SELECTED SHORTS

A collection of short films for a variety of grade levels that center on kids exploring new worlds and discovering new skills.

BUBBLE GUM
Grades 6-12
A girl named Indigo falls in love with a girl named Blossom. The only problem is that Indigo is straight. As explained by the 14-year-old filmmaker of this sweet, perky, and poignant film: “I wanted to represent the painful and confusing journey that every LGBTQ person goes through, to show the raw feelings of falling in love and heartbreak.” Director: Ella Fields (US 2018) 9 min

VIEW THE FILM FOR FREE ON YOUTUBE

Selected by Director of Education, Joanne Parsont:
“When I first watched this film, I was so charmed by the wonderfully sweet and authentic story of the fluidity of friendship and feelings between these two girls, and I was so impressed by the pure talent of Ella Fields, the 14-year-old filmmaker who directed it. But it was when Ella came to MVFF last fall to share her film and speak with our student audiences that the real impact of this film became abundantly clear: Her honesty and ease in sharing her emotions and in destigmatizing the LGBTQ youth experience was cheered and embraced by all!” 

Things to think and talk about after watching the film:

  • Are there resources at your school for LGBTQ students? Are there ways you can help to ensure your campus feels safe for students of all sexual orientations?
  • Like the teen director, Ella Fields, try writing a story about friendships to create your own short film. Base it on your own experiences, but make up your own characters and see where it takes you…

FEATHERS
Grades 9-12
*Note: Some strong language
Feathers centers around Elizier, an emotionally dejected new enrollee at The Edward R. Mill School for Boys, who must overcome memories of a tragic past and the present hazing by his peers in order to tackle larger issues dominating his young life. Director: A.V. Rockwell (US 2019) 20 min

VIEW THE FILM FOR FREE ON YOUTUBE

Selected by Director of Education Outreach Manager Shakira Refos:
“A.V. Rockwell attempts to answer questions that are rarely asked: What gets left behind when systems that allow white supremacy to thrive rob a black man or woman of their life? What gets left behind when a child is robbed of a parent? I’ve described this short film as Lord of the Flies meets Moonlight, somewhat in jest because that description doesn’t do Rockwell justice as a powerful voice in a class of unapologetic upcoming directors. I’d love to ask her if Feathers will be made into a feature film because I haven’t stopped thinking about its characters since I first saw the film at Sundance in 2019. Bright, proud, magnificent, and vibrant are all words used to describe the beauty of a peacock. They are words I’d use to describe black boys when they are safe, free and healed amongst themselves.”

Things to think and talk about after watching the film:

  • Feathers covers a lot of ground in its commentary of black joy, black pain, racism, police brutality and American exceptionalism. What struck you the most about the film? 

INOCENTE
Grades 6-12This Oscar®-winning coming-of-age film is both a timeless story about the transformative power of art and a timely snapshot of the new face of homelessness in America: children. At 15, Inocente refuses to let her dream of becoming an artist be thwarted by her undocumented status or her homelessness. The challenges are staggering, but her story proves that the hand she has been dealt does not define her, her dreams do. Directors: Sean Fine & Andrea Nix (US 2013) 40 min

VIEW THE FILM ON iTUNES

Selected by Education Program Manager Melanie Nichols:
“In this beautiful, hopeful and heart-wrenching story, Inocente has something that no one can take away from her no matter how dark her life gets: her creativity, which she expresses through her artwork.”

Things to think and talk about after watching the film:

  • Do you have a form of artistic expression that you are passionate about? How do you feel when you are doing it? 
  • Create three simple paintings using any media (e.g., paint, crayons, watercolors, charcoal) that express three different emotions.
  • Research stories of homelessness. Can you think of any ways that we can help homeless children and families?

JESSZILLA
Grades 4-12
Jesselyn “Jesszilla” Silva is serious about boxing, and at 10 years old trains seriously with dreams of becoming a professional fighter. Her father, Pedro, finds himself caught in between supporting her dream and worrying about her future as she tries to master a combat sport. Director: Emily Sheskin (US 2017) 7 min

View the film for free here 

Selected by Director of Education, Joanne Parsont:
“I’m no fan of boxing, but I am a huge fan of fearless young girls who feel empowered to follow their dreams, whatever shape they may take. I also love the father/daughter relationship in this film and his inner conflict over how to both support and protect her. They are a very dynamic duo—and she is definitely a force to be reckoned with!” 

Things to think and talk about after watching the film:

  • Is there a sport or other pursuit that you’re interested in trying out but feel like it’s not something you’re “supposed” to do because of your age, gender, ability, etc.?
  • What skills do you think Jess learns from boxing that might apply to other areas of her life?

LEARNING TO SKATEBOARD IN A WARZONE (IF YOU’RE A GIRL)
Grades 5-12
This year’s Oscar® winner for Best Documentary Short Subject tells the story of young Afghan girls learning to read, write, and skateboard at Skateistan, a nonprofit organization in Kabul. The film follows a class of girls over the course of the school year as they learn and become empowered through the joy of skateboarding and the and inspiration of the women who teach them. Director: Carol Dysinger, (UK 2019) 39 min

Selected by Education Program Manager Melanie Nichols:
“I loved seeing the girls—in headscarves, long dresses, skate shoes, and helmets— challenging themselves, failing, and trying again and again to ultimately achieve goals that they set for themselves.”

View the film on Amazon Prime or A&E

Things to think and talk about after watching the film:

  • How did the charity Skateistan get started and why? Watch this TedTalk to find out more.
  • Do you like to skateboard? Follow this link to learn how to build a simple ramp at home. 

