Told almost entirely through voicemail messages, One Year Lease documents the hilarious travails of Brian, Thomas, and Casper as they endure a year-long nightmare with Rita, the meddlesome cat-loving landlady.
Director’s Statement: Brian Bolster
As a documentary filmmaker, I can confidently state that this project was never one I could have imagined tackling, let alone living through! Voicemail messages accumulated — saved either to replay for family and friends at a dinner party or out of sheer laziness — but it wasn’t until the end of a year approached that Thomas and I stepped back and took inventory of the incredible stock of unsolicited “content” we had been provided. Only then did I begin to conceptualize the story, and ultimately realized that there was no better narrator of it than the straight-out-of- central-casting star herself, Rita.
When a young military wife receives news that her husband, whom she loves deeply, has been severely wounded in combat, she must come to terms with her grief and the difficult life in store for them. She soon realizes it will be an amazing journey no matter what.
Director’s Statement: Chris King
Birthday is not pro-war or anti-war. It is a simple story of love, strength and courage seen through enormous adversity. It is a passion project that took two years to finance and film. I am a veteran myself, and my wife Heather and I appreciate greatly the sacrifices our wounded veterans and their spouses make. This is our ode to two souls forging ahead during enormously difficult times, like so many of our veterans and their families have had to do and are still doing.
Women’s boxing in Cuba has been banned since the revolution. A 38-year-old woman defies Castro and trains in secret for five years in hopes that the ban will be lifted. But with only two years of eligibility left, will Namibia fulfill her dream of Olympic glory and become Cuba’s first official female contender? [subtitiles]
Director’s Statement: Meg Smaker
I am a documentary filmmaker, and also a competitive boxer. In late 2013, I traveled to Cuba to train for an upcoming fight. Shortly after arriving, I discovered women were banned from the sport. This was a surprise, as Cuba has a rich sports culture and is a communist country that preaches equality. Eventually I found a fight gym that would train me. Here I met Namibia, the only female boxer in Cuba.
Kinder Surprise eggs are enormously popular all around the world. From the foil wrapper to the chocolate shell, the plastic yolk capsule to the clever toy inside, they are practically a global rite of childhood. That is, except in the United States, where they’re considered a choking hazard and are illegal. This is the inside story of a clever Kinder smuggler!
Director’s Statement: Andrew Rodgers
I had dinner at the home of our film’s subject. For dessert, he pulled a couple of Kinder Surprise eggs out of a drawer. I’d never opened one before, because they are illegal in the US. He told the story of his fascination with them, and how he’d even been caught trying to smuggle them across the Canadian border. Before falling asleep that night, I told my wife that someone ought to make a film about this. By the next morning, I was convinced I was the person to do it.
Filmed in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park, this is an enchanting, immersive ballet of the tall native grasses known as graminoids. Waving in the wind, set to a symphony of synthesized and natural sounds, Graminoids captures the mesmerizing interplay of textures and light.
Directors’ Statement: Lars Koens,
When we saw the interplay between wind and grass on Arthur’s Seat, for us, the only way to communicate its sublime beauty was to make this film. We worked intensively on a synthesis between the sound of wind and the infinitely diverse images of grass, continuously feeding one with the other until we reached the right harmony.
This poetic and poignant glimpse into life aboard a public bus in Silicon Valley takes place over one dramatic night. Line 22 is the only 24-hour bus route in Palo Alto. During the day, it is a regular city bus. But at night, it transforms into an unofficial shelter for the homeless.
Director’s Statement: Elizabeth Lo
I filmed Hotel 22 in Palo Alto while pursuing a Master of Fine Arts at Stanford University’s documentary film program. As the Line 22 bus hurtles through one of the richest parts of the world, it carries all the lives that have been displaced and disregarded by Silicon Valley. Its story is a mirror to the discord — and disparity — of the world we live in.
Director: Laney D'Aquino, Denny DeBey, dana knoke,
Denny DeBey is a traditional blacksmith: he crafts objects of function and great beauty from hard metal. Since 2005, he has designed and created the awards presented at the Ashland Independent Film Festival. The filmmakers who receive his creations treasure them! Step into the Ashland Forge and watch the process unfold with this master craftsman.
Laney D’Aquino, Denny DeBey, Dana Knoke
The equipment for this film included Denny’s anvil — made in the 1800s — hammers and jigs that Denny made himself at the forge, plus Laney’s camera and editing system on her computer. The three of us found a great ease and delight in creating together. We forged a great friendship in making a film about a blacksmith. We hope you enjoy our little film. We certainly had fun making it.
Living with her single mother in an isolated subdivision in rural Texas, 14-year-old Leila’s deepest connection is with her pack of rescued dogs. When her beloved pit bull is stolen by an aspiring dog fighter, Leila is forced to stand up for herself at the cost of her own innocence. [language, mature]
Director’s Statement: Annie Silverstein
SKUNK is part of a series of films I’ve done exploring youth culture and coming of age. Before moving to Austin, I spent a decade working with kids on different Indian reservations in Washington State, using films to tell stories about their lives. The world of SKUNK is based loosely on the experiences of kids I worked with during this time.
A high school baseball player is profiled by the police and stopped on his way home from practice. Xavier’s entire future hangs in the balance in this timely, realistic, and relevant short.
Director’s Statement: Reinaldo Marcus Green
Growing up African American in NYC, I have personally been subjected to the NYPD’s controversial “Stop and Frisk” policies. The issue of humanity comes into question when an individual is stopped merely on the basis of his or her skin tone. I was drawn to make a film that goes beyond the issue of right or wrong. I wanted to explore both sides of “Stop and Frisk” — victim and perpetrator. Although set against the backdrop of Brooklyn’s Red Hook projects, this is a universal story that directly addresses issues of social injustice. In the end, I want the message Stop to help put an end to unconstitutional racial profiling.
The story of Pig and Fox — who become best friends despite schoolmates who bully them, the indifference of adults and the ever-present threat of a cloud of pollution that only Pig can keep from destroying the town. Traditional hand-drawn figures combined with digital painting bring this sweet fable to life.
Directors’ Statement: Robert Kondo, Dice Tsutsumi
Toward the end of production on Monsters University, we decided to take time off from being art directors at Pixar to make a short film. Our goal creatively was to tell an emotional story about a character that changes the way he sees the world, rather than the world around him changing. We were naively thinking we could finish the whole thing in three months. We thought we knew how animated film- making worked, but felt like every day we were putting out a fire. We really grew as filmmakers and as artists, and now we don’t want to stop.
In the last few years, thousands of people have flocked to North Dakota seeking work in the burgeoning oil fields, hoping to strike it rich. Gorgeous shots of the frozen plains underscore the moving and informative first-person accounts of three children and one immigrant mother as they face the realities of life in an over-crowded boom town. Themes of innocence, home, and the American Dream are seen through unexpected eyes.
Director’s Statement: J. Christian Jensen
When I arrived in North Dakota, I found all the signs of a genuine boom region: people sleeping in cars, trucks, and ramshackle RVs despite -50 temperatures; scarcity of basic foods and services; and a lack of infrastructure of every kind. I quickly determined that I wanted to train my camera on stories that were usually overlooked. I wanted to hear the voices of those who are often an afterthought in the quest for economic gain.