FIRES IN THE DARK (1hr 30min) (France/Germany) Munich, Germany (SC Premiere)
Director: Dominique Lienhard
Synopsis: In a small 17th century village nestled between the sea and the mountains, fifteen year-old Alan is suddenly forced to begin supporting his mother and siblings after his father sells himself for two years of indentured servitude in an attempt to keep the family from starving. While stoking the village’s all-important fire during the night, he will learn what it takes to survive and discover the true purpose of the bonfire’s ritualistic guardianship.
RE-OPENING (1hr 33min) (USA) Burbank, CA (East Coast Premiere) BEST FEATURE WINNER
Director: Chris Guerra and Matthew John Koppin
Synopsis: A documentary crew follows the All Voice is Theater company and crew, led by their fearless director Roger Bastion (Chris Guerra), on their journey of ups and downs (mostly downs) as they attempt to re-open their theater in the middle of a global pandemic. It doesn’t go as well as they planned and they are forced to pivot. And pivot again. This heartwarming and hilarious film will leave you feeling like there is hope still left in this crazy world. A true film of the times and a Mockumentary for the ages.
SEVEN DAYS TILL MIDNIGHT (1hr 38min) (USA) Asheville, NC (World Premiere)
Director: James Suttles
Synopsis: A troubled man venturing into the wilderness to find himself stumbles across a place that offers him a chance to go back and fix the mistakes of his past, asking the age old question: "if you could go back and change something in your life, would you?"
AMERICAN ROYALTY (1hr 4min) (USA) Lexington, SC (World Premiere)
Director: Daniel Fisher and Stephen Fisher
Synopsis: The American Royalty docuseries showcases an in-depth perspective of the Miss America Pageant. Experience the hundred year history, influence, controversy, and evolution of this iconic institution through the dogged resolve of the women and men who fight to retain its legacy and future.
LITTLE SATCHMO (1hr 1min) (USA) Los Angeles, CA (SC Premiere)
Director: John Alexander
Synopsis: To the world, Louis Armstrong is iconic — a symbol of musical genius, unparalleled success, and unassailable character. To Sharon, he was simply Dad. Armstrong’s wholesome, non-threatening image preserved his singular career as a black performer with unfettered access to a white man's world. Yet he was more than a caricature; he had desires, he had longings, and in private, he held tightly to the things he loved. Perhaps closest to his heart was a child whom he hid from the world: a daughter sworn to a life of secrecy until now.
SONG FOR HOPE (THE RYAN ANTHONY STORY) (1hr 20min) (USA) Northridge, CA)
(World Premiere) BEST FEATURE DOCUMENTARY WINNER
Director: Chris Haigh
Synopsis: Ryan Anthony, regarded as one of the greatest trumpet virtuosos ever, was only 42 years old when he was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma and given just months to live. Faced with an uncertain future and an unending uphill battle full of hospital stays, chemotherapy treatments and blood transfusions, Ryan continued to share his talent with audiences around the world through solo performances, master classes and concerts.
THE BOOK KEEPERS (1hr 29min) (USA) Brooklyn, NY (SC Premiere)
Director: Phill Wall
Synopsis: Determined to keep his late-wife’s dream alive, Dick Wall becomes the unlikely spokesperson for her debut memoir and embarks on an unexpected cross-country promotional tour. He's joined by his filmmaker son, who is torn between saving his mom's first book and his concern for how his dad is coping with their new reality. The journey challenges the pair to talk about loss, relationships and the healing power of sharing stories.
THE LONG RIDER (1hr 35min) (CANADA) Ontario, Canada (World Premiere) AUDIENCE CHOICE WINNER
Director: Sean Cisterna
Synopsis: When Filipe Leite leaves his adoptive home of Canada, the aspiring journalist sets out on an epic quest to ride from the Calgary Stampede to the Barretos Rodeo in Brazil, the largest in South America - and later beyond - entirely on horseback. Inspired by Aimé Tschiffley's 1925 equestrian journey, Filipe's 8 year odyssey of over 25,000 kms across 12 international borders, saw the young immigrant battle intense heat, drought, speeding transport trucks, nature's wrath and corrupt border guards on his long ride home. Culled from over 500 hours of never-before-seen-footage.