STAY CLOSE
Grades 4-12
Stay Close blends home videos and animation in an expressionistic montage to tell the underdog story of Keeth Smart, an African American fencer from Brooklyn who overcomes a gauntlet of hardships on his road to the Olympics.

Selected by Education Outreach Manager Shakira Refos:
“I first came across this documentary at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. I was drawn in by the application of modern multimedia to tell a traditional story about overcoming obstacles to achieve one’s goals.”

View the film for free here 

Things to think and talk about after watching the film:

  • Think about a time in your life when you had to find strength outside of yourself to make it through a hard time. What advice would you give to someone who may be feeling stuck or unmotivated?
  • Learn some basic fencing techniques: Grab a newspaper, watch this tutorial, and en garde!

B-MOVIE: A SHORT FILM ABOUT BANKSY
Grades 9-12  *Note: Some strong language
This short documentary about the infamous British street artist Banksy reveals how he started out as a graffiti writer, including interviews with fellow British personalities such as artist Damien Hirst and 3D of Massive Attack. While only a handful of people know his real identity, Banksy goes on the record about his own outlook on street art. Director: Jaimie D’Cruz (UK 2009) 14 min

Selected by Education Outreach Manager Shakira Refos:
“As a fan of HipHop I’ve always been interested in learning about its subculture. “Heads,” or fans of HipHop, pride themselves on understanding its four pillars: DJing, MCing, B-Boying, and Writing (graffiti). HipHop is a cultural movement that is mostly defined only by its music and has been historically dismissed as frivolous or indulgent, rather than appreciated for its complex history. We are hardwired to deny the power in black art until it’s co-opted and made valuable by white audiences. Banksy’s story is a perfect exercise of this truth. Who decides when something previously seen as a scourge to society becomes valuable?”

View the film for free here 

Things to think and talk about after watching the film:

  • How much did you know about Banksy before watching the film? Check out his 2010 self-directed documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop to learn more.
  • What is your personal relationship with or feelings about graffiti? Have they changed after watching this documentary?
  • What do you think is the difference between graffiti and street art? Is one more legitimate than the other? 

A BRUSH WITH THE TENDERLOIN
Grades 5-12
This Emmy®-winning short documentary follows artist Mona Caron as she creates Windows into the Tenderloin, a mural that is in, for, and about the Tenderloin District in San Francisco. The mural became a time capsule documenting the neighborhood’s street life during a time that preceded a period of accelerated change in San Francisco. Director: Paige Bierma (US 2011) 24 min

Selected by Education Program Manager Melanie Nichols:
“I loved meeting such a wildly talented young woman and the many neighborhood locals who stopped by to chat and tell their stories as she paints.”

View the film for free here.

Things to think and talk about after watching the film:

  • In the mini portraits in the mural, do you recognize any of the people who stop by to chat with Mona as she paints?
  • What role has street art historically played in activism? 
  • Draw or paint a picture that includes as many of the people and animals in your neighborhood that you know.
  • Watch A New Color: The Art of Being Edythe Boone, a feature documentary about another San Francisco artist who created a neighborhood mural project in the Mission District.

DIGNITY AT A MONUMENTAL SCALE
Grades 6-12
By day, Chip Thomas is a primary care physician for the Indian Health Services on the Navajo Nation, where he’s lived for 30 years. In his free time, Thomas installs massive photo murals depicting his neighbors, from sheepherders to grandmothers, and celebrating the beauty of a people whose land has been mined and poisoned, cut up and sold off. Director: Kelly Whelan (US 2018) 8 min

Selected by Director of Education, Joanne Parsont:
“I’m so inspired by how Chip combines his work in health care with his art making as a way to honor and empower a community that has been traditionally neglected and imperiled. There is so much heart and humanity in every minute of this short film – and the giant photographs are mesmerizing.”

View the film for free here

Things to think and talk about after watching the film:

  • What kind of impact do you think Chip’s murals have on people’s understanding and appreciation of the Navajo community? Why? 
  • Create a (smaller scale) mural in your own room using photos of your friends and family.
  • Watch Agnès Varda’s feature documentary Faces Places for another fascinating look at the use of photo murals to document and connect with people and communities. 

COIN OPERATED
Grades 1 and up
A young boy dreams of star-ships and space travel. This animated short film spans 70 years in the life of one naive explorer. Nonverbal. Director: Nicholas Arioli (US 2018) 5 min

View the film for free here.

DULCE
Grades 5-12
How do you get a child to swim when she’s scared of the water? In a small village among the mangrove swamps of Colombia’s Pacific coast, a mother patiently challenges her young daughter to face her fears. In Spanish with English subtitles. Directors: Angello Faccini, Guille Isa (US 2018) 11 min

View the film for free here.

MY IRNIK
Grades 6-12
In the Canadian Arctic, in the remote community of Kuujjuaq, a young father and mother are raising their irnik (son) with an emphasis on shared adventures, connection to the land, and experiencing all that is the Far North. My Irnik is about familial lines, ancestral culture, the generational transference of knowledge, and the individual’s path to seek his or her own dreamscapes. In English. Directors François Lebeau, Matthew Hood (Canada 2017) 16 min

View the film for free here.

MY MOM VALA
Grades 5-8
Ten-year-old Mathilda learns the art of fly fishing from her mother Vala, who was raised by fishing guides and travels regularly for guiding work from Reykjavík to Greenland, a barren yet beautiful country we experience through Mathilda’s fantasies and Vala’s eyes. In English. Director: RC Cone (Greenland 2018) 10 min

View the film for free here.