2019 Shortsfest Films



West London, 1979. Margaret Thatcher is in power and racial tensions are running high in the UK. Lucky (28), a second-generation British Indian, thinks his younger brother, Sunny (17), is getting bullied by skinheads. When he finds out the truth is far from what he expected, he’s forced to cope with new filial responsibilities, rethink his priorities and question his own insular views about the world he occupies. (Iesh Thapar, UK, 16 min.) International Premiere



All in My Family tells a heartfelt, cross-cultural autobiographical story of Chinese-born filmmaker Hao Wu, who creates a thoroughly modern LGBTQ family with his gay partner in the US, only to face the dilemma of how to introduce his partner and two children to his very traditional parents and relatives back in China – some of whom don’t even know he’s gay. (Hao Wu, USA, 40 min.)



Alma has just entered a new high school and her classmate, Víctor, invites her to a party. The transition of her body and her hidden desires lead Alma to face her inner fears and thus take the first step to love herself as she is.  (Santiago León Cuéllar, Colombia, 17 min.) North American Premiere



An African Pentecostal pastor questions everything she believes after a life-changing event. (Tomisin Adepeju, UK, 15 min.) North American Premiere



Ashmina, 13, lives with her family at the outskirts of Pokhara, Nepal, nestled between a beautiful lake and the Himalayas. The remote and traditional town is the paragliding capital of the world, and a busy travel destination where the locals are profoundly affected by the swarms of tourists who visit it daily. Forced to skip school, Ashmina helps her family make ends meet by working at the landing field, packing the parachutes of foreign pilots in return for small change. (Dekel Berenson, Nepal/UK, 15 min.)

Athleticus: Course de demi fond


Wild animals compete in athletic events. They are judoka hippos, gymnast ostriches, elephants playing basketball or referee seals. From table tennis to fixed bar, archery and high jumping, the animals of “Athleticus” react according to their personalities and the peculiarities of their anatomy, creating situations that are comical or poetic, but always offbeat. Today, pink flamingos line up on the starting blocks of a middle-distance race. Among them, an odd one… (Nicolas Deveaux, France, 2 min.) North American Premiere



In the beginning was the Stain. A paintbrush reveals a being of gouache, opens him, transforms him, twists him, completes him. From this accelerated evolution arises a conquering being…  (Donato Sansone, France, 5 min.)



Mohamed is a hardened shepherd living in rural Tunisia with his wife and two sons. He is deeply shaken when his oldest son Malik returns home after a long journey with a mysterious new wife. Tension between father and son rises over three days until it reaches a breaking point. (Meryam Joobeur, Canada/Tunisia/Qatar/Sweden, 25 min.)



For a few hours every Saturday, Dr. Marc Lasher and a group of volunteers provide free medical care and clean needles to IV drug users from across Fresno County, California. On a dingy old school bus, Dr. Lasher slices abscesses, bandages open wounds and counsels his patients, many of whom have turned to street medicine to avoid the stigma and cost of our failed healthcare system. (Elivia Shaw, USA, 16 min.)



In this short documentary examining one day in the life of a 50-year-old couple, Blind Krzysztof goes skiing with Wiola, his wife and guide. They prepare for skiing in the early morning. Krzysztof mounts bluetooth kits on the helmets that will connect them to each other. They go to the top of the mountain in a chairlift, and the higher they go, the more we learn about their life. At the same time, weather conditions are changing; mist thickens on the mountain slopes. When Wiola and Krzysztof finally reach the summit, they must find each other and connect in the surrounding fog. (Aleksandra Maciejczyk, Poland, 18 min.) North American Premiere



Alexis has a life-threatening disease. She spends her time in the wooded expanse of northern Scotland, where she takes care of dozens of others who are also sick, wounded or dying. Some have terminal cancer; some were about to be killed because of their disabilities; some were saved from slaughterhouses. Alexis provides palliative care for animals. CRANNOG follows Alexis as she tirelessly tries to nurse a neglected sheep back to health. A quiet reflection on kindness in the face of death, the film intimately explores the fragility and strength that comes from dedicating your life to the care of others. (Isa Rao, UK, 15 min.)



