2020 Shortsfest Films

A YOUTH

 

Peyman and his friends are a group of Afghan teenagers on the cusp of adulthood, who find themselves stuck in Athens. In limbo but armed with a new-found freedom, they kill time by aimlessly strolling around the city, sharing jokes, rap battles, stories of the past, and dreams of the future. As Peyman awaits for news that could shake his false state of harmony, he looks for answers amongst his friends and family, trying to make sense of the world around him through his music and poetry. (Giorgio Bosisio, UK, Italy, Greece, 40 MIN) 

ALL CATS ARE GREY IN THE DARK

 

Christian lives with his two cats Marmelade and Katjuscha. As he is yearning to become a father, he decides to fertilize his beloved cat Marmelade by an exquisite tomcat from abroad. (Lasse Linder, Switzerland, 18 MIN)

ASMAHAN THE DIVA

 

Asmahan, diva and Druze princess had a short life, but what a life! Weddings, glory, spying, lovers, alcohol, poker, suicides, murders, scandals… This oriental Marilyn marked the great era of Egyptian musicals. Even today, her voice still echoes throughout the Middle East and her mysterious death in the waters of the Nile continues to fuel the wildest rumors… (Chloé Mazlo, France, 6 MIN) 

AWAITING DEATH

 

A son arrives at the hospital to watch his father’s death bed. When the son wants a last nice moment, his father would rather find out what to do with the two opened cans of mustard. (Lars Vega, Isabelle Björklund, Sweden, 12 MIN)

 

BAG

 

Using only cardboard, hot glue and lo-fi special effects, BAG follows the journey of a plastic bag unchanged by time as it travels from the streets of New York City, to the dump, to the sea, and into the distant future. As the climate changes, the seas rise and civilizations fall, the bag remains the same. BAG is an ode to the foreverness of plastic and the permanence of the disposable. (Robin Frohardt, USA, 8 MIN) 

THE BLUE CAPE

 

Two months after Hurricane Maria landed on the shores of Puerto Rico, the power remains out and the infrastructure continues to collapse. Junior, a ten-year-old boy, is summoned by his mother to search for the medicine his grandfather so desperately needs. He puts on a blue cape, made of the tarp that covers his room. (Alejandra Lopez, Puerto Rico, 5 MIN)

BROKEN BIRD

 

Birdie, a biracial girl raised by her Jewish mom in a New Jersey suburb, spends a rare visitation day with her father while preparing for her Bat Mitzvah. They share a meal, she overcomes her doubts, and decides to risk inviting him back into her life. Birdie confronts what independence means as she steps into adulthood on her own terms. (Rachel Harrison Gordon, USA, 10 MIN)

BUTTERFLIES

 

Another Sunday in April. A kibbutz in the North of Israel. A natural phenomenon. A family on an impromptu ride, maybe the last one…(Yona Rozenkier, Israel, France, 8 MIN)

BYE BYE, BODY

 

Nina is quite literally working her ass off at fat camp. She’s determined to drop the weight, and live the life she’s always dreamt of. But in her final weigh in, she fails to meet her goal, and despite the protestation of her best friend Paloma, Nina turns to fat-camp bad girl, and weight loss leading scorer Kay for her secret to success. But Kay’s secret has a lot more in store for Nina than she expected. (Charlotte Benbeniste, USA, 10 MIN)

CAT LAKE CITY

 

Percy Cat is looking forward to a relaxing day in CAT LAKE CITY – the cats’ vacation paradise. But the place turns out not to be exactly what he expected. Not even the spot on the towel is as safe as he thought. (Antje Heyn, Germany, 7 MIN)

CHARACTER

 

Actor Mark Metcalf made his reputation playing aggrieved authority figures, most famously in NATIONAL LAMPOON’S ANIMAL HOUSE and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. Now in his 70s, he takes a critical look back on his life and career in this meditation on power, privilege, and the perils of being a “type.” (Vera Brunner-Sung, USA, 17 MIN)

THE CHEF

 

