2015 Films

AMERICAN DIRTBAGS

An unapologetically raunchy action comedy about six lovable degenerates, their terrible choices, often hilarious and tragic consequences, and unexpectedly interwoven lives. Six installments follow their outlandish exploits, narrating the hilarious and unfortunate adventures they encounter while pondering life, death and the afterlife. (90 min., USA) Work-in-Progress Screening

ARLINGTON PASSAGES
BikeArlington presents six stories of people and how biking is an important part of their lives. These are the stories of Edgar; Natalie; Grant and Gillian; Chris and Rachael; Annie; and Nonie. (19 min., USA)

BEFORE WE LOSE

The story of a devoted single mother in the Black Sea region of Turkey. Her rapidly deteriorating health, brought on by fallout from the Chernobyl disaster, forces her to look for a caregiver to eventually replace her. Inspired by true events. (17 min., United Kingdom)

BIRTHDAY

A young military wife gets news that her Marine husband has been severely wounded in combat. During his long and challenging recovery, she discovers that the life ahead is a difficult, yet amazing journey. (13 min., USA)

BUILDING MAGIC

Mario Marchese is a wayward youth looking for meaning in his life when he happens upon a magic shop. Now, he travels the world inspiring adults and children with his story of turning hand-made props and robotics into an old-school magic performance. (75 min., USA)

C.T.R.L

A young man’s attempt at a first contact with a love interest is hijacked in a most entertaining way. (3 min., United Kingdom)

CHERRY BLOSSOM 

A mysterious woman sparks a young man’s interest at the Washington D.C. Cherry Blossom festival. She teaches him to cherish life’s beauty, but will destiny allow their love to blossom? (17 min., USA)

DREAM WRITERS

Three twenty-somethings write dreams for a secret organization. Faced with office sabotage and internal disagreements, they struggle to become a team. But with the help of some very unlikely allies, they just might be able to succeed, keep their jobs and earn some respect in the office. (26 min., USA)

FIXED

Five-year-old, Jemimah, is desperate for her dog Tilly to have puppies at any cost. When she learns her parents plan to have Tilly fixed, she embarks on a journey to get Tilly pregnant, with hilarious results. (7 min., Australia)

FOREST BORN

A wordless, mystical film about one man’s journey into nature and the depths of his own identity. A lone hiker journeys into a dreamlike forest wilderness, where a mythic encounter drives him from communion to terror and intimations of death, to the possibility of new life. (23 min., USA)

FREAK THE LANGUAGE

Exploring the life of New York City poet, David Mills and his special connection to the legendary Langston Hughes, this film highlights the poet’s unique associations with words, syntax, rhythms and rhyme. (30 min., USA)

FREE FLIGHT
Shot on location, this visually compelling documentary follows the efforts of conservationists to save the last remaining colony of Scarlet Macaws in La Mosquita, Honduras. (21 min., USA)

FROM AUSTRALIA WITH LOV3

This documentary profiles environmental activist/street artist, Bode Klein, who uses found objects and materials from the environment to make a profound point. (7 min., Australia)

HERMITS
Twenty-five years ago, American author Bill Porter visited the Zhongnan Mountains in search of a 2000-year-old Chinese hermit tradition. He discovered dozens of monks and nuns leading solitary lives in quiet contemplation. In 2014, he returned to the Zhongnan Mountains. Is the hermit lifestyle he remembers still in practice today and what relevance does it have to mpst of us living a frenetic, urban existence? (87 min., China)

HILL OF THE HAPERSNOKS

As an author tries to write her masterpiece, her ideas turn into pesky creatures–the Hapersnoks! What will the novel’s main character, Beatrice Outerbridge of picturesque Sallowberry Hill, do once she realizes she’s within a storybook? (11 min., USA)

I APPROVE THIS MESSAGE

People say they hate campaign commercials, yet ads can, and often do, turn the tide in elections. This documentary exposes the logic behind these ads, the techniques used to persuade, manipulate and even entertain viewers and the role of political advertising in television history. (36 min., USA)

I AM REVA
The poignant tale of a mother and son living a double life as undocumented migrants in Sweden. Based on real events, this film provides a window into the lives of those trying to make a life in a new country. (30 min., Sweden)