Fourteen-year-old Crowley has gone through a lot in his young life. His older brother Yancie died in a car accident, and his parents are now divorced. But Crowley isn’t about to let life get the better of him—he’s got a dream to make come true. He wants to be a good rodeo rider, just like Yancie. (Andre Hörmann, Germany, 15 min.) North American Premiere

Dios Nunca Muere (God Never Dies)


Living in hidden America, Paula, a Mexican farmworker, struggles to raise two children on her own. When a new caravan arrives on the cramped lot they live on, Paula allows herself, and her children, to imagine the home is theirs—a fantasy highlighting the fragility of her reality and her family.  (Barbara Cigarroa, Ireland/USA, 14 min.)



On Colombia’s Pacific Coast, a mother teaches her daughter how to swim. It is an essential skill in this remote region, where livelihoods are made on the sea and where rising tides, made worse by climate change, have swept entire villages away in recent years. The girl, named Dulce, learns to overcome her fears and join the community of women who harvest the mangrove cockle, or piangua, for a living. It is a coming-of-age process that helps her understand both her cultural and natural surroundings, from the mud of the mangrove swamps to the powerful tides. (Angello Faccini, Guille Isa, Colombia/USA, 11 min.)



Through a small window of time and space, EDGECOMBE, presents the numerous ways Black folks overcome challenges across generations. By following the lives of Shaka Jackson, Ms. Doris Stith and Deacon Joyner, the film highlights the exhaustion of overcoming individual circumstances while navigating shared systemic experiences. Their collective stories create a mosaic that expresses the soul and spirit of their shared space. (Crystal Kayiza, USA, 15 min.)



In a climate of xenophobia and confusion, a San Francisco hotline aims to provide limited assistance to a targeted population. (Paloma Martinez, USA, 13 min.)

Everything You Wanted To Know About Sudden Birth* (*but were afraid to ask)


The true story of how the Berkeley police department, the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands, an Academy Award winner and Mr. Spock of Star Trek fame are all connected by “Sudden Birth,” one of the most unintentionally hilarious and disturbing educational films ever created.  (Scott Calonico, UK/Germany, 11 min.)



Shaun doesn’t fit in. It’s not that he wants to be alone, but somehow, he always feels separate and isolated from the happy world around him. Whilst waiting for his parents in a busy pub, Shaun struggles valiantly to join in with the admirably confident people in the crowd, but the more he tries, the more things in the pub go awry. Shaun finds himself confronted by the painful memories that made him who he is. His feelings, memories and desires overwhelm him, and by the end of the evening he is ready to explode. (Sam Gainsborough, UK, 8 min.)



In 1994 France, a clever, much-bullied young aesthete and his popular classmate develop an unexpected intimacy when they’re paired up for a high school presentation. (Benjamin Vu, France, 33 min.)



Elizier, an emotionally-dejected new enrollee at The Edward R. Mill School for Lost Boys, must overcome memories of a tragic past and the present hazing by his peers in order to tackle larger issues dominating his young life. (A.V. Rockwell, USA, 19 min.)



A poor agricultural labourer leads a double life in the village’s last remaining cornfield. But the harvest is approaching… (Sandhya Suri, France/UKnited Kingdom/India, 19 min.)



A solitary fox finds itself improvising fatherhood for a freshly hatched baby bird. Two paths cross and a family is formed, until fate reminds each of the life it is meant to lead. (Sam Guillaume, Fred Guillaume, Switzerland, 11 min.) International Premiere



In Sugar Land, Texas, a group of young Muslim American men ponder the disappearance of their friend “Mark,” who is suspected of joining ISIS. (Bassam Tariq, USA, 21 min.)



Two undocumented Turkish brothers face the challenges of life in New York City together. Green (a.k.a. Samet), the younger brother and a recent arrival to the city, wants to make a fresh start in a new place, but Abi, older and battle-worn, has been in the city longer. Knowing the challenges that await his brother, he wants to protect him. When a street altercation turns into an assault, Green draws the police to the apartment that he shares with his brother and several undocumented Middle Eastern men, unwittingly putting them all at risk of discovery. The result pits Abi and Green against the other residents and threatens to separate the newly reunited brothers. (Suzanne Andrews Correa, USA, 12 min.)



