The Hippo


Oct 18, 2019








See short films

Rochester Museum of Fine Arts Short Film Night
Where: Rochester Opera House, 31 Wakefield St., Rochester
When: Saturday, Jan. 9, at 7 p.m., films at 8 p.m.
Admission: $8
Portsmouth Short Film Night
Where: 3S Artspace, 319 Vaughan St., Portsmouth
When: Sunday, Jan. 10, at 7:30 p.m.
Admission: $5

Short and sweet
Film nights showcase short flicks

By Kelly Sennott

During the second weekend in January, you have two chances to catch some short flicks, in Rochester and Portsmouth. 

Rochester Short Film Night
The Rochester Museum of Fine Arts hosts a night of short films at the Rochester Opera House Saturday, Jan. 9, with a cocktail hour starting at 7 p.m. It will be the second time the museum has held the event.
On the menu is The Butterfly Circus, about a circus showman leading his troupe through America during the Great Depression; Sausage, an Oscar long-listed animated short film about two artisan stallholders whose world is invaded by a fast food vendor; Double Talk, about a shy young man who misses the opportunity to talk to the girl of his dreams, then finds a time-turning pocket watch; Danny and the Wild Bunch, about a children’s book author who’s told her latest manuscript needs to be darker; Sober, a short documentary; Runway, an animated flick about a misunderstanding between a man and his 1950s refrigerator; and 97%, about a man who thinks he’s found his match via a dating app.
Rochester Museum of Fine Arts President Matt Wyatt said the museum looks for good movies, locally made or not, that you otherwise might have to travel to see. He was particularly excited about The Butterfly Circus. 
“I just thought it was so inaccessible, being so well-known and so well-liked, that we wouldn’t even be able to get [the filmmaker’s] attention. That’s why I’m so excited they said yes,” he said via phone. “We really want people to feel entertained when they come in, and we want it to be a well-rounded show. … We’re looking at films that have been nominated for Academy Awards or that have been screened at international film festivals. We want to bring ... quality to Rochester, with art and with films, and make them accessible for people who live here. … I’m not somebody who believes you should have to travel all the time to come see [them].”
Portsmouth Short Film Night
Michael Rodriguez Torrent remembers the first Portsmouth Short Film Night he and his wife, Catherine Stewart, produced, in February 2013. Held in a tiny corner of what was the temporary 3S Artspace gallery, with a jerry-rigged projector made from curtain material and PVC piping, it wasn’t the most glamorous of events. They put the food, donated from local restaurants, outside to keep cold, and it was snowing, with the front entrance needing shoveling before showtime.
Despite this, 10 local filmmakers presented to a crowd of about 50, some of whom traveled far to attend. When 3S Artspace closed for renovations soon afterward, Torrent and Stewart kept with it, holding PSFNs at The Press Room, Strawbery Banke, the West End Studio Theatre, Portsmouth Public Media and other venues. But the goal was always to keep it at 3S because of that initial enthusiasm.
“I approached 3S about doing the event with them, and they were very supportive. … We just moved to the area about three years ago, and they were sort of a big reason to why we moved here,” Torrent said via phone last week. “It seemed like there was a community developing around that, and we felt it would be fun to be a part of it.”
Torrent and Stewart are both filmmakers and co-owners of Film Unbound, the production company that puts on PSFN. Torrent thinks the indie film culture in Portsmouth — especially with the New Hampshire Film Festival — helps draw people in. Plus, there’s nothing quite like it the rest of the year. He drew inspiration from a similar event in Edinburgh, where he lived before moving to New Hampshire.
“I wanted to have something where you could meet other filmmakers, and to give a venue for people to show their short films,” Torrent said. “And I want to see work from filmmakers at various stages in their careers and who have different aesthetics or sensibilities, or who come from different backgrounds.”
The next PSFN is Sunday, Jan. 10, at 7:30 p.m., one of about four Film Unbound presents every year. Torrent goes through all submissions — sometimes as many as 200 for one event — himself, narrowing the field down to about 8 to 12, though at the time of his interview, he hadn’t released those flicks that would screen that day. The host will be local filmmaker Jeff Stern, and Torrent said a cash bar (though not the restaurant) will be open for refreshments. 

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