MELTDOWN IN DIXIE (40min) (USA) New York, NY BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY WINNER
Director: Emily Harrold
Synopsis: In the wake of the 2015 Charleston Massacre, a battle erupts in Orangeburg, SC between the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) and an ice cream shop owner forced to fly the Confederate flag in his parking lot. In doing so, this film explores the broader role of Confederate symbolism in the 21st century and the lingering racial oppression which these symbols help maintain.
SACRED WATERS: THE OKEFENOKEE IN PERIL (33min) (USA) Augusta, GA
Director: Mark Albertin
Synopsis: Sacred Waters: The Okefenokee in Peril takes viewers into the heart of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, showcasing its mystical natural beauty, cultural importance, and incredible ecological value. But, as the title of the film sets forth, the sacred waters of the Okefenokee are in peril. The threat of a proposed mineral mine near the edge of the Okefenokee looms large, putting the natural integrity of the Swamp at risk. As Sacred Waters brings us deeper into the Okefenokee, we understand how great this threat truly is.
STOREFRONT: STATESBORO BLUES (27min) (USA) Savannah, GA (SC Premiere)
Director: Jonathan Hunt
Synopsis: Retired ATF Agent Lou Valoze takes you behind the scenes of an undercover operation and the consequences that followed.
DUTY & HONOR
LAST PATROL ON OKINAWA (30min) (USA) Los Angeles, CA (SC Premiere)
Director: Nick Brokaw
Synopsis: Set on the fateful date; August 6th, 1945. Okinawa. Six weeks post-battle, a squad of U.S. Marines is assigned the unenviable and tedious job of clearing caves where fanatical Japanese soldiers hold out and forlorn Okinawan civilians seek refuge.
THE DONUT DOLLIES (1hr 27min) (USA) Los Angeles, CA (SC Premiere)
Director: Norman Anderson
Synopsis: In 1968, two best friends joined an elite team and flew into a war zone wearing powder blue dresses. They were Red Cross Donut Dollies. These idealistic young women embraced their mission - to cheer up the GIs in Vietnam - with energy, creativity, compassion and resolve but had no idea what they were getting into. 47 years later, they reunite in Vietnam to retrace their steps; ask why they went; ask whether they made a difference; unlock buried memories and share their stories for the first time.
VETERANS JOURNEY HOME: LEAVING IT ON THE LAND (1hr 40min) (USA) Oakland, CA
(SC Premiere) DUTY & HONOR WINNER
Director: Frederick Marx
Synopsis: A cohort of 12 Military Veterans do an ancient, 12 day, wilderness Vision Fast ceremony in the desert in Washington that includes four days of solo fasting on the land using only water and minimal shelter.
:60 SECONDS (18min) (USA) Hermosa Beach, CA (SC Premiere)
Director: John “Quig” Quigley
Synopsis: :60 SECONDS” is a short film filled with suspense, and twists right until
The final second. What if you had only minutes to pull off your next heist? DIXON and his crew – CALEB, the tech genius, and BENNY, the muscle – are about to find out when they target a remote desert casino. Dixon starts the plan in motion when he becomes romantically involved with a naive casino cashier.
ALL THAT GLITTERS (24min) (UK) Ilford, Essex, UK (SC Premiere) BEST NARRATIVE SHORT WINNER
Director: Dan Bronzite
Synopsis: A desperate teenager snatches a rich woman's handbag but in a bizarre twist of fate discovers her life is not as rosy as it seems and that they have more in common than he realizes.
AMERICAN MORNING (25min) (USA) Scott Plains, NJ (SC Premiere)
Director: Robbie Bryan
Synopsis: A former music teacher resorts to desperate measures to reconcile his guilt and affect change after the horrors and aftermath of a mass shooting in a suburban elementary school.
ARE YOU MY MOMMY (15min) (USA) North Hollywood, CA (SC Premiere)?
