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Forgotten Victory
Forgotten Victory directed by Christopher HK Lee

After taking a pause in 2022, the San Pedro International Film Festival (SPIFF) returns February 2 – 5, 2023, for screenings, panels, and events. The film festival kicks off with Christopher HK Lee’s Korean War documentary, Forgotten Victory, followed by a lineup of curated shorts programs, episodic projects, a special environmentally focused documentaries, a screenwriters panel, and a screenplay competition.

SPIFF Festival Director Ziggy Mrkich, said, “It will be wonderful to be back in theaters, bringing films and filmmakers back to San Pedro to the Historic Warner Grand Theatre, and the Terrace Cinemas, and more. The San Pedro International Film Festival celebrates truly independent films, and the film artists that put their lives into making them. We cherish the fact that this film festival brings together the San Pedro business and arts community and film festival fans like no other event does locally and we’ve got another great lineup in store for everyone.”

On Thursday, February 2, Lee’s Forgotten Victory looks back at the precarious evacuation mission undertaken by the SS Lane Victory during the Korean War which saved the lives of over 7,010 men, women, and children. The films screens with Steve Mellin’s Girl at the Top of the Mast, and filmmakers from both films will be on hand for Q&As following the screenings.

Friday, February 3 will feature a Red-Carpet Gala at the Warner Grand Theatre, featuring a screening of Matthew Solomon’s Reimagining Safety. The documentary looks at the challenge of reforming the country’s policing and the systemic problems with incarceration, leaping off of what was revealed following the 202 murder of George Floyd. The film is paired with John Salcedo’s short, Racial Idiocracy and both politically charged films will include in-depth Q&A/panels with the filmmakers participating following the screenings.

On Saturday, February 4, the screenings move to Terrace Cinemas (28901 S. Western Ave). Highlighted among the short’s programs will be SPIFF’s special ECODOX environmentally focused documentary shorts program featuring Cheryl Allison’s award-winning festival favorite Honk. The film is a loving and entertaining look at the unexpected relationship that developed between filmmaker Cheryl Allison and a goose that had been dumped and alone at a park pond in Dallas, Texas. The relationship between the filmmaker and the talkative goose during the pandemic’s lock down became an international sensation. Sunday, February 5 shorts programs will be highlighted with a special program featuring episodes and pilots from episodic projects.

OPENING NIGHT

Forgotten Victory
Director: Christopher HK Lee
Country: United States; Running Time: 70 min
Documentary looks at the Hungnam Evacuation during the Korean War. The SS Lane Victory was deployed to evacuate Korean civilians and United Nations personnel at Wonsan, North Korea taking over 3,800 U.S. troops and 1,100 vehicles that survived the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. After unloading, she safely evacuated 7,010 men, women, and children. When the ship arrived, 7,011 passengers disembarked, as a baby had been born during the voyage. The movie shares some emotional and compelling stories from the Korean War refugees who recall their memories of during the Hungnam evacuation.

Preceded by
Girl at the Top of the Mast
Director: Steve Mellin
Country: United States; Running Time: 20 min
Adapted from Bungy Hedley’s autobiographical book, Girl at the Top of the Mast follows a young woman who serves as the only female crew member on a series of sailing voyages.

FRIDAY GALA SELECTIONS

Reimagining Safety
Director: Matthew Solomon
Country: United States; Running Time: 81 min
Worldwide protests following the 2020 murder of George Floyd included calls to defund or abolish the police until a sharp rise in crime gave politicians and police supporters the fuel they needed to suppress the movement. Unfortunately, a detailed conversation about transforming public safety was never had. In this film, 10 experts discuss how policing and incarceration create more harm than good, why the system persists, and what changes can be made to make everyone safe.

Preceded by
Racial Idiocracy
Director: John Salcedo
Country: United States; Running Time: 13 min
A White Nationalist gets deported to Mexico when it’s discovered he’s an illegal immigrant living a fraudulent identity in the United States.

NARRATIVE SHORTS

Aaron With 2 A’s
Director: Michael Goldburg
Country: United States; Running Time: 17 min
Meet Aaron. He’s starting his 2nd career at age 65… As an actor. What could go wrong?

Act of War
Director: Drew Marquardt
Country: United States; Running Time: 8 min
On the morning of 9/11, two mid-level insurance workers discover a loophole that will void the life insurance policies of everyone who died in the attacks. They can either exploit the loophole or stay silent and risk a crushing payout. What will they do?

Beautiful Violence
Director: Joey Medina
Country: United States; Running Time: 12 min
A powerful and gripping story about a white terminally ill businessman who uses racism to force an African American man he never met before to kill him so his family can receive his life insurance money.

Cold Call
Director: Katherine Cronyn
Country: United States; Running Time: 8 min
Christian, a brilliant businessman, dealmaker, and self-proclaimed master-of-the-universe, receives a phone call and an offer for which he can negotiate no terms.

Doffice
Director: Leclercq David
Country: Belgium; Running Time: 20 min
An old guy works in the same office, every day. But one day, a young colleague arrives and turns his world upside down.

