September 17, 2009 — The Virginia Film Society kicks off its fall season with the 12th annual Manhattan Short Film Festival – a selection of the most creative short films in the world, as judged by the cinema-going public – on Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. at Vinegar Hill Theatre.
The society's screenings will continue Oct. 14 with "Revanche," directed by Götz Spielmann. "The Drummer," directed by Kenneth Bi, will be shown Nov. 6 and 7 as part of the Virginia Film Festival. On Nov. 17, director Noah Buschel's film "Missing Person" will be screened, and the fall season will conclude Dec. 2 with writer/director Jay DiPietro's "Peter and Vandy."
Manhattan Short Film Festival
In Charlottesville and in 50 other cities within a 10-day period, festivalgoers will be asked to vote for their favorite.
This year's finalists – 10 short films, all 14 minutes and under in length – were chosen from 428 entries representing 36 countries around the world. Countries represented include the U.S., Australia, Mozambique, the U.K., Israel, Spain, France, Sweden and Italy in what festival organizers describe as a "Cinematic Olympiad."
The U.S. is represented by "The Boundary," directed by Julius Onah. A family returning home across the U.S./Canadian border is forced to deal with circumstances they would never hope for. Of the film's tagline, "Once we cross, there is no return," Onah said in a festival interview, "Since 9/11, a lot of boundaries have been pushed very far. ... When we cross a certain threshold, the very ideas that we seek to protect end up being destroyed – liberty, freedom, the right to lead one's own life under one's own terms."
Two films represent Spain.
In "Parking," the sixth short film by director by Jorge Molina, an executive goes to get his car and discovers that someone else has beaten him to it. "The story is about why this man is behaving this way, why is he such a failure as a human being," Molina said.
The second Spanish film is "Miente," by Isabel De Ocampo. In this thriller, Doina, who lives in a world of prostitution in Madrid, finds it difficult to realize the dream of getting the birthday present she desires for her sister.
Swedish director Daniel Wirtberg's film "Love Child" reflects the growing pains of being part of a family, as a young girl who enjoys the perfect life of being an only child finds her security shattered when a new family member arrives.
At 16, Alcides Soares is youngest filmmaker in the festival. One of a half-million AIDS orphans living in Mozambique today, Soares was given a movie camera and taught how to shoot by American television writer Neal Baer and movie director Chris Zalla. The result is "Mozambique." Through the filmmaking process, Soares said, "I learned that each person has different difficulties and challenges in life, but if you fight for what you believe in, life always gets better."
Representing France is Jérémy Clapin's animated film, "Skhizein." In Greek, "skhizein" means "split" or "cleave." In the film, Henry is struck by a 150-ton meteorite and has to adapt to living precisely 91 centimeters from himself.
"A'Mare," by Italian director Martina Amati, is about two children whose lives are centered on the sea. During a fishing excursion their usual routine is disturbed when something unexpected appears from the water.
Representing Australia, Sandy Widyanata's film "Plastic" portrays what happens when Anna is preparing for a first date with Henry, a man she has secretly loved for years. Everything goes wrong until she discovers the impossible – to sculpt her appearance like clay to any shape she desires.
In Israeli director Yehezkel Lazarov's "Lashabiya," a young Palestinian man plays a dangerous game with an armed squad of Israeli soldiers in an elementary school courtyard. Lazarov was inspired to make the film after the last Gaza war. "I am not a political guy. I am not involved in political things. But I decided that I can't escape my own reality and I have to do something about it," he said.
"Hammerhead" is Sam Donovan's film representing the U.K. In this film, Boris tries to reunite his separated parents on a shark-spotting trip. The only problem is, his biggest enemy is along for the ride: his mother's new girlfriend. The split vision hammerhead goggles, which the young boy wears in the film, serve as a powerful metaphor for a split family, and the story is built around it. Donovan said the effect of the view through the hammerhead goggles was achieved in post-production. "We just shot it straight and made sure that the character was in the middle of the screen, so it gave it a feel of a kind of push and pull image. And then we put fish eye effects on it in post-production," he said.
About the Virginia Film Society
The Virginia Film Society is the yearlong extension of the Virginia Film Festival, the University of Virginia's annual four-day, theme-focused event. The festival features film screenings and commentary from U.Va. faculty experts and Hollywood insiders.
Most screenings feature guest speakers. Screenings are held at 7 p.m. at Vinegar Hill Theatre, 220 Market St., in Charlottesville. The time and location of the screening of "The Drummer" is to be announced at a later date.
Admission to individual screenings is $9 and free to Film Society members. Tickets not taken by Film Society members may be purchased 30 minutes before the screening when seats are available.
Dues for membership in the Virginia Film Society are $60 a year ($50 for students and seniors). Benefits include admission to Film Society screenings, one free pass to Regal Cinemas, $2 off Mondays at Sneak Reviews and $6 Tuesday movies at Vinegar Hill Theatre.
For information on membership in the Virginia Film Society, to download an application form or to view the fall season schedule, visit www.vafilm.com. For information about the Manhattan Short Film Festival visit www.msfilmfest.com.