SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - Do you enjoy thought-provoking short films with free admission and free refreshments? If so, check out the 20th annual MANHATTAN SHORT Film Festival, hosted by Rowan Public Library Oct. 2-7.
RPL is one of only six locations in North Carolina to host the 2017 festival.
The MANHATTAN SHORT Film Festival is unique, screening its slated films simultaneously at participating locations worldwide over the course of a week. After each screening, audience members vote for Best Film and Best Actor, and those votes are sent directly to MANHATTAN SHORT headquarters. Every audience member's vote counts.
On Monday, Oct. 9, at 10 a.m. ET, winners will be announced via ManhattanShort.com.
Each screening features the "Final 10," the 10 short films competing for the awards of Best Film and Best Actor. Film lengths range from five minutes to 15, and the total runtime for all 10 shorts is approximately two hours. Admission is free, and popcorn and lemonade will be served.
South Rowan Regional (China Grove) kicks off RPL's screenings on Oct. 2 at 6:30 p.m. Headquarters (Salisbury) hosts the festival on Tuesday, Oct. 3, at 6:30 p.m. and East Branch (Rockwell) on Wednesday, Oct. 4, at 5 p.m. If you can't make it to a weekday showing, Headquarters (Salisbury) will host a final matinee screening on Saturday, Oct. 7, at 2 p.m. All showings are intended for adults (ages 17 and up).
RPL staff are enthusiastic about the film festival. "I love that our library provides Salisbury and our neighbors a free opportunity to be part of our wider world," said Pam Bloom, children's library associate at Headquarters.
Gretchen Witt, supervisor of RPL's Edith M. Clark History room, is particularly excited to see RPL host the 2017 MANHATTAN SHORT Film Festival. While traveling in California last year, Witt attended the festival in Point Arena. "I don't recall ever watching that number of shorts altogether before. The first short was very powerful and really grabbed our attention…The films were thought-provoking and quite good," she says. The audience participation angle was a particular highlight for her: "While many of us are interested in [award shows like the Oscars], we only get to see who wins. We don't get to participate in the actual decision-making process. That is a pretty neat opportunity." Witt's favorite film won, which made the event even more memorable.
Witt's experience in California encouraged her to advocate for bringing the film festival to Rowan County. "The library is a community gathering place and a place to offer different experiences – the film festival is a good fit," she says.
Bloom seconds that sentiment, pointing out that the other North Carolina locations hosting the festival include Asheville and Chapel Hill. "I hope folks in neighboring counties discover that art and cultural opportunities abound in Salisbury."
RPL enjoys fostering such opportunities. "We are excited to provide free viewings of independent films right in our communities," says Melissa Oleen, RPL Library Services Manager.
Though some customers likely already know they enjoy film festivals, others may be unfamiliar with the concept. "This is the perfect opportunity for adults who are curious about "shorts," want to view films from other countries, or have doubts about watching a feature-length subtitled film to experience all of these things," Oleen says.
This year's MANHATTAN SHORT guarantees a diverse and interesting line-up. The 10 featured finalists hail from nine countries: USA, UK, New Zealand, Latvia, Syria, Italy, Switzerland, Georgia, and Spain. All are eligible for an Academy Award nomination. The finalists were selected out of a record 1,615 submissions from 75 countries.
First launched in 1997 in New York City with a screen mounted to the side of a truck for about 200 attendees, the MANHATTAN SHORT has grown to more than 250 venues across six continents with a combined audience of over 100,000. Founding Director Nicholas Mason says, "Looking back, what fascinates me most is the MANHATTAN SHORT was…all about great films, a great concept, great venues, and an appreciative audience…I'm so proud to be part of [the festival] because it was the public that created it."
The annual festival continues to consciously appeal to all film-goers – from the die-hard to the casually curious – and to reinforce that every audience member's opinion is equally valuable. So, mark your calendar for the screening at your nearest RPL branch, and "you be the judge."