In this elegiac animated short, the director revisits her childhood in Guaxuma, a district in a city on the northeastern coast of Brazil. She and her friend Tayra grew up on a beach there and were inseparable. The sea breeze brings back happy memories. (Nara Normande, France/Brazil, 14 min.)



A mother who rarely sees her filmmaker son suddenly encounters a ghost outside his childhood bedroom. He pays her a long overdue visit to explore the mystery, and to contemplate why his family has drifted apart. (Christian Einshøj, Denmark, 30 min.)

Helsinki Mansplaining Massacre


An intensely hysterical horror comedy about one woman’s desperate struggle to survive a horde of men with frail egos, who just want to explain everything to her. But the biggest horror may be closer to her than she thinks. (Ilja Rautsi, Finland, 15 min.)



The two best rescue workers in the region are ready for their new mission. Yet despite their professionalism and determination, it will not go as planned… (Léo Brunel, Loris Cavalier, Camille Jalabert, Oscar Malet, France, 6 min.)



HOW TO MAKE A RAINBOW observes a young girl (Alaizah) and her mother (Jade) over two years as they journey through the realities of a parent in transition. The story centers around Alaizah and her process of figuring out what to call her ‘papa,’ who is in the beginning years of a gender transition. In its exploration of our perceived limits of love, gender expression, and childhood, this film invites us to let Alaizah be our guide as we learn and unlearn alongside her the limits and possibilities of identity and connection. (Ryan Maxey, USA, 16 min.) World Premiere



Abigail is heavily pregnant, and terrified about the imminent birth. While waiting in line at the doctor’s office, she spots an intriguing woman and pretends to be a friend from the past. The two have one adventurous afternoon, with some painful truths emerging.  (Noa Gusakov, Israel, 15 min.)



During a summer holiday in the Polish countryside, an 11-year-old boy goes exploring with a cassette recorder and a bow. In the course of his innocent adventures, he discovers violence for the first time. (Mateusz Jarmulski, Poland, 8 min.) North American Premiere



Krister and Kristina’s marriage is crumbling. All the petty annoyances of their everyday life have eroded their relationship. They seek counseling, but it just might be too late to cure the infection that is tearing them apart. (Patrik Eklund, Sweden, 16 min.) North American Premiere



Working at a family connection center, Aya, a social worker watching through the glass window observes meetings between children and their estranged parents. One unusual child causes her to cross over to the other side of the window. (Danel Elpeleg, Israel, 15 min.) U.S. Premiere



A trip to the vet forces a blue collar man to deal with his emotions and accept the fate of his cat, the only way he knows how: through denial and baseball. (Nick Paonessa, USA, 8 min.)



Vala and Benni are leaving Reykjavik for a simpler life in the countryside and are struggling to find a common ground about what their future holds. Their journey comes to a violent stop when they get into a head- on collision with another car. Vala must find a way out of the wreckage and come to grips with what has has happened. (Erlendur Sveinsson, Iceland, 14 min.)



Camilo, from the projects outside Stockholm, sees Amina on her way to a party. He borrows his friend’s expensive jacket and approaches her, offering to show her the way. They connect, and Amina invites Camilo to the party. But when a guy at the party mistakes Camilo’s jacket for his own, the social battles lines are drawn. (Tuna Özer, Sweden, 11min.)

Las del Diente


Girls are weird. Babies are weird. Bodies are extra weird. “LAS DEL DIENTE” is a film about now, a time when women are tired to choose between having kids and their careers. Days in which anomalies in the reproductive system are celebrated instead of stigmatized. (Ana Perez Lopez, USA/Spain, 6 min.)



What started off as a casual hookup has quickly evolved into something far more intimate, leaving Andy to navigate Arthur and Lucas’s dreamy lifestyle and marriage. “LAVENDER” is a tender, poignant look at an unconventional relationship as it blossoms and ultimately unravels. (Matthew Puccini, USA, 11 min.)



