Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival Announces Film Lineup For 2020 Festival

Indians, Outlaws, Marshals & the “Hangin’ Judge”

 

The critically acclaimed Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival announced the complete lineup of films, honorees, and special events for its 29th edition, a virtual/drive-in presentation taking place October 9-17. Screenings will be led by drive-in screenings of Mary Wharton’s JIMMY CARTER, ROCK & ROLL PRESIDENT on Opening Night, Laura Gabbert’s OTTOLENGHI AND THE CAKES OF VERSAILLES with the Centerpiece slot, and Julia Reichart and Steve Bognar’s 9-TO-5: THE STORY OF A MOVEMENT on Closing Night. HSDFF will present a total of 110 films (40 feature-length, and 60 shorts) representing 30 countries.

“Now more than ever it is important that HSDFF is a place where everyone feels welcome, where we honor our tradition of gathering around documentaries, and where storytellers take centerstage,” says Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival’s Director of Programming, Jessie Fairbanks. “We are thrilled to present some of the strongest titles of 2020 to the Hot Springs audience. I am especially pleased to present a program where filmmakers of color represent 47% of our feature films and over 50% of the total films presented are directed by women. We are also proud to showcase several regional titles, elevating local directors and the idiosyncratic culture of the South. The films in our 2020 program will inspire viewers, challenge perceptions, and illuminate the urgent realities of this turbulent year,” says Fairbanks.

The 2020 HSDFF Career Achievement Award will be presented to legendary filmmakers Alex Gibney and Dawn Porter. The 2020 HSDFF Impact Award will be presented to Iyabo Boyd, (Filmmaker and Founder of the collective Brown Girls Doc Mafia) and Oscar nominated producer, Diane Quon.

The opportunity to present our festival on a both a virtual platform and with drive-in screenings creates an opportunity to reach more viewers right in their living rooms, along with a fun throwback necessitated by these times where audiences can enjoy movies in their cars,” says HSDFF Executive Director, Karina Nagin. “We are delighted to showcase one of our most exciting programs ever, while honoring an all-star lineup of award recipients who have given us great films and have contributed to the filmmaking community by nurturing emerging talent. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s how important it is to look beyond ourselves and invest in our community by lending a helpful hand,” says Nagin.

GALA DRIVE-IN SCREENINGS

Previously announced, HSDFF will screen it’s three “gala” selections at a pop-up drive-in located at Hot Springs Mall (4501 Central Ave, Hot Springs, AR). Produced in partnership with Visit Hot Springs, The Hot Springs Mall, Low Key Arts, and KUHS, the drive-in film presentations will follow a successful drive-in screening that HSDFF offered last May. “Despite all the curveballs the pandemic threw at us this year, we are proud to continue our long-standing tradition of creating a festive environment to showcase incredible films, says Artistic Director, Jen Gerber. “Our drive-in gala events will provide a safe place for our community to unite around the shared belief that film has the power to connect people and transform our world. While the festival looks a little different this year, our legacy remains firmly intact as a cultural institution within this region,” says Gerber. Each screening will be accompanied by live music and concessions provided by local food trucks and vendors – with social distancing, and all safety measures strictly enforced.

Friday, October 9 will feature the Opening Night presentation of Wharton’s JIMMY CARTER, ROCK & ROLL PRESIDENT. The film focuses on the surprisingly significant role that music played throughout Carter’s life and in his work, including the vital support he and his campaign received from popular artists to give him a crucial boost during the Democratic primaries. HSDFF’s Centerpiece presentation of Gabbert’s OTTOLENGHI AND THE CAKES OF VERSAILLES will take place on Tuesday, October 13. The visually stunning masterpiece documents the collaboration between world renowned chef Yotan Ottolnghi (Jerusalem Plenty) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, as five visionary pastry makers endeavor to construct an extravagant food gala. The Closing Night screening will take place on Friday, October 16 with the presentation of Reichart and Bognar’s 9-TO-5: THE STORY OF A MOVEMENT. The film looks at the group of fearless women who employed outrageous humor to attract the press and shame their bosses into change. The movement, taking the name “9 to 5”, became a national sensation and inspired Dolly Parton’s iconic song and the hit film that followed.

