Help pick the winner of festival at Senator


Film Column

September 09, 2005|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

The work of filmmakers from across the world will be featured at the Senator next week, as the eighth annual Manhattan Short Film Festival kicks off at the crown jewel of Baltimore's movie houses.

This year, the festival received 504 entries, from filmmakers in 30 countries. From them, 12 were chosen to be included in the traveling festival, which premieres at the Senator on Thursday before traveling to 53 additional venues in 13 additional states.

All those who attend the festival screening, which begins at 7:30 p.m., will be handed a voting card and asked to choose their favorite film. The winning director, chosen after the films have been screened at all 54 venues, will be given the chance to direct a feature-length independent film, to be distributed among the theaters that participate in the 2005 festival.

This marks the second year the festival has extended beyond its Manhattan base, and also the second year the viewing public has been asked to do the judging.

"There is a growing audience out there seeking more sophisticated content beyond what the studios are producing," festival director Nicholas Mason said in a statement. "This is the start of something innovative and exciting for the independent cinemas, and the independent filmmakers."

"These things are phenomenal," Senator owner Tom Kiefaber said of the films in this year's competition. "That's the thing that is so exciting about it."

Filmmakers from the United States, Ireland, Israel, England, Wales, Australia and Spain will be represented at this year's festival. The evening's program should run about two-and-a-half hours, including a 10-minute intermission. Tickets are $8, and include admission (for those over 21) to a pre-festival reception beginning at 7:30 p.m.

The Senator is at 5904 York Road. Call: 410-435-8338.

More short films

Three films by African-American filmmakers, all alumni of Howard University, will be shown Wednesday at the Avalon Theatre, 5612 Connecticut Ave. N.W. in Washington.

Imhotep Coleman's Gratuity's Included, the story of a career waiter and his unpredictable clientele, will be having its world premiere. Also being shown will be Kevin Coleman's Snapshot, in which an aspiring photographer chronicles a violent afternoon in an East Los Angeles community, and Raafi Rivero's U Street Blue, which watches as a homeless man searches for the owner of an engagement ring he finds.

Showtime at the Avalon is at 9 p.m., and admission is $8.50. Call 202-966-6000 or visit

Change in Sundays

Jonathan Palevsky, program director and veteran deejay (since 1986) on WBJC-FM (91.5), will be taking over the reins at Cinema Sundays when the film series begins its fall season this weekend. Palevsky, a frequent guest speaker at Cinema Sundays, takes over from Gabe Wardell, who is leaving the Baltimore-Washington area to become program director at the Sonoma Valley Film Festival in Northern California.

"I've spoken at Cinema Sundays many times, so now it's going to be fun to pick the films that play there," says Palevsky, 45. "Ideally, I'd like to play more movies way in advance of their openings, or more movies that will never be seen in Baltimore. That would be a nice thing."

Wardell, who took over Cinema Sundays from founder George Udel in September 1999, said abandoning the film series he's guided for six years was the hardest part of his decision to head west. Still, he's confident Palevsky will continue the tradition Udel started.

The fall series kicks off Sunday with Proof, starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins in the story of a brilliant mathematician who may have left behind a mixed legacy for his daughter. The film also stars Hope Davis and was directed by John Madden (Shakespeare in Love).

Showtime is 10:30 a.m., with the theater doors opening at 9:45 a.m. Admission is $15 and includes bagels and coffee before the movie starts.

Call 410-727-3456 or visit

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