Best friends Milagros (Loggy) and Alex have been neighbors their entire lives in Miami’s redeveloping Liberty Square. Loggy detaches when she learns that Alex is being displaced and relocated to another community. The two are chosen to dance together at the community’s groundbreaking ceremony but their plans are derailed when the memorial of Milagro’s slain mother is confiscated. The integrity of their friendship is tested as they search for its whereabouts. (Faren Humes, USA, 17 min.)

Life in Miniature


Kath Holden is an artist of the everyday. Inspired by the world around her, Kath’s creations are whimsical yet keenly observed, and a far cry from the genteel museum pieces that her contemporaries are producing. A proud Yorkshire woman, Kath reflects on her life and art as she carves a place for herself in the precious world of miniatures. (Ellen Evans, UK, 5 min.)



Over the past fifteen years, hundreds of refugee children in Sweden have withdrawn into Resignation Syndrome, a sort of “willed death,” remaining in a coma-like state for months, or even years. The families of these children have been subject to severe trauma in their home countries, followed by the anxiety of a lengthy asylum process and an uncertain future. Intercut with sweeping Swedish landscapes, Life Overtakes Me follows three families for over a year. Viewers are immersed in their lives as the anguished parents struggle to care for their sick children. (John Haptas, Kristine Samuelson, USA, 40 min.)



In this innovative documentary, a family recreates itself using stop-motion animation. The film tells the lifelong struggle of Marj, the matriarch of the Bagley clan, to find happiness. Marj battles infidelity, broken noses, dysfunctional relationships, giant birds and a fateful game of cards with her grandchildren. Through a combination of interviews and recreations, her family reflects on the legacy of a woman whom they realize they may not understand. (Taylor Stanton, USA, 14 min.)



Kim and Marlon were best friends, despite the fact they’d never actually met. The unlikely pair, her a young woman thriving in New York City and him an older married man in small-town Canada, communicated exclusively online. Just before he died, he sent her a message that said he had something really important to tell her. He never got the chance. In an effort to find out what it was, and to get a deeper sense of her friend, she travels to his small-town home to attend his funeral. (Charles Wahl, Canada, 14 min.)



After a failed attempt to confess her feelings for her best friend Lena, 14 year-old Marie designs a plan that will force Lena to come to terms with their now undefined relationship. (Celine Held, Logan George, USA, 12 min.)



Lou, a teenage tomboy in a small Californian town, idolizes her single father. When he has a date over one night and she is cast out of the house, Lou wanders to the outer reaches of town and into a new era of teenage identity. (Clara Balzary, USA, 12 min.) U.S. Premiere



Mack Beggs broke records and changed history when he won the Texas state title as a transgender wrestler. Now with high school ending and college on the horizon, the sports champion, national activist and high school hero must grapple with what comes next. (Erin Sanger, Taylor Hess, USA, 26 min.)



An unforgettable work of stop-motion animation exploring the bitter milieu of Belgium-occupied Congo. (Emma De Swaef, James Roels, Belgium/France/Netherlands, 44 min.)



A guy makes a bad first impression when he meets his girlfriend’s family as they gather at her grandfather’s deathbed. (Tim Wilkime, USA, 11 min.)

The Minors


A slice-of-life film about a grandpa and his grandsons. (Robert Machoian, USA, 10 min.)



A girl tries to find the answer about love before her big day, on a rainy night. (An Pham Thien, Vietnam/USA, 15 min.)



In the south of Tunisia, two football fan brothers bump into a donkey lost in the middle of the desert on the border of Algeria. Strangely, the animal wears headphones over its ears. (Yves Piat, France, 17 min.)



When a young American woman decides to become a gestational surrogate to a couple from China, her insecure husband tries to torpedo the arrangement. (Henry Loevner, USA, 13 min.) World Premiere



Luna is a vibrant young Chinese American girl who dreams of becoming an astronaut. From the day she witnesses a rocket launching into space on TV, Luna is driven to reach for the stars. In the big city, Luna lives with her loving father Chu, who supports her with a humble shoe repair business he runs out of his garage. As Luna grows up, she enters college, facing adversity of all kinds in pursuit of her dreams. (Andrew Chesworth, Bobby Pontillas, USA/China, 8 min.)



