The Cigarette Surfboard directed by Ben Judkins
The Cigarette Surfboard directed by Ben Judkins

Previously known as the Deep in the Heart FF for the past 7 years, The Waco Independent Film Festival reveals its first lineup under the new name. The festival will combine offline in-theatre screenings at July 18-21, followed by an online encore at July 21-27.

Waco Independent Film Festival teams up with Waco Surf and Keep Waco Beautiful for the Opening Night presentation of Ben Judkins’ The Cigarette Surfboard. Troy Paff’s Texas Music Revolution will be the Closing Night selection, concluding a day of special presentations including Linda Broocks’ human trafficking documentary Unleashed, and a block of horror film shorts.

The screening schedule will include 140 films (9 features, 125 shorts, 6 music videos). 
 
Waco Independent FF co-founders and directors Samuel Thomas and Louis Hunter, said, “For 7 years, the Deep in the Heart Film Festival has become known and appreciated around the country as a must-experience stop on the tour for indie filmmakers, and a popular ‘save the date’ destination for film fans. However, as our reputation grew, so did the ties to our beloved city. So, it made perfect sense to rename ourselves with what are our central pillars in every decision we make: Waco, Independent, and Film. We have added more films, and we’ve added an additional screening space. We will continue to innovate, streamline, and come up with new ways to assist our filmmakers with their development as artists, and work to encourage them to come back to town and shoot their next project here in Waco, Texas.”

Following the film festival’s now-famous Red Carpet entrances bringing Hollywood-style glamour and excitement to the Palladium (729 Austin Avenue), the Opening Night Red Carpet Gala evening will feature the U.S. Premiere of Ben Judkins’ The Cigarette Surfboard. Co-presented by both Waco Surf and Keep Waco Beautiful at the Hippodrome Theatre, the film tells the story of an impassioned surfer creating a functional surfboard with 10,000 littered cigarette butts collected in just an afternoon from California beaches. That surfboard has become a symbol for a global campaign to inspire ocean and beach cleanup stewardship, as well as holding Big Tobacco accountable for their toxic, plastic waste.

Saturday will be highlighted by three very different film experiences. Linda Broocks’ documentary Unleashed focuses on survivors of sex trafficking, examining the social forces that lure and entrap young women into “the Life,” the difficulty in getting out, and the hurdles they must overcome to become survivors. The screening will be co-presented by Unbound Now and will feature a Q&A highlighting the issues brought up in the film. A special horror-themed shorts package, Fright Night, will include Vito Trabucco’s experimental thriller Bottom Feeder about the lowest form of species at the bottom of the sea, Thomas Schultz’s The Pencil about a struggling artist who discovers a unique magical pencil that can solve all her problems by bringing her drawings to life – until it unleashes a malevolent demonic creature. Festival alums Matthew Barber and Nathaniel Barber return with Shelter Half about a naturalist investigating the disappearance of a mother black bear while camping in a remote valley, and Ed McCulloch’s Wretched about a man in the 1800’s Utah Territory being nursed back to health after barely surviving an attack on his wagon train. However, the man begins to distrust his rescuer, and as his condition worsens, delirium and paranoia creep in. 
 
Troy Paff’s Texas Music Revolution is the Closing Night selection. The film focuses on Joshua Jones, the general manager of the Dallas-based radio station KHYI-FM, as he struggles in the wake of the recent pandemic to produce the silver anniversary of a beloved roots music festival. The film includes stories and performances by popular music artists Ray Wylie Hubbard, Charley Crockett, Joshua Ray Walker, The Derailers, and Kiefer Sutherland.

Highlights among the additional independently made features coming to Waco include H. Nelson Tracey’s dramedy Breakup Season, which stars The Walking Dead’s Chandler Riggs as a young man who brings his girlfriend to his rural Oregon hometown to introduce her to his family, only for things to go terribly wrong upon arrival. Zachary Burns’dark comedy Hell Hath No Fury which follows a husband and wife who separately and unknowingly plot to murder each other on the same fateful night. Vivian Kerr’s award-winning Scrap is about the highwire act that a young single-mom (Vivian Kerr) goes through as she struggles to hide her homelessness from her estranged brother Ben (Anthony Rapp) and his wife (Lana Parrilla). 

Dancing in A-Yard directed by Manuela Dalle
Dancing in A-Yard

Additional documentaries include Manuela Dalle’s Dancing in A-Yard following a modern dance choreographer detailing the journey of several inmates incarcerated in a US prison, as they create and prepare for their own performance. Michael Afendakis’ We Rise focuses on a high school mock trial team as they navigate the defense and prosecution positions of a murder case.

Waco Independent Film Festival’s celebrated themed shorts programs include blocks titled “Baggage Claim”, “Bizarre Bazaar”, “Center Stage”, “Duty Bound”, “Family Matinee”, “If That’s What You’re Into”, “Heists and High Jinks”, “Landscapes”, “Local Flavor – Texas”, “Modern Love”, “Resilient”, “Ride Or Die”, “This Is Bigger Than Us”, and “Who I’m Supposed To Be”.

2024 Waco Independent Film Festival Official Selections:

Opening Night

The Cigarette Surfboard
Director: Ben Judkins
Country: United States; Running Time: 93 minutes
An impassioned surfer creates a functional surfboard with 10,000 littered cigarette butts collected from California beaches. The surfboard becomes a global platform to spark ocean stewardship and the symbol of a grassroots campaign to hold Big Tobacco accountable for their toxic, plastic waste.

Closing Night

Texas Music Revolution
Director: Troy Paff
Country: United States; Running Time: 103 minutes
The covid pandemic of 2020-21 was perhaps the greatest disruption to American society and pop culture in this country’s history. This documentary follows Joshua Jones, general manager of Dallas-based indie Americana radio station KHYI-FM, as he struggles to produce the silver anniversary of a beloved roots music festival in the wake of that pandemic. Against a backdrop of stories and performances by Texas music artists Ray Wylie Hubbard, Charley Crockett, Joshua Ray Walker, The Derailers, and Kiefer Sutherland, Joshua’s heroic journey mirrors the themes that express the genre of Texas Country Music itself: Dedication, heartbreak, faith, and redemption.

