The Slamdance Film Festival announced what it calls its “most accessible festival ever” — an online and in-person hybrid event that will include 25 features, 107 shorts and episodic, and a new program called Unstoppable that will showcase creators with disabilities.
Running February 12-25, 2021, the festival won’t be held at its usual Treasure Mountain Inn location in Park City, Utah due to COVID-19. Instead, all films, Q&A’s and panels will be available on Slamdance.com, AppleTV, Roku, Firestick, and YouTube. Virtual passes are available for free until Dec. 31, and for $10 until the end of the festival. Slamdance will also hold a two-night drive-in presentation in Joshua Tree, California, open to the public on Feb. 13-14, as well as a closing-night screening at a Los Angeles drive-in on Feb. 25.
The “by filmmakers, for filmmakers” festival will also include an invite-only Joshua Tree retreat — subject to pandemic protocols and quarantine —and a screening fee of $350 for each feature filmmaking team. (The main image above is of members of the Slamdance team scoping out Joshua Tree locales.)
The festival’s theme, “Greenlight Yourself,” reflects an effort to turn obstacles into opportunities.
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“Our theme this year was inspired by the incredible resilience and creativity evidenced by our community and our team over the past few unprecedented months,” said Slamdance president and co-founder Peter Baxter. “The shared journey ahead for Slamdance’s filmmakers, alumni community and organization is to ‘Greenlight Yourself’ and triple down on not only who we are, but how we can continue expanding the many ways we support the filmmakers who are the future of independent filmmaking.”
The lineup includes 20 premieres, with 15 world, four North American, and one U.S. debuts. Films come to Slamdance from countries including Australia, Finland, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Lithuania, Romania, United Kingdom and Taiwan, as well as the United States.
The competition films in the Narrative and Documentary categories are feature-length directorial debuts with budgets of less than $1 million, without US distribution. Breakouts focus in directors who have already made their first films and who maintain distinct styles and voices. The films were selected by a blind submission process.
The opening night film, which will screen at a Joshua Tree drive-in on Feb. 13, is No Trace (Nulle Trace), a world premiere from Canadian director and screenwriter Simon Lavoie. Set in a near future, the film follows a callous smuggler who guides a pious young woman and her child across the border.
The festival will close with the world premiere of 18th & Grand: The Olympic Auditorium Story, on Feb. 25. The feature documentary by Stephen DeBro tells the story of L.A. through the prism of a historic fight palace and Aileen Eaton, the woman who ran it. It features the voices of fighters, skaters, and musicians including Roddy Piper, John Doe, James Ellroy and Julio Cesar Chavez.
The Unstoppable program will feature 22 short films from disabled filmmakers, that feature actors with disabilities, or that highlight conversation about disabilities. It is entirely programmed by disabled artists.
“I’m honored to be part of the wonderful Unstoppable team and embrace the idea of creating a safe space for filmmakers with disabilities and take our creativity as seriously as everyone else in this industry. I feel like we are building a bridge for others to cross and I am so proud to be a part of it,“ said Unstoppable programmer Juliet Romeo.
The 2021 festival will also include the return of The AGBO Fellowship, presented by AGBO Films in partnership with the festival. The $25,000 prize was launched in 2018 by Slamdance alumni Anthony and Joe Russo (Avengers: Endgame, Avengers: Infinity War), and includes mentorship from the acclaimed filmmakers.
Despite the pandemic, Slamdance has incubated many notable project over the past year, including the Netflix film Day Shift, which was born and optioned by Slamdance and comprised of alums, starring Jamie Foxx; Andrew Patterson’s acclaimed Amazon film The Vast of Night, which premiered at Slamdance in 2019; and Merawi Gerema’s award-winning Residue, which premiered at Slamdance this year and was picked up by Ava Duvernay’s ARRAY for release on Netflix.
Slamdance has a long history of helping to discover and promote rising filmmakers, including the Russo Brothers, Steven Soderbergh, Christopher Nolan, Bong Joon-ho, Sean Baker, Jennifer Kent, Lena Dunham and many more.
Here are the films in the 2021 lineup, as described by Slamdance:
A Brixton Tale – (UK, Ireland) World Premiere
Directors: Darragh Carey & Bertrand Desrochers – Screenwriters: Rupert Baynham, Darragh Carey, Chi Mai – Producers: Rupert Baynham, Dennis Gyamfi, Beau Rambaut
A voyeuristic, wealthy vlogger finds herself drawn to a handsome, shy youth from the infamous Barrier Block housing project. Their relationship with each other, and with the camera, leads them down a dangerous path.
Cast: Ola Orebiyi, Lily Newmark, Craige Middleburg, Jaime Winstone, Barney Harris, Michael Maloney, Rose Kerr, Dexter Padmore.
A Family – (Ukraine/Australia) North American Premiere
Director: Jayden Stevens – Screenwriters: Thomas Swinburn, Jayden Stevens – Producers: Olga Mykhalets, Clea Frost, Thomas Swinburn, Jayden Stevens
A man living in solitary seeks emotional refuge in the organising and documenting of family moments using low-grade impersonators. When his fake sister becomes inspired to follow his method, their relationship struggles between the forged and genuine.
Cast: Pavlo Lehenkyi, Liudmyla Zamydra
Dea – (Hong Kong, Switzerland, Indonesia, France) World Premiere
Director: Alberto Gerosa – Producers: Alberto Gerosa, Jocelyne Rouch, Andrea Gerosa
Dea leaves rural Indonesia and her singing dreams to migrate to Hong Kong as a foreign domestic worker. The script is the result of a nine-months acting improv laboratory with a group of Indonesian women migrant domestic workers, who have been victims of domestic violence while working in Hong Kong. The protagonist’s story merges their real life experiences into one.
