Short flicks festival fills tall order
FIFTEEN years ago, an Australian traveller screened 16 short films on the side of a truck in New York. Now, Manhattan Short is a global film event. From tomorrow to October 6, more than 100,000 people in more than 300 cities across six continents will view and vote for their favourite short film. Cinemas in Kingscliff and Byron Bay are on board for this year’s event. Festival director Nicholas Mason founded Manhattan Short back in 1998. The first festival called on different countries to submit a short so they had an angle to get at the press, a kind of ‘‘Olympics for short films’’. They moved to New York’s Union Square a year later and people such as Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins got on board to judge entries. Mason, from Sydney, recalls how he told a friend on September 10, 2001 that the show was ready to go for September 23. ‘‘And then the next day, New York changed and maybe the world,’’ he says. Mason thought the festival would be called off after September 11 as mourners gathered in Union Square after the attacks. Instead, he was told to ‘‘make sure you go ahead with this film festival’’. As a result, the films garnered a lot more press attention and people everywhere from Japan to India started submitting entries. This year’s entries have come from 48 countries, with films from the UK, Finland, Australia, France, Ireland and the US making up the 10 finalists. Mason says Australia has been included in the voting cities for the past four years, to ‘‘keep my mum and dad happy’’. ‘‘I sort of send films to mum . . . and she becomes obsessed with them,’’ he says. ‘‘She virtually said to me (one year), ‘if you don’t have the one with the dog in it you’re out of the will’.’’ Mason says he tries to include an Aussie film in the 10 finalists (it doesn’t always happen). This year’s finalists include Australian film #30, directed by Timothy Wilde and starring Jessica Vickers. ‘‘I’m so biased. I really am,’’ Mason says. ‘‘You can see certain things Australians do that other countries are just trying to do and can’t.’’ Mason hopes to unite the world as the festival grows. ‘‘To have every continent in the world view and vote, that’s what the goal of the festival is,’’ he says.
The Manhattan Short festival finalists screen at Cinemax Cinema, in Kingscliff, on Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday and at The Pighouse Flicks, Byron Bay, on October 4. Visit msfilmfest.com for details.
Jessica Vickers stars in