Director: Gavin Michael Booth
Synopsis: While filming his latest blockbuster, Hero, a famous action star, is badly wounded. To the rescue comes Heroine, but Hero is confused by this utterly average, late-40s woman. As she does everything in her power to save him, Hero struggles to relate to this...person. With the Bad Guys still in pursuit, Heroine tries to shut down his running commentary on her age and weight, to no avail. As her patience runs out, their attackers close in, revealing that Heroine - and the movie - aren't quite what they seem to be.
BROKEN (15MIN) (USA) Sherman Oaks, CA (SC Premiere)
Director: Jillian Reeves
Synopsis: A powerful, heart-rending story about a family coping with the effects of a loved one’s untreated mental illness while losing faith in the system that continues to fail them.
CHORDS (24min) (USA) Fort Collins, CO (SC Premiere)
Director: John Barnhardt
Synopsis: Aging rocker Danny Jones heads home to be by his ailing mother’s side but finds himself on old stomping grounds, steeped in bittersweet glory days, as he tries to cope with her sudden passing, his past, and an uncertain road ahead.
CHRYSALIS (19MIN) (USA) Los Angeles, CA (World Premiere)
Director: Arturo Zuniga
Synopsis: CHRYSALIS is a dark psychological thriller. It tells the story of a married couple that goes on an isolated weekend getaway to rekindle their broken relationship. But everything changes when the wife, Lily, encounters a mysterious woman, Skylar, who seems to know her better than anyone else, including herself. She triggers Lily’s repressed darkness to resurface which unravels a series of unfortunate events.
CONSIDER THE SPARROW (23min) (USA) New York, NY (World Premiere)
Director: Eliza Foss
Synopsis: Differences in faith can be hard enough in a marriage yet Tom and Lisa have made it work for twenty years. But when estranged friend Matt arrives presenting the opportunity of a lifetime and the only condition is a lie about God, well, what’s an American politician to do?
GREGORY (7min) (USA) New York, NY (SC Premiere)
Director: Ben McHugh
Synopsis: Gregory - Searching For Forgiveness Never Dies
An old man’s eternal quest to make contact with his family.
GUEST OF HONOR (12min) (USA) Austin, TX (SC Premiere)
Director: Lisa Belcher
Synopsis: Struck by tragedy, a married couple goes ahead with their anniversary party, when an unusual guest arrives.
HELL IN A HANDBASKET (5min) (CANADA) Regina, Saskatchewan
Directed by: Lee Chambers
Synopsis: Dale, a lonely research scientist in the Arctic struggles to maintain his solitary existence. With the world failing from a global pandemic, all hopes fall on Dale's shoulders as he represents the last stand for humanity.
HIS & HERS (4min) (United Kingdom) Edinburgh, UK (SC Premiere)
Director: Chris Sexton Fletcher
Synopsis: When a couple goes shopping in the week before their wedding, they must choose between being together forever or each getting what they want.
IN THE EVENT OF MY DEATH (21min) (USA) Los Angeles, CA (SC Premiere)
Director: Brian Scott Steele
Synopsis: Jeremy. Just. DIED. So, in the event of his death, he leaves behind a series of clever clues and witty video messages for his best friend and bandmate Sam, and his brash sister Mandy, which sends them on an adventure through their shared past. They get to experience one last day with Jeremy after he's gone, and in the end are compelled to mourn the best way they know how.
GOOD MEN AND UNICORNS (22min) (USA) Los Angeles, CA (SC Premiere)
Director: Jake Ebright
Synopsis: Eli Sanders is a transplant living in Los Angeles. Having lost his mother when he was just a boy and with no real family left, he goes on aimlessly through life with just his passion for movies to keep him company--that is, until he meets Anne.
Anne Summers is an aging, former actress whose career was derailed before it's prime by the loss of her infant son. Having recently lost her husband, she too lives a lonely life devoid of purpose--that is, until she meets Eli.
KEPLEY (20min) (USA) Toluca Lake, CA (SC Premiere)
Director: Michael Grant and Stephanie Katherine Grant
Synopsis: KEPLEY is a neo-noir thriller centered around veteran detective, Gillian Kepley. During Kepley's investigation of a troubling missing persons case, hidden truths from her past are uncovered. The case pushes her beyond her limits and forces her to confront mistakes from her burdened life, ultimately leading her to discover peace and redemption.