Cast: Dea Panendra, Bruno Zanin, Mas Gentur, Mas Akri, Mega, Mawar, Vincent, Abe and Icy Tsui
Hurrah, we are still alive! – (Poland) North American Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Agnieszka Polska – Producer: Anna Gawlita
An artistic commune of filmmakers awaits the return of the Director, who disappeared without a trace. Despite his absence, the Director seems to control all of the troupe’s actions.
Cast: Piotr Polak, Sonia Roszczuk, Marta Ojrzyńska, Arkadiusz Brykalski, Jacek Beler, Joanna Drozda, Marcin Czarnik, Bartosz Bielenia
Isaac – (Lithuania)
Director: Jurgis Matulevičius – Screenwriters: Saulė Bliuvaitė, Jurgis Matulevičius, Nerijus Milerius – Producer: Stasys Baltakis
A Soviet style film noir about the murder of a Jew that changed the world.
Cast: Aleksas Kazanavičius, Dainius Gavenonis, Severija Janušauskaitė, Martynas Nedzinskas
Taipei Suicide Story – (Taiwan) North American Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: KEFF – Producer: Amy Ma
A receptionist at a suicide hotel in Taipei forms a fleeting friendship over the course of one night with a guest who can’t decide if she wants to live or die.
Cast: Yuhua Sung (宋芸樺), Tender Huang (黃騰浩）
The Sleeping Negro – (USA) World Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Skinner Myers – Producers: Skinner Myers, Matt Palmieri, John Campbell, Alex McCarthy, Dan Funes
Confronted with a series of racially charged incidents, a young black man must overcome rage, alienation, and hopelessness in order to find his own humanity.
Cast: Rae Dawn Chong, Tunde Adebimpe, Nican Robinson, David Fumero, Julie McNiven, Skinner Myers
Teenage Emotions – (USA) World Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Frederic Da – Producer: Frederic Da, Roxane Mesquida
What happens within the walls of an American High School?
Cast: Jaya Harper, Jayden Capers, Silas Mitchell, Ava Cooper
Man Under Table – (USA)
Director / Screenwriter/ Producer: Noel David Taylor
In an anachronistic dystopian landscape, a beleaguered young man attempts to navigate his way through the indie film scene in LA.
Cast: Noel David Taylor, Ben Babbit, Danny Lane, Katy Fullen, John Edmund Parcher, Robert Manion, Alisa Torres, Frank Hinterberger
A Tiny Ripple of Hope – (USA) World Premiere
Director: Jason Polevoi – Producers: Jason Polevoi, Nick Jenkins
A charismatic activist works to build a better Chicago for the teens in his neglected community even if it comes at the cost of his home, his family, and his safety.
Cast: Jahmal Cole, Dimetriana Chambers, Dominetrius Chambers, Deontae Lewis
Anatomy of Wings – (USA)
Directors / Producers: Nikiea Redmond & Kirsten D’Andrea Hollander
Black and white, young and old, a group of women risk their personal identities to build a second family while creating a documentary-film across the inequities of their Baltimore City neighborhoods.
Cast: Brittany Backmon, Teshavionna “Tazz” Mitchell, Sheila Butler, Marquise Weems, Brienna Brown, Danisha Harris, Cami McCrief, Tywana Reid, Quandra Jones, Quanisha Carmichael
Bleeding Audio – (USA)
Director: Chelsea Christer – Producers: Erin Persley, Jannette Bivona, Chelsea Christer
From inspiring triumphs to heartbreaking setbacks, Bleeding Audio relives the explosive career of the Matches and what it means to succeed in the digital age of music.
Cast: Shawn Harris, Justin San Souci, Jon Devoto, Matt Whalen, Mark Hoppus, Nick Hexum, Cassadee Pope, Justin Pierre
CODE NAME: Nagasaki – (Norway) World Premiere
Director: Fredrik S. Hana – Screenwriters: Fredrik S. Hana, Marius K. Lunde – Producer: Gunhild Oddsen
“CODE NAME: Nagasaki” tells the story of Marius and Fredrik, two young men who forged their friendship through filmmaking and decided to put their skills to a unique challenge: finding Marius’ long lost Japanese mother.
Cast: Marius K. Lunde, Fredrik S. Hana
Everyone wants to be the next Weismann – (Spain) North American Premiere
Director: Alberto Triano – Screenwriters: Alberto Triano and David Cantolla – Producer: David Cantolla
In the art world, there are those who take risks and then, there’s Martín Solo.
Holy Frit – (United States) World Premiere
Director: Justin Monroe – Producers: Justin Monroe, Chris Saito
Tim, a talented, yet unknown LA artist, bluffs his way into winning the commission to create the world’s largest stained-glass window of its kind, even though he has no idea how to make it…but he stumbles across someone who might, the famous glass maestro, Narcissus Quagliata.
Cast: Tim Carey, Narcissus Quagliata, David Judson, Adam Hamilton
Me To Play – (USA) World Premiere
Director / Screenwriter / Producer: Jim Bernfield
As their bodies give way to Parkinson’s disease, two New York actors put their hearts into one final Off-Broadway production of Beckett’s “Endgame,” the play that posits, “there’s nothing funnier than unhappiness.
Cast: Dan Moran, John Christopher Jones, Joe Grifasi, Ruth Kreshka, Marybeth Coudal, Carolyn McCormick, Byron Jennings
Workhorse Queen – (USA, Australia) World Premiere
Director / Screenwriter/ Producer: Angela Washko
After an unlikely casting onto a reality television show, 47-year old suburban telemarketer Ed Popil leaves his job to pursue a full-time entertainment industry career as his drag queen alter ego, 1960’s era housewife Mrs. Kasha Davis.