Narrative Features

Breakup Season
Director: H. Nelson Tracey
Country: United States; Running Time: 102 minutes
A young man brings his girlfriend to his rural Oregon hometown to introduce her to his family, only for things to go terribly wrong upon arrival.
 
Hell Hath No Fury
Director: Zachary Burns
Country: United States; Running Time: 75 minutes
A husband and wife separately and unknowingly plot to murder each other on the same fateful night.
 
Old Righteous Blues
Director: Muneera Sallies
Country: South Africa; Running Time: 99 minutes
A young man is forced to confront his limitations, face the ghosts of the past and rise above establishment constraints to unite a fractured community and realise his life-long dream of leading his town’s Christmas Choir Band (Kerskoor) to its former glory. However, he is to pay the price for the path his father chose twenty years ago, which split the fabulous Old Righteous Blues Kerskoor in two and fractured the community. For the next twenty years, pitched street battles raged, loyalties were tested, families were divided, and the two rival bands marched defiantly under their own banner, each claiming ownership of the town’s Kerskoor, with devastating and violent consequences for the community.
 
Scrap
Director: Vivian Kerr
Country: United States; Running Time: 105 minutes
After getting laid off, a young single-mom (Vivian Kerr) finds herself living in her car and struggles to hide her homelessness from her estranged brother Ben (Anthony Rapp) and his wife (Lana Parrilla). 

Additional Documentary Features

Dancing in A-Yard
Director: Manuela Dalle
Country: United States; Running Time: 72 minutes
A documentary that follows a modern dance choreographer detailing the journey of several inmates incarcerated in a US prison, as they create and prepare for their own performance. Hearing their stories we understand the need for focus and creativity in a hostile arena.
 
Unleashed
Director: Linda Broocks
Country: United States; Running Time: 73 minutes
This film, about survivors of sex trafficking, examines the social forces that lure and entrap young women into “the Life,” the difficulty in exiting the Life, the hurdles victims have to overcome to become survivors, and the courage, grit, and determination of those who do.
 
We Rise
Director: Michael A Afendakis
Country: United States; Running Time: 64 minutes
Driven to the cause of social justice, Sofia, Jessica, Sammi, Angela, Celia and Lucas, the impressive rising stars of a high school mock trial team from the heart of Silicon Valley, navigate the defense and prosecution positions of a murder case while sharing their personal challenges, crises, and long fought for victories that have molded them into the strong, powerful, resilient young adults they have now become.

Short Films

[subtext]
Director: Erin Brown Thomas
Country: United States; Running Time: 11 minutes
Two people on a first date mask and ignore their insecurities until an event forces them to say what they’re really thinking.

A Beginner’s Guide to Giving Up
Director: Jeremy Pion-Berlin
Country: United States; Running Time: 12 minutes
A struggling painter decides to give up on her dreams for graduate school. Awaiting the acceptance or rejection letter, spirited debates with her peers unfold, delving into the eternal conflict of following one’s artistic dreams versus choosing a more logical path. But amidst it all an enigmatic magic glides through the air, whispering secrets only the cosmos comprehends.
 
Absolute Pitch
Director: Chris Carpenter
Country: United States; Running Time: 11 minutes
A cryptic note from a young musician’s grandfather sends him on a terrifying journey he never expected.
 
Animals
Director: Jordan K. Paul
Country: United States; Running Time: 15 minutes
Months into his move to Los Angeles from the US Virgin Islands, Jordan and his White roommate Tyler are stopped by the young LAPD Officer, Miller. Tyler gets into a fight with the officer and is detained. Officer Phillips arrives and targets Jordan, leading to both officers becoming focused on him. Phillips gives Jordan a targeted racist farewell. Jordan is changed forever after this crash course in the American policing system.
 
Audition
Director: Glenn Maxwell
Country: United States; Running Time: 4 minutes
A man auditions for a role in a commercial, it doesn’t go as he planned.
 
Barbette + Fontaine
Director: John-Carlos Estrada, Zak Zeh
Country: United States; Running Time: 15 minutes
A century apart, two drag icons unite through art, resilience, and a shared legacy of self-expression and freedom. Leading the cast is Cynthia Lee Fontaine of RuPaul’s Drag Race. 
 
Baseball Behind Barbed Wire
Director: Yuriko Gamo Romer
Country: United States; Running Time: 32 minutes
Baseball Behind Barbed Wire tells the story of the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans, through the uncommon yet popular lens of baseball, America’s national pastime. 
 
Bear Insurance
Director: Austin Parkman
Country: United States; Running Time: 8 minutes
A gullible old man is put to the test when a crafty salesman knocks on his door and tells him he needs bear insurance.
 
Big George
Director: Jamie Effros
Country: United States; Running Time: 16 minutes
When a middle-aged actor gains too much pandemic weight to pull off his survival gig as a George Clooney impersonator, he finds himself trying to justify to his nine-year-old daughter— and to himself— why he’s still chasing his dream.
 
Bisected
Director: Danny Pineros
Country: United States; Running Time: 8 minutes
A couple witnesses a paranormal event that separates them into two distinct dimensions.
 
Bodily Renaissance
Director: Claudia Lee
Country: United Kingdom; Running Time: 7 minutes
An experimental poem-short exploring one woman’s journey with body image and dysmorphia through the lens of Renaissance women’s forms. The protagonist’s dark struggle with self-loathing from societal pressure transforms, showcasing the power of rejecting external expectations in place of radical self-acceptance.
 
Bonding
Director: Luke Rex
Country: United States; Running Time: 13 minutes
A solitary figure at an empty bar, CIA clinical and forensic psychologist, Dr. John Flemington, is planning to visit his girlfriend in Mexico when he is pressured by mysterious underground operatives to join them on a secret mission. He really doesn’t have a choice. 
 