IN PROGRESS

Hoping to mend their broken lives and expose a corrupt system, a group of unlikely strangers band together to rob a bank. (10 min., USA)

INERTIA

During a walk in the woods, a man stumbles upon a gate blocked by a guard who refuses to let him through. Gaining entry becomes his obsession and only goal, to the detriment of all else, including his own physical and mental health. Based on the short story Before the Law by Franz Kafka. (18 min., USA)

JANEY MAKES A PLAY

At age 90, Janey is writing her last play in a small town in Northern California. Her community theater productions have provided a sense of purpose in the town, which has been hit hard by the recession. As she works to complete the play, she is motivated by this struggling community that comes together and supports each other no matter what. (80 min., USA)

JOURNEY TO A MIRACLE: FREEDOM FROM INSULIN
This documentary chronicles the incredible journey to find a cure for a rare form of diabetes. Through interviews with scientists and patients, the film documents a medical breakthrough that dramatically affects those with newly understood, genetic forms of this disease. (57 min., USA)

KEEPSAKE
In this Southern Gothic tale, estranged sisters, Misty and Julie, return to their childhood home to clean out their late mother’s house. Unfortunately for them, their mother was a hoarder. As they sort through both meaningful and mundane mementos, the pieces connect to reveal a family secret. (17 min., USA)

LADY IN WHITE

Based on real events, this frightening tale follows four friends on a road trip haunted by the urban legend “Lady in White.” (17 min., Venezuela)

LANDSCAPE OF POWER: FREEDOM AND SLAVERY IN THE DISMAL SWAMP
New research has established the occupation by maroon communities in the swamp for more than 200 years. For the first time, the film exposes the amazing story of independence, resistance and resilience among escaped slaves. Choosing heat, insects, wild animals and the “unknown Swamp” over plantation life, slaves defied their masters and chose freedom. (20 min., USA)

LES FALAISES
Set on a cliff overlooking Lake Erie, dancer Helen French portrays two sides of the same woman: one trapped inside her mind by old memories and one who visualizes endless possibilities. Does she follow her vision of freedom? (14 min., USA)

LOVE THE COOPERS

Follow the Cooper clan as four generations of extended family come together for their annual Christmas Eve celebration. As the evening unfolds, a series of unexpected visitors and unlikely events turn the night upside down, leading them all toward a surprising rediscovery of family bonds and the spirit of the holiday. Starring: Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Ed Helms, Diane Keaton, Jake Lacy, Anthony Mackie, Amanda Seyfried, June Squibb, Marisa Tomei, Olivia Wilde (100 min., USA)
Special advance screening event exclusive to the Alexandria Film Festival. In theaters nationwide: November 13.

LUCHADORA

Luna Magica, a Lucha Libre wrestling star, dreams of becoming world wrestling champion while fighting to make ends meet as a single mom. Luchadora shines light into the fascinating subculture of professional female wrestling in Mexico and explores issues of gender roles both in and out of the ring. (12 min., USA, Mexico)

MAIL.MAN

Letters are an endangered species in the Internet Age. Frank is a mailman who loves his job, but is faced with the realities of an increasingly digital world, continued economic cutbacks and post office closings. Suddenly, he finds renewed purpose in an unlikely event that reveals the true value of his profession. (20 min., USA)

MANNISH BOY
In 1970’s Brooklyn, New York, 21 year-old Bobby Mayhill must adapt to the return of his older brother Tommy whose absence, while serving a six-year jail sentence, has left Bobby following in the wrong footsteps. (15 min., USA)

MERRY XMAS

The story of a mischievous father who calls his very busy kids to tell them that after 55 years of marriage, he and their mom are getting divorced. Horrified by the news, the children prepare to fly home to stop the divorce and save their parent’s marriage. Starring: Dick Van Dyke, Valerie Harper (7 min., USA)

MODERN LOVE IS AUTOMATIC
The story of an apathetic nurse who moonlights as a dominatrix, her aspiring model roommate and the sad, strange world they live in. (90m, USA) A portion of the proceeds from this screening will be donated to the Sydney-Chanele Dawkins Scholarship Fund, which supports the passion and efforts of female writers in journalism and the arts. Visit SydneyFierce.com for more information.

