Program 1a: LA Stories

Running Time: 40 min


This program paints a cinematic portrait of Los Angeles, touching on themes of homecoming, womanhood, the artistry of dance and music, and the challenges faced by teachers amidst pressing social issues. CIVIC is a short film that follows Booker on his first trip back home to South Central, L.A. after several years of self-imposed exile. Without any clear motive, or even a warning, Booker returns to the place that holds his origins and the people who shaped him. Framed almost exclusively inside of his car, CIVIC tracks Booker’s fleeting and fragmented encounters around his old streets. Booker spends most of his time with his childhood best friend, Tee. They ride around to liquor stores and lingering in parking lots after closing time. Closeness and distance ebbs and flows between them as they talk about their lives, old and new. The repaved ground between them allows Booker to dive deep into the past, seemingly letting go of the tension in the present. However, we soon realize Booker is avoiding his responsibility to his family members across this trip. Just as he plans his disembark from L.A., he has an unexpected encounter that helps to reframe his perspective in the world. CIVIC is an introspective film, giving life to the wordless exchanges, the mundane and the familiar shorthand of unfettered Black life. HOW TO DEAL WITH FAME When a masculine-presenting actress gets cast as the leading lady in a play where her character dresses the opposite of her, her mother’s arrival for the performance reminds her of the womanhood she lacks.

IN THE SHADOW OF PALMS is an intimate portrait of three lives on the outskirts of Los Angeles. A father, mother and son each tell their individual stories of struggle in the concrete jungle, and the creative ways they find hope in this cinematic documentary. WHEN WE FIGHT In the second largest school district in the United States, 98% of teachers vote to authorize a strike. Watch as one of the largest educator strikes in modern U.S. history unfolds in real-time, highlighting the stories and leadership of some of the women who led it, from union leaders to classroom teachers. From strike vote to contract vote, When We Fight goes behind the picket lines, documenting how and why teachers strike.

Welcome to a thrilling blend of cult films, horror and NSFW dark comedy that explores the eerie world of midnight anxiety. TABERNACLE A wandering tramp falls in with a crowd of religious zealots, led by a bumbling preacher who sermonizes, "Hellfire is a real place!" In the back pew, the tramp imagines grandiose visions of snickering devils and orgiastic torture. The unnamed hero is then baptized in the ocean and does janitorial work for the church, but idiotically causes a fire. There are devils hiding in the carpet! The preacher catches him in the act, resulting in a scuffle which leads to the demise of both. POWER SIGNAL While trying to navigate a city that won’t provide him a bathroom, a delivery worker discovers an unearthly presence infecting women all over New York. THE BUYERS A new homeowner grows suspicious of a neighborly couple eager to help her unpack. MIA AND THE SKELETONS' NIGHT FROM HELL A spec teaser short horror comedy about a punk band dealing with a rival group whose music just so happens to turn anyone who hears it into demons. Now the punk group must band together to survive a literal night from Hell. This is a short teaser film, setting up the larger story. WHAT A TRIP! Two downtrodden strangers go on a vision quest to cure their depression but end up trying to figure out why they have matching visions of a manic, talking wolf-bear named Kevin. 3 DIALOGUES ABOUT THE FUTURE What is it like to navigate our world as an artificially intelligent robot? What is there to learn about homo sapiens in order to become as 'human' as possible? Three pairs of robots take us through their learning process. They track, analyse and draw information by watching people in different life situations. But their algorithmic vision comes in contrast with a meditative, rather poetic dialogue in which they deconstruct and reassemble the definition of humanity as we know it.