Bottom Feeder
Director: Vito Trabucco
Country: United States; Running Time: 3 minutes
Bottom Feeder is an experimental thriller that takes place in a dream. Or, more like a nightmare. Bottom Feeders are the lowest form of humans or the lowest form of species at the bottom of the sea. Bottom Feeder takes a look at how we must appear to anything looking down at us or how we look inside the fishbowl just being watched. It’s no mistake the main character’s name is Pageant, a person who’s constantly being watched. 
 
Break
Director: Sam Henderson
Country: United States; Running Time: 9 minutes
Shot on Black & White 35mm and set in the 60s, Break is the story of a young drummer who is looking to calm his nerves in front of two veteran musicians and fulfill his dream of being a drummer in a jazz trio.
 
Burleson
Director: Drake Potts
Country: United States; Running Time: 14 minutes
In the late 1890s a young man is traveling through West Texas with his father when he comes face to face with the untold truth about how his mother died.
 
Cages
Director: Johnny Russell
Country: United Kingdom; Running Time: 18 minutes
With Maggie’s pet shop days away from foreclosure, desperation drives her down a path of unlawful activity to save her beloved animals.
 
Caught On Tape
Director: Alexander Jeffery, Chris Alan Evans
Country: United States; Running Time: 13 minutes
When Finn can’t get a word out in front of his high school crush, his playground pals convince him that watching a porno tape will solve all his problems.
 
The Choice
Director: Paul Hendy
Country: United Kingdom; Running Time: 13 minutes
A haunting, psychological drama, which tells the story of a famous TV personality, whose life and career implodes when a mysterious visitor comes to call…
 
Close Your Eyes 
Director: Zach Smith
Country: United States; Running Time: 10 minutes
A man is pushed to the limits of his instincts for the sake of the greater cause. 
 
Clownfish
Director: Clayton Henderson
Country: United States; Running Time: 11 minutes
Frank and Elle decide to meet in real life after connecting on a dating app… That’s when things get weird!
 
The Coyote Sisters
Director: Autumn Harrison, Tory LeClair
Country: United States; Running Time: 10 minutes
In the winter of 1883, two hare-brained sisters must figure out how to move a fiendishly heavy corpse after an accident involving a bearskin and their daddy’s rifle.
 
Credit
Director: Patrick Kirton, Susan Kirton
Country: United States; Running Time: 15 minutes
An aging, once major movie star contemplates his relevancy in Hollywood. He meets a young mega popstar, in a story of personal redemption.
 
Cycles
Director: Will Darbyshire
Country: United States; Running Time: 14 minutes
When a dinner with the new neighbours goes awry, an antisocial and severely codependent couple reignite the spark in their relationship by covering their tracks.
 
Deliberate
Director: Marta Roncada
Country: United States; Running Time: 14 minutes
To get closure on her past, a young woman named Alice pays a surprise visit to her former teacher and lover, Mr. Jacobs. Now grown up and disillusioned with the reality she had been made to believe in, Alice demands an apology from Mr. Jacobs and threatens to come forward with her story. Mr. Jacobs pushes back against Alice’s accusations and draws on their shared connection to reinforce his narrative of the relationship they shared nine years ago. 
 
Don’t Mock the Donkey
Director: Samin Saadat
Country: United Kingdom; Running Time: 20 minutes
A refugee washed ashore finds himself in the body of a donkey and captured by a man who tries to sell him for labor as a packhorse.
 
The Door
Director: Alexander Seltzer
Country: Canada; Running Time: 14 minutes
A year after their daughter’s disappearance, Kara and Felix struggle to move on in their own ways as their marriage falls apart around them. But when a mysterious door appears in her kitchen, Kara becomes obsessed with uncovering what lies behind it at any cost. Even as it threatens to reopen old wounds.
 
Eating 38 Cheeseburgers
Director: Andrew Schwab
Country: United States; Running Time: 8 minutes
It’s burgers all the way down.

Fast Food
Director: Felicia Manning
Country: United States; Running Time: 10 minutes
Fast Food is a dramedy short film exploring young love, heartbreak, and the power of friendship. When a teenage girl in love expects a fun night with her boyfriend, she winds up on an emotional roller coaster that only friendship can save.
 
Father Figures
Director: Alessandro Chille
Country: United States; Running Time: 14 minutes
Harold tragically lost his son years ago in a horrible accident. Unable to cope with the pain, he has taken on a life of pretend, spending the intervening years working as a father-for-hire for young men, standing in for their deceased dads at major life events and family functions. 
 
Final Demand
Director: WR Saunders
Country: United Kingdom; Running Time: 14 minutes
Grace Ridhi turns up to Mr Freeman’s house to demand he pay for all the overdue bills he owes the council. Mr Freeman prefers a more spiritual approach to such things.
 
Floodplain
Director: Samuel Diaz Fernandez
Country: United States; Running Time: 21 minutes
Austin residents relive their memories of a 2013 catastrophic flood in Onion Creek, which was a once-thriving community, but now scarred by disaster. Ten years later, they are determined to prevent history from repeating itself.
 
Game Show
Director: Fei Chen
Country: China; Running Time: 11 minutes
In the world of black and white, a red box suddenly appears, and those who are close to the box will enter a world of colour, while three mysterious people also appear in the black and white world desperately searching for the whereabouts of the box.
 
Good Grief
Director: Ash Blodgett
Country: United States; Running Time: 8 minutes
In search of closure, a young woman attempts to spread her father’s ashes on a remote sea cliff, but an unexpected encounter leads her to the only person who might just understand her grief.
 
Grieving
Director: Chris Chi
Country: United States; Running Time: 18 minutes
Diane, an aspiring actress looking for work, finds herself in the office of psychiatrist Dr. Hiller. As part of a ground-breaking if controversial study, Dr. Hiller hires Diane to role play as the deceased partner of one of his clients. Desperate for work, Diane accepts the job and finds herself in a position where she must act out a scenario in which to bring emotional closure to someone else’s pain. 
 