Cast: Ed Popil (Mrs. Kasha Davis), Greg Meyer (Darienne Lake), Tom Smalley (Aggy Dune), Christopher Steckel (Ambrosia Salad), Michael Steck (Pandora Boxx), Steven Levins, Roy Haylock (Bianca Del Rio), Joey Santolini (Tatianna)
While Slamdance’s main competition remains exclusive to first-time directors, the BREAKOUTS program serves directors beyond their first films who maintain distinct visual styles and a unique cinematic voice.
A Black Rift Begins to Yawn – (USA) World Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Matthew Wade – Producers: Matthew Wade, Sara Lynch
As two former classmates dig into their deceased professor’s set of cassette tapes, which possibly contain recordings of strange signals from beyond the stars, they begin to feel memories, the chronology of time, and their identities slip into obscurity.
Cast: Sara Lynch, Saratops McDonald, Luke Massengill
After America – (USA) World Premiere
Director / Screenwriter / Producer: Jake Yuzna
In 2019 a group of criminal justice de-escalation workers in Minneapolis embarked on a collaborative film project that used radical theater workshop techniques to explore their real-life struggles to escape the pressures of the American dream. The result, finished days before the murder of George Floyd, captures a city searching for what lies after America.
Cast: Yvonne Freese, Theresa McConnon, Daniel Nies, Ahmed Yusuf, Dan Fox, Eli Anthony, Robert Dante
Bad Attitude: The Art of Spain Rodriguez – (USA) World Premiere
Director / Screenwriter / Producer: Susan Stern
“Working-class Latino hood, crossed with crazy artist, crossed with left-wing radical,” so the legendary underground cartoonist Spain Rodriguez is described in this intimate portrait by his wife, Emmy-nominated filmmaker Susan Stern.
Cast: Spain Rodriguez, R. Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Aline Kominsky Crumb, Ed Piskor, Ishmael Reed, Trina Robbins, Susie Bright
End of the Line: The Women of Standing Rock – (USA, Finland) World Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Shannon Kring – Producers: Shannon Kring, Pearl Daniel-Means, Sophia Ehrnrooth
Featuring shocking, never-before-seen law enforcement video surrendered by a disgraced officer, End of the Line: The Women of Standing Rock is the incredible story of the indigenous women who establish a peaceful camp in protest of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access oil pipeline construction that desecrated ancient burial and prayer sites and threatens their land, water, and very existence.
Cast: Phyllis Young, Wašté Win Young, LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, Sky Roosevelt-Morris, Linda Black Elk
Mia Misses Her Revenge (Mia isi rateaza razbunarea) – (Romania) US Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Bogdan Theodor Olteanu – Producers: Anamaria Antoci, Anda Ionescu
After a violent breakup, Mia is struggling to get revenge on her ex. As her plan kicks off, she finds herself surrounded by a group of friends that give female togetherness a new definition.
Cast: Ioana Bugarin, Maria Popistașu, Ana Maria Guran, Carol Ionescu, Adrian Nicolae, Alexandru Ion, Mădălina Stoica, Ștefania Cîrcu
No Trace (Nulle Trace) – (Canada) World Premiere – Opening Film
Director / Screenwriter: Simon Lavoie – Producer: Marcel Giroux
In a near future, a callous smuggler hardened by life guides a pious young woman and her child across the border to safety, unaware that their destinies are inescapably linked in this inhospitable land.
Cast: Monique Gosselin, Nathalie Doummar, Martin Desgagnés, Victor Andrés Trelles Turgeon
18th & Grand: The Olympic Auditorium Story – (USA) World Premiere – Closing Film
Director / Screenwriter: Stephen DeBro – Producers: Stephen DeBro, Robert Benavides, Mayre McAnulty, Tony Peck
A raucous, visceral Los Angeles tale—seen through the story of a 20th Century fight palace and the remarkable woman who ran it-—reveals battles over race, gender and identity that still roil America.
Cast: Roddy Piper, Carlos Palomino, John Doe, Julio César Chávez, James Ellroy, Mamie Van Doren, Gene LeBell, The Destroyer
Kenny Scharf: When Worlds Collide – (USA, Brazil)
Directors / Screenwriters: Malia Scharf, Max Basch – Producers: David Koh, Malia Scharf, Max Basch
Along with friends Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kenny Scharf grew from a graffiti artist into a major force in the 1980s NYC art scene. Obsessed with garbage, cartoons, and plastic, this playful Peter Pan’s roller coaster career flourished despite the decimation of the AIDS crisis and the fickle tastes of the art world and continues to create colorful, complex work that puts him at the forefront of where popular culture meets fine art.
Autoscopy – (United Kingdom)
Director/ Screenwriter: Claes Nordwall
A displaced ambient musician goes on a disorientating voyage on mushrooms. This takes him deep into the heart of nature and ultimately, deeper into himself.
Cast: Ulrik Munther
Birdland – (Japan)
Director / Screenwriter: Takeshi Kogahara
An old man spends the remainder of his life on his bed with an occasional visit by a caretaker. One night, he sees snow outside the window which awakens memories from his past.
Cast: Shin Furukawa, Natsuko Fuji
Blue – (Turkey) US Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Ali Şenses
A painter has devoted his life to a search for the inexplicably sublime.
Cast: Hüseyin Canpolat
Comforter – (USA) World Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Cameron Bruce Nelson
A woman gets so stoned she disappears.
Cast: Katya Skakun; Moara Passoni
Delimitation – (Czech Republic) North American Premiere
Director: Tereza Vejvodová – Screenwriter: Tereza Vejvodová
A dancer moves through a city, seeking a space in which to exist.