HSDFF HONOREES

HSDFF Career Achievement Award honoree Alex Gibney is an Academy Award-winning filmmaker whose body of work spans four decades, including TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE (2007), for which he won the Academy Award for Best Documentary and ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM (2005), for which he received a nomination in the same category. He is the founder of Jigsaw Productions, an award-winning production company with a prolific slate of projects. Gibney has proven to be an unstoppable force whose films have helped push documentaries into the cultural zeitgeist. HSDFF will be screening his latest, CRAZY NOT INSANE, which examines the research by forensic psychiatrist Dorothy Otnow Lewis who investigated the psychology of murderers. Additionally, a special retrospective of his work, CLIENT 9: THE RISE AND FALL OF ELIOT SPITZER (2010), ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM, FINDING FELA! (2014), GOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY & THE PRISON OF BELIEF (2015), NO STONE UNTURNED (2017), and TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE will be screened throughout the festival.

HSDFF’s second Career Achievement Award honoree, Dawn Porter is an award-winning documentarian renowned for her powerful social justice films. She is a tireless advocate for collaboration in documentary production and is known for her willingness to mentor filmmakers, while helming several projects herself. She is currently directing and executive producing an Apple TV multi-part documentary series with Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry, which focuses on both mental illness and mental well-being. HSDFF will screen her recent film, JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE as part of the celebration of her work. Both Gibney and Porter will participate in special conversations on their careers.

Two more powerhouse women will be the recipients of the 2020 HSDFF Impact Award. Iyabo Boyd is an industry maven whose organization, Brown Girls Doc Mafia, supports 4000 women and non-binary people of color in every phase of filmmaking. A successful filmmaker herself (producer on ME TIME, and SUN BELT EXPRESS), Iyabo continuously gives back to the filmmaking community, providing connections and platforms to BGDM members and colleagues. Diane Quon has followed a prolific career at NBC and Paramount Pictures, with independent productions which included Academy Award nominated MINDING THE GAP (2018), which she produced with Bing Liu. With a focus on emerging filmmakers, Diane brings her extensive skills to nascent projects, ensuring unknown stories shine.

WORLD PREMIERES AND ADDITIONAL HIGHLIGHTS

While it continues its respected tradition of screening some of the best documentaries on the film festival circuit, the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival will also present the world premieres of three feature films. Lisa Molomot and Jeff Bemiss’ MISSING IN BROOKS COUNTY focuses on an oftentimes overlooked aspect of the country’s immigration issues, the remains of missing people. The documentary profiles two families as they try to find their loved ones in Brooks County, Texas. Also making its world premiere will be Nathan Willis’ RAP SQUAD. The film profiles Arkansas students at Helena West-Helena’s Central High School who turn to hip-hop and spoken word as an outlet for their civic frustration and a means to heal their local community.

Larry Foley’s INDIANS, OUTLAWS, MARSHALS AND THE HANGIN’ JUDGE looks at gun violence, racial strife, police brutality and American Indian rights through the eyes of a charismatic federal judge in the 19th Century who sentenced scores of felons.

Additional highlights include an updated cut of Diedre Fishel’s WOMEN IN BLUE, which follows three female police officers in Minneapolis and their efforts to transform the police department there. The updated version will include recent events following the murder of George Floyd. Daniel Lombroso’s WHITE NOISE, produced by The Atlantic, is an exposé of the alt-right movement that intimately profiles three infamous personalities—Richard B. Spencer, Mike Cernovich, and Lauren Southern. The film displays hypocrisy and dysfunction within the movement and alt-right ideology seeping into American mainstream politics. Jessica Earnshaw’s JACINTA, a Tribeca Film Festival Albert Maysles Award winner, follows a young woman in and out of prison as she attempts to break free from an inherited cycle of addiction, incarceration, and crime. Alice Gu’s THE DONUT KING has won awards at multiple film festivals including SXSW, Bentonville, and Sun Valley. The film tells an engrossing story of Cambodian refugee Ted Ngoy, who reshaped the Donut Industry as we know it.

HSDFF will also present a sneak peek/work-in-progress screening of Lucas Sabean and Peter Hutchison’s DEVIL PUT THE COAL IN THE GROUND, a meditation on the suffering and devastation brought on by the coal industry and its decline.

