Audience As Jury
The Manhattan Short Film Festival casts its eye on feature films, launching a new program that attempts to help one filmmaker achieve the ultimate goal of gaining a theatrical release.
Every year, for one week in late September, short film aficionados turn their attention to Manhattan for its annual Short Film Festival, established in 1998. The festival's international flavour has been its hallmark in recent years as this uniquely premised event takes place in 200 countries across six continents in a display of cinematic ingenuity.
But the festival has founded a new and innovative experiment - titled the Feature Film Project - sure to attract the attention of aspiring filmmakers the world over. The typical path to success for an independent film in the US involves being entered into a film festival, said film generating buzz at the festival, being picked up by a distributor and rolling out into cinemas. For the first time, the Feature Film Project will allow one standout film from the competition to progress directly to that last stage.
The winning film, selected from a worldwide pool, will be screened in one hundred cinemas across the US in March 2013. Audiences at each cinema will be handed a voting card with one simple question: Should this film return to this cinema for a one week release in six weeks' time? Hence the tagline, ‘It's the public that create stars.'
If more than half of all viewers vote ‘yes', the winning film will indeed return to all one hundred screens around the American Easter holidays.
"A trend has started in which films appear at major film festivals across this country and are then encouraged to go straight to Video-on-Demand," says Manhattan Short founding director Nicholas Mason (pictured), who actually grew up in Sydney. "The thought of a theatrical release is not even entertained. The Feature Film Project is about getting indie films back into a cinema and letting the public decide what happens to them after that."
Naturally, this contest is open to Australian filmmakers as well, and anybody interested can find more details about the competition and how to apply here. Filmmakers have until December 31, 2012 to submit their films.