In the near future, when all labor workers are replaced by humanoids, a Chinese chef, Pu (60s) is ordered to pass on his cooking skill to a humanoid robot, William, and to teach him Chinese cooking. Designed to satisfy his owner, William tries to follow Pu’s every instruction, but his robotic demand for precision and perfection is essentially contradictory to Chinese cooking. At the same time, the protests against AI replacing human labor are more and more intense. (Hao Zheng, USA, 19 MIN)

COFFEE SHOP NAMES

 

Three Indian people imagine their personas as their “coffee shop names,” the names they give baristas because their real names are hard to pronounce. As they imagine, they realize their personas are more ingrained in them than they thought before they return to work. (Deepak Sethi, USA, 8 MIN)

DADDIO

 

A comedy about death. A year after the sudden passing of their beloved wife and mother, a dad and daughter grapple with life after loss. Grief looks very different on both of them. Paul, played by Michael McKean (BETTER CALL SAUL, SPINAL TAP), is manic. He gets a perm in order to look like Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill and begs neighbors to hot tub with him. Abby, played by Casey Wilson (SNL, HAPPY ENDINGS) is depressed. She sleeps in her closet and takes pills that mask her urges to urinate out of sheer laziness. At its heart, DADDIO is a love story between a father and daughter. Unfortunately, based on real life events. (Casey Wilson, USA, 18 MIN)

DARLING

 

An erotic dance theater in Lahore prepares for a new show just as a sacrificial goat disappears; an attractive trans girl aspires to grab the limelight and a naive young man falls in love. (Saim Sadiq, USA, Pakistan, 15 MIN)

DAUGHTER

 

Should you hide your pain? Close yourself inside your inner world, full of longing for your father’s love and its displays? Or should you understand and forgive before it is too late? (Daria Kashcheeva, Czech Republic, 15 MIN)

DÍA DE LA MADRE

 

A band of juveniles embarks on a 24-hour spree of breaking into houses and causing a ruckus. (Ashley Brandon, Dennis Hohne, USA, 6 MIN)

EN ROUTE

 

When Inay (9) and her little brother have to join their father on a special trip through the city, she tries everything to cause a delay. She knows that if they arrive late at their destination, she will be rewarded with loads of sweet desserts. (Marit Weerheijm, Netherlands, 10 MIN)

THE FLAME

 

A young girl and boy in a remote town remember a time before a cold wind first swept across the land. It was when fire meant something different; when the fire was a warm, safe and familiar place for families to sit together; where stories were passed down, where culture was kept alive. (Nick Waterman, Australia, 12 MIN)

FLOWER PUNK

 

From director Alison Klayman (THE BRINK, AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY), FLOWER PUNK is a hypnotizing short documentary that brings you inside the other-worldly work and process of Japanese artist Azuma Makoto. After encountering his boundary-pushing works, you won’t be able to think about flowers the same way again. (Alison Klayman, Japan, 29 MIN)

GRANDAD WAS A ROMANTIC

 

A child documents the love life of her Grandad – a man who has a reputation for being a passionate romantic. She tells the story of how her Grandad came across a picture of her Granny for the first time and decided in that moment that she must be the love of his life. He marries her, and they start a family together, but Grandad’s boundless romance never dies. It will take him in unforeseen directions. (Maryam Mohajer, UK, 4 MIN)

HELLO AHMA

 

With their passports stuck in America’s immigration bureaucracy, 8-year-old Michelle and her parents cannot return to Singapore for Grandma’s funeral. The parents try to maintain traditional funeral rites in their new home, as Michelle absolves her grief and guilt by searching for Grandma’s reincarnation in a pet-store turtle. But Grandma struggles to stay alive under Michelle’s eager and amateur ministrations. (Siyou Tan, USA, Singapore, 16 MIN)

HOT FLASH

 

Ace Naismith is having a hot flash, and she is about to go live on local television. How one woman tries to keep her cool when one type of flash leads to another. HOT FLASH is a journey into the funny, uncomfortable, and sometimes maddening world of an aging professional woman navigating a culture that puts great emphasis on physical appearance. (Thea Hollatz, Canada, 10 MIN)