A vibrant showcase of LGBTQ+ narratives filled with humor, wit and love, even amid the complexities of war and identity conflicts. IT'S A DATE THAT DARK DAY City councilor Victor mysteriously disappears in Sao Paulo during a day that turns night because of meteorological phenomena and smoke from forest fires. Weeks go by, and Fabio grows closer to Louise. He is a trans man and a caregiver for the elderly. She is ill and living far from her family in France. While aiding Louise (a cis woman), Fabio's relationship with her matures into understanding, affection, and exchange. He becomes her rock. Fabio's memories and dreams offer a closer look at his coming-of-age and his dilemmas about sexuality and gender. The story unfolds in a country with a polarized society and under political and financial turmoil. While Fabio must overcome the recent end of a romantic relationship, Louise feels the pangs of loneliness and her near death. Now Fabio and Louise have each other to rely on and learn to say their goodbyes. “That Dark Day” has won the “Silver Rabbit” award - Audience’s Choice for Best Brazilian Short Film - at MixBrasil Festival of Diversity Culture 2022 INGLORIOUS LIAISONS Tonight is the night for Lucie, Maya and their friends. Even Jimmy came: he is here for Maya and everybody knows it. But at the moment when everything is supposed to happen, Maya and Lucie finds out they have hidden feelings for each other, tender and confused, who trouble to find their place in this evening punctuated by alcohol that flows freely, the compilations that rock and the hormones that boil. UNNAMED Zainab is a successful girl who supports her family financially, but considers herself a boy in spirit, and now she has decided to undergo gender transition, but in addition to her family's opposition and the society's inappropriate view of this issue, she has more difficulties There is something more important to come. she, who played in the country's national volleyball team for a while and is now in the Bartar league, if she does this, she will be removed from professional volleyball forever due to her short stature compared to men, and not only will she lose her professional future, but also her livelihood and her family who are under her care will be in trouble. CUXBALL Sam finds something in the dirt. HOW NOT TO DATE WHILE TRANS is a break-the-fourth-wall, dark comedy that follows the dating life of a black trans woman and the problematic men she meets along the way. Andie searches for romance and self-love but ends with heartbreak.

In the films of this program, boundaries blur between humanity and nature, identities merge with artificial realities, and isolated souls find solace amidst haunting shadows of injustice. STILLNESS IN LABOR In the film Stillness of Labor, Chris Larson replicates 12 full-scale rooms using objects extracted from an abandoned garment factory in Tennessee to mirror the environment of the laborers. When labor was outsourced in 1998, the rural community was left without work in a town centered around industry. Larson recreates the architecture of the factory as a study of the anthropogenic imprint humans leave behind in spaces of heavy repetition. WILD SUMMON A natural history fantasy film, following the dramatic life cycle of the wild salmon in human form. Narrated by Marianne Faithfull. A Bfi short film by Karni and Saul. VISAO DO PARAISO SAFE AT HOME A stop motion short film about two roommates being "safe at home" during the COVID-19 pandemic. JILL, UNCREDITED Prolific background actor Jill Goldston takes centre stage in this unique portrait. Constructed entirely from Jill’s performances – captured fleetingly in everything from Mr. Bean to The Elephant Man – the film is a lyrical journey through popular culture, and a haunting study of a life lived out of focus. THE FOURTH Eager to celebrate the 4th of July, a group of young black and Latino friends experience a police encounter that shatters the meaning of the holiday.

Through the lens of mental health and self-discovery, these short films delve into the intricate tapestry of the mind, exploring subjects such as disability, meditation, alienation, and the power of human connection. APHONIA The daily routine of a boarding school for deaf children is disturbed by the arrival of a new student, who doesn't know sign language. A deaf girl helps him find his way into the new world. Their special friendship will soon be put to the test. The film features deaf and hard-of-hearing children. DUST TO LIGHT A documentary about what is really going on under the surface when we are cleaning. The film listens as four Zen practitioners reflect on the transformative process of cleaning when it is approached as a meditation rather than burdensome chore. DAVEY'S LULLABY A spirited, middle-aged man with Down Syndrome faces an uncertain future when his mother, who lovingly cares for him as he struggles with bouts of dementia and growing physical infirmity, is no longer able to help him. CAN'T HELP MYSELF Estere spends her days by the sea selling ice cream. Trying to find peace, she listens to meditation podcasts and self-help audio-books. Meanwhile, strangers caressed by the summer sun look for the same in tarot cards, fortified drinks, and the Bible. Estere starts to repeat their chit chat, slowly beginning to believe what they are saying. A mournful passage of time where those you’ve met by chance and those you’ve long forgotten are destined to meet. THE GIFT OF COLOR Deeply rooted in their routine of avoidance an adolescent teen and their grandmother unexpectedly find themselves on a path of self-reflection and acceptance. I ONCE WAS LOST One night in 2008, my father, John, got lost in a Boston suburb. LET IT OUT A man suffering from depression finds something unexpected at his lowest point.