Cast: Markéta Jandová
Each Other – (Australia) World Premiere
Director/ Screenwriter: Oskar Weimar
Emerging from a dead tree, a human body seeks to understand itself.
Cast: Jack Riley
Every Day’s Like This – (Canada)
Director / Screenwriter: Lev Lewis – Producers: Yonah Lewis, Calvin Thomas
A family tries to schedule the medically assisted death of a loved one.
Cast: Kacey Rohl, Daniel Kash, Francis Melling, Krystina Bojanowski
Exquisite Shorts, Volume 1. – (USA) World Premiere
Directors: Ariel Fish, Ben Kutsko, Winnie Cheung, Travis Stevens, Courtney Andujar, Andrew and Elsbeth Mumm, Matt Boman and Tosca Rivola, Hunter Adams, Sarah Lind, Doug Klinger and Machete Bang Bang, Theresa Desautels, Jessica Calleiro, Ben Fee, Emily Andujar and Manuel Taylor-Alcocer, Bossi Dean Baker, June Zandona, Hillary Andujar, Niles Howard and Kayli Stollak, Kevin Kearney, Mary Florence Brown Screenwriter: Ben Fee
Adapted from the surrealist drawing game “exquisite corpse,” this short of shorts created by 19 filmmakers is stitched together in a stream of consciousness with unique words bridging each of the segments, creating an anthology of diverse visual flavors.
Cast: Ben Fee, Courtney Andujar, Hillary Andujar, Doug Klinger
In France Michelle is a Man’s Name – (USA)
Director / Screenwriter: Em Weinstein
Michael, a young trans man, returns home to the rural American West after years of estrangement from his parents. In France Michelle is a Man’s Name explores trans identity, masculinity, and the prices we’re willing to pay for acceptance.
Cast: Ari Damasco, Jerry Carlton, Olga Sanchez, Neil Green
Inside the Storm – (Israel) North American Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Daniel Bloom
In the middle of the night, after a tough breakup, Nadav goes to visit an old friend he hasn’t seen for a long time.
Cast: Ben-Oved Berkovich, Harel Glazer
Instructions to Let Go – (Mexico)
Director / Screenwriter: Gustavo Gamero
Daphne and Mafer meet at a hotel, they quickly become friends and chemistry begins to emerge between them.
Cast: LD Handal, Mafer Marquez
MADA (Mother) – (Jamaica) North American Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Joseph Douglas Elmhirst
In the postcolonial, matriarchal culture of rural Jamaica, a simmering conflict over Luther’s nature surfaces and we are offered insight into two mothers, Faith and Ethel’s conflicting notions about love and protection, meditating on it’s impact on a child who deviates from the norm.
Cast: Asoya Smith, Brenda Farmer, Xavier Alexander-Keating
Night Visions – (England) World Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: William Glass
Two friends drive to a secluded forest and experiment with hypnotism, which triggers vivid dreams and serpentine hallucinations.
Cast: Lily Ashley, Hugo Nicholson, Olivier Huband.
Others – (USA)
Director / Screenwriter: Grace Rex
Others is a collection of surreal vignettes in which people in everyday moments are tethered by an umbilical cord to otherworldly beings.
Cast: Arthur French, Debargo Sanyal, Ann Carr, Sunita Mani
Post Office – (USA) World Premiere
Director: Courtney Loo & David Karp – Screenwriter: Courtney Loo
When a Chinese-American mother and her children come upon a seemingly abandoned little girl, their attempts to help have unforeseen consequences.
Cast: Julie Zhan, Naomi Shih, Ari Shih, Xiaowan Jin
Progressive Touch – (Austria, Netherlands) North American Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Michael Portnoy
Can you fuck to an irregular beat? Progressive Touch depicts three futuristic, absurdist love scenes in which the goal is to “improve” sex by complicating its rhythm and choreography.
Cast: Tizo All, Juan Felipe Amaya González, Marc Philipp Gabriel, Deva Schubert
Returning – (United Kingdom) US Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Lucy Bridger
A retired teacher confronts some unexpected emotions as she struggles through the discomfort of a heatwave.
Cast: Niamh Cusack, Simon Shepherd, David Beames
Signs He Made At Home – (USA) World Premiere
Directors: Charlie Cole, Machel Ross – Screenwriters: Micheal Norton, Machel Ross, Charlie Cole
An outsider artist spends a lifetime creating a world bigger than himself.
Cast: Ian Elton, Elianny McDonald, Chasten Harmon
There – (Taiwan) US Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Wu Yu Fen
In the absence of his children, Grandpa’s Indonesian caregiver is forced to mourn him.
Cast: Chen Shally, Yu Fan Zu Mei, Tsai Ming Shiou
Trammel – (USA)
Director / Screenwriter: Christopher Jason Bell
Dale lives a solitary life in a small town, his only outlet being conversations with the local pharmacist Mohammad.
Cast: Dale Smith, Mohammad Dagman
The Ultimate (By Lou Fescano) – (USA)
Director: Daniel Jaffe – Screenwriter: Daniel Jaffe & Michelle Uranowitz
After the death of her childhood friend Lou, filmmaker Nicole Friedman returns home to find he’s left behind a mediocre script that his family wants her to make in his honor.
Cast: Michelle Uranowitz, Clare McNulty, Lisa Haas, Jonathan Marballi
Vision Of Wonder (Undersyn) – (Norway) North American Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Aleksander Johan Andreassen
Aleksander Johan Andreassen presents a fictional and subjective portrait of his father who is struggling with a visual deficit.
Cast: Rune Andreassen
Young Forever – (United States) World Premiere
Director: Stevie Szerlip – Screenwriters: Stevie Szerlip, Young Lee
A Korean entrepreneur living in Los Angeles is entangled in a pyramid scheme that goes far beyond beauty product endorsement in an elliptical thriller about risk, survival and loss.