Tickets and passes will be on-sale September 22nd, 2020. For more information on purchasing and additional details on the Hot Springs Documentary Film festival, please visit: hsdfi.org.

 

The 2020 Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival official selections:

 

Opening Night Selection

JIMMY CARTER, ROCK & ROLL PRESIDENT

Director: Mary Wharton

Country: US, Running Time: 96 min

This fascinating documentary charts the mostly forgotten story of how Carter, a lover of all types of music, forged a tight bond with musicians Willie Nelson, the Allman Brothers, Bob Dylan and others. Low on campaign funds and lacking in name recognition, Carter relied on support from these artists to give him a crucial boost in the Democratic primaries. Once Carter was elected, the musicians became frequent guests in the White House.

 

Centerpiece Selection

OTTOLENGHI AND THE CAKES OF VERSAILLES

Director: Laura Gabbert

Country: US, Running Time: 76 min

Laura Gabbert’s visually stunning masterpiece documents the collaboration between world renowned chef Yotam Ottolenghi (Jerusalem Plenty) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, as five visionary chefs create edible art emblematic of the decadence of Versailles. Exploring the intersection between food, culture, and history, this sumptuous film is an eye-popping explosion of 3-D printed cakes, chocolate swans, and Jell-O sculptures. Exquisitely crafted, this drool-inducing documentary invites you to savor the finer things in life.

 

Closing Night Selection

9-TO-5: THE STORY OF A MOVEMENT

Directors: Julia Reichert, Steve Bognar

Country: US, Running Time: 89 min

Academy Award-winners, Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar, are back with another profound film on the American working class. This time their camera tracks a group of secretaries in the 1970s who band together to form a national movement. Harnessing their outrageous office experiences, these women use humor and unexpected strategies to fight for better pay, professional opportunities, and an end to sexual harassment. Their work energized the nation and inspired the iconic song and award-winning film.

 

 

ADDITIONAL FEATURE FILMS

 

ALEX GIBNEY RETROSPECTIVE

 

CLIENT 9: THE RISE AND FALL OF ELIOT SPITZER (2010)                  

Director: Alex Gibney

Country: US, Running Time: 117 min

An in-depth look at the rise and fall of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, including interviews with the scandalized, former politician.

 

ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM (2005)              

Director: Alex Gibney

Country: US, Running Time: 110 min

Profiling the sordid Enron corporation, this film offers an insider look a their dramatic demise and serves as a chilling reminder of who really suffers when corrupt companies fail.

 

FINDING FELA (2014)          

Director: Alex Gibney

Country: US, Running Time: 119 min

A high octane, sonically explosive profile of Nigerian singer Fela Kuti, the iconic performer and historic figure who created a musical movement that still resonates today.

 

GOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY & THE PRISON OF BELIEF (2015)

Director: Alex Gibney

Country: US, Running Time: 119 min

Profiling eight former members of the Church of Scientology, this investigative documentary explores the inner-workings of one of the most contentious institutions in modern history.

 

NO STONE UNTURNED (2017)

Director: Alex Gibney

Country: US, Running Time: 111 min        

An in-depth investigation into an unsolved 1994 massacre, where six Irishmen were murdered while watching the World Cup at the local pub in Loughinisland, Northern Ireland.

 

TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE (2007)   

Director: Alex Gibney

Country: US, Running Time: 96 min

Alex Gibney’s Academy Award-winning exposes details the USA’s torture and interrogation practices during the War in Afghanistan.

 

 

SOUTHERN DOCUMENTARIES

 

BOYS STATE

Directors: Amanda McBaine, Jesse Moss

Country: US, Running Time: 109 min

A thousand 17-year-old boys from Texas join together to build a representative government from the ground up.

 

CATE BROTHERS: ARKANSAS ROCK AND SOUL ROYALTY

Director: Benjamin Meade

Country: US, Running Time: 70 min 

Raised in the heart and soul of the music scene in Northwest Arkansas, this documentary follows the legendary sound of the Cate Brothers.

 

DEVIL PUT THE COAL IN THE GROUND             

Directors: Lucas Sabean, Peter Hutchison   

Country: US, Running Time: 82 min  

A gripping documentary detailing West Virginia’s complicated relationship with coal and a community’s enduring pride in an industry with an uncertain future.

