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2017 Manhattan Short Film Festival Finalists Shown at MSU

(Poster design courtesy Manhattan Short Film Festival)

"This is the 20th year for the Manhattan Short Film Festival, and it just gets bigger and better every year.  We got more people every year." 

That's Tim White, Associate Professor in the Department of Media, Journalism and Film at Missouri State University.  Once again Plaster Student Union Theater on the MSU campus is the only venue in the state of Missouri to serve as a venue for the public showing of the ten finalists in this year's Manhattan Short Film Festival.  The films will be shown in the PSU Saturday, September 30 from 7:00 to 10:00pm.  Local attendees are joining some 100,000 other viewers around the world who see the films during a one-week period--and vote on their favorites in the world's only global audience-choice film festival.

This year's field of ten was chosen by the Manhattan Short committee out of 1,615 submissions from filmmakers in 75 countries around the world.  And when we say "short," we're talking a maximum of 10 or 12 minutes running time, at least among this year's finalists.

Viewers at each venue receive ballots on which they vote for "Best Film" and Best Actor/Actress"--there used to be separate "Actor" and "Actress" categories, but now they are combined. The individual sponsors/venues then forward their local ballots on to Manhattan Short headquarters in New York, where they are tallied and the winners announced a week or so later.

This year two of the finalists are from Spain--"it's unusual to have two from the same country," says Tim White--and one each from Syria, Latvia and Georgia, all first-time representations for those countries in the finalist group. Interestingly, there are no films from Asia among this year's Manhattan Short finalists--just Europe, and one each from the USA and New Zealand.

It takes the Manhattan Short committee a full year to wade through the more than a thousand submissions--"Somebody's bleary-eyed" from watching all those short films, jokes Tim White. "It's a job I kind of envy--you get to see a lot of stuff.  On the other hand you have to make some really hard choices."

As for subject matter this year, White says, "This year, it seems to me, the films are a little bit darker than they have been in the past. There are a few that are kind of funny, but there are a lot that are not funny at all!"  White's own favorite, and perhaps the shortest film in this year's field of ten finalists, is about a prisoner of war in a German concentration camp in World War II "whose job is to shave the commandant. There's no dialog in the entire film.  And just by looking at this guy's face you can see all of the thoughts that are going through his mind about what it is he's doing... and what he'd like to do.  It's based on a true story," says Tim White, as are several of the films this year.

"There's one example of animation, which I really like.  It's from the Netherlands.  I'm not too sure if it's going to be an audience favorite because it's not narrative. It's strictly a formal exercise in animation, which--I really like that, and people who are into animation really like that kind of stuff."

Come enjoy a great evening of short films and cast your ballot at MSU's Plaster Student Union Theater. Tickets are $10, and all proceeds go to the MSU Digital Film Production Scholarship.  Tim White says tickets will only be available at the door on September 30, and can only be purchased by cash or check--no credit cards, as he says that allows too much money that could go to the MSU film scholarships "to dribble away in credit card fees."

New this year: students from the Academic Media Production Guild will sell popcorn. You can't have movies without popcorn, right?

For more information call 836-4936 or email

Randy Stewart joined the full-time KSMU staff in June 1978 after working part-time as a student announcer/producer for two years. His job has evolved from Music Director in the early days to encompassing production of a wide range of arts-related programming and features for KSMU, including the online and Friday morning "Arts News." Stewart assists volunteer producers John Darkhorse (Route 66 Blues Express), Lee Worman (The Gold Ring), and Emily Higgins (The Mulberry Tree) with the production of their programs. He's also become the de facto "Voice of KSMU" in recent years due to the many hours per day he’s heard doing local station breaks. Stewart’s record of service on behalf of the Springfield arts community earned him the Springfield Regional Arts Council's "Ozzie Award" in 2006.