Exploring the concept of the female gaze, these films navigate the realms of horror, social conflicts, black culture, and class, offering unique insights through the lens of both female and male directors. BLACK GIRLS PLAY: THE STORY OF HAND GAMES Black Girls Play takes a historical look at the significant effect that Black girls have had on popular culture and Black musical aesthetics. Tracing back centuries, through an examination of African Culture, the film takes a deep dive into the use of hand games and other artistic communications to combat cultural language that was forbidden. The cultural aesthetics of hand games have permeated modern American culture and Black girls are often left uncredited for the impact that they have left on society. PLAY looks to examine this often forgotten world. NEON RAGE Camila, a young aspiring-and-struggling illustrator, meets Madison, a teenage girl, when Camila is hired by Madison’s (very) wealthy family as her tutor. Unlike Camila, Madison is confident, popular, and has never experienced rejection. Though Camila initially dismisses the teenager as vapid and out-of-touch, they connect over their shared struggles as artists at heart. Camila becomes seduced by Madison’s can-do-attitude and naïve drive. The short interaction ultimately sparks a new fire inside of Camila. There’s a low key, slice-of-life feel to the story. It moves us to reflect on the themes of wealth, privilege, and what it takes to be successful. PALESTINE 87 During the First Intifada, Atef is chased by the Israeli army and finds himself trapped in an entrance of a house. The owner, an old lady, hides him in her bath. Atef is surprised that there is another person inside, who helps him not to be arrested. LILY'S MIRROR Lily is out on a dinner date with her boyfriend Bart, expecting a proposal, when he unexpectedly chops off her hand. As Lily works on recovering, she begins to feel phantom pains where her hand used to be, so her doctor gives her a therapeutic mirror box to help with the discomfort. However, as she begins to use the box, she realizes there's a side effect: she can see real phantoms in the mirror. Specifically, she begins to see the obituaries of multiple dead women who experienced recent and mysterious deaths come to life. As Lily learns these women's stories, their lives and deaths begin to intertwine in a journey of self-discovery, female empowerment, and the quest for justice. BEAR An amateur filmmaker who has filmed bears for years, contacts a film school looking for someone to edit his images into a film. A student comes forward. But when she digitises his archive, she discovers that the recordings are not only of bears. A discussion ensues about the power of a gaze and its voyeuristic violence.

Where does humor draw its boundaries? Exploring taboo subjects like the Holocaust, the N-word, or simply reveling in absurdity, these films offer a fresh perspective on what society might deem off-limits for laughter. PROOF OF CONCEPT An aspiring auteur tries coaxing her dad and uncle into financing her first short film but winds up raising more questions than dollars. THE FAVOR "Death doesn't become her." When the Angel of Death comes to collect a woman who is just not ready to go, things take a surprising turn. FINDING FILMAN A documentary team follows a delusional soft-core porn actor who seeks to cross over into the mainstream acting world. SUMMER'S LAST SWIM Magazine quizzes, summer camp crushes, and awkward funerals fill the world of 15-year-old besties Shawna and Juno who spend one last day at the beach as they await the uncertain future of an in-person sophomore year. “Do you really think I’m a cauliflower?" HEADPRICKLES If you are being bothered by intrusive thoughts, such as: How many plastic bags are optimal for packing one banana?; What ensures victory in the skeleton competition?; Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? Or Should I shower with my socks on? Will I face any consequences?--then - that's great! “Headprickles” will give you an answer to at least one of these questions. The film consists of over a dozen animated enigrams connected by the motif of being trapped in a loop of absurdity. In visually colorful labyrinth of observations, the protagonists try to make sense of nonsense - or they stay mindlessly in it. "Headprickles" probably won’t change the world, will not cause a shock or a revolution, but - maybe – it will make audience’s heads a little itchy during the projection? HERITAGE DAY After Evie dresses up like her estranged grandmother, a Holocaust survivor, on “Heritage Day” at school, she becomes increasingly obsessed with this dark part of her family history. THE WORD Billionaires decide to give African American's reparations for slavery...bit there's a catch.