 

INDIANS, OUTLAWS, MARSHALS AND THE HANGIN’ JUDGE

Director: Larry Foley

Country: US, Running Time: 90 min

Exploring the history of the 19th century, the stories documented in this film resonate today: gun violence, racial strife, police brutality and American Indian rights. This is a true tale of a charismatic federal judge who sentenced scores of criminals in rural Arkansas.

 

JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE               

Director: Dawn Porter

Country: US, Running Time: 96 min

Congressman John Lewis was a national treasure. This lovingly constructed and nuanced portrait, probes Lewis’s humanity, his unwavering faith in America, and his infectious humor.

 

MISSING IN BROOKS COUNTY                                          World Premiere

Directors: Lisa Molomot, Jeff Bemiss

Country: US, Running Time: 81 min

This documentary profiles two families as they try to find their loved ones in Brooks County, Texas, a place infamous for missing migrants.

 

PROPER PRONOUNS                     

Director: Megan Daniels        

Country: US, Running Time: 65 min

Four ordained ministers navigate their public roles as transgender clergy, reading the gospel, leading masses, and advocating against transphobia in North Carolina.

 

RAP SQUAD                                                                         World Premiere

Director: Nathan Willis           

Country: US, Running Time: 60 min

Arkansas students at Helena West-Helena’s Central High School turn to hip-hop and spoken word as an outlet for their civic frustration and a means to heal their community.

 

US KIDS                    

Director: Kim A. Snyder         

Country: US, Running Time: 95 min

Two years after a tragic mass shooting, the kids of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School reflect on their national campaigning for gun control.

 

 

US DOCUMENTARIES

 

CRAZY NOT INSANE                      

Director: Alex Gibney

Country: US, Running Time: 117 min

An examination of the research by forensic psychiatrist Dorothy Otnow Lewis who investigated the psychology of murderers.

 

CURED                      

Directors: Patrick Sammon, Bennett Singer 

Country: US, Running Time: 82 min 

The riveting documentary details the scientists who recommended and encouraged gay conversion therapy and the activists taking them down.

 

THE DONUT KING               

Director: Alice Gu      

Country: US, Running Time: 94 min

The self-proclaimed Donut King is the stunning tale of Cambodian refugee, Ted Ngoy, who reshaped the donut industry into the pink boxed, glazed phenomenon of ‘mom & pop’ shops that took over the west coast in the 80s and 90s.

 

DOWN A DARK STAIRWELL                     

Director: Ursula Liang

Country: US, Running Time: 87 min

A conversation across racial lines fray after a Chinese-American police officer kills an unarmed Black man in a stairwell in Brooklyn, New York.

 

GENERATION GROWTH                

Director: Mu Sun        

Country: US, Running Time: 97 min

One teacher is on a mission to change the way schools teach and how kids eat by growing a vegetable garden in class.

 

JACINTA                   

Director: Jessica Earnshaw   

Country: US, Running Time: 105 min

A profound and deeply moving family portrait that explores the cyclical nature of addiction and generational trauma.

 

LANDFALL               

Director: Cecilia Aldarondo    

Country: US, Running Time: 93 min 

An urgent and complex portrait of Puerto Rico today; an island recovering from Hurricane Maria and an economic crisis while being fed superficial messages of togetherness

 

MEDICINE MAN: THE STAN BROCK STORY                  

Director: Paul Michael Angell

Country: UK, Running Time: 96 min

Amazonian cowboy Stan Brock forgoes wrestling snakes and wrangling wild cats to tackle America’s healthcare crisis, founding a charity that provides free healthcare to the marginalized.

 

PUBLIC TRUST       

Director: David Byars

Country: US, Running Time: 95 min

A riveting exposé looking at America’s breathtaking public lands and the covert efforts of extractive industries to pillage these resources for profit and economic gain.

 

THE SIT IN: HARRY BELAFONTE HOSTS THE TONIGHT SHOW

Director: Yoruba Richen

Country: US, Running Time: 77 min

In 1968, Harry Belafonte guest hosted The Tonight Show. Featuring interviews with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dionne Warwick, and Robert F. Kennedy, this rich portrait of the legendary performer will make you laugh and cry.

