Global festival makes foreign films Fargo-friendly

This weekend two hours and $10 will buy you an international cinema experience.

The Fargo Theatre is participating in the Manhattan Short Film Festival. When it wraps on Sunday, the festival will have been responsible for 100,000 people viewing 10 short films from as many countries. Screenings will have taken place in over 250 cities on six continents.

“It’s really kind of cool to think that all across the globe, for these few days, there are audiences sitting and watching the same things we are here in Fargo, I think that’s a really cool opportunity,” said Emily Beck, film programmer of the Fargo Theatre.

Each person who attends, casts a vote for his or her favorite film.  The voting is an aspect that sets this festival apart, giving power to the viewer. The final tally will be announced Sunday night.

Screenings happen worldwide for a week, from last Sunday to this Sunday and here in town there are seven opportunities to partake.

Today: 5 p.m., 7:45 p.m.
Friday: 5 p.m., 7:15 p.m.
Saturday: 1 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7:15 p.m.

Festival illuminates another dark corner

What was, in 1998, a short film festival in Manhattan with celebrity judges, has since grown steadily and often dramatically so.

In 2009 the goal was to have screenings in all 50 states, the year marked the Fargo Theatre’s first inclusion in the event.

In 2010 the organizers promised to bring the Manhattan Short to one more continent and succeeded with three screenings in Africa, two in South Africa and one in Morocco. Founding Director, Nicholas Mason, said that the Manhattan Short is not only one of the fastest growing film festivals in the world, but one of the fastest growing events. The tagline is, “One world. One week. One festival.”

“As promised we would unite all continents by 2010,” Mason said. “We are leaving Antarctica and the penguins alone. For now.”

Foreign does not equal extraterrestrial

As the first global film festival in the world, the Manhattan Short’s philosophy seems to be that though not everyone can relate to stories of crossing illegally into the U.S., living in a war-tattered place, or even tales about animated dogs ending relationships, the filmmakers strive to evoke an emotion from all.

Though 10 different flags are represented by the festival, almost all films acted in another language will have English subtitles, but that shouldn’t keep potential viewers away.

“If they haven’t been exposed to them, I think people have an aversion to subtitled movies,” Beck said. “But I think that if you go in with an open mind, you’ll find that you can fall into the flow really easily and find that film is really a universal language.”

Creating a film half as short is twice as difficult

Not only is the appreciation for cinema without national borders, so is the art of creating it.

“They’re examples of people who know how to tell a really good or interesting or powerful story in a short amount of time, and that’s really hard to do,” said Beck of the films. “And so if you love movies, you’ll just kind of come and marvel at the technique that some of these filmmakers use.”

The short film is often thought of as a gateway into feature films but Helene Florent, director of Canadian finalist, “Little Inconvenience,” argued for imagining the short film in its own arena of artistry.

“It’s quite challenging to have an idea and present it clearly in a short period of time,” Florent said, “but if people continue to think about your film afterwards, you can consider it a success. I think it’s much harder to tell a story in five minutes than in two hours. Some people believe that a short film is just a practice before a feature, but I think a short film is an art form all on its own.”

Often winners go on to receive Academy Award nominations.

For interviews with all of the directors.

F-M plugged into the rest of the globe

A multicultural opportunity to feel united with the rest of the world is one that doesn’t surface regularly, no matter where you live.

“I think it’s really neat to feel connected to all of those different audiences,” Beck said, “especially because sometimes I think we feel a little out of the loop here in Fargo N.D.”

Beck said that she was on a plane recently and was annoyed to overhear someone say, “there’s nothing to do in Fargo.”

“Sure there is,” she said. “You just have to look for it.”

Local news didn’t seem interested in furthering or featuring the festival. Beck said she was disappointed that none of the publications in town wanted the free press passes being offered to pre-screen the movies and write a review.

Last year less than 100 people attended the screening during the Fargo Theatre’s first participation in the Manhattan Short. The coordinator seemed to think that for a first time, that number was a great start for any venue.

“Hopefully word of mouth will help it continually grow,” Beck said.

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