Durango cinephiles will have the chance to be part of a global film event when the screen at the Animas City Theatre flickers to life this weekend.
The Manhattan Short Film Festival, a celebration of the short film genre, will have four screenings at ACT – two today and two Saturday. The festival is being presented by Durango Film, which has been bringing the shorts festival to town for about a decade.
Manhattan Short, which started with a projector beaming movies onto the side of a truck on a New York City street in 1998, has evolved into an annual fall event that today takes place in 250 cities across six continents.
This year’s lineup of 10 shorts was culled from a pool of nearly 600 submissions (18 minutes and shorter) entered from around the world. So when audiences sit down to take in the two-hour festival program, they will not only get to participate in a collective film experience, they will also see a glimpse of what’s happening across the globe, said festival founder Nick Mason.
“When you watch all the films, they are really reflective of how the world is feeling,” Mason said.
Filmgoers will also have the chance to cast their votes for the best film and best actor – joining audiences in places like Mumbai, London, and Sydney, Australia, for a worldwide vote.
Durango is one of three Colorado cities to host the festival, said Joanie Fraughton, executive director of Durango Film. Manhattan Short, which has been coming to town on and off for years, has become so popular with local film lovers that organizers decided to add two screenings this weekend, she said.
“People who love film and independent film absolutely love Manhattan shorts,” Fraughton said. “It’s just always a unique collection of films.”
According to Mason, the festival will screen more than 800 times in over 250 cities between now and Oct. 3. Films are coming from Mexico, England, Australia, Germany, the U.S. and more, and feature drama, animation and sci-fi. The aim is to present a mix of films that will get people thinking and talking, he said.
“You want to enlighten people, you want to engage them. That’s important to us,” Mason said. “It’s a reason to go to the cinema and catch up with your community.”
This year’s films promise stories of a teenager attempting to cross the border into the U.S., an astronaut whose routine space walk turns terrifying and a pair of mountaineers whose trust for one another is put to the test.
Among the selections is “The Bravest, The Boldest,” by American filmmaker Moon Molson. The film centers around a mother at a Harlem housing project who realizes the arrival of two uniformed soldiers brings news she can’t bring herself to accept.
The film manages to pack a great deal of emotional power into 17 minutes – touching on themes that range from duty to country and God and the futility of outrunning the truth – even while dialogue is minimal.
Molson, who premiered the film at Sundance in January, said the short film format can be an effective package for the right story.
“It is its own art form and it’s beautiful in its own way,” Molson said. “To me, there’s a legitimacy to that. Certain stories just fit that format. When I find those, I have no problem with making them appropriately short.”