2017-09-28 / Upcoming Events

Films of the world roll into town this weekend

Ten films, chosen among 1,615 entries from 75 countries, will be screened more than 1,000 times in 250 cities on six continents in the next 12 days.

The only place in Rhode Island to view these finalists is at 17 Valley St.

The Manhattan Short will screen the finalists this weekend at the Jamestown Arts Center. Aside from the venue, there is a more intimate connection between the island and the film festival. Jocelyn Schaffer, a Jamestown movie buff, was one of four producers who whittled down the submissions to 10 standouts.

“We’re the cleaners,” said Schaffer, who screened more than 300 films for the festival. “It’s our job to narrow the list.”

Schaffer is a former HBO programmer who scheduled interstitial segments, which were the short broadcasts that ran between movies. Now it’s all self-promotion, she said, but when she worked in New York during the 1980s, the downtime between features were packed with music videos and short films. That’s when she began preferring independent shorts and foreign films to Hollywood showcases.

For this year’s show, the finalists come from the United States, Spain, New Zealand, Switzerland, Syria, Italy and England. There also is a Latvian selection, which Schaffer says is no surprise. “The Baltic states tend to have really cool films,” she said.

After screening hundreds of films, Schaffer says the toughest genre to impress her is comedy. For this festival, the American entry fits that bill. Titled “Fickle Bickle,” the 11-minute short is about a plumber who uses his client’s mansion to impress a gold-digging crush he met in high school.

One of the films that made the cut stems from Schaffer’s trip to the Sundance Film Festival. After watching “Do No Harm,” a film about a surgeon who breaks her physician’s oath when gangsters storm into the operating room, she tracked down the director, Rosanne Liang, and persuaded her to enter the Manhattan Short.

Schaffer loved another movie just as much, but that selection won’t be featured this weekend. That’s because the Russian horror film was uploaded onto You- Tube and already made available to the public.

“It’s takes away from the point of the festival,” she said.

After watching the films, Schaffer has one piece of advice for filmmakers. “The biggest mistake is not editing enough,” she said. “Sometimes a 10-minute short would be perfect if it was just two minutes shorter.”

The same 10 movies will be featured Saturday and Sunday. The films start at 7 p.m. on both nights. Admission is $10. While Schaffer chopped 1,615 films down to 10 finalists, the rest is in the hands of the audience. Every audience member around the globe will vote for best film and best actor. Winners will be eligible for an Academy Award.

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