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International film festival returns to Sunflower Theatre in Cortez

Audience will vote on 10 shorts at Oct. 7 screening
A still from the Georgian film “8 Minutes,” one of 10 shorts that will be screened at the Sunflower Theatre on Oct. 7 as part of the Manhattan Short Film Festival.

An international short film festival will be shown in Cortez for the third time on Oct. 7.

Since 2015, the Sunflower Theatre has joined hundreds of venues around the world in screening the Manhattan Short Film Festival every autumn. This year, the festival includes 10 live-action and animated shorts from nine countries, including Syria, Latvia and Georgia. All 10 will be eligible for nominations at the Oscars later this year, but long before that, Cortez audience members will be able to vote on their favorite film and actor, with the winners set to be announced on Oct. 9.

The Cortez screening, along with a screening at the Animas City Theatre the previous night, is being presented by Durango Film, which also puts on the more locally sourced Durango Independent Film Festival every spring. Executive Director Joanie Leonard said this year’s crop of Manhattan shorts was selected from about 1,600 submissions.

“When you just pick 10 out of that many, they’ve got to be pretty good films,” she said.

One of the first Manhattan Short films shown in Cortez, the Chilean “Bear Story,” won the 2016 Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. This year, the lineup includes just one animated short, “In a Nutshell,” from Switzerland. The rest of the finalists are “Do No Harm” from New Zealand, “Behind” and “The Perfect Day” from Spain, “Fickle Bickle” from the U.S., “Hope Dies Last” from the United Kingdom, “Just Go!” from Latvia, “Mare Nostrum” from Syria, “8 Minutes” from Georgia and “Viola, Franca” from Italy.

Audiences will be given a ballot at the beginning of the evening and asked to vote on the best film and best actor. Based on their responses and those of other audiences around the world, the winners will be chosen and announced on the festival’s website.

According to a news release from founder Nicholas Mason, the festival started 20 years ago with a single screen on the side of a truck in New York City. This year, it will be shown at about 250 different venues around the world.

“Manhattan Short was never once reliant on celebrities or corporate sponsors to exist,” Mason wrote in the release. “It was all about great films, a great concept, great venues and an appreciative audience.”

The festival has held screenings in Durango off and on throughout its history, but Leonard said that during the past three years, Cortez audiences have been just as appreciative as those in the larger city.

“We enjoy coming to the Sunflower,” Leonard said. “It’s a nice little venue, and they’re great to work with.”

Although the festival doesn’t subscribe to any content ratings for its films, Leonard said she wouldn’t recommend bringing children because some of the shorts “are a little dark this year.” As of Wednesday, she said there were still plenty of tickets available on the Sunflower Theatre website.

If you go

What: Manhattan Short Film Festival

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7

Where: Sunflower Theatre, 8 E. Main St., Cortez

Cost: $15 per ticket

Information: Go to


for ticket information or go to


to learn more about the festival.

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