Manhattan Shorts

2020 |

  • Short films
  • From Australia, Finland, Iran, Russia, Israel, North Macedonia, USA, France, Palestine
  • Vote for the best film and best actor
  • Website



3 Oct, Saturday
4 Oct, Sunday

MANHATTAN SHORT began in 1998, when Mason screened 16 short films onto a screen mounted to the side of a truck on Mulberry Street, Little Italy New York City. A year later the Festival moved uptown to Union Square Park in New York City. MANHATTAN SHORT transformed into a worldwide phenomenon, becoming the only film festival on the planet that unfolds, simultaneously, in more than 300 venues on six continents, bringing over 100,000 film-lovers in all corners of the globe together for one week, via the next generation of filmmakers.

Filmgoers in Central Otago will unite with audiences around the world to view and judge the final 9 Manhattan Short films which screen simultaneously across the world during a one-week period. The Best Film and Best Actor awards are determined by ballots cast by the audiences in each participating venue.

Central Cinema is the only participating cinema in New Zealand.

The finalists come from nine countries; Australia, Finland, Iran, Russia, Israel, North Macedonia, USA, France, Palestine. These are the best short films from among 971 submissions from 54 countries received by MANHATTTAN SHORT for 2020, testimony to the enduring vibrancy and creativity of short films worldwide.

This year’s Final Nine selections use drama, comedy and animation to address an astonishing number of themes, ranging from identity to parenthood to the seemingly universal frustration caused by the Department of Motor Vehicles no matter the country. The directorial voices are both male and female from countries large and small, often inspired by personal and sometimes harrowing experience. This year’s Final Nine screening also is a rare instance when gripping dramas from Iran, Israel, and the State of Palestine are featured in the same program.

Due to COVID-19 MANHATTAN SHORT is extending the screening dates through the whole month of October rather than its usual seven-to-ten day period. None of the screenings will be shown “virtually” so as to support local cinemas in a time of crisis. “The Films I remember best are those I saw in a cinema. Streaming the ManhattanShort Film Festival was never an option. While the numbers are sure to be down, you have to stay true to what you do. MANHATTAN SHORT is a cinematic experience.” — Founding Director Nicholas Mason.

The winners will be announced at on Sunday Nov 1.

Which of these final nine short films is the best?

That’s up to a worldwide audience to decide. Cinema-goers in Central Otago will vote for the Best Film and Best Actor and their votes along with others from around the world will determine the winners.

Safe Space (Australia), The Stick (Finland), Exam (Iran), Hey, Gray (Russia), White Eye (Israel), Sticker (North Macedonia), Two Little Boys (USA), Maestro (France), The Present (Palestine).

Safe Space

  • Directed by: Jake Robb
  • Cast: Erick Mitsak, Gregory Caine, Mark Simmonds
  • Country: Australia
  • Time: 5:35

Two detectives craft an intricate interrogation technique to intimidate an apparent witness to police corruption.

The Stick

  • Directed by: Teppo Airaksinen
  • Written by: Melli Maikkula
  • Cast: Juho Milonoff, Vilma Melasniemi, Elina Patrakka
  • Country: Finland
  • Time: 11:00

Aava has but one wish: to get a dog. Meanwhile, her parent’s marriage is falling apart.


  • Directed by: Sonia K. Hadad
  • Written by: Sonia K. Hadad, Farnoosh Samadi
  • Cast: Elaheh Afshari, Sadaf Asgari, Masih Kazemi
  • Country: Iran
  • Time: 15:00

A teenage girl gets involved in the process of delivering a pack of cocaine to its client, and gets stuck in a weird cycle of occurrences.

Hey, Gray

  • Written & Directed by: Nikita Khozyainov
  • Cast: Mikhail Sakulin, Artur Vakha, Aleksey Toshchevikov
  • Country: Russia
  • Time: 13:50

At death’s door, a thriving businessman meets his old dog Grey, which he heartlessly threw out on the street many years ago.

White Eye

  • Written & Directed by: Tomer Shushan
  • Cast: Daniel Gad, Dawit Tekelaeb, Reut Akkerman, Amir Busheri, Muhammad Abu-Leil
  • Country: Israel
  • Time: 20:00

A man finds his stolen bicycle, but now it belongs to a stranger. How much of himself will he lose to get it back?


  • Written & Directed by: Georgi M Unkovski
  • Cast: Sasko Kocev, Xhevdet Jashari, Simeon Moni Damevski
  • Country: North Macedonia
  • Time: 18:45

After an unsuccessful attempt to renew his automobile registration, Dejan falls into a bureaucratic trap that tests his determination to be a responsible father.

Two Little Boys 

  • Written & Directed by: Farbod Khoshtinat
  • Cast: Trace Talbot, Asa Germann
  • Country: USA
  • Time: 13:12

A boy’s secret love for his closeted bully drives him into an unconventional road to confession and its consequences.


  • Animators: Florian Babikian, Victor Caire
  • Country: France
  • Time: 1:40

A stick-wielding squirrel conducts a nocturnal chorus of opera-loving forest creatures.

The Present

  • Directed by: Farah Nabulsi
  • Written by: Farah Nabulsi, Hind Shoufani
  • Cast: Saleh Bakri, Maryam Kanj
  • Country: Palestine
  • Time: 24:00

On his wedding anniversary, Yusef and his young daughter set out in the West Bank to buy his wife a gift. Between soldiers, segregated roads and checkpoints, how easy can it be to go shopping?