 

THROUGH THE NIGHT                   

Director: Loira Limbal

Country: US, Running Time: 72 min

A 24-hour daycare center nestled in New Rochelle, NY serves as a vital lifeline for working class, single mothers struggling to stay afloat.

 

TRANSHOOD

Director: Sharon Liese

Country: US, Running Time: 96 min

The lives of four transgendered kids —ages 4, 7, 12, and 15—share personal realities of how gender expression is reshaping their American families.

 

UPROOTED – THE JOURNEY OF JAZZ DANCE              

Director: Khadifa Wong         

Countries: USA/UK/Canada/France, Running Time: 94 min

A feature length documentary on the lineage and future progressions of jazz dance.

 

WHITE NOISE                      

Director: Daniel Lombroso     

Country: US, Running Time: 94 min

A bold and frightening exposé of the alt-right movement that intimately profiles three of its infamous personalities – Richard B. Spencer, Mike Cernovich, and Lauren Southern.

 

WOMEN IN BLUE                 

Director: Deirdre Fishel          

Country: US, Running Time: 82 min

Minneapolis Police Department’s first female chief attempts to reform an institution plagued by allegations of bias and excessive force, while addressing gender discrimination.

 

 

INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARIES

 

CODED BIAS            

Director: Shalini Kantayya     

Countries: China/South Africa/UK, Running Time: 90 min

When an MIT Researcher realizes facial recognition software has not been programmed to identify black faces and is actively being used by law enforcement around the world, a race begins to secure judicial oversight for AI technologies.

 

THE LAST ICE                      

Director: Scott Ressler           

Country: US, Running Time: 83 min

Rising temperatures melt the Arctic ice linking Greenland and Canada, impacting indigenous communities and inspiring environmental exploitation by predatory industrial interests.

 

THE LAST OUT                    

Directors: Sami Khan, Michael Gassert        

Country: US, Running Time: 84 min

With their dreams set on signing with the major leagues, three Cuban baseball players leave their families and risk everything to train in Central America.

 

MAMAKROM            

Director: Joseph Pelegreen   

Country: US, Ghana, West Africa, Running Time: 83 min

In the developing country of Ghana, a school revolutionizes the educational system with a charitable partner focused on sustainability and empowerment.

 

ONCE UPON A TIME IN VENEZUELA                   

Director: Anabel Rodríguez Ríos       

Country: US, Running Time: 120 min

The villagers of Congo Mirador, a lake community in Venezuela, struggle to stay afloat amidst rampant political corruption and staggering pollution sinking their homes.

 

OVERLAND              

Directors: Revere La Noue, Elisabeth Haviland James        

Countries: US/UK/Italy/UAE/Azerbaijan/Mongolia/South Africa, Running Time: 104 min

This stunningly beautiful film bridges modern day practices with tradition falconry, following three colorful individuals and the birds they work with to hunt, race, and connect with nature.

 

THE REASON I JUMP         

Director: Jerry Rothwell

Country: UK, Running Time: 82 min

Cross cutting between the experiences of five non-speaking autistic individuals from around the globe, this beautifully realized sensorial experience offers a portal into a new world.

 

THE VIEWING BOOTH                    

Director: Ra’anan Alexandrowicz      

Countries: Israel/US, Running Time: 72 min

Maia Levy, a young Jewish-American woman, takes a seat in a small viewing booth to participate in an exercise designed to explore the psychology of the viewer in the digital era.

 

THE WALRUS AND THE WHISTLEBLOWER                   

Director: Nathalie Bibeau       

Country: Canada, Running Time: 89 min

One man takes on his former employer, a famous marine park, in hopes of saving his beloved walrus, Smooshi.

 

 

SHORT FILMS

 

 

PROGRAM #1: SOUTHERN LENS

 

ALL THE POSSIBILITIES…             

Directors: Marsha Gordon, Louis Cherry

Country: US, Running Time: 16 min

Unsung artist Vernon Pratt interconnected art and mathematics. After 35 years in a crated, his most ambitious project of 256 panels has its first exhibition.

 

HISTORY IN PIECES                                                            World Premiere        

Director: Bronson Crabtree   

Country: US, Running Time: 5 min

Born and raised in Arkansas, Kent Westbrook dedicates his time collecting arrowheads, axes, stones, and broken pots exclusively made in the state.