LAST LAUGH (32min) (USA) New York, NY (World Premiere)
Director: Paul Anderson
Synopsis: As if things weren't going badly enough for Trevor, his crumby new apartment comes with an unexpected occupant: the ghost of Maury Zuckerman, a legendarily bad stand up comic.
LITTLE GAMES (14min) (UNITED KINGDOM) Wheathampstead, UK (SC Premiere)
Director: Stefane Houssier
Synopsis: Escaping from a violent lover, Natasha is drawn into a child’s sinister plot. But is it true, or a cruel game with Natasha the plaything?
Escaping from a violent lover to a country manor hotel, Natasha becomes the unwilling confidant of Amelia, a young child, in a family secret. Could Amelia's secret be true, or is it a cruel game and Natasha her plaything.
ON MY MIND (18min) (DENMARK) Bronshoj, Denmark (SC Premiere)
Director: Martin Strange-Hansen
Synopsis: 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.
OVER MY DEAD BODY (25min) (USA) Los Angeles, CA (SC Premiere)
Director: Meital Cohen Navarro
Synopsis: The film explores an internal conflict surrounding a family of Jewish immigrants (played by Muslim actors) from Iran now living in present-day Los Angeles. I offer a window into the taboo subjects of religious intolerance and intermarriage outside of one’s culture. The choice that the heroine makes may seem controversial to some, but I believe it is a heart-wrenching and powerful decision that is becoming a new reality.
PAP’S MANIFESTO (26min) (USA) Maplewood, NJ (SC Premiere)
Director: Chris Danuser and Casey Clark
Synopsis: A grief-stricken Gold Star father's commitment to avenge his son’s death takes a series of shocking turns when he schemes to truck bomb a mosque.
STUCK (14min) (USA) Newburyport, MA (SC Premiere)
Director: Steve Blackwood
Synopsis: George and Helen Simon are a NY advertising couple who buy a sex machine to spice up their lives but it comes with a crazed delivery boy who gets stuck in it on the night of their dinner with George's clients"
THAT FEELING (30min) (USA) Conway, SC (World Premiere)
Director: Paul Inman
Synopsis: A woman on her belated honeymoon deals with the transgressions of her past - and, ultimately, the consequences of her choices - as she struggles with deja vu at 16,000 ft.
Stephen King helps independent and student filmmakers with his "Dollar Baby" program which gives them the chance to hone their skills by adapting one of his unsold stories.
THE DELLA MORTE SISTERS (18min) (USA) New York, NY (SC Premiere)
Director: Bill Sorvino
Synopsis: A recent death in the family brings three sisters together where they discover a shared dark past that changes everything they thought they knew about each other and their family.
THE DINNER GUEST (14min) (USA) Santa Barbara, CA (SC Premiere)
Directed by: Dale Griffiths Stamos
Synopsis: Margaret invites her husband's colleague to dinner, but this is anything but a normal party!
THE FLIPSIDE (17min) (USA) Charleston, SC (World Premiere)
Directed by: Eliza Dennis, Rebecca Pryce, Mark Bradley
Synopsis: Something extraordinary happens to David Whitten, an ordinary guy. Was this astonishing moment meant to change his life – or change someone else’s? Will David ever know? This story is based on true events.
THE KILLER ACROSS THE STREET (19min) (USA) Englishtown, NJ (SC Premiere)
Director: Adam Seccafico
Synopsis: A paranoid, stay-at-home husband grows suspicious of his next door neighbor
TURNING BLUE (15min) (USA) Willoughby Hills, OH (SC Premiere)
Director: Dana White and Christopher Knoblock
Synopsis: Turning Blue is a film about the final hours of the life of 75-year-old Clara. Her nurse, Val must break the news to her daughter Violet that Clara's feet are turning blue, a sign that she is transitioning towards death. Based on a true story.
WESTERN EXIT (13min) (USA) Portland, OR (East Coast Premiere)
Synopsis: Three estranged sisters reluctantly reunite over a hopeful inheritance.