The Heart of Texas
Director: Gregory JM Kasunich
Country: United States; Running Time: 14 minutes
An aspiring country singer stuck in the paycheck-to-paycheck grind, gets big news that she’s a radio contest finalist while finishing her shift at a diner. She must race to the station to sing for a hometown country music hero in hopes of winning the opening act spot on his upcoming tour. In a chaotic dash to the studio, she collides her car into an undocumented worker who refuses medical care or police assistance out of fear of being discovered and deported. The two engage in a struggle, each in pursuit of their own American dreams. In the end, they do the only thing they know how to do: fend for themselves.
 
Hello?
Director: Mac Montero
Country: United Kingdom; Running Time: 3 minutes
It’s the 90s in London. During her lunch break, a businesswoman calls her boyfriend for phone sex. It doesn’t quite go to plan.
 
Help Is… on the Way?
Director: Jason A. White
Country: United States; Running Time: 8 minutes
A cynical patient finds himself at a crossroads with his therapist. The advice she gives may save him but could have far reaching consequences.
 
Hen Do
Director: Alia Ghafar
Country: United Kingdom; Running Time: 2 minutes
En-route to her hen weekend, bride-to-be Faye kills the vibe with a bombshell confession.
 
The Hereafter
Director: Ryan Noufer
Country: United States; Running Time: 22 minutes
Olive’s father wants his terminally ill daughter to be buried in a Selfie Casket – a product that allows the deceased to keep posting to their social medias from beyond the grave. However, Olive simply wants her ashes spread with her late mother’s.
 
Ice Cream Shop Girls
Director: Kyra Boldrighini
Country: United States; Running Time: 19 minutes
While spending a day at the mall, Dani, an aloof teen, runs into her rowdy guy friends. She drags her impressionable little sister, Bella, along with her as she hears and sees things she shouldn’t. The facade Dani puts up in front of the boys is slowly overtaking her true self. Bella’s relationship with her sister is disintegrating. A mentor figure, Mikayla, tries to lend a hand. Unfortunately, the sisters come to learn the hard way that they can’t keep their innocence from melting away.
 
Into the Thicket
Director: Devany Greenwood
Country: United States; Running Time: 12 minutes
A young woman struggles with her fractured home life, failing to find common ground with her volatile yet emotionally repressed mother. Longing for a maternal figure, she continues to be haunted by visions of a mystical woman, and soon, dream intertwines with reality as she discovers a deeper connection to the mysterious lady of the woods.
 
Introvert Club
Director: Vered Rodriguez
Country: United States; Running Time: 12 minutes
A reserved, introverted writer’s path collides with an unstoppable, fiery, extroverted actress who makes it her mission to coax the writer’s inner extrovert into the spotlight. As their journey unfolds, the writer needs to figure out if her love of the craft outweighs her fear of socializing. 
  
Just A Friend
Director: Courtney Deelen
Country: Canada; Running Time: 15 minutes
Sometimes the hardest part of coming out is not knowing how your loved ones will react. Just a Friend is a story of courage, self-discovery, and the bond between mother and daughter proving that when it comes to family, love is love and fear is forgettable.
 
Just Laugh
Director: Kemp Brinson
Country: United States; Running Time: 16 minutes
A small-town community theater attempts a fiendishly difficult and dangerous production. The mayhem bares the heart of a community and speaks to the importance of laughter and escape.
 
Justus: Seaghan Destroy
Director: Clem McIntosh
Country: Canada; Running Time: 9 minutes
When unknown foes burn his truck and steal his snowmobile, brawler turned farmer Seaghan Allan embarks on an action-packed quest for justice across the snowy forests and potato-laden hills of lawless Russet County, New Brunswick, Canada.
 
Kin
Director: James Waterhouse
Country: United Kingdom; Running Time: 8 minutes
In a scorched lawless future, a mother with a baby attempts to steal supplies from a dangerous gang of survivors. She’s soon exposed and must fight her way out and escape to safety.
 
Kiss
Director: Katja Roberts
Country: United Kingdom; Running Time: 15 minutes
Haunted by her past kisses, Annie must confront the one kiss she refuses to acknowledge.
 
Lead it Go
Director: Phillip Baribeau
Country: United States; Running Time: 23 minutes
Lead it Go follows hunter and conservationist Chris Parish’s mission to prevent lead poisoning in wildlife For more than two decades, Chris has channeled his efforts into recovering raptors and researching reasons for their decline. Through research conducted with The Peregrine Fund, Chris helped discover that lead fragments from bullets in remains of shot animals left afield are often accidentally eaten by eagles, condors, and other scavengers. 
 
Leverage
Director: Michael Robert Charron
Country: United States; Running Time: 14 minutes
Jade Betts and her sidekick Richie must infiltrate the Russian mob’s Christmas party and fight their way through the ranks, using festive weapons and witty one-liners. Leverage combines action and comedy, as Betts settles old scores with her former employer to preserve what’s most important to her.
 
Lichtblick – Glimmer of Hope
Director: Sophia Tamaro
Country: Germany; Running Time: 5 minutes
A cashier’s monotonous day is transformed when the women in the queue form an impromptu choir to soothe an unhappy baby.
 
Lips Like Fire
Director: Joel Valdes
Country: United States; Running Time: 19 minutes
A psychological thriller where a young man named Sean attempts to escape his obsession with an ASMR artist and the increasingly detrimental effects that this has on his life. Throughout the movie Sean experiences hallucinations that will lead him to question what is reality and fantasy.
 
Lisa’s Monologue
Director: Eric Hanson
Country: United States; Running Time: 4 minutes
Quirky actress Lisa auditions for a play, giving Charlie and Charlene one of the most perplexing monologues they’ve seen.
 
