and Erik Scilley, have to decide whether to abort the mission.

The film was submitted the day before the submersible called the Titan was reported missing. Director Boris Vesselinov said about the experience of making the film, “The deep sea is a uniquely unsettling place, and that fear I thought was personal to me is in fact universal.”

He added, “It’s an immense challenge to perform in such a confined space, especially when 95 percent of our coverage was close-ups. On top of that, our tension was entirely in the sound design, which was not present on set.”

Steve Anthopoulos directed Australia’s “Voice Activated,” and he said, “My short film was inspired by my failed attempts at communicating with Apple’s voice-activated assistant, Siri.” In it, a florist who stutters must cooperate with a voice-operated car en route to an important delivery.

“Yellow” is the name of director Elham Ehsas’ short from Afghanistan about the Taliban-dominated country. A woman there walks into a Kabul chadari store for purchase of her first full-body veil, and faces an uncertain future.

A young woman in Finland’s “Tuulikki,” directed by Teemu Nikki, plots her escape from her dominating, overprotective mother. Yet dual suspicion is the result of their relationship.

“The Family Circus,” from the U.S., directed by Andrew Fitzgerald,concerns a Vietnamese-American family who try to hide a drunk-driving incident. The problem is that their emotional issues happen in front of the police.

Jason Robinson and Chris Hooper direct “Career Day” from the U.S., about the viral result of a once-popular ’90s pop band’s performance. The star’s boy band gets together for the career day of his elementary school daughter.

“Snail,” from Iran, is the title of director Aminreza Alimohammadi’s short about a young son and his mother. She works for her son’s dreams of singing to come true, but his audition happens to take a surprising and dramatic turn.

The dealer of an antique musical instrument in Switzerland’s ”The Record,” directed by Jonathan Laskar, plays a vinyl record over and over again. This magical record has the ability to read your mind, playing lost memories, even those forgotten.

In “The Stupid Boy,” from the U.K. and director Phil Dunn, a man who is broken is trained for a terrorist attack. A local boy — the stupid boy — has a different idea, and the result is potentially dangerous.

Directed by Fernando López Escrivá and Maria Camila Arias, and starring Larissa Corriveau, Jacques Newashish, Mark Krupa, and Oshim Ottawa, in “Soleil de Nuit,” Canadian astronauts train to land on the moon, as well as the additional mission added by a Native American elder.

Ballots cast by viewers in each theater will determine the final winners.

Information, tickets, and ballots for the Manhattan Short Film Festival are available through Oct. 8 at mvfilmsociety.com.