The audience votes at the Manhattan Short Film Festival

If you are a short filmmaker, would you prefer having your film judged by a select panel of acclaimed jury members or the audience? While most short film festivals have a jury of some sort to judge winners, the Manhattan Short Film Festival stands out as the only global short film festival where the audience votes the winners.

A still from Superman Spiderman or Batman, winner of Manhattan Short Film Festival 2012

Now, the Manhattan Short is calling all Indian filmmakers to send in their entries by July 31. Ten finalists are shortlisted from over 500 entries and one winner is chosen by audiences across the globe.

This unique aspect of the Manhattan Short was the philosophy of founding festival director Nicholas Mason. He says, “Films are made for an audience and I believe they should have the final say on which film is the best.”

Bhanu Athaiya, India's first Oscar winner and a supporter of Manhattan Shorts

Mason established the Manhattan Short in 1998 in, where else, Manhattan when he projected the finalist films of that year at the back of a truck on a street after his screening venue fell through last minute. Today, the festival takes place across 200 cities around the world and in all 50 states of the US. It returns to India for the fourth year this year on September 28 at Fun Republic Andheri (West).

India Festival Director Anil Sadarangani hopes there will be at least one Indian film among the 10 finalists. “There are so many good shorts being made here, why aren’t filmmakers sending in their entries?

I think it’s significant to note that Ashvin Kumar’s Little Terrorist won at the Manhattan Short in 2004 and the following year, went on to be nominated at the Oscars. This says something about the calibre of the films selected by Manhattan Short. It’s not about being elaborate or grand but about substance.” Mason adds, “We would love nothing more than to have a finalist from India in 2013.” Past winners have been awarded editing software worth thousands of dollars.

Smita Deshmukh, Executive Director, Next Level Media Communications and co-organiser of the festival in India, says, “Manhattan Short represents the best of short films today and is the gateway for budding directors to be discovered, acclaimed and recognised, the ultimate dream. When filmmakers head to bigger film festivals after being a finalist or winning here, the Manhattan Short stamp is of tremendous value.”

Praise from Oscar winner
India’s first Oscar winner, Bhanu Athaiya, who has been a regular supporter of Manhattan Short since it came to India two years ago, says, “In both the years I attended Manhattan Short, I saw a good selection of films from across the world, worthy of making their mark at platforms like the Oscars. The calibre of films was excellent.” As Sadarangani concludes, “While the trend of making short films has caught on like wildfire in Bollywood only recently, acclaimed filmmakers from both sides of the ’woods such as Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Vikramaditya Motwane, Bejoy Nambiar, Martin Scorcese, Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, Tim Burton and Gus Van Sant all started their careers making short films.”  So do you want an audience or a jury verdict for your efforts? Log on to for submission details. 

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