 

OF CONCRETE AND SKIN: THE STORY OF THE ELAINE MASSACRE MEMORIAL              

Director: Nolan Dean 

Country: US, Running Time: 12 min

Details the construction of the Elaine Massacre Memorial commemorating African-American men, women, and children slain by white mobs and government troops in 1919 Phillips County, AK.

 

THE PAINT WIZZARD         

Directors: Jessie Auritt, Jessica Wolfson

Country: US, Running Time: 17 min

In Austin, Texas lives the delightful Millie, a housepainter working out of her sunshine yellow motorhome who, at 58, decided to fully step into her transgender identity.

 

VOTE NEIL               

Director: Honora Talbott        

Country: US, Running Time: 19 min

Neil Rafferty, a former marine and newly politicized activist, battles to become the first openly gay man elected to the Alabama State Legislature.

 

 

PROGRAM #2: HSDFF SCREENING COMMITTEE SELECTS

 

DAFA METTI            

Director: Tal Amiran  

Country: UK, Running Time: 15 min

Undocumented Senegalese migrants share their stories of struggle and longing while illegally selling miniature souvenirs beneath Paris’ shimmering Eiffel Tower.

 

FROM KURILS WITH LOVE            

Director: Taylor Rees 

Country: US, Russia, Running Time: 24 min

One researcher’s odd adventure travelling to and studying the changing environment of the active volcanic chain in the Kuril Islands.

 

MIZUKO                    

Directors: Kira Dane, Katelyn Rebelo

Country: US, Japan, Running Time: 15 min

With lush animation, a woman contemplates her terminated pregnancy and the decisions that shape us. An intimate, poetic visualization of a private meditation on life and faith.

 

TRAIN ROBBERS                                                                 North American Premiere   

Director: Martin Walther         

Country: Norway, Running Time: 20 min

A coming of age story about a group of young boys who cause all sorts of trouble when they steal beer from a local train depot.

 

USA V SCOTT          

Directors: Ora Dekornfeld, Isabel Castro

Country: US, Running Time: 16 min

Geographer Scott Warren awaits a felony trial and potential 20-year prison sentence for providing food and water to migrants attempting to cross the US-Mexican border.

 

 

PROGRAM #3: SPORTS!

 

A PRAYER FOR JOSHUA JACKSON       

Directors: Ryan Heffernan, Grayson Schaffer, Kahlil Hudson

Country: US, Running Time: 22 min

A tragic speedway accident cuts Joshua Jackson’s promising racing career short. Severely injured, doctors advise he will never race again, but childhood dreams don’t die easily.

 

AFTERLIFE              

Director: Ryan Rundle           

Country: US, Running Time: 12 min

Swimmer Mihail Alexandrov reconciles trepidations over his pending retirement while training for his final shot at making the 2020 US Olympic Team.

 

ARKANSAS HIGH COUNTRY – A CYCLIST’S JOURNEY TO PERSONAL GROWTH              

Director: Jonathan Childs      

Country: US, Running Time: 17 min

Cyclists Ernie and Scotti Lechuga tackle the Arkansas High Country, a 1,000-mile bicycle route covering steep climbs, rough terrain, and inclement weather across open Arkansas.

 

CONNECTION                      

Directors: Tracy Nguyen-Chung, Ciara Lacy            

Country: US, Running Time: 8 min

A young angler and conservationist trains for her upcoming fishing competition in hopes of using sport to deliver her message.

 

THE 24                       

Director: Clay Pruitt   

Country: US, Running Time: 29 min

Climbing aficionados from all over the globe ascend onto Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Jasper, Arkansas for the world’s only 24-hour climbing competition—widely known as Hell.

 

 

PROGRAM #4: LARGER THAN LIFE

 

MAALBEEK                                                                           North American Premiere

Director: Ismaël Joffroy Chandoutis  

Country: France, Running Time: 15 min

Faint memories, dotted lines, and distilled images reimagine one woman’s experience during a terrorist bombing.

 

MY FATHER THE MOVER  

Director: Julia Jansch

Country: South Africa, Running Time: 13 min

Deep in the township of Khayelitsha, South Africa, one man teaches local kids to tap into their superpowers through a euphoric African electronic dance style known as Gqom.