OFFSET: SEEING BEAUTY THROUGH A BRAIN INJURY
After a traumatic brain injury, world renowned photographer Brian Nice is confined to his childhood home. But when his health insurance no longer covers physical therapy sessions, Nice embarks on a cross-country road trip that tests his physical limits. Taking his camera with him, he documents his new way of seeing the world. (60 min., USA)

OH CRAPPY DAY

While on a blind date with a charming young woman, a film student struggles to conceal his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). (18 min., USA)

ON THE WING

Four teens uncover a plot to destroy bald eagles to reach the oil beneath their nesting grounds. Will Ryburn, is the son of a powerful senator and heir to an oil fortune. He and his friends must use their bravery, wisdom and unique talents to save the birds, heal Will’s relationship with his father and maybe even change the future! Starring: Corbin Bernson, Shirley Jones & Dan DeLuca (89 min., USA)

RAGE

During the course of a poker game, a mild-mannered young man is emasculated to the point of no return by a fellow player. (14 min., USA)

REBIRTH
Petty criminals breaks into an apartment and steal a beautiful carved wooden box–a box that contains the ashes of a young man’s father. When the thieves realize the priceless value of the contents inside, they try to ransom the box, but events do not go according to plans. (12 min., United Kingdom, Lithuania)

RUN FREE: THE TRUE STORY OF CABALLO BLANCO
The amazing story of American “ultra running” legend Micah True (Caballo Blanco, or the White Horse) and his quest to create an ultra marathon in Mexico’s Copper Canyon to promote and preserve the ancient Tarahumara running tradition. Based on the best-selling book, by Christopher McDougall, “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen.” Born to Run is currently being made into a feature film starring Matthew McConaughey.

SAFIYAH FLIES ACROSS THE OCEAN

A poetic tale of imagination, grief and growing up set against the backdrop of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. An eight-year-old girl, Safiyah, is waiting for her father to come home from Egypt. Her mother refuses to contact him, so she joins forces with her neighbor to fly him a letter with a toy helicopter. (14 min., United Kingdom)

SHACKLE
After the 1947 India-Pakistan partition, religious communities were split and lost touch. In order to maintain purity within their villages, aging women were forced to marry boys, teenagers or younger. SHACKLE (SAANKAL) explores the effects of this tradition on both the women and children of this society. Abeera, age 26, is forced to marry Kesar, age 11, and we follow their haunting story throughout the years in Bollywood musical style. Based on true events in Rajasthan, India. (98 min., India)

SHRINES 

Follow photojournalist, Lloyd Wolf, as he documents Washington D.C.’s painful gauntlet of tributes to those whose lives were cut short by violence. His mission to “hold on, share and never forget” leaves us with many questions about how we value life and explain the growing number of homicides. (4 min., USA)

SIDESHOW OF THE ABSURD
After the death of her husband, lifelong artist Pamela Joseph was left creatively frozen, searching for meaning and struggling to find her identity. Seven years later, an explosion of ideas culminated in a fantastical exhibition inspired by 20th-century freak shows. (14 min., USA)

THE ART OF RICHARD THOMPSON

Richard Thompson won a Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist. For a cartoonist, that’s like winning an Oscar. He is admired, if not revered, by his peers for his weekly feature “Richard’s Poor Almanac” in The Washington Post and his daily syndicated “Cul De Sac” cartoon. Thompson was forced to stop drawing in 2012 due to Parkinson’s disease, but his wit and artistic genius cannot be silenced. (22 min., USA)

THE BALLAD OF HOLLAND ISLAND HOUSE
This unique animated film features clay paintings to tell the true story of the last house on a sinking island in the Chesapeake Bay. The story contemplates time, environmental change and the rise of the seas from the perspective of the house. (4 min., USA)

THE BONOBO CONNECTION

The endangered bonobo ape found in the Democratic Republic of Congo is surrounded by war, civil unrest, habitat destruction and illegal hunting. Known as the “forgotten ape,” it has close similarities to humans–can it survive us? (31 min., USA)