I’LL END UP IN JAIL

 

Maureen Sauvageau’s escape comes to an abrupt end when she drives her monster truck into a deadly car accident. Stuck in the middle of nowhere, she must share the company and the blame of a rather touching junkie dubbed Jelly the Loon. (Alexandre Dostie, Canada, 23 MIN)

I’M NO HOLIDAY

 

An un-candid portrait of Lawrence Sendass (Steve Zahn), a grieving fireworks photographer who attempts to reframe his work through the memory of lost love. The film humorously explores searching for the magic of the mundane through memory and art. (Rick Gomez, USA, 15 MIN)

KACHALKA

 

A cinematic portrait of Kiev’s Soviet scrap metal ‘Kachalka’ gym – the world’s most hardcore gym. (Gar O’Rourke, Ireland, 9 MIN)

THE LAST DAY OF AUTUMN

 

Forest animals secretly collect abandoned bike parts with the intention of building vehicles that fit their size. A great race is preparing. The last day of Autumn’s race. (Marjolaine Perreten, Switzerland, Belgium, France, 7 MIN)

LITTLE GREY WOLFY. SUMMER PARTY

 

Little Grey Wolfy’s birthday is soon! Wolfy is dreaming about a real birthday cake with candles and cream for his birthday party. But everyone knows that cakes do not grow in the forest on trees! However, this is not a problem for his good friends. (Natalia Malykhina, Norway, 6 MIN)

LOVELY DAY

 

A young construction worker, anxious about the state of his relationship, spends a day prepping to meet with his significant other. (Bo Mirhosseni, USA, 7 MIN)

THE MANCHADOR

 

Mina and Saeed live a stressful life in the Iranian capital, Tehran. Being a woman in Iran is not particularly easy and Mina sees a future for the family elsewhere. She wants to move abroad, but Saeed then invents a device that places the responsibility for the hijab where it belongs – with the men whose gaze women need protection from. The Manchador is a satire about life in modern day Tehran, seeing, our senses, and spirituality. (Kaveh Therani, Norway, Germany, 20 MIN)

THE MANILA LOVER

 

Norwegian Lars (46 years) has fled from his money trouble in Norway and is visiting Manila, the capital of the Philippines. Here he pretends to be successful and feels like a Nordic king. He has high hopes for the romantic and loving relationship he recently started with the Filipina Abigail (42 years). But when she turns him down, Lars has to face his own prejudices and deal with this very uncomfortable situation. In just one day everything’s changed, he is no longer a Nordic King. (Johanna Pyykkö, Norway, 26 MIN).

MARADONA’S LEGS

 

During the 1990 World Cup, two young Palestinian boys are looking for “Maradona’s legs;” the last missing sticker that they need in order to complete their world cup album and win a free Atari. (Firas Khoury, Germany, Palestine, 23 MIN)

MARCY LEARNS SOMETHING NEW

 

Feeling run down by the usual cycle of self-improvement programs, a widow (Rachel Dratch) tries going to a dominatrix workshop. Inspired by success in the class, she meets a younger man online and embarks on a first dominant experience with him. While Marcy’s earnestness despite her lack of experience is comical, the film ultimately explores themes of hope, loneliness and finding freedom. (Julia Kennelly, USA, 16 MIN)

MY BROTHER LUCA

 

When an imaginative little girl discovers that her older brother might have superpowers, she sets out on a quest to make sure everyone else sees him as she does. (Carlos Algara, Catalina Serna, Mexico, 9 MIN)

NEST

 

To a rhythmic drumbeat and in vibrant strokes of color, a lovesick bird-of-paradise prances through the black of the night, flaunting his majestic plumage in an attempt to impress the females. (Sonja Rohleder, Germany, 4 MIN)

NO CRYING AT THE DINNER TABLE

 

Filmmaker Carol Nguyen interviews her family to craft a portrait of love, grief and intergenerational trauma. (Carol Nguyen, Canada, 16 MIN)

