2018 Selected Films

1st Prize: Mi País, Tu País (My Country, Your Country) by Genevieve Gorman Deane (University of Southern California): Mi País, Tu País (My Country, Your Country) explores the maternal bond between mother, Teresa, and son, Rafael, and the familial struggles they face as undocumented citizens who risk their sense of identity and peace to stay in a country they emigrated to seven years ago.

2nd Prize: Lost in Aroncore by Ryan Wagner (University of Southern California): After Audrey’s failed suicide attempt, her 9 year-old sister Lucy must attempt to reconnect through their shared love of fantasy stories.

3rd Prize: 100% Cotton by Riley Street (University of Southern California): A young man keeps the tags out of his shirts.

Life in Color by Bishal Dutta (University of California, Berkeley): An aging, closeted gay man with Alzheimer’s struggles against his strong-willed daughter to hold on to the memory of his long lost lover.

Culdesac by Dylan Ashton (University of California, Berkeley): Sydney and Kit, two brothers separated after the destruction of their parents’ divorce, once again have their world disarrayed when Sydney reveals his abrupt plan to ditch town that evening, and Kit realizes he will be forced to confront that world by himself.

Rivers of Recovery by Soren Dickens (California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo): A short documentary on Rivers of Recovery, a nationwide program that takes service members suffering from PTSD into the tranquility of nature.

The Tipping Point by Danielle Cohen (University of California, Santa Barbara): The Tipping Point examines the issue of defunding and the silencing of science in today’s changing political climate.

Chainsaw Charlie by Dan Lesser (Chapman University): When Garrett enjoys what he thinks is a night in alone, things take a turn for the strange when he comes face-to-face with a masked murderer.

#ttyl by Allyson Wegner (California State University, Monterey Bay): A young man texts two separate girls over the course of a long night.

Middleweight by Jeremy Kemp (Capistrano Valley High School): Former professional middleweight boxer Alan Kemp reflects on his early life and boxing career.

Pinky Toe by Mathieu Libman (CalArts): Overwhelmed by a “phantom itch” from his missing pinky toe, a man must come to terms with his situation or succumb completely to his obsession.

My Life with Proteus by Joseph Demaria (Santa Barbara City College): An artist is kept in the confinement of his home due to a rare condition that inhibits him to freely walk.

Systematic by Jessie Butera (California State University, Long Beach): A young professional woman seeks to conquer oppression in her workplace in an unconventional manner.

Sound of Love by Sean Geisterfer (California State University, Long Beach): A young couple record a song for their unborn child.

Marie by Katie Theel (University of Southern California): When her whole world begins to distort before her eyes, Marie must figure out what is to blame and who she can trust – including herself.

Vessel by Felipe Vargas Ferrufino (University of Southern California): A South Floridian carpenter in contemplation of life’s voyage.

The Bread Winner by Agazi Desta (University of Southern California): After hearing his parents argue about financial issues at home, a 10 year old boy, Josie, seeks to learn from his resentful, troubled older brother a way to bring “bread” back to them, no matter what it takes.

Iconoclast by Alex Haney (University of Southern California): When his bathroom mirror reflection begins to separate from him, a mixed race teen must navigate a landscape of identity and change to come out to his parents before it’s too late.

All the Kids, They Dance by Jose Ordonez (Biola University): Lizzie, a beautiful and caring high school student finds out she is pregnant. When she informs Alex, her pessimistic and introverted boyfriend, he is skeptical about keeping the child.

Aki by Taylor Reynolds (Chapman University): A servant girl and a stray dog are fast friends in Edo-period Kyoto. A tense confrontation changes the course of their fate.

Spark by Aharonit Elior (Chapman University): A girl finds someone to spark her flame.

Missing Connections by Vince Dixon (University of Southern California): Everyone has their own beautiful and complex story. But if we don’t look, we’ll never see it.

Joseon’s Bride by Eleanor Cho (University of Southern California): A young immigrant in search of a better life must pass the tough immigration station at Angel Island, where one simple mistake can send her back to Korea.

Cogito by Patricia Brill (California State University, Sacramento): Controlled by an impatient program director, Project Cogito’s most valued Artificial Intelligence malfunctions as a weary scientist struggles to fix the problem.