Durango Film has teamed up with Durango Stadium 9 to bring this year’s Manhattan Short Film Festival to town starting Friday and running through Oct. 1 at the movie theater.
There will also be four intimate screenings of the Manhattan Short fest Oct. 9, 10, 16 and 17 in the Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid train car inside the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum for 14 or fewer patrons. Tickets for those shows will go on sale Oct. 1 at durangofilm.org/manhattan-shorts.
What’s cool about Manhattan Short is that you don’t just sit in your seat, eat your popcorn and passively watch the screen – for this, you get to be the judge and choose your favorite short and favorite actor. Votes will be sent through to Manhattan Short headquarters with the winner announced at ManhattanShort.com on Nov. 1.
“This is an Oscar qualifying film festival,” said Joanie Leonard, executive director of Durango Film, which has brought the Manhattan Short fest to the area for more than a decade. “Last year, one of the shorts was nominated. ... So these are stellar films.”
Leonard said audience members will be given ballots before the program – it’s recommended you bring your own pen or pencil – and as you leave the theater, you leave your filled-out ballot.
This year, Manhattan Short received 971 entries from 54 countries. The final nine are from nine different countries – Australia, Finland, France, Iran, Israel, North Macedonia, Russia, the State of Palestine and the U.S. The films are screened simultaneously across the world during a one-month period, with the Best Film and Best Actor awards determined by ballots cast by the audiences in each participating venue.
This year’s finalists are:
“Safe Space” (Australia). “The Stick” (Finland).“Exam” (Iran). “Hey, Gray” (Russia). “White Eye” (Israel).“Sticker” (North Macedonia).“Two Little Boys” (U.S.).“Maestro” (France) “The Present” (State of Palestine). Leonard said that while the films are not rated, the program is best suited for older audiences.
And while the pandemic has made getting back into movie theaters a relatively slow process, holding Manhattan Short in-theater this year rather than virtually is important to festival founders, something Leonard agrees with.
“There’s power in gathering together for a shared experience in anything you do, and cinematic experience is no different – the dialogue that comes out of that and the issues and the subject of a film, even a narrative feature gives a lot of room for discussion. It’s that dialogue that comes out of it and sharing that with your community and having that dialogue take place,” she said. “It happens every year – there’s something we show ... like ‘The Starfish Throwers,’ which, it basically shows that one person can make a difference in a community. And after the festival, somebody told me they were inspired to do a community garden and share the produce with others. It’s the dialogue that comes out of it and the activation that allows people to see what they can do.”
The next Durango Film Festival is scheduled for March 3 to 7 and will be a hybrid fest with both virtual and in-theater screenings, Leonard said.