NO HARD FEELINGS

 

A playful, yet endearing comedy inspired by heartbreak, confusion and self-doubt. Rodney’s (Paul Henri) crumbling ego is at breaking point and if his best pal Slim (James Ballard) can’t whip him into shape before his big date tonight, he might just lose it. (James Ballard, Paul Henri, Australia, Indonesia, 6 MIN)

PAMPAS

 

Sexual signaling and suburban myth; what does your front garden say about you? Plants were used in 1970s suburbia to send seductive signals to neighbors or, so rumor has it. A hybrid documentary exploring the truth in the botanical myth; what went on behind closed curtains? PAMPAS is a fetishistic flirtation. A look at sexual signaling, female desire, subcultures, and suburban legend. Featuring model and author Naomi Shimada in her acting debut. (Jessica Bishopp, UK, 5 MIN)

THE PHYSICS OF SORROW

 

THE PHYSICS OF SORROW is a potent portrait of a dislocated generation struggling to find home as they shift through ever-changing personal and geographic landscapes. (Theodore Ushev, Canada, 27 MIN)

PITCH BLACK PANACEA

 

Amy and Carl both have lazy eyes. In an effort to find a DIY cure they’ve signed up for an unusual treatment. (Tom Hardiman, UK, 7 MIN)

POSTCARDS FROM THE END OF THE WORLD

 

Trapped in their marriage, Dimitra and Dimitris try to endure their summer vacation with their two daughters on a remote island. Unexpectedly, human civilization collapses. (Konstantinos Antonopoulos, Greece, 23 MIN)

QUIET CARRIAGE

 

A man must decide whether to intervene and stop a casual commuting rule breaker or live with a lifetime of regret. A comedy about a passive man with an overactive imagination. (Ben S. Hyland, UK, 5 MIN)

RECODING ART

 

On an October evening, the digital media researcher Gabriel Pereira sent an e-mail to Brazilian artist Bruno Moreschi. The message marked the beginning of a research project that involved creating an unprecedented platform that centralized 7 commercial Artificial Intelligences to read the collection of Van Abbemuseum, a Dutch museum of contemporary art. (Bruno Moreschi, Gabriel Pereira, Brazil, 15 MIN)

SOMETHING TO REMEMBER

 

A lullaby before the great disaster. Two pigeons visit a zoo without animals, a snail measures his blood pressure at the doctor, in the CERN laboratory something has gone terribly wrong. Six moments from our age, like memories of the world we leave behind. (Niki Lindroth von Bahr, Sweden, 5 MIN)

SORRY NOT SORRY

 

Feride is on her way home from a party when she meets a group of young choir-singing boys in a wooden boat. When she helps them with their motor problems, she is unwillingly taken out for a ride in the Swedish summer night. (Julia Thelin, Sweden, 15 MIN)

SOUTH OF BIX

 

A story about Molly, a young woman who returns home to say goodbye to her estranged grandfather before he passes. As Molly tries her best to seek connection in spite of her Grandfather’s dementia, the interaction tests each other’s limits and Molly’s ability to forgive. The film explores how we navigate our personal allegiances and family ties. (Justine Lupe, Briana Pozner, USA, 14 MIN)

THE STARR SISTERS

 

Patte and Randa Starr are fun specialists. After growing up in an abusive household set above their father’s candy store, these sisters have spent their lives fighting to find joy and freedom. Now in their 70s, they do exactly as they please: they live together near the beach, they always have a movie on, and the candy drawer is fully stocked. (Bridey Elliott, Beth Einhorn, USA, 15 MIN)

STATUS PENDING

 

Five first-generation immigration lawyers in the Los Angeles area support each other through a group chat as they navigate the rapidly changing and hostile world of immigration law under the current administration. (Priscilla Gonzalez Sainz, USA, 26 MIN)

THE STICK

 

Aava has but one wish: to get a dog. Meanwhile her parents’ marriage is falling apart. (Teppo Airaksinen, Finland, 11 MIN)

STREETS OF FURY

 

