Mosaic / Reviews / October 5, 2011

Great films and laughs at Manhattan Film Festival

A dog eating teeth, sexual confusion and dying Canadian children—all fun parts of this year’s Annual Manhattan Short Film Festival.

The Manhattan Short Film Festival, which has the audience from over 250 cities across six continents choose the winner, ran from Sept. 23 to Oct. 2 this year. One venue where it played was Carl Sandburg college theatre, where a full auditorium got to view the 10 finalists of the 598 competitors.

In attendance was sophomore Wen Biyi, who found the experience to be very enjoyable. Among her favorites were a short documentary, “Martyr Friday,” about the recent Egyptian uprising and “Sexting,” an eight-minute monologue by Julia Styles. Thanks to grainy camerawork, she was less impressed by the Swedish “Incident by a Bank.”

A fellow moviegoer from Galesburg, Elaine, who has been attending the festival for years, was happy with this year’s selection because of the upsurge in the number of comedies.

“We need more stuff like this,” she said, saying it was always good to bring international art to the masses.

Knox professor Gail Ferguson, currently on sabbatical, was also in attendance. A fan of the festival since she lived in New York, Ferguson was overjoyed when, thanks to the Galesburg Civic Art Center, Galesburg became a viewing location in 2010.

“The films did not disappoint,” she said. “They were creative and contained wide-ranging themes.”

She agreed that the over-all winner, “David and Goliath,” was touching, but preferred the Scottish film “I Love Luci,” which ultimately placed third. Ferguson found this festival particularly enjoyable and considered it “a timely respite from the solitary task of data analysis and writing.”

Ultimately, the film festival appeared to be a success, not only drawing a bigger crowd than last year, but also for being such fun (as the two ladies who sitting next to me, who laughed nearly the entire time would concur), that more people will likely come (and should come) next year to this artsy yet proletariat collection of works.

“Incident By A Bank”

This Swedish film’s premise—the recreation of a failed bank robbery—is good, but the film took place outside the bank. It also looked as if it was shot with a camcorder pointed out an apartment window. The director claimed to be focusing on the details but apparently overlooked making it interesting, probably why the film finished 8th.


This Australian comedy shows a parental discussion after discovering their son has written “I lik ribing tims dik.” Awkward hilarity ensues. The movie does show social double standards: the wife does not see herself as lesbian despite cheating on her husband with a woman but classifies her husband as gay because of his minor, long past forays into homosexuality. A divorce ensues and the father discovers that what his son meant was “I like riding Tim’s bike.” Predictable: yes. Hilarious and well made: definitely.


The longest movie of the night, this Swiss film followed a young mother building up courage to give her child away. Despite being artfully shot, it was just too long and too boring to win. Although touching, it was overshadowed by the other films.

“I Love Luci”

Winning the bronze medal was this Scottish comedy concerning a woman who lost her teeth and is waiting for her boyfriend to get out of prison, the man who loves her unrequitedly and Luci, the woman’s dog who ate her teeth. This film is humorously written yet realistically made, allowing for an accurate representation of comedic yet almost-realistic life.

“Legend of Beaver Dam”

Finishing sixth overall was this Canadian rock comedy musical. After being tormented by a vindictive counselor, a nerdy camper fends off an accidentally-summoned ghost through hilarious singing.


Consisting of a neurotic yet natural sounding tirade of a mistress to the wife of her lover, nearly this entire film is a monologue. Although Julia Styles acts superbly, I can understand the ninth place finish: nothing really happened. This film, while well-written, should really be turned into one scene of a movie.

“The Forest”

This Turkish film follows a jogger returning to a commune to play a game of tag, only to come across the crime scene of a murdered woman. Despite its artful camerawork, this film was too confusing for mainstream audiences, causing a tenth place finish.

“A Doctor’s Job”

Almost making it to the podium, receiving fourth place, this Brazilian film shows a doctor moonlighting as a cabdriver to earn money to keep his mother in a hospice. He picks up a customer who sends him to pick up “associates” who just committed a robbery. While decently shot, the lack of character development and interaction causes the film to suffer slightly; the director attempted to pack a little too much into ten minutes.

“David and Goliath”

This film told the true story of a soldier, David, who hid in the doghouse of a Doberman named Goliath while fleeing from Nazis. The dog’s owner finds David and helps him escape. At the end of the film, the real David recalls later finding the farmer, now a captive of the victors, and gets him released from custody. While this film took home the grand prize, it was rather boring, as almost half of the film consisted of David petting Goliath and looking frightened.

“Martyr Friday”

This documentary on the Egyptian uprising, which culminated in the end of Mubarak’s presidency, was well-created. It drew images from a variety of sources and definitely had its moments, but ultimately was not long enough. It did not show what led up to these riots, nor did it have a plot. While promising, this film just needed more time.

Ian Malone

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