Cast: Young Lee, Sorel Carradine, Dana Boulos, Joseph Lopez
A Family That Steals Dogs – (USA)
Director / Screenwriter: John C. Kelley
Strange experiences and realizations lead a grieving artist to reconsider his identity and beliefs in this meditation on loss, family and mental illness.
About A Home – (USA) World Premiere
Directors / Screenwriters: Daniel Chein, Elizabeth Lo
Precious Sarria and her family experienced housing insecurity for over two years. After transitioning into housing, they documented their lives to raise awareness for the rising homelessness in regions surrounding Silicon Valley.
Cast: Precious Sarria
Ain’t No Time For Women – (Canada) US Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Sarra El Abed Producer: Isabelle Grignon-Francke
Tunis, November 2019. On the eve of the presidential election, a group of women is gathered at Saïda’s hair salon, which is transformed into a town square, mirroring the internal turmoil of the country. In this female sanctuary, we get an intimate look at the country’s teenage democracy.
Faraway – (Canada) US Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Aziz Zoromba
After being estranged from his family for his homosexuality, we observe a young Arab man over four seasons from far away as he navigates his solitude – all the while attempting to reconnect with his mother.
Field Resistance – (USA)
Director / Screenwriter: Emily Drummer
Charging scenes of the present with dystopian speculation, Field Resistance blurs the boundaries between documentary filmmaking and science fiction to investigate overlooked environmental devastation in the state of Iowa.
I think it’s enough, isn’t it? – (Israel)
Director / Screenwriter: Emily Shir Segal
Reconstructing one last encounter with Dad.
Ms Curvy – (UK)
Director / Producer: Ghada Eldemellawy
A Ugandan mother tries to navigate her past traumas through participating in the country’s first beauty pageant for plus-size women.
Sleeping with the Devil – (USA)
Director / Screenwriter: Alisa Yang
Based on a recorded Skype exorcism and found footage, the filmmaker confronts her religious trauma growing up in the Evangelical prophetic and deliverance ministry.
Cast: Alisa Yang, Bob Larson
The Length of Day – (USA) World Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Laura Conway
The Length of Day is a collaged essay film that tells an emotional history of socialism in the United States. Filmmaker Laura Conway enacts a cinematic seance using archival documents to communicate with her departed communist grandparents and ask them questions about the end of capitalism. An account of the dreams, struggles, and losses of revolutionaries in the United States.
Unforgivable – (El Salvador)
Director: Marlén Viñayo – Screenwriters: Carlos Martínez, Marlén Viñayo
A ruthless hitman for the18th Street gang serves his sentence in an isolation cell in El Salvador. But in prison, Geovanny is not just guilty of his crimes, but of an unforgivable sin under God and gang: being gay.
Bad Mood – (Italy) North American Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Loris Giuseppe Nese
The mother cares for seniors in their homes, where the ticking clock counts down the working day, between the frightening sounds of the heavy breathing that increase the fear of emptiness…
Cast: Rossella De Martino, Patrizia Scannapiecoro
Friend of a Friend – (France) North American Premiere
Director/ Screenwriter: Zachary Zezima
A young man is sexually assaulted and subdues, punishes, then befriends his own attacker while confronting his past and the ambiguities of sexuality.
Cast: Meera Rohit Kumbhani, Isaac Kessler, Shawn Stoner
Knife Hanging From A Tree – (USA)
Director / Screenwriter: Jihee Nam
Lizard Ladder – (USA)
Director: Ted Wiggin
Three animals caught between planes of existence, and an egg.
Molly Dane – (USA)
Director/ Screenwriter: Ida Lasic
Experience the ritz and glamour of a death at the Dane’s fundraiser.
Opera – (South Korea)
Director / Screenwriter: Erick Oh
Opera is a massive 8K size animation installation project which portrays our society and history, filled with beauty and absurdity.
Papa Sun – (USA)
Director / Screenwriter: Noah Gallagher
A visual and audio mixtape that celebrates the sun, the moon, water, and the beach.
Cast: Noah Gallagher, Nick Knezevich, Em Jiang, Chelsea Garvey
Poise – (Portugal) North American Premiere
Director: Luís Soares / Screenwriters: Luís Soares, Cátia Salgueiro
A man is unable to make a choice and the world comes to a halt. Is the tension of indecision stronger than the fear of mistake?
Return to the Peach Blossom Wonderland – (China, USA) North American Premiere
Directors: Haomin Peng, Yue Huang, Yuchao Luo Screenwriter: Yue Huang
Looking at a China modernized, are we back in such a wonderland described in an ancient fable, The Peach Blossom Spring, or is this high-speed train impelling us to somewhere else?
Something to Treasure – (USA, Canada)
Director: Annapurna Kumar
Warm showers make me see stars.
The Land of Whim – (Poland) North American Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Betina Bozek
The film is an image of a land ruled by a whim. Everything that exists on the planet is unobvious, chaotic, and changes its shapes and properties.
Urges – (USA)
Director / Screenwriter: Angela Stempel
Unleash your urges! Let them take care of you.
White Horse – (UK, China)
Director / Screenwriter: Yujie Xu
The bystander leaves after whispering, they say an accordion could never talk to a white horse.
Desert Air – (USA) World Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: ANDiLAND
A dark journey down the rabbit hole of a turbulent female adolescence.
Letter From Your Far-Off Country – (USA/India)
Director / Screenwriter: Suneil Sanzgiri
Drawing upon a rich repository of images – from digital renderings of Kashmir’s mountains to the textured materiality of 16mm hand-processing and direct animation techniques – ‘Letter From Your Far-off Country’ maps a hidden vein of shared political commitment and diasporic creative expression, linking a poem by the Kashmiri American writer Agha Shahid Ali with interviews with the filmmaker’s father and a letter addressed to Communist Party leader Prabhakar Sanzgiri, who is also the filmmaker’s distant relative.
