Short film festival brings global culture to Sycamore


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The world’s first global film festival started on a side of a truck on Mulberry Street, Manhattan, in 1997, and this week, it is in Iowa City for the second time since its première.

The Manhattan Short Film Festival will have more than  1,000 shows in 300 cities on six continents.

Tonight, the festival will be featured at the Sycamore Cinema, in the Sycamore Mall. The film festival will begin at 7 p.m. and includes10 short films, each from a different country, including Spain, Norway, and the United Kingdom.

Nick Mason, the founder and director of Manhattan Short, said he created the global film festival because he has had a passion for theater and films, and he noted that the festival’s initial success can be contributed to being “at the right place in the worst time.”

In 2001, 12 days after 9/11, Manhattan Short was scheduled to show in Union Square Park.

“I was asked to move the park forward,” Mason said. “I was putting on something to help wash the park out from 9/11, and it grew into this.”

The media heavily covered the event, and Manhattan Short quickly branched out to more cities.

One film included in this year’s showing is the Spanish film Voice Over. Directed by Martin Rosete, it follows the story of a man’s adventure in trying to survive three extreme situations.

“I wanted to do a challenging film that let me show all the visual potential that I have as a director, so when I read the script of Voice Over, I knew this was the one,” Rosete said. “I fell in love with the story, and I gave all my best to make it happen.”

Despite the 18 awards that Voice Over has won since its première two years ago, Rosete said he didn’t expect the film to make it as a finalist in the 2012 Manhattan Short Film Festival.

“I was really surprised when the director told me that my film was in,” he said. “I am aware that it gets hundreds of applications, so it is an honor having our film in competition.”

This years’ festival has grown in part because of Manhattan Short promotion through social media and its website.

“When we first started out, we had 220 shows, and I thought, ‘Wow, that’s big,’ ” said Chris Cayden, the director of Internet operations for Manhattan Short. “Now, we have twice as many shows just in the United States — not counting all the other shows in the other countries.”

He has worked with Manhattan Short for six years, he said, but this year is different because of the increase in exposure the event has received.

He was able to promote the festival this year through the online media channel on the website, he said, in addition to Facebook and Twitter.

“I built an online media channel on which venues can promote their shows; they can upload videos and photographs from their shows,” Cayden said. “It’s a way for them to interact with fans of the festival and a way to get more involvement.”

In 2004, seven shows were showing in seven cities in seven different states in one week. The following year, the film festival expanded to 70 cities in the United States.

Two years later, the film festival incorporated Europe, and the show grew. Each following year, venues were added on  different continents.

Mason said he has long loved the idea of having a wider variety of films from different countries.

“I get bored with film festivals that are all from the same country,” he said. “I like a trip around the world.

What: Manhattan Short-Film Festival
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Sycamore Cinema

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