Ten stories told from around the world and shown in over 400 cities dimly lit the faces of the 120 attendees of the Manhattan Short Film Festival in the Plaster Student Union Theater.
With a variety of storylines and themes, certain films elicited bursts of laughter from the audience, and others, reactions of shock or sadness.
Every year, filmmakers create short films to submit to the Manhattan Short Festival in New York. This international festival features ten films chosen from over 1,000 applicants worldwide. With entries from 75 countries, the chosen 10 can be viewed at specific venues throughout the world.
This year’s finalists are from Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Iran, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Springfield, one of three Missouri venues where the festival is shown, played the select films on Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. in the PSU. The films also play in Joplin and Jefferson County.
“I think that for students who are not filmmakers, it’s just a good way to have fun, watch these films and contribute to a scholarship fund for your fellow students,” said Timothy White, associate professor of film studies and assistant head of the media, journalism and film department.
White said that many of the short films created are intended to be expanded into feature films.
“If you’re going to be a film major, short films are generally the way that you start out, and you have to get those seen,” White said. “One of the best ways to get them seen is to submit them to festivals, and if you win prizes, that is a way for you to promote your films. It’s just kind of a way to get going in the industry.”
Senior digital film and TV production major Honesty Gant, and former Missouri State students Shakhailil Benbow and Danielle R.L. McCowan, took first place in the short film category for the 2019 Missouri Broadcast Educators Association contest for their short film named “Post Miseriam.”
“To actually see my project get selected and then win the category out of all Missouri students, it was definitely a surprising but exhilarating feeling,” said Gant, who produced and directed the film.
Not only was the win a testament to the endless hours the team put in to creating their film, but Gant said it was also a testament to how a film, featuring a majority of students of color, can be successful in the industry and should be recognized.
“A majority of my crew was black men and women, and my cast was black men and women, so that was very important to me because representation is key,” Gant said.
Gant believes submitting short films to festivals is not only important to improve representation, but necessary for filmmakers to make it far in the industry.
“You have to have something attached to your name,” Gant said.
The Springfield screening of the Manhattan Short Film Festival was open to the public, costing $10 a ticket. The proceeds go to the digital film productions’ scholarship for students.