GREENFIELD – The Manhattan Short Film Festival returns for the eighth time in its 19-year history to the H.J. Ricks Centre for the Arts, 122 W. Main Street at 7 p.m. Sept. 29. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $6, and although none of the films are rated, festival founder Nick Mason suggests that the films are appropriate for age 15 and over. If you go – and you should – here are some things to know about the festival.
What’s the big deal?
Even after 19 years, Mason’s enthusiasm for his pet project film festival is still evident in his voice as he lists the unique features of the Manhattan Short.
For filmmakers, it’s a way to get a short film in front of the Academy for an Oscar nomination. All 10 films are screened for inclusion in the nominations.
The films come from all over the world, and in the course of one week, Mason said, people all over the world are watching the same 10 films in large urban areas, and also in small venues like the Ricks.
Story continues below gallery
“I really love the energy of places like Greenfield and the Ricks,” Mason said. “The longer the festival runs, the more the attendance numbers go up, and it’s due to word of mouth,” Mason said. “It’s a great film festival. It’s your film festival – in places like Kathmandu, Australia, Siberia and Greenfield.”
By the numbers
According to Variety magazine, there are approximately 141,875 movie theaters on the planet. Of that number, only 250 – worldwide — will be screening films from the Manhattan Short film festival. Included in that list of 250 is the H. J. Ricks Centre for the Arts at 122 W. Main St. right here in Greenfield.
Entries to the Manhattan Short film festival more than doubled from last year’s submission of around 800 films to 1,615 films from 75 countries submitted for the 2017 festival.
During the week of Sept. 28 through Oct. 8, more than 100,000 film buffs will be able to cast votes for their favorites and perhaps send one or more on its way to an Oscar at the Academy Awards in March.
So many films, so little time
Film submissions begin coming in almost immediately after the annual festival and Nick Mason watches them all. He screens films from February all the way through the submission cut-off date of July 31.
Narrowing it down to just 10 is no easy feat, Mason said from his offices in Manhattan.
“The ones that get in are the ones I just keep thinking about,” Mason said.
Mason works to put together a two-hour film package that has something for everyone: a horror film, a survival film, a true story and an animated film. He believes this year’s selections are far better than last year’s.
“This year’s has a little more comedy,” Mason said. “It’s more magical.”
Right place, worst of times
The first Manhattan Short Film Festival was conducted Sept. 23, 2001, as a screen mounted on the side of a semi truck in Union Square Park in New York City. Founder Nick Mason previewed all 16 entries to a crowd of 200 people.
That day, Union Square Park happened to be the location of dozens of national and international press vans covering the events of Sept. 11. As a result, the film festival garnered a huge amount of press coverage.
The following year, more than 500 entries were submitted and since then, the festival has only continued to grow.
The festival consists of 10 films representing nine countries. Listed are the films, their country of origin and a one-sentence summary.
“Do No Harm”
From: New Zealand
3 a.m. Hongjing, China. 1980s. A single-minded surgeon is forced to break her physician’s oath when violent gangsters storm into a hospital to stop a crucial operation.
A divorced mother is obsessed with the idea that her ex-husband is plotting to take her baby away from her.
Left alone in a magnificent mansion after the forgetful owner goes on vacation, a plumber contacts his high school crush, knowing she’s always been a “gold-digger.”
“Hope Dies Last”
From: United Kingdom
During World War II, a prisoner working as a barber for the Nazis fears every haircut may be his last.
With a $10 million business deal set to close and a date with a beautiful girl, David figures today will be the best day of his life. Not quite.
A young man who lost both his legs in a childhood accident comes to the rescue of the girl he loves when she is victimized by villains.
On a Mediterranean shore, a Syrian father’s decision to give his daughter a better life puts her in danger of losing it.
Sicily, 1965. Franca is being forced to marry her rapist to avoid becoming a pariah in her traditionalist community but she rebels against the established custom.
“In a Nutshell”
Love, war and the myriad states of humanity and the world condensed into a visual summation that’s a treat for the eyes.
With the end of the world fast approaching, an aging magician realizes one last feat of magic is required of him.
What: The Manhattan Short Film Festival
Where:H.J. Ricks Centre for the Arts, 122 W. Main Street
When: 7 p.m. Sept. 29.
Details: Tickets can be purchased at the door for $6
More information: manhattanshort.com
“It’s a great film festival. It’s your film festival – in places like Kathmandu, Australia, Siberia and Greenfield.” — Nick Mason, founding director of the Manhattan Short Film Festival