Mountain Lodge – (USA)
Director / Screenwriter: Jordan Wong
The candle, the myth, the legend. Mountain Lodge.
Morning Sickness in the USA – (USA) World Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Cristine Brache
The director’s grandmother shares the story of being committed to a mental hospital in 1961 after seeing a doctor for inexplicable nausea.
Cast: Juliana Brache, Cristine Brache
Passage – (Germany) North American Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Ann Oren
A foley artist creates sounds for a film featuring a dressage horse and dissolves into his own imitation. Shot on 16mm film, PASSAGE is contemporary and sensual homage to the origin of cinema, with a thrilling performance from queer artist and performer Simon(e) Jaikiriuma Paetau.
Cast: Simon(e) Jaikiriuma Paetau
Piz Regolith – (Switzerland) World Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Yannick Mosimann
A postmodern swiss-tyrolean ensemble ventures into remote mountainous regions, embracing the sonorous variety of local vernaculars. A poetic road movie with stunning shots and an emphatic approach to a new alpine aesthetics.
Cast: Thomas Burger, Gloria Grams, Helmuth Gufler, Ruedi Hählen
Rumi and His Roses – (USA) World Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Navid Sinaki
Using love letters tucked in bootleg DVD menus, a gay Iranian recounts his first relationship and its end.
Cast: Navid Sinaki
Something To Touch That Is Not Corruption Or Ashes Or Dust – (United States)
Director / Screenwriter: Mike Stoltz
Fences, zooms, blastbeats and oscillators search for possibility or perforation as the walls close in.
the gospel according to them – (UK) World Premiere
Director: Bury Leod
the gospel according to them, is an experimental film that explores the phenomenology of faith and its relationship to the Black body.
The Wind – (United States)
Director: Miranda Javid
The rigidity of a historical fact rolls by like clouds, or maybe like cloud-computing. Digital landscapes like desktops, trash cans, and cursors flatten the sensation of what tangibly remains: the invisible pleasure of wind on skin.
Wild Heart 1981 / 2020 – (USA)
Director / Screenwriter: Zach Dorn
While browsing YouTube at the start of the 2020 COVID pandemic, a narrator grabs a camcorder and shares their thoughts about the video platform. The narrator lingers on a video of Stevie Nicks singing “Wild Heart” in the studio of Annie Liebovitz in 1981.
Blackwater – (USA)
Director / Screenwriter: Boise Esquerra
A Native American country music star finally hits rock bottom and is court-ordered into wellness therapy with an offbeat group of misfits on her hometown reservation.
Cast: Kyla Garcia, Branscombe Richmond, Gary Farmer, Carolina Hoyos
Black Kung fu Chick – (USA) World Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Rae Shaw
A feisty young girl from South LA struggles to achieve her dreams of becoming a doctor with the help of her high school science teacher, a martial arts master.
Cast: Taylor Polidore, Peter Boon Koh, PJ Hubbard, Terrance Ellis
Chef Giants – (USA)
Director / Creator / Screenwriter: Troy DeWinne
Two goblins behold and scold the great chef giants.
Cast: Troy DeWinne and Ethan Dirks
Dead End – (Israel)
Director / Creator: Nir Berger – Screenwriters: Ofir Sasson, Nir Berger
In a post-nuclear-war Jerusalem, two teenage bickering siblings travel what’s left of the city in search of their little brother whom they lost in the bombing.
Cast: Ofir Sasson, Gaya Beer Gurevich, Yotam Perel, Guy Shahaf
Early To Rise – (USA)
Director: Alec Cohen / Screenwriters / Creators: Alec Cohen, Mike Cabellon, Adrien Pellerin, Katie Sicking
On the way to a distant planet, three less-than-qualified astronauts are awoken from stasis 90 years too early and trapped inside their hibernation pods. Alone in the endless void, they can’t kill themselves, and they can’t kill each other, so they’ll just have to kill time.
Cast: Mike Cabellon, Adrien Pellerin, Katie Sicking
Hustle: Episode 4 – (USA) World Premiere
Director: Matt Strickland / Creator – Screenwriter: Rekha Shankar
Two gamer best friends battle the everyday Big Bosses of “unequal opportunity” and “crappy day jobs.” In this episode, Nina’s first writing credit may spell “game over” when she realizes the publication isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, while Paige battles her own self-doubt (the biggest baddie of all).
Cast: Rachel Pegram, Bowen Yang, Jordan Myrick, Morgan Phillips
Like in Movies – (Japan)
Director / Creator / Screenwriter: Yoh Komaya
Life is full of twists and letdowns. Live it like a movie.
Cast: Takeo Ito, Eri Mori, Ryota Taniguchi, Hisayasu Fujii
Now is Not the Best Time – (United States) World Premiere
Director: Jacqueline Dow – Screenwriter: Seth Birkan
Alisa gets a chance to win $50,000 by making a half-court shot at a Knicks game but her anxiety quickly derails her when she learns the contest is going to be on TV.
Cast: Betsy Kenney, Kenneth Kimmins, Dan Erickson, Kenneth Kyle Martinez
Quarantine Quarrels: Connecting in Quarantine – (USA)
Creator / Director/ Screenwriter: Sophia Stephens
A woman struggles to maintain her sanity during the 2020 quarantine lockdown.
Cast: Sophia Stephens
Sixteen Thousand Dollars – (USA)
Director: Symone Baptiste – Screenwriters: Brodie Reed & Ellington Wells
A struggling Black college grad wakes up to find that reparations have finally been paid to descendants of slaves in America.