THE BRAINWASHING OF MY DAD

What would you do if someone you loved became obsessed with political talk radio and turned into a completely different person? Filmmaker Jen Senko captured her family’s story, while investigating the forces and sources that profoundly influence millions of people every day. This is a special, work-in-progress screening of this film. (95 min., USA) Work-in-Progress Screening

THE DAVID DANCE

David, the host of a local, gay radio show in Buffalo, New York, struggles with self-doubt when his single sister asks him to be the father figure for her soon to be adopted Brazilian child. Past and present intertwine in this bittersweet winter’s tale set in Buffalo, New York of a man learning to love and accept himself. (108 min., USA)

THE DEEP HEART’S CORE
An elderly man recites the William Butler Yeats poem, The Lake Isle of Innisfree, over Super 8 images of his mentally disabled daughter’s life at a retreat in the Shenandoah Valley. (4 min., USA)

THE DROUGHT LAND

A man tries to give life to his dying plant. (12 min., Lebanon)

THE LAST GREAT CIRCUS FLYER

The greatest trapeze performer of all time reflects on his illustrious circus career and reveals why he unexpectedly quit “flying.” Filmed over a 6-year period, the film addresses the triumphs, dangers, fears and oftentimes tragedies of these unique artists. (119 min., USA)

THE POEM OF A MEMORY
A slice of life that follows a despairing and heartsick woman as she faces the reality of losing the most important relationship in her life. (5 min., USA)

THE SCHOOLBOY

Claire, a former teacher, is haunted by her memories of a traumatic event. To come to terms with her past, she decides to return to the place where the horror unfolded. (19 min., United Kingdom)

THE SOFT SHELLED CRAB AND THE METAL CLAW
The story of Wei Tang, a young Chinese woman, who toils everyday in her abusive husband’s fish market in New York City. Trapped in a hellish life, she resolves to escape, will she make it out alive? (14 min., USA)

THE SON OF MAPES

An intimate documentary profiling the filmmaker’s Afro-Caribbean father who rose to international success as a tennis player. He played on an all Latin-American team, coached by Robert Mapes at the University of Corpus Christi. The film chronicles their reunion, forty years later. (14 min., Aruba)

THE WOMAN NOVELIST IN THE PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL

Novelist, Li Qing, struggles with psychological distress while writing her book. Her friend, Jin Ye, suggests she go to a psychiatric hospital to refresh her mind. While there, she befriends Ji, who is bullied by other patients. Li Qing is sympathetic toward him and after she recovers, hopes to remove Ji from the hospital. Her request is met with a surprising response. (29 min., China)

THREE LADY TAILORS
Three lady tailors in the capital city of Xinjing enlist the help of a homeless boy to secure a precious book of cloth cuttings from the palace. The women have been under heavy surveillance by the government. Can the boy help them take the book to safety? (36 min., China)

TUNNEL VISION
Sarah and Brandon are jaded ex-lovers who reunite after Brandon discovers he suffers from a rare eye disorder that is causing him to gradually go blind. Faced with the dilemma of how to spend his last days with his fading vision, he convinces Sarah to drive him back to the places from their shared past so he can see them–and her–one more time. (16 min., USA)

UNCLE & SON

After his parents left a long time ago, a boy goes to live with his uncle. Their house in a peaceful village is simple, yet cozy. However, the innocent boy can’t ignore the heartless gossip about his uncle’s life. He decides to find a solution that he believes will bring his uncle a better life. (14 min., Vietnam)

YEMENIETTES

Three teenagers from an all-female high school in Yemen set out to break the barriers of their traditional society. With the help of a community business program (INJAZ Yemen), they enter an entrepreneurship competition, but along the way encounter the hardships of a country marked by a broken educational system, joblessness and a threatening Al-Qaeda presence. (59 min., USA)

ZERO

A boy and his father are emotionally and physically separated when the earth intermittently loses gravity. This sci-fi film was written and directed by YouTube Your Film Festival winner David Victori. Victori’s prize was funding for his next project, with executive producer support from Ridley Scott and Michael Fassbender. (20 min., United Kingdom, Spain, Mexico, USA)