10 cool films to see for the price of one

Filmgoers in Middletown will unite with audiences in over 300 cities spanning six continents to view and judge the work of the next generation of filmmakers from around the world on Saturday, Sept. 29. That's when the projectors start rolling at the 15th annual Manhattan Short Film Festival at the Everett Theatre.

Out of 520 entries received from 49 countries around the world, Manhattan Short selected 10 short films as finalists. Each film is 18 minutes or less. Offering the likes of comedy, drama and family-oriented films, Manhattan Short certainly has a movie with your name on it.

Films are shown in nearly all seven continents, with Antarctica being the only exception, said festival founder Nick Mason, 46, of Manhattan, N.Y.

Countries represented this year are Norway, the Netherlands, Russia, England, Ireland, Peru, France, Romania, Spain and the United States in what festival organizers describe as the "United Nations of film festivals," Mason said.

Caped crusader?

With the success of recent superhero blockbuster films like "The Amazing Spider-Man" and Batman's "The Dark Knight," as well as the much-anticipated "Man of Steel" Superman film slated for 2013, it's nice that the Manhattan Short selected the adorable, Romanian film "Superman, Spider-Man or Batman" as a finalist.

The family film, directed by Tudor Glurgiu, is about a young lad inspired by his favorite comic book heroes (none other than Batman, Superman and Spider-Man) to save his mother who's suffering from a heart disease.

Knowing that most of the world goes gaga over movies centered around cute kids and cuddly animals, Mason expects "Superman, Spider-Man or Batman" to make a big impression on the majority of Manhattan Short spectators.

"To me, knowing our audience, I think that film is going to be in the top four," Mason said.

While it's standard practice for many filmmakers to read through a script that's about 120 pages to get a feel for whether or not they want to adapt it into a film, Mason found it intriguing that Glurgiu told him during an interview that he fell in love with the idea of shooting the film after only reading a five-to-six page script.

"That was the first time I heard anyone say that, unless they wrote it themselves, because you can't [visualize] the whole film," Mason said.

Funny Cain and Able

Missouri's never been regarded as a hotbed of talent for filmmakers, but director Todd Sklar hopes to change that with his comedic short "92 Skybox Alonzo Mourning Rookie Card".

The only American film selected for the festival, "92 Skybox" has little do with the rare rookie card of former NBA big-man Alonzo Mourning, despite the title. Nonetheless, the movie offers a hilarious tale about a sibling rivalry between two brothers who are united for their father's funeral.

There's not much room for failure when it comes to making comedies, yet Sklar nailed it with the organic chemistry of the cast, Mason said.

"I felt really comfortable with all the people in this film," Mason explained.

The film was shot in Missouri with a Nikon DSLR camera for approximately $1,000, of which "$500 was on beer for the crew," he added.

Despite the film's low budget, "92 Skybox" has the look of a high quality picture.

Making the cut

When sifting through films to present in the festival, Mason's strategy is to search for "10 different styles, 10 different grooves, 10 different places and mesh them together," he said.

"I think [my strategy] definitely suits the program."

Vote for your favorite

The Manhattan Short Festival films will not only entertain a global audience but will be judged by them as well. Filmgoers will be handed a voting card upon entry and asked to vote for the one film they feel should win.

Votes are tallied at each participating cinema and submitted to festival headquarters where the winner will be announced in New York City as well as posted on the net at ManhattanShort.com on Sunday, Oct. 7 at 10 p.m.

WHAT 15th annual Manhattan Short Film Festival
WHEN 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29
WHERE Everett Theatre, 47 W. Main St., Middletown
COST $14
INFO everetttheatre.com or manhattanshort.com