Living The Dream
Director: Ben Meinhardt
Country: Canada; Running Time: 1 minutes
An indefatigable young citizen makes his way in the modern world.
 
Losing It
Director: Elise Martin
Country: United Kingdom; Running Time: 10 minutes
According to her research and to-do list, 30-year-old Mabel has everything she needs to “lose it” to nice-guy Guy. But, when he needs a bit of romance to get in the mood, her clinical “do-it-and-lose-it” plan falls apart.  Can she rip the bandaid off and conquer the monstrous beast that is first-time-sex? Or will she accept that being a 30-year-old virgin isn’t a world-ending disaster? 
 
Lotus
Director: Ollie Wolf
Country: United Kingdom; Running Time: 9 minutes
A hot summer’s day in London. Frankie (13) watches a local bike crew from her balcony and suddenly longs to experience the freedom of riding. So, she spontaneously steals a bike from the group. Only trouble is, she doesn’t know how to ride it…
 
Mångata
Director: Maja Costa
Country: Germany, Netherlands; Running Time: 16 minutes
As a child, little Alya is the only survivor of a tragic Mediterranean crossing from Africa to Europe. Many years later, as an astronaut of an important lunar mission, Alya loses communication with her base. She is confronted with her past trauma, and now Mångata – “the road to the moon”, which already saved her life once, will help her again.
 
Manicure
Director: Carluccio
Country: United States; Running Time: 9 minutes
Before her 30th birthday party, Elanor’s anxiety and demand for perfection turn a pleasant manicure into a bloody mess.
 
The Natural
Director: Charlie Rowe
Country: United Kingdom; Running Time: 12 minutes
After a young actor’s second terrible audition for a masterclass hosted by his theatrical hero, he follows her to a cafe in search of advice. Through the mishaps of their exchange, she imparts words of wisdom and leaves him wondering. 
 
Nisei
Director: Darren Haruo Rae
Country: United States; Running Time: 21 minutes
Inspired by stories from the filmmaker’s grandfather, Nisei follows the journey of two Japanese American brothers through World War II, Minoru and John Miyasaki. Stripped of their citizenship and placed in internment camps, they volunteer for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, an all-Japanese American unit that sacrificed everything, to prove their loyalty to a country that doesn’t want them. 
 
Off Sides
Director: Kaitlyn Brown
Country: United States; Running Time: 10 minutes
A camera crew follows an elementary aged soccer team to discover the true reasons as to why they play soccer.
 
Olan, TX
Director: Nathan Markiewicz
Country: United States; Running Time: 14 minutes
It’s been a long time since Olan went home. The tiny Texas town he was born in is almost unrecognizable, and yet it seems like things haven’t changed at all. Out of the Army, out of a job, and just out of a marriage, Olan returns to make his late father’s funeral arrangements and to fulfill his last wish: a military burial at Arlington National Cemetery. Ever the prodigal son, Olan arrives too late and finds his father already in the ground, letting the old man down one last time. He’s left with a stack of unpaid bills, an old pickup truck, and a quirky little terrier named Cicero. Before he can move on, Olan must make peace with the man he thought he knew and the past he left behind. 
 
The Old Young Crow
Director: Liam LoPinto
Country: Japan, United States; Running Time: 12 minutes
An Iranian boy befriends an old Japanese woman at a graveyard in Tokyo.
 
On my mind
Director: Martin Strange-Hansen
Country: Denmark; Running Time: 18 minutes
Henrik wants to sing a song for his wife. It has to be today; it has to be now. It’s a question of life, death and karaoke.
 
Opening Up
Director: Paris Brown
Country: United States; Running Time: 10 minutes
At an evening support group, a new member puts everyone on edge when he arrives wearing a protective radiation suit.
 
The Other Partners
Director: Destinee Stewart
Country: United States; Running Time: 9 minutes
While preparing for their first dinner party together, Rowyn’s boyfriend, Raj, discovers her dildo in a kitchen drawer. Raj, feeling insecure, shames Rowyn for her practices…and then he finds more. What ensues is a comedic battle of the sexes as Raj expresses his discomfort and Rowyn stands up for her right to choose self-love, healing, and sexual intimacy through masturbation.
 
Patsy
Director: John Valley
Country: United States; Running Time: 17 minutes
Patsy is about an Asian American woman in her 30s going through a divorce triggered by a traumatic miscarriage trying to find love again, and learning how to say “no.”
 
The Pencil
Director: Thomas Schultz
Country: Kazakhstan; Running Time: 10 minutes
Sara, a struggling artist who discovers a unique magical pencil that can solve all her problems by bringing her drawings to life. However, her dreams turn into a nightmare when a malevolent demonic creature from Kazakh legends is inadvertently unleashed.
 
The Perfect Boy
Director: Liz Waters
Country: United States; Running Time: 10 minutes
Sick of online dating, a young woman uses materials in her house to create her own version of “the perfect boy.” But once word gets out, a strange and hilarious rollercoaster of events take place.
 
prObed
Director: Umar Shiraz Jafri
Country: United States; Running Time: 7 minutes
prObed is a sci-fi comedy short inspired by the great 70’s classics Shampoo and Close Encounters. Using a majority of in camera effects, the filmmakers immerse the audience in an unexpected, fast, and wild ride into one unfortunate first date. Shot in true anamorphic with an exciting blend of practical and cgi effects.
 
The Purple Glasses
Director: Susan Sullivan
Country: United States; Running Time: 15 minutes
Set in the late 80’s during middle school, The Purple Glasses explores the fun and newfound freedom that this age brings along with the emotions of it all. Emily, a precocious young student, loses her glasses shortly after a fight with her cool-girl classmate Sara. Sara is left with a decision that brings her to a new realization. The story involves a twist of fate that brings the two middle school girls together.
 
Rabbit Hole
Director: Jack Gross
Country: United States; Running Time: 16 minutes
After his beloved rabbit is stolen by an obsessive female boxer, an aging magician is forced to perform a dangerous trick.
 
