A World of Film: International festival returns to Greenfield

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By Christine Schaefer | Daily Reporter

GREENFIELD — A lot has changed here in this time of COVID, but creators are going to create, and the filmmakers came out in force for the 2020 Manhattan Short Film Festival. The 23rd annual Manhattan Short Film Festival, playing at 7 p.m. Sept. 25 at the H. J. Ricks Centre for the Arts, 122 W. Main, offers up nine finalists from nine different countries.

Nick Mason, originator of the festival, strives to present a variety of film genres from comedy to drama and animation. On the docket for 2020 are:

“Safe Space”

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In this five-minute film from Australia, two detectives craft an intricate interrogation technique to intimidate an apparent witness to police corruption.

Fun fact: “Safe Space” was filmed in an abandoned building on the grounds of a Melbourne hospital — a psychiatric health facility formerly called the ‘Royal Park Hospital for the Insane.’ According to the interview with the director, “It’s a building that is far too expensive for the hospital to restore, but too historically valuable to demolish.” Its stained linoleum floors, cracked windows and scuffed wall made it the perfect setting.

“The Stick”

This film from Finland features two adult actors and one child. Aava’s parents’ marriage is falling apart, but her only wish is to have a dog.

Fun fact: The idea for “The Stick” actually came from the playwright, whose friend’s husband promised his daughter a dog if she could take care of a stick for a week.

“Exam”

In this Iranian film, a teenage girl gets involved in the process of delivering a pack of cocaine to its client and gets stuck in a weird cycle of occurrences.

Fun fact: Iran, where the film takes places has one of the highest drug addiction rates in the world at 2.8 percent of the population. Forty percent of Iranian incarcerations are for drug offenses.

“Hey, Gray”

In “Hey, Gray,” from Russia, a thriving businessman, who is at death’s door, meets his old dog Gray, the pet he heartlessly threw out on the street many years ago.

Fun fact: The dog who was eventually cast as Gray was actually named Gray. He was 14 years old.

“White Eye”

In the Israeli film “White Eye,” a man finds his stolen bicycle, but now it belongs to a stranger. How much of himself will he lose to get it back?

Fun fact: The film is based on an actual experience of the director. The 20-minute film was shot in one take.

“Sticker”

From North Macedonia comes “Sticker.” After an unsuccessful attempt to renew his automobile registration, Dejan falls into a bureaucratic trap that tests his determination to be a responsible father.

Fun fact: This film stars a well-known Macedonian comedian and was filmed almost entirely in the Macedonian Department of Motor Vehicles.

“Two Little Boys”

“Two Little Boys” is the only American film to make this year’s cut. A boy’s secret love for his closeted bully drives him toward an unconventional road to confession and its consequences.

Fun fact: Although this is an American film, the director grew up in Iran, where homophobia is a societal norm. The director lived and knew about many stories similar to the one he has committed to film.

“Mestro”

This animated film from France features a stick-wielding squirrel who conducts a nocturnal chorus of opera-loving forest creatures.

Fun fact: The film took five artists and 10 months to complete.

“The Present”

In this film from Palestine, Yusef and his young daughter set out in the West Bank to buy his wife a gift for their anniversary. Between soldiers, segregated roads and checkpoints, how easy can it be to go shopping?

Fun fact: One hundred percent of this film was shot in Palestine. The crew built a checkpoint for the film which many locals perceived as real. So many turned their cars around and went back that members of the crew were sent out to tell people it wasn’t a real checkpoint, but only for a film.

In depth interviews with directors and cast and more information about the Manhattan Short Film Festival can be found at manhattanshort.com.

The Manhattan Short Film Festival is one event with no virtual alternative. Tickets are available at the box office for $6.