 

NANCY’S WORKSHOP                   

Director: Aïcha Diop  

Country: Canada, Running Time: 20 min

On Sundays, a hairstylist opens her salon to teach young Black girls how to style their hair as a form of empowerment and self-love.

 

PATTY, ARE YOU BRINGING WEED IN FROM JAMAICA?                    

Director: Matthew Salton       

Country: US, Running Time: 9 min

Set in the late 60’s, the outrageous, psychedelic adventure of a bright-eyed girl in her 20s smuggling 900lbs of Jamaican weed into the US.

 

THE SHAWL             

Director: Sara Kiener 

Country: US, Running Time: 7 min

A fabulously eccentric gay male couple reminisce on their early days together and highlight one particularly magical evening watching Stevie Nicks perform at Jones Beach.

 

ZERO ZERO             

Director: Eva Grace Bor        

Countries: UK/Zimbabwe, Running Time: 14 min

This intimate portrait details the legacy of racial identities in Zimbabwe after a family is assigned a new race during British occupation.

 

 

PROGRAM #5: PURE IMAGINATION

 

BROKEN ORCHESTRA                  

Director: Charlie Tyrell           

Countries: US/Canada, Running Time: 12 min

With hundreds of broken musical instruments in dire need of repair within the Philadelphia public school system, a community coalition steps in to take action.

 

ICE BALL                                                                               North American Premiere

Director: Nathaniel Schmidt  

Country: Australia, US, Running Time: 14 min

Every year, over 50 people gather at the remote home of Will Steger to participate in the age-old tradition of seasonal ice cutting.

 

MEMOIRS OF VEGETATION                      

Director: Jessica Oreck

Country: US, Running Time: 2 min

Do you know where castor oil comes from? This stunning stop-motion story of the castor bean is a bite size kernel of botanical history.

 

ONCE THE DUST HAS SETTLED                                       US Premiere

Director: Hervé Demers        

Country: Canada, Running Time: 15 min

Asbestos was once home to the largest mine of its kind; today it is a collapsing pit, surrounded by a ghost town that was once a thriving hub of industry.

 

TĀ MOKO – BEHIND THE TATTOOED FACE                   

Directors: Mick Andrews, David Atkinson     

Country: New Zealand, Running Time: 12 min

Two Maori descendents attempt to unite their community through rediscovering tā moko, an ancient practice of face tattooing nearly erased at the hands of colonization.

 

TO CALM THE PIG INSIDE (ANG PAGPAKALMA SA UNOS)                  

Director: Joanna Vasquez Arong      

Country: Philippines, Running Time: 19 min

A meditative look at the emotional and physical wreckage left behind a typhoon that devastated a small coastal town in the Philippines.

 

WELCOME TO A BRIGHT WHITE LIMBO             

Director: Cara Holmes           

Country: Ireland, Running Time: 11 min

A soaring look at the creative process and exquisite artistry of Belfast-based dancer and choreographer Oona Doherty as she explores her award winning show “Hope Hunt”.

 

PROGRAM #6: FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY

 

BURNT TOAST                    

Director: Timothy Racca Morrish      

Country: US, Running Time: 17 min

Anyone’s image can appear on toast thanks to Galen P. Divelly III, creator of the novelty “Selfie Toaster,” that burns custom-designed images onto toast.

 

COBY AND STEPHEN ARE IN LOVE                    

Directors: Luka Yuanyuan Yang, Carlo Nasisse       

Country: US, China, Running Time: 30 min

A contemplative and warm love story between a legendary San Francisco nightclub dancer and her artistic partner, 20 years her junior.

 

EDDY’S WORLD                  

Director: Lyn Goldfarb

Country: US, Running Time: 19 min

98-year-old toy inventor Eddy Goldfarb reflects on his love of making games and toys for generations.

 

THE STARR SISTERS                     

Directors: Beth Einhorn, Bridey Elliott           

Country: US, Running Time: 15 min

Adult sisters Patte and Randa Starr heal the pains of their traumatic childhood by crafting a life focused solely on being happy and expressing joy.

 

 

PROGRAM #7: PAIRED WITH FEATURES

 

BEYOND NOH                      

Director: Patrick Smith           

Country: US, Japan, Running Time: 4 min

A rhythmic reel of 3,475 masks from cultures across the world.