Yanni’s mum is on her way to audition for a role as Shakespeare’s Viola, when she discovers that her young son has been left home alone. Through a series of phone calls, she fights to balance the most important roles of her life, whilst walking in the most controversial area of central Athens, Patision Avenue. (Thanasis Neofotistos, Greece, 13 min.) North American Premiere



In South Africa, an impending water crisis grips an entire nation. (François Verster, Simon Wood, South Africa, 13 min.)



In a veritable fireworks display of digital self-portraits, hundreds of quaint, embarrassing and dreadfully disturbing selfies were arranged in a unique short film composition. Single photos, artistically reworked, consolidate to form a ghastly grin that outshines the abyss of human existence. (Claudius Gentinetta, Switzerland, 4 min.)



It’s a birthday party at a public pool disco, and underdog Ronja challenges the girls’ alpha female to a battle for dominance. The game escalates quickly, and as the thirst for power grows, Ronja and the other girls lose control. (Fanny Ovesen, Norway, 18 min.) North American Premiere



A man thinks back upon his childhood memories of growing up with an annoying little sister in China in the 1990s. What would his life have been like if things had gone differently? (Siqi Song, China/USA, 8 min.)



Fran likes to think about dying, it’s comforting to her. She imagines a different death every day and doesn’t need anything more. But her routine is unexpectedly interrupted by some enticing attention paid to her by a good looking co-worker. She made him laugh and now he wants more – a movie date, a slice of pie, a conversation. But if dating him means learning to live, she’s pretty sure she can’t do that. (Stefanie Abel Horowitz, USA, 12 min.)



The splash of water is like a bomb, about to break the tranquility of the pool. (Jie Shen, China, 9 min.) North American Premiere



A crew of motley skaters and street teens commemorates their friend Jinx on their own terms. (Katherine Propper, USA, 12 min.)



Hidden in a house far from the city, Alonso accompanies his dear sister, Daniela. She expects to become the seventh wife of The Lion, a prophet who (according to stories) electrocutes you when you touch him. (Diego Céspedes, Chile, 22 min.)



Taina, 52, is preparing a perfect weekend with the family, since her son Eetu, 23, is visiting with his girlfriend Noora. Nothing goes as planned. The more Taina tries to entertain everyone, the less comfortable they feel. The youngsters leave earlier than expected, and husband Tero escapes to his man cave. Taina takes out her disappointment on a department store’s client service, when a surprising question stops her. (Kirsikka Saari, Finland, 15 min.)



Sean and Adrian are a Two-Spirit couple determined to rewrite the rules of Native American culture through their participation in the Sweetheart Dance. This celebratory contest is held at powwows across the country, primarily for heterosexual couples, until now. (Ben-Alex Dupris, USA, 14 min.)



Every summer, Arya and her sister Tara spend their holidays at their grandfather’s forest home. And no summer holiday is complete without their customary camping trip and their grandfather’s (Thatha’s) stories under the open night sky. But this year Thatha’s story has a few unexpected twists that could change Arya profoundly. (Sharanya Ramesh, India, 9 min.) North American Premiere



In order to escape the monotony and boredom of the end of the school year, a young boy fabricates a transceiver-receiver to communicate with strangers in the sky. (Vincent Wilson, Canada, 9 min.)



Meet the lawyers tasked with defending 9/11 suspects against the U.S. government. (Johanna Hamilton, UK, 17 min.)



In 2016, an accident happened at an amusement park in Kansas. The story is recounted through television coverage. (Nathan Truesdell, USA, 9 min.)



When electricity is first brought to 1960s rural Ireland, an imaginative young girl believes the new power in her home is in fact the work of a faerie, a magical creature of folklore who she reasons must control “the Light.” Ignoring her grandmother’s warnings, she attempts to capture their surprise guest and unwittingly causes a blackout, ultimately summoning the sinister creatures of her grandmother’s stories who haunt the surrounding countryside, the true keepers of the Light—the Wiremen. (Jessica Patterson, Ireland, 10 min.) International Premiere