Forgive Me, Father
Director: Christian Carreira
Country: United States; Running Time: 12 min
An aging pastor’s faith is put to the test when he hears a devastating confession.

Guardian
Director: Christy Lee Hughes
Country: United States; Running Time: 13 min
Gabby, a dysfunctional guardian angel struggling with addiction, fails miserably at her job of protecting her human assignment, Derrik from the dangers of living on Earth. After another mishap, he fires her which sends her reeling, and revealing to Derrik what led her to this low point.

Gypsy Rose Leezinski
Director: Lucia Sherman
Country: United States; Running Time: 9 min
Luckless with the ladies, Max seeks the answer to his lonely life from a suspect soothsayer, who sends him on a journey where he faces trials that challenge the gypsy’s veracity as well as his own resolve.

Just People
Director: Beverly Batzel
Country: United States; Running Time: 10 min
Four friends attempt to rewrite history after a high school reunion.

Lady In Ermine
Director: Donna DiGiuseppe
Country: United States; Running Time: 8 min
Lady In Ermine dramatizes the day in which Sofonisba Anguissola found her inspiration as a portraitist amidst the occupation of her land by a foreign ruler – the ruler she would one day capture in paint.

Morena
Director: Nicole Mairose Dizon
Country: United States; Running Time: 8 min
After an insecure folk artist seeks out skin whitening cream to cope with everyday life, she must race to reverse its terrifying supernatural side effects.

The Negative
Director: Tommy Bentz
Country: United States; Running Time: 22 min
A struggling writer finds a fabled “Cabin of Success” in the woods, where anyone who stays there becomes everything they’ve ever wanted. But before his dream is realized, he comes face to face with the answer to the question: What would you sacrifice to be successful?

Ollie and the Scary Story
Director: Stacie Hawkins
Country: United States; Running Time: 7 min
When 10-year-old Ollie asks his smart speaker to tell him a scary story, he soon finds that the program will stop at nothing to finish what it started.

Petals of a Rose
Director: Dylan Crumpler
Country: United States; Running Time: 15 min
A woman with dissociative identity disorder struggles to prevent her parts from getting triggered on Valentine’s Day.

Secret Honor
Director: Kevin James Hogan
Country: United States; Running Time: 22 min
Victor, a tough ex-boxer, and his friend, Demarcus, a hot young comic, are shooting the breeze, waiting to pick up some Laker tickets from Demarcus’s friend. When Victor pries out of Demarcus the true identity of his friend, a laid-back afternoon in LA turns into a grim, comic standoff between old foes.

selfie
Director: Joel C Lopez
Country: United States; Running Time: 5 min
While going through a bad break up, Remi finds happiness taking pictures of other couples fighting and while doing so she runs into another person who is doing the same thing.

The Tale of Captain Fortyhands
Director: Kyle Farmer
Country: United States; Running Time: 15 min
When a washed-up pirate captain is threatened by a mysterious new recruit, he’s forced to question his life of piracy.

With Joyful Ring
Director: Gary Karapetyan
Country: United States; Running Time: 12 min
A man struggling with depression longs for a joyful connection during the holiday season.

DOCUMENTARY SHORTS

Beyond Homeless: Finding Hope
Director: Sean Sciavolin
Country: United States; Running Time: 37 min
Featuring interviews with individuals currently experiencing homelessness and formerly homeless, homeless advocates, service providers, policy professionals, experts in addiction and mental illness, law enforcement, political leaders, and homelessness innovators, Beyond Homeless: Finding Hope is an exploration of what’s driving the homelessness crisis in California, with a focus on San Francisco, and an in-depth study of an alternative approach that has reversed what had been a growing crisis in San Antonio, Texas. Through contrasting the two approaches, Beyond Homeless offers a vision and new hope with real solutions for San Francisco—and beyond.

Dues
Director: Michael R.L. Begay
Country: United States; Running Time: 15 min
Michael R.L. Begay’s Documentary follows street Artist Dues through his one-month residency in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The Journey of Tiak Hikiya Ohoyo (Standing Pine Women)
Director: Mark Williams
Country: United States; Running Time: 48 min
The inspiring story of a female stickball team from a small Choctaw community in Mississippi and their quest to win their first ever championship in the World Series of Stickball.

Listening
Director: Jonathan Moore
Country: United States; Running Time: 3 min
A short documentary/experimental film that gives a lyrical account of what it’s like to be hearing-impaired.

Not Your Average Neighbour
Director: Chee Wei Tay
Country: Australia; Running Time: 8 min
A Short Documentary about Graffiti arts and culture, told through the perspective of a street artist, this film brings audiences into the controversial world of Graffiti and Street Art. a world where the public perception of the craft often borderlines between artistry and a public nuisance.

Tsiiyééł (Hair Bun)
Director: Shanique Yazzie, Hailee Bekis, Austin Jimmy
Country: United States; Running Time: 4 min
A Diné (Navajo) teenager is feeling down. She decides to go on a run wearing her Tsiiyééł, a traditional Diné hair bun. On her run, she is followed by a doppelganger — a darker version of herself. In the end, she must draw strength from her culture to overcome her identity conflict and embrace who she is.