Raca
Director: Drew Saplin
Country: United States; Running Time: 15 minutes
Raca follows a socially inept, katana-wielding weirdo in search of connection, as he treks across his small coastal town on the 4th of July on a quest to find ice for his “best friends” in time for the fireworks show.
 
Ranchers
Director: Paul Crompton, Emmett Glynn
Country: United States; Running Time: 25 minutes
Short film following three ranchers new to farm life after walking out of traditional jobs to live off the land. But how tough is it and can they survive? 
 
Reinventing Recycling
Director: Jay Windland
Country: United States; Running Time: 39 minutes
With the US recycling system teetering on the point of collapse, and a global plastic pollution crisis on the horizon, a group of determined scientists and engineers engage in a race to rescue recycling.
 
Rest
Director: Micah Stathis
Country: United States; Running Time: 11 minutes
Iris, a recently sober alcoholic, is due in court tomorrow: rested and prepared. Unable to fall asleep, she battles the voices in her head and her own desire for a drink as the night stretches on, seemingly without end.
 
Reverie
Director: Kelli Elizabeth Horan
Country: United States; Running Time: 11 minutes
In a future where time travel is used as a form of therapy, Imogen grapples with the weight of her troubled past and is given the opportunity to revisit her younger self and confront the experiences that shaped her present self. With Reverie she will either change something in her past or delete her current chronology. 
 
Ring by Spring
Director: Elizabeth Sherman
Country: United States; Running Time: 12 minutes
A wide-eyed freshman tries anything and everything to get an engagement ring by the spring of her Senior year of college.
 
The Route To Emancipation
Director: Talib Abdullahi, Riley Engemoen
Country: United States; Running Time: 18 minutes
The Route To Emancipation by Black History Bike Ride follows 3 friends as they embark on a 350-mile cycling route from the Texas Capitol in Austin to the site where Juneteenth began in 1865. The journey takes viewers back through centuries of Black history in Texas.
 
Sea Cloud Park
Director: Cameron Fife
Country: United States; Running Time: 17 minutes
Four years after a family tragedy, Hal is visited by his only friend Ben.
 
Sempre Avanti
Director: Matthew Barber, Nathaniel Barber
Country: United States; Running Time: 6 minutes
Two U.S. soldiers plunge into a suspected enemy combatant tunnel system during the Vietnam War only to awaken unparalleled horrors.
 
Shaking a Singapore Spear
Director: Hannes Rall
Country: Singapore; Running Time: 17 minutes
An animated documentary about the relevance of Shakespeare’s classical works for digital natives in Singapore: Live action and animation combined.
 
Shelter Half
Directors: Matthew Barber, Nathaniel Barber
Country: United States; Running Time: 3 minutes
A naturalist investigates the disappearance of a mother black bear while camping in a remote valley that may hold darker answers than he bargained for.
 
Show and Tell
Director: J.M. Kallet
Country: United States; Running Time: 10 minutes
Date night at a lovers’ lane takes a horrific turn for two 50s-era teenagers with dark secrets to hide.
 
Smoke
Director: Joshua Gallas
Country: United States; Running Time: 15 minutes
A firefighter returns home after the most difficult shift of his life.
 
Spag Bol
Director: Frankie Wade
Country: United Kingdom; Running Time: 10 minutes
Unannounced, Damien turns up to watch the big match in an attempt to reconnect with his struggling father. But in order to do so, Damien must navigate his Dad’s unwillingness to acknowledge an unspoken truth.
 
Stiff Arm
Director: Matthew Ramsaur
Country: United States; Running Time: 14 minutes
A one in a million genetic disorder won’t stop Jacob from getting married.
 
Stop Whining & Start Winning
Director: Emma Raimi
Country: United States; Running Time: 11 minutes
When a contract killer has a last-minute change of heart inspired by his favorite new self-help book, he triggers a disastrous chain of events amongst his criminal co-workers.
 
Suck It Up
Director: Megan Shandley
Country: United Kingdom; Running Time: 9 minutes
When their flatmate moves out and takes her vacuum cleaner with her, the remaining tenants are faced with a challenging road to domestic paradise.
 
Titty Boy
Director: Austin Ford Franklin Culp
Country: United States; Running Time: 14 minutes
Titty Boy tells the story of a teenage boy with gynecomastia (aka “man boobs”) who attempts to change his body by taking matters into his own hands.
 
The Trunk
Director: Tanneguy O’Meara
Country: France; Running Time: 13 minutes
As he crosses the underground parking lot of his building, Sébastien hears a strange noise coming from the trunk of a car. He opens it, and discovers a shirtless young man, hands tied, begging him to untie him…
 
Unbreakable
Director: Alex Astrella
Country: United States; Running Time: 15 minutes
Unbreakable shares Serena Young’s life story of overcoming a polio diagnosis on her path to becoming a successful orthopedic surgeon against all odds
 
Unconditional
Director: Theo Gee
Country: United Kingdom; Running Time: 15 minutes
Unleashed delves into the incredible story of renowned canine behaviorist Will Atherton, whose life takes a dramatic turn when his dog becomes his saviour after a period of dark depression and a suicide attempt, revealing the extraordinary power of love and resilience in the face of despair. 
 
The Unseen
Director: Francesco Guarini
Country: United Kingdom; Running Time: 3 minutes
Timo is busy making his nest, when he hears a reply to his mating call. Desperate to find his mate, he takes flight, only to find the source of the reply is not what he had hoped.
 
Up on the Housetop
Directors: Dakota Millett, Michael Fischer
Country: United States; Running Time: 15 minutes
Four siblings reunite at Christmas after the sudden death of their parents. But after accidentally killing Santa on Christmas Eve, they must survive the night against his killer flying reindeer.
 
