For one week every year, film lovers gather in over 250 cities across the globe to simultaneously watch and vote on the ten short films of the Manhattan Short Film Festival. Highly competitive, prestigious and interactive, Manhattan Short Films seeks to showcase talent from around the world and enable viewers to determine the merit of each screened piece. This year, the 10 selected films exhibited diversity in both genre and nationality, with compelling stories and performances condensed in 15 minutes or less.
Selected from over 1,600 submissions, it is clear why this year’s ten short films made the cut. Though more or less predictable, every film was clean cut, entertaining and well-paced. The strongest films highlighted unique and influential figures in history, such as the Auschwitz prisoner who cut the hair of a Nazi general for four years in tense silence (“Hope Dies Last”), and the Italian woman who defied the law that forced women to marry their rapists (“Viola Franca”). The most complex and disturbing film, “Mare Nostrum,” worked to dignify Syrian refugees and complicate the act of risking one’s life in the name of hope. The only animated piece, “In A Nutshell,” was a visually stunning stream of consciousness that linked unlikely objects together. The festival ended with “8 Minutes,” a moving piece set in an apocalypse that strengthens the bond between a magician and his son.
Overall, the festival was a fun and entertaining showcase of diverse international talent. The viewing and voting process is unique in its way of connecting the viewer to a global community of people watching and voting on the same pieces at the same time. I really enjoyed the experience and recommend it to anyone who enjoys succinct and compelling film.