ECO DOX

Climate Emergency: Feedback Loops
Director: Susan Gray
Country: United States; Running Time: 13 min
Subtitled in 23 languages and narrated by Richard Gere, Climate Emergency: Feedback Loops is a series of five short films, featuring twelve leading climate scientists, that explores how human-caused emissions are triggering nature’s own warming loops.

Evidence of Us
Director: James ‘Q’ Martin
Country: United States; Running Time: 12 min
This film looks at how people can recreate responsibly in the national parks and monuments by practicing Leave No Trace principles; emphasizes how reusable water bottles, mugs, and reusable bags fit into Leave No Trace ethics. Additionally, it looks at how systemic issues can help to protect national parks and monuments for future generations through legislative measures to ban the sale of bottled water and reduce single-use disposals throughout the National Park Service.

Honk
Director: Cheryl Allison
Country: United States Running Time: 47 min
Honk is a loving and entertaining look at the unexpected relationship that developed between filmmaker Cheryl Allison and a goose she happened upon in a park in Dallas, Texas. Dumped and alone at a pond at the park, Honk spent his days dodging cars, begging for food, and looking for friends. However, when Allison came across the talkative goose during the pandemic’s lock down and social distancing, this unlikely pair turned to each other for companionship.

Saging the World
Directors: Rose Ramirez, Deborah Small, David Bryant
Country: United States; Running Time: 21 min
“Saging” has gone mainstream. This viral trend is now common in movies, TV shows, social media, and cleansing rituals—people burning sage bundles in the hope of purifying space and clearing bad energy. Instead of healing, the appropriated use of saging in popular culture is having a devastating impact.

Surviving the Pacific Northwest: A Bumblebee Tale
Director: Wyndee King
Country: United States; Running Time: 20 min
A short film focusing on native Bumblebees found in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

Without Water
Director: Jonathan Hyla
Country: United States; Running Time: 20 min
Without Water documents the ongoing dispute between the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP) and various stakeholders in Long Valley, California. Filmed by acclaimed director Jonathan Hyla and narrated by actor David Chokachi, the film dives into LAWDP’s plan to reduce or eliminate irrigation allotments on leased lands in the Eastern Sierra’s Long and Little Round Valleys. Now under pressure from climate change and the ever-growing needs of Los Angeles County, a group of ranchers, environmentalists, and indigenous tribal members are coming together to face the prospect of an uncertain future.

EPISODICS

The Cloaked Realm “The Knight and the Queen”
Directors: Marisa Cohen, Peter Issac Alexander
Country: United States; Running Time: 31 min
Based on the 1899 short story “Moxon’s Master,” The Knight and the Queen explores questions that impact us today such as “Can a machine really think?” and “Could an A.I. be prone to violence?”

How to Hack Birth Control
Director: Sassy Mohen
Country: United States; Running Time: 26 min
Told through the sharp wit and perk charm of Ruth, the narrator, How to Hack Birth Control takes on everything ex-ed never told you.

The Leap
Director: Zoe Loftowski
Country: United States; Running Time: 10 min
A man drops a woman off after a romantic night together — planning never to see her again – but gets a talking-to from the sweater she’s left behind in the car.

Slug Seeks Shell, Episode 1
Director: Amanda DeSimone
Country: United States; Running Time: 5 min
A garden slug searches the seashore for a shell.

SCREENPLAYS

Die Ahle (The Awl)
Written by Adam Kelly Morton
A spy series in ten episodes plus a thrilling season finale: Eve Wainwright, a British-born, élite spy in pre-WW2 England, carries out deadly missions for the Nazis against the very people she grew up with—all the while unaware of her Jewish heritage.

Man’s World
Written by Al Julian
In a world of the future where women are a rare and precious commodity, a 16-year-old boy teams up with a beautiful transsexual to save his little sister from a life of sexual slavery.

Recess Duty Pilot- A Satisfactory School
Written by Rani Deighe Crowe
An “Upstairs Downstairs” fast-paced mockumentary-style workplace comedy about the teachers and students at a small midwestern town elementary school, where the oversexed adults and the cruel kids keep secrets from each other.

The Angario Project
Written by Michael John Dunker
When the US government bans military assault rifles, they created a federal task force called the Angario Project to confiscate these now illegal weapons. Most gave up their weapons peacefully. Some did not.

The Devil’s Grave
Written by Steven Ray Aguilera
A beheaded woman is found on a perfect circle of dead grass in a San Francisco park. Buried beneath are found more bodies, human and animal, extending back to when life on Earth began. What is the source of this ancient magnet for death and how do investigators defeat its mysterious and deadly source?

Three Rivers Meet
Written by Craig Stewart
In 1869, a young Native American woman receives a vision. Pursuing her vision, she flees her newly formed reservation and begins a harrowing journey of intrigue, temptation, and a love beyond her imagination.

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