Sept. 13, 2007 -- The 10th annual Manhattan Short Film Festival, an event that casts cinema-goers as judges to determine the best of the most creative short films from around the world, returns to Charlottesville on Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. at Vinegar Hill Theatre. The Virginia Film Society is again hosting the screenings.
Within a 10-day period, audience members in 99 cities on three continents will be handed a voting card upon entry and asked to vote for the one film they feel should win the festival. The winner will be announced on Sept. 30 at Union Square Park in New York City and will be posted on the festivals Web site at www.msfilmfest.com. Last years program delighted the Charlottesville audience, and the quality of this years films is again exceptionally strong.
From 456 entries representing 33 countries, 12 films were selected as finalists to be screened at the festival. Those selected include dramas, documentaries and animated shorts.
The sole U.S. film, "Lines" by Sonja Jasansky, tells the story of a rebellious teen who is held after class and told to do busy work writing the same "I will not " line over and over as punishment for misbehavior. The teen decides enough is enough when the teacher tries to lecture her on the benefits of fitting in.
Four films represent the United Kingdom. "One Hundredth of a Second," by Susan Jacobson, is the tale of a talented photojournalist who risks her life to deliver powerful images to the waiting world until the photograph of a girl changes her life forever. "Cherries," by Tom Harper, is another life-changing story. Several teenage schoolboys receive a lesson they will never forget as a teacher questions them about events outside their world events to which they are oblivious.
"Soft," by Simon Ellis, portrays a gang of youths that terrorizes a father and son. The event forces the father to face long-forgotten fears from his own school days. In "King Ponce," by Britains Sam Donovan, the worlds of masculinity and group acceptance collide as a teen explores his love of ballroom dancing.
This years single German finalist is "Clooney," by Florian Ross. In this film, a flip of a coin is the deciding factor in whether Marcus attends a concert or a friend's party. The resulting story is an exploration of fate, luck and chance, and how those three can influence our lives.
From Spain, Ugo Sanz's "The Prestidigitator" depicts a young man's struggle between not wanting to study for an exam and facing his mother's disappointment if he fails.
Canadian filmmaker Josh Raskin uses an original 1969 interview recording of John Lennon by then-14-year-old Jerry Levitan as the soundtrack for an animated romantic characterization of Lennon's words in "I Met the Walrus."
In "Feeling Lonely?," Australian filmmaker Rachel Turk tackles the issue of how familiarity is confused with intimacy as a result of contemporary society's love affair with high-density living, online dating, You Tube and ritualized surveillance. Rob gets more action than he bargained for when the 45-year-old "Mother Manchester" catches his eye on the 'Net.
A man named Boris dictates the rules in "Boris's Complete Book of Rules," by Israeli filmmaker Shefy Malek. Boris mediates an argument between Ofer and his girlfriend, Avishag, that takes place in a men's room where Boris is a janitor. After intervening, Boris dictates to Avishag his book of rules.
In "I Want to be a Pilot," a submission from Kenya, director Diego Quemada-Diez tells the story of the one dream of a 12-year-old East African boy who lives in the slums.
From Singapore, filmmaker Craig Rosenthal introduces the audience to "The Trainee," a woman who works the late-night shift in a 24-hour downtown convenience store.
The Virginia Film Society is the yearlong extension of the Virginia Film Festival, the University of Virginia's annual four-day event focused on a single theme featuring film screenings accompanied by commentary by U.Va. faculty experts and Hollywood insiders.
All Virginia Film Society events are co-sponsored by the Virginia Film Festival and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Most screenings feature guest speakers. Screenings are held at Vinegar Hill Theatre at 7 p.m., with the exception of "Killer of Sheep," which will be shown at Regal Downtown on Nov. 1 and 2. Admission to individual screenings is $9 and free to Film Society members.
A full-year membership in the Virginia Film Society is $60 ($50 for students and seniors). Membership benefits include admission to Film Society screenings throughout the year, one free pass to Regal Cinemas, $2 off Mondays at Sneak Reviews and $6 Tuesday movies at Vinegar Hill Theatre.
Individual admission tickets may be purchased 30 minutes before the screening at the venue box office, when seats are available.
For information on membership in the Virginia Film Society, to download an application form or to view the full fall season schedule, visit www.vaflm.com.