Cast: Brodie Reed, Ellington Wells, Alice Wetterlund, Punkie Johnson
The Anxious Taxidermist – Pilot – (USA)
Director: Jeff Dickamore / Creators / Screenwriters: Jeff Dickamore, Aurora Florence
The story of Marie, a young woman who uses her secret passion for rogue taxidermy to cope with debilitating anxiety.
Cast: Aurora Florence, Shaun Harmon Thompson, Rachael Winegar, Alex Diaz
The Little Broomstick Rider – (Italy) World Premiere
Creator / Director / Screenwriter: Matteo Bernardini
When a nine-year-old boy in 1620s Bavaria goes on trial for witchcraft, a flabbergasted court must decide the child’s fate.
A$$ Level – (USA)
Director: Alison Becker / Screenwriter: Santina Muha
A$$ Level is a comedic music video that celebrates life with a disability while paying homage to 90s dance videos.
Cast: Santina Muha, Lydia Hearst, Travis Coles, Amy Hessler
Best Friend – (United States)
Director / Screenwriter: Cory Reeder
After moving cross-country, a young girl with Down syndrome struggles to fit into her new surroundings.
Cast: Gitane Neil, Kim Kendall, Robert Buscemi, Diana Elizabeth Jordan
Committed – (United States)
Directors: Rachel Handler and Crystal Arnette – Screenwriters: Kara Moulter, Rachel Handler, Melanie Waldman
When Calvin announces that he’s proposing to Leesa…and then they’re moving to the suburbs, Rebecca enlists Dennis’s help to sabotage the proposal and keep their friends around for good.
Cast: Rachel Handler, Jaleesa Graham, Colin Buckingham, Damond McFarland
ENDOMIC – (Canada, US) World Premiere
Directors / Screenwriters / Producers: Camille Hollett-French, Ipek Ensari
An exhaustive meta-analytic review documenting a mysterious “women’s” issue, otherwise known as endometriosis1 (1term used to describe a clinical etiology that thus far has only been identified in primates with a female reproductive system, an anatomical structure of decidedly lower importance in comparison to those of the male primate.)
Cast: AJ Simmons, Ipek Ensari, Rhiannon Collett, Natasha Richards
Feeling Through – (USA)
Director / Screenwriter: Doug Roland
A teen-in-need’s reluctant act of kindness toward a DeafBlind man becomes a night-long journey, creating a bond between them that gives the teen hope for the future.
Cast: Steven Prescod, Robert Tarango
Flying Eggs – (United States)
Director: Sheldon Chau – Screenwriter: Antonio Garcia Jr.
A teenage boy in a Brooklyn apartment interrupts a man on his morning run by throwing eggs out the window.
Cast: Antonio Garcia Jr., Christopher M. Lopes
Full Picture – (USA) World Premiere
Director: Jacob Reed – Screenwriters: Santina Muha, Jacob Reed, Elizabeth Reichelt, Stephen Sanow
Santina has been in a wheelchair since she was six years old. With meetings, hangouts, and classes happening virtually due to the Coronavirus quarantine, she’s experiencing something new: Choosing when (or if) to disclose her disability.
Cast: Santina Muha
Human Helper – (United States)
Director / Screenwriter: Shaina Ghuraya
Human Helper is a sci-fi comedy short about a doctor’s mission to make artificially intelligent human-like helpers not ableist.
Cast: Nicole Evans, Alora Kinley, Anthony Golden Jr., Shauna Turnmire
How Much Am I Worth? – (United States)
Directors: Rachel Handler and Catriona Rubenis-Stevens
This stirring documentary explores the failures of the U.S. health system through the lens of four disabled women.
Cast: Rachel Handler, Andrea Dalzell, Jaleesa Graham, Denise Castelli
I Wish I Never – (USA)
Director / Screenwriter: Shaina Ghuraya
This music video tackles the reality of women with disabilities in abusive relationships.
Cast: Angela Rockwood, Lucas Maschi
My Layers – (Canada) World Premiere
Director / Screenwriter / Producer: Susanne Serres
A dance & art short film about psychosis – from mental illness to full recovery.
Cast: Kym Dominique-Ferguson
On The Outs – (USA)
Director: Jordan Melograna – Producers: Mark Stroh, David Carlson, Anna Guy, Jordan Melograna, Tina Pinedo
On The Outs follows three people with various disabilities, including vision impairment, brain injury, and mental illness, as they reenter the community from Washington State prisons.
Cast: Eldorado Fleetwood Cadillac Brown, Tyrone Gatherings, Kara Moser
Road to Zion – (USA)
Director: Andrew Reid – Screenwriters: Andrew Reid, Jeremy Palmer
A Jamaican immigrant finds his life in LA shaken by forces outside his control as he struggles to understand how far he is willing to go to protect his family.
Safety Net – (Australia) North American Premiere
Director: Anthea Williams / Screenwriter: Julian Larnach
Thirteen-year-old Terry is in emergency care with guardians after his mother’s arrest. Cheeky and living with a disability, he outwits one guardian while finding exactly the connection he needs from the other.
Cast: William Best, Nikki Shiels, Steve Rodgers
Single – (USA)
Director / Screenwriter: Ashley Eakin
A girl born with one arm gets set-up on a blind date with a guy who has one hand, and she is pissed!
Cast: Jordan Wiseley, Delaney Feener
Stilts – (United Kingdom) North American Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Dylan Holmes Williams
A young man tries to escape a surreal dystopia where everyone wears ginormous metal stilts.
