Short, fast and worldwide

Twelve short films from across the globe will screen at the Hollywood Theatre today for the 10th annual Manhattan Short Film Festival.

Twelve short films from across the globe will screen at the Hollywood Theatre today for the 10th annual Manhattan Short Film Festival.

From animation to drama to comedy, the festival should have something for everyone. Generally, short film festivals can be tedious, with hours upon hours of films of varying quality. This festival promises to be a different experience.

In a twist on the usual traveling film festival, the Manhattan Short Film Festival will screen in 99 venues all over the world–in one week. Like the recent Live 8 concerts, many screenings happen at the same time, even those on the other side of the earth. While you are watching a film at the festival, someone in Ireland may be watching the same film at the same time.

“What it’s about is unity,” said Nicholas Mason, director and founder of the festival. “It’s about bringing communities together.”

The 12 films, all running under 15 minutes, have been whittled down from 456 entries. They represent the best of what was submitted and the pacing of the festival is carefully monitored.

Also, because everything must be interactive these days, audience members can vote for their favorite film, with the winner announced on Sept. 30 in New York City.

Richard Beer, artistic director for Film Action Oregon, the group that runs the Hollywood Theatre, has seen the films and thinks many are “absolutely amazing.”

“One of the nice things with this program is it’s quite varied.”

Portland loves films festivals. So much that when they come to town it can be underwhelming.

“You can barely walk down the street without tripping over a film festival,” Beer said.

Last time this festival came to Portland the turnout was unspectacular, Mason said. He’s excited to see it return to Portland and hopes that the community will embrace it.

The festival itself is programmed as one large piece. Each film is preceded by a filmed introduction by the creators–describing the filming experience or performing skits.

Of the films playing, a few seem very promising.

There’s a film from Kenya, titled I Want To Be A Pilot, about the dreams of a 12-year-old living in an East African slum. There’s The Trainee, a Singapore film about a convenience store employee who breaks a freshly painted fingernail. Sound banal? Yes it does, but the summary hints at greater intrigue, stating that “…you better think twice before venturing into her convenience store.”

One film seems to stand out from the rest, a five-minute animated film from Canada by Josh Raskin. The film, I Met the Walrus, uses real-life audio mixed with animation in the style of Terry Gilliam and the Beatles film Yellow Submarine to tell the true story of Raskin’s encounter with John Lennon in 1969.

Raskin snuck into Lennon’s hotel room at age 14 to interview the Beatle with a tape recorder. Lennon was one of the most dynamic personalities of the 20th century and the film promises to be a compelling experience.

Over the years, the festival has grown exponentially. What was once a strictly New York event is now stretching across continents. Mason envisions an even larger future for the festival and estimates in three years it will be on every continent.

I’m not sure how a film festival would play in Antarctica, but you get the point. Mason has a plan and a drive–he’s not scared to try new and innovative things.

The festival started Sept. 23 and continues until Sept. 30.

Manhattan Short Film FestivalToday, Thursday Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. $6The Hollywood Theater4122 NE Sandy Blvd