(Photo by John Cook) Kate Van Auken, director of Rawson Memorial District Library in Cass City, invites the public to the free Manhattan Shorts Film Festival at the library at 6 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday. Viewers view highly-acclaimed short films – the longest is about 18 minutes – and vote for best film and best actor as part of a worldwide selection process.

Hip Friday: Cass City library hosts film fest

The Manhattan Short Film Festival may sound like an event reserved for a university campus or suburban arts institute, but at 1 p.m. on Friday, the public can visit Rawson Memorial District Library in Cass City to attend the festival and vote on the best of nine short films.

Admission is free, as is the popcorn and lemonade.
Audiences at more than 300 locations around the world judge the nine films during an 11-day period. The films “represent the best short films from among 1,565 submissions from 73 countries,” according to a press release from Manhattan Short Film Festival publicists.
The longest of the “short” films is about 18 minutes, and the event at the library should last about two and one-half hours, according to Kate Van Auken, director of Rawson Memorial District Library at 6495 Pine St.
“There are only 16 venues in the state, and most of them are in Ann Arbor and south of us,” Van Auken said. “There aren’t any in Traverse City, Bay City or Midland.”
Audiences at each venue choose the best film and the best actor among six actors nominated on a voting card.
The nine films include a comedy, frightening tales, intimate dramas, fast-paced animation, a World War II film and a film shot entirely under water.
“I think this is a huge cultural opportunity for our area,” Van Auken said. “Think about film lovers and ‘want-to-be’ film makers having a chance to be included in voting for film festival movies and actors.”
The nine Manhattan Short films are: “Lacrimosa” (Austria), “Fauve” (Canada), “Someone” (Germany), “Chuchotage” (Hungary), “Her” (Kosovo), “Fire in Cardboard City” (New Zealand), “Baghead” (United Kingdom), “Two Strangers Who Meet Five Times (United Kingdom) and “Home Shopper” (United States).
The library paid for costs related to the film festival by using a grant received from the William and Ruth Janks Fund, administered by the Tuscola County Community Foundation.
Nicholas Mason, founding director of the Manhattan Short Film Festival, has said he started the event 21 years ago when he mounted a screen to the side of a truck in New York City in front of a crowd of about 200 people.
This year, he estimates the short films will be rated by more than 100,000 film viewers gathered in more than 300 venues across six continents.
“Looking back, what fascinates me most is the Manhattan Short was never once reliant on celebrities or corporate sponsors to exist,” Mason stated in a press release. “It has always been about great films, a great concept, great venues and an appreciative audience.”
Van Auken said Mason reached out to public libraries in the middle of the U.S. to involve more viewers.
“In the past the shorts were shown at universities and theaters typically on the east and west coast,” said Van Auken, noting that filmgoers will view the films in the library’s Pinney Room.
“Public libraries are hubs for their communities, especially in the small rural areas,” Van Auken said.
Rawson Memorial District Library in Cass City, along with the Harbor Beach Area District Library in Huron County, are two of only nine libraries in Michigan hosting the Manhattan Short Film Festival.
“I feel we are always looking for unique programming opportunities especially in our area since we are limited by distance in some cases,” Van Auken said. “Some folks don’t think anything of it to drive to Detroit to go to the Opera House or Detroit Institute of Arts, but others don’t – and maybe can’t – venture to Saginaw, Bay City or Midland to attend a cultural happening.”
The winning film among the nine competitors will be announced at 10 a.m. Oct. 8 at ManhattanShort.com.

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