The Vanishing Strings of the Andes
Director: Sam Watkins
Country: Ecuador; Running Time: 13 minutes
High in the Andes mountains, an age-old generational craft is on the verge of extinction; this is the story of Ecuador’s forgotten guitar road.
 
Who Speaks for Charlie?
Director: Matthew Corolis
Country: United States; Running Time: 16 minutes
After receiving death threats from members of the autistic community, Eileen Lamb reflects on her own autism diagnosis, and doubles down on her commitment to fight for greater services for Charlie, her non-verbal autistic son.
 
The Worm
Director: Cameron Alec Tubbs
Country: United States; Running Time: 14 minutes
Two collectors of the occult discuss the discovery of a box that contains untold horrors for those who look inside.
 
World’s Lamest Teacher
Director: Casey Lee Floyd
Country: United States; Running Time: 18 minutes
Darren Ford, a high school teacher in a lower income school, edges ever closer to complete burnout. Desperate to educate and inspire his students, he must navigate the normal hurdles of the profession, as well as the more intricate ones his students Lucianna and Dylan throw at him, all while keeping a watchful eye on their physical and mental well-being.
 
World’s Shortest War
Director: Joseph Horta
Country: United States; Running Time: 11 minutes
Desperate for money and out of time; Joaquin, Jesse, and Frank panic in an empty parking lot from a failed house robbery. With nothing left but a dimebag of cocaine, the three turn to what they know best. Joaquin, struggling to find his voice, is pressured to rob a local pizza shop in a final desperate attempt to gain money. Battling the urge to leave, Joaquin reluctantly stays, out of loyalty. As the three forcefully rush the cashier and manager, they take off with the money. Joaquin, questioning his decisions and friends, finally comes to the realization that he’s all alone. With nowhere left to go, Joaquin calls his father for help. Wishing to leave his life behind and return home.
 
Wretched
Director: Ed McCulloch
Country: United States; Running Time: 12 minutes
1800’s Utah Territory. The Man (David Knell) barely survives an attack on his wagon train. Gravely injured, suffering from exposure and exhaustion, the Man is close to dead when he happens upon a lone Cowboy (John Foss). Kind and quiet, the Cowboy tends to the Man, mending his wounds and giving him water. Despite the Cowboy’s generosity, the Man begins to distrust his rescuer, and as his condition worsens, delirium and paranoia creep in. The man must decide whether to trust the Cowboy or succumb to the darkness that is closing in on him.
 
The Yellow Sponge is the Dish Sponge
Director: Michele Noble
Country: United States; Running Time: 17 minutes
Jason doesn’t understand the world’s obsession (and his husband Erik’s obsession) with cleanliness. So, on the day of their big party Jason launches his campaign to open Erik’s eyes to this problem. What starts as disagreements about Lysol Wipes and Febreze scented trash bags turns into something bigger as The Yellow Sponge is the Dish Sponge looks at a couples conflict as “old as time” …fighting about household chores.
 
Your Move
Director: Ed Rigg, George Howson
Country: United Kingdom; Running Time: 12 minutes
William (Edward Hogg), a decorated Spitfire pilot fallen from grace, is now a notorious heist driver in 1960s London running a garage. In his absence, things can go wrong. Patricia (Pearl Mackie), the organisation ‘s Head of Talent, must work out exactly what happened on her most recent job…

Student Films

Black Magic
Director: Cristin Stephens
Country: United States; Running Time: 14 minutes
Black Magic is a traumedy that follows Alicia, a Black screenwriter, as she navigates her new staff writer position on a network drama. When she realizes that she’s nothing more than a fellowship diversity hire, Alicia tries to prove her worth to a room that must write in a “diverse” character to save their show. The character quickly devolves into little more than a trope, forcing Alicia to either compromise her hard-earned dream job or play nice with her colleagues and compromise herself.
 
Blue Hour
Director: J.D Shields
Country: United States; Running Time: 16 minutes
Two personal journeys intersect when a struggling young photographer is hired for a cheap last minute portrait gig. The unfolding photo session, while transient, leaves an indelible mark on both women.
 
Bright Eyes and Steady Hands
Director: Cane Wilson
Country: United States; Running Time: 8 minutes
A filipina nurse develops a new connection with her mother after translating her poetry.
 
Cookie Logic
Director: Kaden Vasquez, Rylee Spaulding
Country: United States; Running Time: 11 minutes
TIME TRAVEL, PARADOXES… OH, AND A COOKIE! A young scientist studies the mechanics of time travel by having a conversation with a group of her future selves.
 
Dinosaurs are Dead
Director: Anya Swanson
Country: United States; Running Time: 12 minutes
Based on a true story, a young girl’s perspective on life changes when she must take care of her mother during an epileptic seizure.
 
Forget Me Not
Director: Iliana Garcia, Carolina Davila
Country: United States; Running Time: 5 minutes
Olivia, a cautious and anxious woman who lives with her three cats navigates her daily routine. Olivia informs two of her friends of this paranoia, of course they reassured her she was okay, but she could not help but let her mind wonder what else might be in her house along with her.
 
Forgotten but not Gone
Director: Boyu Wang
Country: United Kingdom; Running Time: 14 minutes
Forced to go digital when the local bank closes. A 75-year-old recent widower, Archie, struggles to adapt to a rapidly changing world. He must set aside his pride and ask for help accessing the internet. 
 
Free Play
Director: Alex Astrella
Country: United States; Running Time: 17 minutes
A mother’s resilience leads to the creation of middle Tennessee’s largest all-inclusive playground, where everyone is welcome.
 
Jim’s Interview
Director: David Michael Wolfe
Country: United States; Running Time: 4 minutes
When Jim oversleeps his alarm, it’s a race against time to get to his job interview.
 
Kingdom on the Coast
Director: Maya B.
Country: United States; Running Time: 15 minutes
At the height of the southern summer, Immani reckons with new emotions about womanhood and virginity when an old flame reignites.
 
