Spanning nine days and screening across five venues, the 15th edition of the Kinofilm Manchester International Short Film Festival showcases over 250 short films from around the world.
The festival includes a strand of films entitled We Love Manchester. Formerly known as Made in Manchester, the strand has been a staple of the festival since the beginning, and includes eleven shorts made by local filmmakers.
Highlights include: Adele Myers’ Never Say Never Say Never, a beautiful dance piece about the break-up of a relationship; Jack Levy’s black comedy Nick, about some disturbingly committed fans at a gig; and the Manchester premiere of Chris Green’s Pretty, which explores the tentative beginnings of a same-sex relationship.
The We Love Manchester strand also features Iain Cash’s Forever Manchester, a drama inspired by the bombing at the Manchester Arena.
Other strands in the festival include: North By Northwest (showcasing northern talent), Kino Noir (screening a selection of film noir shorts), Romantic Tales, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Animation and a special focus on Women in Film.
There’s also a Eurocine section, with specially curated film programmes showcasing films from France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland, as well as an Eastern European programme.
In addition to its short film programme, the festival also offers a range of seminars and workshops throughout the week, aimed at inspiring and educating a new wave of filmmakers.
These events are free to attend and will feature award-winning filmmakers, such as Manchester director Jason Wingard, animation genius Chris Shepherd and Redcon 1 director Chee Keong Cheung.
Kinofilm itself is the brainchild of Festival Director John Wojowski, who first set up the festival in 1995. When we meet, he’s quick to clear up a point of confusion.
“The festival is actually twenty-three years old, in that I founded the festival in 1995”, he says.
“Now, obviously it’s only the 15th edition, because in the last ten years we’ve had funding issues since the UK Film Council closed. Through a lot of passion, we’ve managed to keep the festival going, but it became bi-annual for a few years.”
John’s so closely associated with the Kinofilm Festival that most people know him as John Kino. As he explains, the Kino connection goes back even further than the festival.
“My background is I’ve worked in cinemas for thirty years, so I used to run an alternative cinema in Hulme, called the Aaben. After that ended, I set up Kino Film Club, which was a guerrilla film club, running great foreign movies, like the works of Eisenstein and Fassbinder, all these great European classics, at various pop-up venues around Manchester.
“Around that time, I did some events in Manchester with Exploding Cinema and that got me into the short film thing”, he continues. “So then I started doing a monthly short film night, probably in 1994, and it did really well, so I just thought, let’s do it as a festival.”
Asked to pinpoint a favourite film in the festival, John plumps for Mascarpone, a German film about a projectionist who finds himself in a gangster thriller.
Asked the same question, senior programmer Steve Balshaw (who has a devoted Manchester following due to his work with GrimmFest) chips in with several other recommendations, including Chris Shepherd’s satirical animation Brexicuted (which he describes as having “a Bob Godfrey vibe”), deadpan noir I Didn’t Shoot Jesse James and French relationship comedy Gros Chagrin.
John sees Manchester as the perfect venue for the Kinofilm Festival, because there are always lots of creative things going on. However, as he admits, that also has its drawbacks.
“If anything, there’s too much going on”, he says. “And that’s one of the problems as a film festival we face, because you’ve always got so much competition in Manchester if you do an event.
“Sadly, if it’s not music related, they don’t do as well,” he continues. “A lot of fringe events, whether it be theatre or film, don’t get as good audiences as the mainstream events. And our problem is, as a film festival, we’re not at the main hub of film in Manchester, which is HOME. So probably 99% of the audience at HOME won’t actually know about our festival.”
“But I love Manchester – it is such a creative place and there’s so much going on. There’s something for everyone, isn’t there? Whether you like music, poetry, jazz, comedy, there’s everything going on. We’ve even got several film festivals to choose from these days.”
The Kinofilm Manchester International Short Film Festival runs from 24th Nov to 2nd Dec at the Niamos Nia Centre and four other venues. Full details are available at kinofilm.org.uk, where you can purchase weekly passes, day passes and tickets for individual films.