Max Punchface loves to punch and kick anything that moves, and many things that don’t. When his fury conjures up a portal into a strange calm world, he can’t help but explore. However, the portal disappears leaving Max trapped in this cute alien land with only some friendly sheep for company & punch practice. (Aidan McAteer, Ireland, 5 MIN)

STORY

 

A reflection about modern man in an age of omnipresent technology. Looking through stories – a popular function in many social media platforms – we see people who are lonely, lost or already indifferent about reality surrounding them. Action takes place during one day and it’s told by short, often (auto)ironic scenes, where virtual world sinks to reality. (Jola Bankowska, Poland, 5 MIN)

THE TAIL

 

Ekrem, a middle-aged man in existential crisis, suffers from an extraordinary condition. He has been dealing with this situation for a long time in his own way… A very bizarre way. One day he encounters his pretty neighbor Şevval; when he goes to take out the trash as usual. She is aware of Ekrem’s situation and doesn’t seem to care about it at all. The conversation between them on the way to the dumpster brings them closer and turns into an inner journey for him. (Yiğit Hepsev, Turkey, 10 MIN)

THE TATTOOED TORAH

 

Over the last three decades, the beloved children’s book by Marvell Ginsburg, “The Tattooed Torah,” has been a powerful resource for Holocaust education for children all over the world. The adaptation of “The Tattooed Torah” into an animated short film is a three-generational endeavor, initiated by Marvell’s daughter, Beth Kopin. Now more than ever, it is essential to continue teaching the lessons of the Holocaust to young children in an impactful and palatable way, so that such horrific events are never forgotten and never repeated. (Marc Bennett, USA, 21 MIN)

UMBILICAL

 

An animated documentary exploring how my mother’s abusive relationship with my father shaped my own experiences in a boarding school as a child in China. The societal pressures on my mother to hide her abuse and her desire to protect me ultimately created a situation where I was subjected to the same societal pressures. Our shared desires for intimacy, safety, and normalcy have been constantly at odds with the realities that surround us. The parallels between my mother’s experiences and my own are abstracted. Through a conversation as adults, my mother and I learn to understand each other and support one another. (Danski Tang, USA, China, 7 MIN)

VIRAL

 

VIRAL attempts to authentically portray the effects of opioid addiction and internet venom, shedding light on those who suffer from both of these societal wrongs. Faceless internet attacks affect real people and what’s uploaded can have consequences that last infinitely longer than the event itself. (Donald Broida, USA, 11 MIN)

WALLACE

 

A short documentary about a town in Northern Idaho where brothels were open, tolerated, and ingrained within the local community until 1991. The majority of residents viewed prostitution as a legitimate business, and madams as legitimate business owners. The madams played a large role in civic contributions; the doctors had weekly check-ups with the prostitutes; and the children trick or treated at the brothels. And while some don’t miss the brothels, most wish they were still around. Welcome to Wallace. The Last Western Town. (Delaney Buffett, USA, 18 MIN)

WHAT’S MY SUPERPOWER?

 

Nalvana feels like all of her friends have some type of superpower. She has friends with super speed, friends who can jump so far she thinks they can fly, and friends who are better than her at a million other things. As Nalvana tries out each of her friends’ superpowers with no success, she wonders if she might be the only kid in town without a special talent. But then her mom shows Nalvana that she is unique and special—and that her superpower was right in front of her all along. (Justin Heymans, Canada, 10 MIN)

WHY SLUGS HAVE NO LEGS

 

Slugs were not always without limbs. But they have always been slow. In fact, they are so slow that they become unbearable for their co-workers, the ever-busy bees. During the big financial crisis in the city of insects, the bees see only one way to save their once flourishing business. What follows is a big step in the evolution of animals. (Aline Höchli, Switzerland, 11 MIN)

YVES & VARIATION

 

Every day, concierge Yves Deshommes practices his violin behind the front desk of a Manhattan office building. But during the hours outside his shift, Yves’s life is revealed to be equal parts intrepid and inspiring. (Lydia Cornett, USA, Haiti, 15 MIN)