Two best friends put aside their religious convictions to go to the bar for the first time, a woman returns home to stop her mom from becoming the first female Asian-American Republican assemblywoman, and six Jessicas describe what it’s like to be 30 in America in an NFMLA Virtual Film Festival that celebrated up-and-coming female talent in front of and behind the camera.

Powered by Seed&Spark, festival kicked off with InFocus: Female Cinema programming, which began with films that offered a surreal, contemplative and undeniably funny look at one woman’s relationship with her mental health.

The line-up continued with InFocus: Female Cinema’s Shorts Program # 1 – Intuition & Tradition, which focused on telling the stories of women and intuition, unlikely community, the frustrations of motherhood, intergenerational conflict, and challenges traditional narratives about women and sex. The event, held June 6, concluded with InFocus: Female Cinema’s Shorts Program # 2 – Seeking Home, which presented a variety of perspectives from women behind the camera. The stories delved into LGBTQ+ teen homelessness, deafness in Latinx communities, and a suicide in the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe.

NFMLA showcases films by filmmakers of all backgrounds throughout the year in addition to its special InFocus programming which celebrates diversity, inclusion and region. All filmmakers are welcome and encouraged to submit their projects which will be considered for all upcoming NFMLA Festivals, regardless of the InFocus programming.

Here are details about the films and interviews with the filmmakers:

“Crimson Cuffs” directed by Madeline Vail

About Madeline: Vail graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in English from the University of Florida and then spent the next two-and-a-half decades managing husband/artist Edward Walton Wilcox’s career, working on and off as a professional actress, studying screenwriting and producing, as well as raising their three children, Patience, Temperance and Serenity. They inspired the name of her film company, Three Virtues Films. 

About “Crimson Cuffs”: Laurena goes on a blind date at the behest of her pushy mother despite her feeling that “something just doesn’t feel right.” 

Watch the NFMLA interview with Madeline Vail, director of “Crimson Cuffs”: 


Social Handles:

  • Instagram: @ohmissvail

“Red Ladies or Help! My Mom is a Republican” directed by Parida Tanti

About Parida: Parida Tanti began her career working as a game writer in Bangkok before moving to Los Angeles and enrolling as a student in UCLA MFA’s Directing program. 

About “Red Ladies or Help! My Mom is a Republican”: True blue Olivia returns home to stop her mom from becoming the first female Asian-American Republican assemblywoman, but is instead blackmailed into being a part of her mother’s campaign ads.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Parida Tanti, director of “Red Ladies or Help! My Mom is a Republican”: 


Social Handles:

  • Instagram: @helpmymomisarepublican

“The Boxers of Brule” directed by Jessie Adler

About Jessie: Jessie is a documentary filmmaker, cinematographer, and photographer with a great passion for using film as a form of advocacy and vessel for empowerment. 

About “The Boxers of Brule”: Devastated her best friend’s suicide, a young Lakota woman creates a girls’ boxing team to heal her community through sport, sisterhood, and tradition.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Jessie Adler, director of “The Boxers of Brule”: 


Social Handles:

  • Twitter:  @boxersofbruled1
  • Instagram: @boxersofbruledoc, @j_adler

“Deaf Latinos y Familias” directed by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone

About Kathryn: Kathryn Boyd-Batstone is a photographer and filmmaker based in the Los Angeles area who is currently obtaining her MFA in Directing and Cinematographer from the USC School of Cinematic Arts.  

About “Deaf Latinos y Familias”: A documentary about three families who learn sign language after years of not being able to communicate with their children.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Kathryn Boyd-Batstone, director of “Deaf Latinos y Familias”: 

Social Handles:

  • Twitter: @deaf_latinos_org
  • Instagram: @deaf_latinos_org

“Pushing Buttons” directed by Summer Rudas and written by Silvana Gargione

About Summer: Summer Rudas is an Irish/Colombian director/actress/musician from Maui, Hawaii, who uses the eclectic lens of her upbringing as an opportunity to represent the various stories unique to her experiences and cultures. 

About Silvana: Silvana proudly hired a predominately female crew for this production, and wholeheartedly will choose collaboration over competition every time.

About “Pushing Buttons”: A mom who is overworked and underappreciated, Jackie Hensen does her best to “lean in” without falling out.

Watch the NFMLA interview with “Pushing Buttons” writer Silvana Gargione and director Summer Rudas: 


Social Handles:

  • Twitter: @ilvanasay 
  • Instagram: @pushingbuttonsfilm, @ilvanasay, @ssummerwinter 

“Just One Night” directed by Sahar Jahani

About Sahar Jahani: Sahar Jahani is a first generation Iranian-American screenwriter and director raised in Los Angeles. 

About “Just One Night”: Two best friends put aside their religious convictions to enjoy a night on the town where secrets are surfaced and their friendship is put to the test.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Sahar Jahani, director of “Just One Night”:

Social Handles:

  • Twitter: @sahar_jahani_
  • Instagram: @justonenight_film @inthisjahan

“He Wants To Know My Number” directed by Sakinah Iman

About Sakinah: Sakinah Iman is a singer-songwriter, director, actress, educator and spoken word artist of Jamaican and Garifuna descent, from Brooklyn, NY who has devoted her artistic abilities to creating art that engages audiences in sociopolitical change.

About “He Wants To Know My Number”: Sakinah Iman’s spoken word piece challenges society’s double standards of sexual freedom.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Sakinah Iman, director of “He Wants To Know My Number”: 


Social Handles:

  • Twitter: @brilliantchamps
  • Instagram: @brilliantchampions @sakinahluvs