In this series, Latin/Latinx American filmmakers create work in many genres with stories encompassing the past, present, or the future. The filmmakers unite in powerful artistry of portraying unique experiences. CONFESSIONS is a grounded, present-day, one-hour, supernatural thriller franchise, exploring the multi-layered facets of sin and atonement. After committing a sin in heaven, Manuel de Castillo, an angel and former Spanish conquistador, is banished and must roam the earth until fulfilling his penance, which is to compel sinners to carry out a penance of their own, to right their wrongs and cleanse their souls. Fallen angel Manuel has been earth bound for 500-years and today, he initially contacts sinners by using the one thing they all possess -- a phone. RAZÓN DE SER: LUIS C. GARZA is a documentary that chronicles the story of this rare Chicano photographer who uniquely documented activist movements on both coasts, and internationally, during the 1960s and 1970s. Perhaps best known recently for his work in co-curating the blockbuster LA RAZA exhibition at The Autry as part of The Getty's Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, Garza's work spans from the Chicano civil rights movement in Southern California to New York where he captured scenes of his South Bronx neighborhood, demonstrations on women's rights, and rallies by the Young Lords Party who sought to empower Puerto Ricans and other colonized people. It also includes his 1971 travels to Eastern Europe for the World Peace Conference where, as a young Chicano student, he met renowned Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros. Currently, 80-year-old Garza is seeking an institution to properly archive his nearly 8,000 film negatives of his life's work. VIDA Los Angeles – 2053, After a bloody civil war, women of color are captured and sterilized as a form of population control. Vida and a group of resistance fighters are getting ready to escape, but suddenly one of their own is captured, and they’re forced to decide between saving themselves or saving her. ASI ES LA VIDA Danny has the worst day of his life at school. His uncles come over to console him with stories of their worst day. THE GIANT KILLER A Mexican American reporter uncovers a plot to resegregate just a few years after the Civil Rights Movement. His worldview is challenged as he is thrust into a conspiracy too large for him to handle alone. Adapted from the 1978 novel by Richard Vasquez.

In this series, new and seasoned filmmakers create powerful new works that span across comedy, drama, and documentary. THE FIRST COWBOY Based on historical events, this epic story recounts the collision of two powerful and equal cultures, the Mexicans and Americans, told through the eyes and lives of two families, the genteel Southern Palmers and the educated and progressive vaquero ranchers, the Velascos. It narrates the initial mistrust, the slow and reluctant interaction, the affections which formed between them, the agreements made, and the eventual betrayal, followed by dehumanizing domination. All playing out against the backdrop of tumultuous times, culminating in the Texas Revolution and its aftermath. OH GREAT, RILEY'S DEPRESSED AGAIN Riley’s self-medication of choice right now is weed and lots of it. As she sits in her car trying to find the energy to attend an annual brunch hosted by her damn near perfect sister Jasmine, she is visited by Lee, the visual (and more put together) representation of her consciousness. Lee attempts to guide Riley through the brunch, coaching her on how to hide her “crazy” but it all comes to a head when the friend group realizes Riley is, in fact, depressed again. An intervention follows, and Riley is painfully confronted with the reality that no matter how good she thinks she is at hiding her depression, it’s impacting all those that love her. She’s left wondering how is she supposed to handle her pain and the impact it has on the ones she loves the most. THE LOCKET Amy, a troubled young woman answers an ad to live with a kindly woman, Grace, and her very old - and very odd - mother, Ms. Nan. Amy begins to experience strange occurrences in the house and Grace and Ms. Nan are not quite what they seem. BAD HOMBREWOOD Guillermo Casarín, an aspiring young filmmaker, came to the United States from Mexico to pursue his dreams of becoming a film director. Now, he is on the verge of graduating from one of the best film schools in the world, but after experiencing racism in the country and film industry, he finds himself questioning his place in Hollywood. Through compelling interviews--such as Academy Award-winning directors Phil Lord, Lee Unkrich, and Guillermo Del Toro, and Melissa Fumero from the Golden Globe-winning show Brooklyn Nine-Nine--and archival footage, Bad Hombrewood reveals the dark side of Hollywood’s history and the challenges Latinx filmmakers face while trying to succeed in the entertainment industry. PADRE A young priest returns to Sicily to make amends with his dead mother. Grief-stricken, he contemplates the traumatic event that forced him to leave - the mysterious disappearance of his father at sea.

Program Special: Asian Film Series

Running Time: 1 hr 30 min


LIVESTREAM Isabella, an out- of- date girl group idol who is experiencing a double crisis of career and age, decides to make a comeback with live-streaming; she plans to become a Chinese head influencer by selling an emerging medical bio-sector fund in North America. But her live stream spiraled out of control with the intrusion of a hacker who threatens to release a deadly biochemical virus... VARIEGATE In recent years, the mental health of teenagers has received widespread attention. This work is a visually animated short film about hypnotherapy in psychological treatment. It tells the story of a young person with a mental illness and the changes in their inner world during psychological therapy. The imagery of a bird is used to express their inner self, and a post-apocalyptic style is employed to depict the transformation of their mental world. The aim is to guide teenagers to face psychological issues, seek help bravely, self-rescue in a timely manner, and rediscover the colors within their hearts.