 

BUG FARM               

Director: Lydia Cornett           

Country: US, Running Time: 14 min

In Central Florida, four women from different walks of life come together to work on an insect farm fostering thousands of crickets, superworms, and roaches.

 

DOWNSTAGE                      

Director: Stephanie Owens   

Country: US, Running Time: 12 min

11-year-old Aedan prepares for his first competitive dance solo, while reflecting on the social stigma he faces as a black, male dancer.

 

GUN KILLERS                      

Director: Jason Young           

Country: Canada, Running Time: 11 min

A hypnotic portrait of a Canadian couple who melt down illegal firearms confiscated by the police as part of a communal effort towards greater gun control.

 

KACHALKA  

Director: Gar O’Rourke

Country: Ireland, Ukraine, Running Time: 9 min

A panoramic portrait of a Soviet-era scrap metal gym in rural Kiev offers a look at one of the world’s most unusual hardcore gyms.

 

KAPAEMAHU           

Directors: Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson      

Country: US, Running Time: 8 min

This vivid short film tells the story behind four sacred stones on Waikiki Beach moved and mishandled by foreigners in a modernized city.

 

NUXALK RADIO                                                                    US Premiere

Director: Banchi Hanuse

Country: Canada, Running Time: 3 min

In Bella Coola, one radio station operates as a community center and school in hopes of educating and sustaining the Nuxalkmc language and culture.

 

ON FALLING            

Director: Josephine Anderson           

Country: Canada, Running Time: 14 min

Featuring a cast of all female athletes who discuss the physical and emotional challenges of their sport, extreme off-road cycling.

 

TALL TALES WITH TRUE QUEENS                      

Directors: Kristina Budelis, Leandro Badalotti           

Country: US, Running Time: 10 min

Grab a front-row seat at the Drag Queen Story Hour where Storytime is reimagined with drag performers

 

TIGER AND OX                    

Director: Seunghee Kim        

Country: South Korea, Running Time: 8 min

Captures a candid discussion between a single mother and her daughter concerning Korean stigmas of “fatherless” families, leading both to understand each other better.

 

VIEWFINDER                        

Director: Melody Gilbert         

Country: US, Running Time: 5 min

For the past 23 years, Michael has taken a daily photograph. As he faces potential memory loss, he ponders what will become of these treasured images.

 

 

PROGRAM #8: FAVORITES FROM OTHER FESTS

 

ALL CATS ARE GREY IN THE DARK                   

Director: Lasse Linder

Country: Oostenrijk, Running Time: 19 min

Interested in growing his cat family, Christian breeds his beloved cat Marmalade in this eclectic story of fatherhood.

 

THE CHURCH FORESTS OF ETHIOPIA               

Director: Jeremy Seifert        

Country: US, Running Time: 9 min

A stunning portrait of Ethiopia’s sacred Church Forests—protected enclaves of old-growth biodiversity that have been saved from the nation’s relentless push toward farming and agricultural development.

 

FLESH                       

Director: Camila Kater           

Country: Brazil, Spain, Running Time: 12 min

Five women share their life experiences in relationship to their bodies, from childhood to old age, in this daring and evocative mixed-media animated short.

 

HUNTSVILLE STATION                  

Directors: Jamie Meltzer, Chris Filippone      

Country: US, Running Time: 14 min

A raw and intimate portrayal of the first moments of freedom for the formerly incarcerated.

 

IN THE WAKE                      

Director: Natasha Nair           

Country: US, Running Time: 12 min

A portrait of the intricate craft of handweaving and the women keeping the skill alive in India.

 

TEARS TEACHER

Director: Noemie Nakai

Country: Japan, Running Time: 11 min

A teacher travels across Japan to encourage adults to cry more as a form of therapy and self-realization.

 

UMBILICAL              

Director: Danski Tang

Countries: US/China, Running Time: 7 min

A mother and daughter share past traumas while colorful shapes provide images of their feelings and sensations.

 

THE UNDOCUMENTED LAWYER             

Directors: Chris Temple, Zach Ingrasci         

Country: US, Running Time: 19 min

Lizbeth Mateo is a Los Angeles-based attorney who specializes in immigration and deportation cases, all while living and practicing law as an undocumented citizen herself.

 

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