WHEN THE RAIN SETS IN (17min) UNITED KINGDOM, London, UK (SC Premiere)
Director: James Hughes
Synopsis: Kenzie and Treyden, a couple who’ve been swept up in a whirlwind six-month romance, find themselves confronting a painful question: Has their love story come to an end?
LAVENDER (12min) (USA) Fayetteville, GA (University of Georgia) (World Premiere)
Director: Eli Saliba
Synopsis: After a tragic event takes her family, a grieving young woman must decide how to look at the world during a seemingly routine therapy session.
LIFE, AGAIN (19min) (USA) Orange, CA (Dodge College) (SC Premiere)
Director: Anna Maite Kaplan and Orion Huang
Synopsis: This film paints an intimate portrait of Wes Burleson, a man recently released from prison after 23 years, while he navigates his journey to freedom, rehabilitation, and redemption. In documenting his decades long struggle to not be defined by his past, we examine the conditions that allow his creativity to thrive.
SOLITUDE (14min) (CANADA) Oakville, Ontario (Sheridan College) (US Premiere)
Director: Henry Daemen
Synopsis: Gordon meets with Curtis for one of their weekly walks at their favourite forest trail when Curtis informs Gordon that he and his family have to relocate a few hours away for work. Gordon is opposed to this being confronted with the idea of being truly alone, however Curtis reassures him that he will still find time to come down to visit to have their weekly walks.
THE POMEGRANATE TREE (18min) (USA) Orange, CA (Dodge College) (SC Premiere)
Director: Kanika Vora
Synopsis: After losing her father, a sixteen year old Muslim girl must convince her Hindu neighbors to provide her refuge for one violent night during the Partition of India.
WINTER OF ’79 (21min) (USA) Orange, CA (Dodge College) (SC Premiere) BEST STUDENT FILM WINNER
Director: Julia Elihu
Synopsis: At the onset of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, a Persian-Jewish mother is forced to question her faith to her country.
ABOUT LOVE (2min) (USA) Savannah, GA (SC Premiere)
Director: Hanke Wang
Synopsis: When the man comes home from work, loosening tie seems to relieve his fatigue like a deflating balloon. The dusk light is shining beautiful but unreal, a familiar silhouette emerges in the backlight. It was a woman carrying food to the table, her mouth still nagging about the life trivia that men usually don't care about. The man is in a trance and at a loss.
A CHANGE OF SONG (6min) (USA) New Sharon, ME (SC Premiere)
Director: Gordon David LePage
Synopsis: A resourceful raccoon helps a fellow creature out of a bad groove.
JOHN HENRY (2min) (USA) Anderson, SC (World Premiere)
Director: David Donar
Synopsis: John Henry is most recognized as an African American Man who worked on driving spikes into the rails or building the rail tunnels in West Virginia during the late 1800’s.
THE GHOSTLY LOVERS OF FRIPP ISLAND (4min) (USA) Beaufort, SC (World Premiere)
Director: Jim Sidletsky
Synopsis: The tale of the lovers of Fripp Island- a ghost story from the Lowcountry of South Carolina.
THERE YOU ARE (6min) (USA) Los Angeles, CA (SC Premiere) BEST ANIMATION WINNER
Director: Rui Huang
Synopsis: After the death of her mom several years ago, Su feels estranged from her father. In honoring their traditional family camping trip on his birthday, she hopes to reconnect with him. But when her father cancels it in deference to his new girlfriend, Su is forced to deal with her unresolved grief.
CONCRETE WINGS (USA) Myrtle Beach, SC
Written by: Bev Gandara
Synopsis: Inspired by a true story, Julian, an abused teen, knew there was little chance for personal growth and independent thought in Castro’s Communist Cuba. Sent out of Havana to retrieve smuggled family jewels, he comes of age in New York City at the height of the sexual revolution and earns his political freedom. By a twist of fate, he begins to lose his liberty when his oppressive parents arrive and refuse to assimilate into American Society.
GENEVA (USA) Fort Mill, SC
Written by: Genevieve McDevitt
Synopsis: In the midst of the 1940's, an aristocratic woman's mysterious life takes an unexpected turn when she finds herself entangled between love, imprisonment, and war. Inspired by true events.