Cast: Tom Glynn-Carney, Con O’Neill, Hebe Beardsall, Amanda Hale
The Bin – (Philippines) US Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Jocelyn Tamayao
A father struggles to connect with his son, who grows to love a language not native to his tongue.
Cast: Patrick Silver Padao, Brian Arda, Zernice Mae Cruz, and Juner N. Quiambao
The Butterfly Circus – (USA)
Director: Joshua Weigel – Screenwriters: Joshua Weigel, Rebekah Weigel
The story of a renowned circus troupe traveling through the devastated American landscape at the height of the Great Depression, lifting the spirits of audiences along the way. During their travels they discover a man without limbs in a carnival sideshow, but after an intriguing encounter with the showman, he becomes driven to hope against everything he has ever believed.
Cast: Nick Vujicic, Eduardo Verastegui, Dou Jones
The Co-Op – (USA) World Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Cameron S. Mitchell
A robber’s plan goes horribly awry when he realizes the store he has targeted is full of disabled people.
Cast: Josh Matthews, Emilie Krause, Emma Mitchell, David Mitchell
Union – (USA)
Director / Screenwriter: Julia Neill
A young Civil War surgeon in the Union army visits home with an unexpected companion: a soldier whose arm she amputated.
Cast: Scott Barton, Amanda Forstrom, Zack Rukavina, Evan Casey, Barbara Zablocky
Unspoken – (USA)
Directors / Screenwriters: Emma Zurcher-Long, Julia Ngeow & Geneva Peschka
A groundbreaking point-of-view documentary exploring a non-fluent speaker’s world. 14-year-old Emma challenges societal judgment surrounding autism…one keystroke at a time.
Cast: Emma Zurcher-Long
Verisimilitude – (United Kingdom)
Director: David Proud / Screenwriter: Justin Edgar
A struggling disabled actress gets a job advising a film star how to be disabled for his latest role.
Cast: Ruth Madeley, Esther Smith, Laurie Davidson, Alice Lowe
DEPARTMENT OF ANARCHY
ASMR for White Liberals – (USA)
Director: John Connor Hammond – Screenwriter: Randall Otis
Liberal? White? Guilty as hell? Let me help you get through your tough, tough times with ASMR for White Liberals.
Cast: Randall Otis
Bare Bones – (United States) World Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Meryem Lahlou
Who are we when we all share the same face?
Beyond Noh – (USA/Japan)
Director: Patrick Smith – Screenwriter: Kaori Ishida
Thousands of masks from around the world, at 24 masks per second, brings us along a journey through culture, utility, and deviance.
Catastrophe Anthem – (USA) World Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Christopher Hewitt
The END OF THE WORLD isn’t going to be an apocalyptic explosion. It’s going to be our minds, descending into chaos.
Cast: Tuesday Thomas
Urban Sphinx (Esfinge urbana) – (Spain)
Director / Screenwriter: María Lorenzo
The eye that you see is not an eye because you see it; it’s an eye because he sees you. A tribute to all Street Artists from Valencia.
Everything You Need To Know About Pierogi – (USA)
Director / Screenwriter: Jon Phillips
Everything you need to know about pierogi, and more!
Just a Guy – (Germany)
Director: Shoko Hara – Screenwriter: Simon Thummet
Three women contemplate their relationship with convicted serial killer Richard Ramirez.
Life – (Iran) US Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Mohammad Mohammadian
Life is an experimental super short film about time of life. The duration of this film is only 4 seconds (not minutes) because life is very short and very fast.
Peter the Penguin – (UK)
Director / Screenwriter: Andrew Rutter
Nigel is on his way to meet his partner’s daughter Emily for the first time, and while he hopes to make a big impression, the impression she’ll leave on him is far more permanent.
Cast: Chris Butler, Alex Kapila, Mia Hemerling, Peter Terry
Run That Shit! – (USA) World Premiere
Director: Tristan Kim – Screenwriters: Tristan Kim, Will Allyn Robinson
A Satanic cult lures a no-name rapper into stealing an enchanted chamber pot from his estranged friend and now superstar rapper, Big Tobacco.
Cast: Jerome Beazer, Shaune May, Michael Rendeiro, Jimmie Cummings
The Danger in Front – (Canada) US Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Alexis Chartrand
While observing life outside his shop, a barber thinks he sees someone who is after his life and his family. Confronted with imminent danger, the barber decides to react.
Cast: Bruno Marcil, Guillaume Cyr, Guillaume Lambert
Wild Bill Horsecock – (USA)
Director: Oliver Shahery
Hayes Johnson is a Prius-driving, red-light-running vegan, who sings country, shoots DIY porn…and unfortunately, a lot more. Wild Bill Horsecock dives headfirst.
Cast: Hayes Johnson
DIG (DIGITAL, INTERACTIVE, AND GAMING) 24,483 DREAMS OF DEATH – (United States) World Premiere
Director: Chris Peters – Screenwriter: GPT-2 A.I.
An artificial intelligence (A.I.) computer watched the Mario Bava classic “La Maschera del Demonio” for six straight days, then it made its own disturbing movie.
Cast: Naomi Petit
Homage to Airway – (Denmark)
Director / Screenwriter: Sophia Ioannou Gjerding
While ‘airway’ can be a reference to air travel and human respiration alike, in this context ‘Airway’ is the name of a dog.
Cast: Aoife Slevin
Inside and Outside the Wall – (China) World Premiere
Director / Screenwriter: Yihan Lin
During the 14-day mandatory quarantine in a hotel room after I went back to China, I “raised” some virtual animals in my phone. Somehow, we look very alike.
To Die in the Valley I’ve Loved – (USA)
Directors: Koryn Wicks & Willing Kompany
A dance performance exploring horror movies, why we love them, and the things they reveal about our culture.
Cast: Koryn Wicks