Out the Window Through the Wall
Director: Asya Segalovich
Country: Russian Federation; Running Time: 22 minutes
As people try to adapt to the new reality of present-day Russia, a cartographer encounters a young man who has recently escaped from an adult psycho-neurological facility.
 
Period Drama
Director: Evie Fehilly
Country: United Kingdom; Running Time: 13 minutes
When 15-year-old Jane must meet a man she is betrothed to, a meeting that her entire family are counting on, not everything goes to plan when she gets her period for the first time.
 
Pocket Aces
Director: Joe Felix Hauk
Country: United States; Running Time: 8 minutes
A new poker player must face her worst enemy to build confidence in herself
 
Proof of Desire
Director: John Field Brown
Country: United States; Running Time: 18 minutes
Dylan, 24, struggles to make ends meet as an elementary school janitor while living in an old family-owned RV camper. After temptation gets the best of him, Dylan is left jobless once again. Unsatisfied with his career path, Dylan decides to pursue his passion for music. However, with emotional struggles and constant setbacks, Dylan must not only prove something to himself but to a lurking Talent Agent as well.
 
Purple and Green
Director: Charlotte Oxley
Country: United States; Running Time: 14 minutes
Two young sisters learn to rely on each other to mitigate stress and anxiety developed from going back and forth between the homes of their divorced parents.
 
Search & Destroy
Director: Alexander Rosales
Country: United States; Running Time: 15 minutes
Search & Destroy is an adventurous and tender 15 minute coming of age adventure-drama that follows Rafael and his neighborhood friends (The Squad) who are on the run after pranking the high school baseball team (The Enemies). This prank is a jealous response to seeing their friend Wes, the oldest and now elusive member of their squad, ditch their plans for their 7th annual “first day of summer swim”, also known as “The Streak”. Despite CLAW’s assertive plea to go on without Wes, Rafael takes the boys on a search in the neighborhood.
 
Step
Director: Angelo Garcia IV
Country: United States; Running Time: 6 minutes
During the party of her life, Carly is overwhelmed by feelings she has for someone. Her stepsister Chrissy tries to console her when she finds out Carly’s crush is someone Chrissy doesn’t expect…
 
The Sun is Up and I Shall Live
Director: Jazmine Monaz
Country: Singapore; Running Time: 19 minutes
The sole carer for her family, a young woman’s sunny optimism wavers on the chaotic day of her little brother’s school play.
 
The Urban Rescue Ranch
Director: Mathew Ruggieri
Country: United States; Running Time: 7 minutes
Just over four years ago, Ben Christie was a senior at Baylor University studying professional selling and had a job lined up at Oracle in Austin. Now, he runs The Urban Rescue Ranch, a farm sanctuary and wildlife rescue in Waco, Texas with dozens of wild animals ranging from kangaroos to emus to capybaras. Online, he creates half-comedic, half-educational videos featuring the different animals on the farm. He has amassed millions of followers and hundreds of millions of views across his TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram pages. He is continuing to grow both his following and rescue capabilities.
 
Walking Fernando
Director: Max Mir
Country: United Kingdom; Running Time: 15 minutes
A deadbeat travel agent is convinced by a goldfish to break him out of the office he’s been stuck in for years.
 
Where We Belong
Director: Madoka Belda Yamamoto
Country: United Kingdom; Running Time: 15 minutes
Inspired by the Japanese Buddhist tradition of offering food for the dead, a British-Japanese woman tries to reconnect with her origins by taking care of her mourning grandmother and, in the process, discovers the presence of her dead grandfather closer than ever.

Music Videos

A Cowboy in the Suburbs
Director: Michael Scott Payton
Country: United States; Running Time: 4 minutes
Nobody understands the stranger’s pain.

Come and Save Me
Director: Chris White
Country: United States; Running Time: 9 minutes
A victim of the post-pandemic loneliness epidemic, Hugo longs to find the place where he can finally belong. From the people who brought you Electric Jesus — Come and Save Me is a short music-film by Danielson and writer-director Chris White.

C’est La Vie
Director: Michael Scott Payton
Country: United States; Running Time: 4 minutes
Two long lost lovers rediscover what a five-dollar shake tastes like.

Harbor
Director: T Lavois Thiebaud; Music: The Wheel Workers
Country: United States; Running Time: 5 minutes
A strange, colorful, high-contrast ride – a sexy, scary, thrilling exercise in the surreal

Heart Shaped Box
Director: KK Hammond; Music: The Curse of KK Hammond
Country: United Kingdom; Running Time: 5 minutes
Music video cover of Nirvana’s classic, re-done in a blues meets bluegrass vein, with a horror motif.

Love Dressed Down
Director: Michael Irwin, Music: SHANN.N
Country: Australia; Running Time: 6 minutes
A music video based on the true story of a relationship breaking down

They Don’t Make ‘Em Like Willie Anymore
Directors: K Foster and Karen Foster, Music: Blacksmith Rose
Country: United States; Running Time: 3 minutes
They Don’t Make ‘Em Like Willie Anymore is an award-winning musical “love letter” of appreciation for Texas singer/songwriter Willie Nelson, his music, and the important role it’s played in people’s lives.

Short Screenplays

“Adjusting”
Writer: Lara Williams
 
“As Luck Would Have It”
Writer: Amanda Pfeiffer
 
“Ashes to Dust” 
Writer: Clark Childers
 
“Earthling_Girl”
Writer: Alycya Magaña
 
“The Eyes in the Night”
Writer: Isabella Rodriguez
 
“Fireflies in the Dusk”
Writers: Jonathan Brandon Hammond, Ryan Thomas Roach
 
“Five and a Game:
Writer: Muse Seymore
 
“Love, from Ellie” 
Writer: Chantelle James
 
“Real Dead”
Writer: Jordan Wolfe
 
“Slip”
Writer: Lara Hill
 
“Stranded”
Writer: Kevin Machate

Share ...

Subscribe for Blog Updates

Sign up for our latest updates.

Please follow us to get updates online.