IMMIGRANTS (USA) Los Angeles, CA
Written by: David Weissman and David Diamond
Synopsis: It’s 1939, the five amazing Brach children, ages 16-25, have made their way from their gracious life in Hamburg to the hard reality of immigrant life in New York City. They share a tenement flat and try to establish new lives in America, all while they plot desperately to help their parents escape from Nazi Germany.
STEALING THE MOON (USA) Richmond, VA BEST SCREENPLAY WINNER
Written by: Eric Carlson
Synopsis: Stealing the Moon – inspired by true events - is a late 1950s Cold War suspense thriller that pits CIA agent Susan Radley and her team against the Soviets and Polish Secret Police in Warsaw, deep behind the communist “Iron Curtain”. Their mission: steal a displayed Soviet moon rocket long enough for a rocket expert to examine it, then return it before the Soviets discover it’s missing.
VALLEY OF SPIRITS (USA) Las Vegas, NV
Written by: Warren R. Hull and K. D. Clemmens
Synopsis: An elderly Nez Perce man with mysterious powers and an ad-hoc band of unlikely warriors fight to cleanse Elk Valley from the evil ambitions of a corrupt, big game poaching sheriff.
BEST COMEDY NOMINATIONS
ARE YOU MY MOMMY (Short Film)
HELL IN A HANDBASKET (Short Film)
HIS & HERS (Short Film)
IN THE EVENT OF MY DEATH (Short Film)
LAST LAUGH (Short Film)
RE-OPENING (Feature Film) BEST COMEDY WINNER
STUCK (Short Film)
THE KILLER ACROSS THE STREET (Short Film)
WESTERN EXIT (Short Film)
BEST DIRECTOR NOMINATIONS
GAVIN MICHAEL BOOTH (Are You My Mommy, Short Film)
CHRIS HAIGH (Song for Hope, Documentary)
MEITEL COHEN NAVARRO (Over My Dead Body, Short Film) BEST DIRECTOR WINNER
BILL SORVINO (The Della Morte Sisters, Short Film)
MARTIN STRANGE-HANSEN (On My Mind, Short Film)
BEST ACTOR NOMINATIONS
STEPHEN DEXTER (American Morning, Short Film) BEST ACTOR WINNER
RASMUS HAMMERICH (On My Mind, Short Film)
R. KEITH HARRIS (7 Days Till Midnight, Feature Film)
LUKAS HASSEL (Guest of Honor, Short Film)
DAVID TRIACCA (Pap’s Manifesto, Short Film)
BEST ACTRESS NOMINATIONS
LISA BELCHER (Guest of Honor, Short Film) BEST ACTRESS WINNER
ANA GIRADOT (Fires In the Dark, Feature Film)
MOLLY LELAND (Dinner Guest, Short Film)
SOPHIA MYLES (All That Glitters, Short Film)
JILLIAN REEVES ((Broken, Short Film)
BEST ENSEMBLE CAST NOMINATIONS
CONSIDER THE SPARROW (Short Film)
LAST LAUGH (Short Film)
ON MY MIND (Short Film)
OVER MY DEAD BODY (Short Film) BEST ENSEMBLE CAST WINNER
THE DELLA MORTE SISTERS (Short Film)
THE DINNER GUEST (Short Film)
BEST MUSICAL SCORE
DONUT DOLLIES (Documentary Feature)
Music By: Jim Gardner
CHORDS (Short Film)
Music By: Daniel Jones/ Christine Alice / Armchair Martian
LAST PATROL ON OKINAWA (Short Film)
Music By: Jon Monroe
SONG FOR HOPE (Documentary Feature) BEST MUSICAL SCORE WINNER
Music By: Anthony Di Lorenzo
THE DELLA MORTE SISTERS (Short Film)
Music by: Michael Vignola
THE FLIPSIDE (Short Film)
Music by: Mark Bryan
WHEN THE RAIN SETS IN (Short Film)
Music By: Jean-Pascal Beintus
WINTER OF ’79 (Short Film)
Music By: Raphael Dargent (PHAR)