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Manhattan Short Film Festival gives local audiences a chance to vote on 10 finalists in global movie event

Manhattan shorts

Fifteen years ago, on a downtown Manhattan street, an audience of about 300 New Yorkers came together to watch a small collection of short films projected onto the side of a truck. The gathering became the first Manhattan Short Film Festival.

From those humble beginnings, the festival has grown into an annual event that now takes place simultaneously in over 300 cities on six continents. With more than 100,000 people viewing the same 10 films in venues around the world, the event is considered the first global film festival.

This year the festival drew 520 entries from 49 countries, which were eventually narrowed down to 10 finalists to be viewed and voted on by the global audiences.

The event is open to anyone who wants to take part. By giving moviegoers around the world the power to vote, organizers say, the festival inspires a unity between countries that transcends political barriers and gives way to the common ground of art. Founder and director Nicholas Mason says, “The real aim of this festival is bringing communities together via stories from around the world.”

This year’s film finalists include a wide range of themes and countries, from the dramatic story of an explorer in Norway’s “The Devil’s Ballroom” to a comedic tale from France about a man stuck in a monster costume who unintentionally terrorizes his town in “The Elaborate End of Robert Ebb.” Other countries among the finalists are the Netherlands, Russia, England, Ireland, Peru, Romania, Spain and the U.S.

Locally, the films can be viewed and voted on at the Amherst Cinema, 28 Amity St. Amherst, or at the Tower Theaters, 19 College St., South Hadley, from today through Oct. 4. The winner will be announced Oct. 7 at 10 p.m. in New York City and will be posted at www.ManhattanShort.com.

— Lauren Jones

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