A vision OF

WOMEN IN FILM

 
 
 

an international   

film festival

                   visions from 'round the world

Join the Community 

women empowering women

 
 

Meet the dreamers who do. 

The stories of women who tell stories.

 
 

Leading Sponsors

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Sep. 8-10 at the underground collaborative

Sep 8.

7 pm : Adele and Everything After

Preceded by One in Five short

Sep. 9

4 pm: Feminista

preceded by Gardening At Night

6 pm: JDF16

preceded by Freezer Burn

8 pm: Shorts Block 1

Artist In Bloom

Black Christmas

Crossing Fences

Return To Me

Won't Somebody Think of the Children

10 pm: Bitchin' Shorts

Glass Ceiling

I Think You Should Come To America

Nuclear Winter-The Musical!

A Woman Apart

Panic Attack!

Forgotten Flora

Sep. 10

2 pm: The Sunrise Storyteller

preceded by The Sandi Connection

4:30 pm: Shorts Block 2

Where The Great Spirits Live

After Orlando, Getting Its Pulse Back

Etymology

Circles

Tiff

Birds Dropping

7 pm: A Year With Betty Gold

preceded by Silent No More

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOCATED AT THE 

 

UNDERGROUND COLLABORATIVE

161 W Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53203

 
 
 
 

Awards & Prizes

There will be two Audience Awards and two Jury Awards for Best Short and Best Film. There will also be two Screenwriting Awards for the best written short and feature film, the winners of which will receive a four month script listing on InkTip to promote themselves and their scripts to InkTip’s entire network of producers, managers, and agents. 

 

Rules & Terms

We are looking for shorts and films that either feature at least one female as the main protagonist, and/or are directed by women. So yes, films with a male director are also welcome, as long as at your film or short features at least one major female character. But any film or short directed by a woman is eligible. No short or film made before 2014 will be accepted.

 
 

GET YOUR TICKETS

 
 

FESTIVAL FILMS

 

 
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A WOMAN APART

In this stop-motion animated film, a woman in a small, tight-knit village faces what is to be the last morning of her life. She knows that she can save herself. But at what cost? 

5 mins


 

A YEAR WITH BETTY GOLD

Betty Gold is about to turn 80 with no plans on retiring. From her early days as Miss Texas to installing large-scale sculptures around the world, some things have not changed: her tenacity, humor and philosophy of yes. A Year With Betty Gold follows this abstract California artist as she shares her insights on love and life while pulling back the curtain on the struggles of a contemporary artist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Director bio

Jay McMerty is a director and filmmaker based in Los Angeles, CA. He has produced award-winning international social cause documentaries as well as film and video productions in the narrative and experimental genres. Jay serves as director of the Elon University internship program in Los Angeles, teaches advanced production courses and freelances as a videographer, photographer and editor.

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ADELE AND EVERYTHING AFTER

The moving story of a woman with an untreatable heart condition, whose life is transformed by a service dog named Adele, and what happens when she has to let go of her loyal companion.

1 hr, 25 mins

 

 

about the director

Melissa Dowler is passionate about pushing for diverse and underrepresented voices in film. Her first documentary short, 24 Hours At The South Street Diner, was an official selection at IFF Boston, the Woods Hole Film Festival, and New Filmmakers New York. As Creative Director at Long Haul Films, she sets the vision for the studio’s dynamic work with innovative brands, including branded documentary projects Boston Upfront and 2024: The Innovation Games for Streetwise Media, and branded content for Oxford University Press, Thomson Reuters, the TD Garden, among others. Melissa’s next project is Restarting The Motor City, a documentary feature about the revitalization of Detroit.


 

AFTER ORLANDO, GETTING ITS PULSE BACK

A month after the Orlando massacre, three friends who survived the attack begin the road to recovery.

14 mins

 

about the directors


 

ARTIST IN BLOOM

Can a "basement Betty" floral designer win the prestigious Art in Bloom exhibition, an annual competition at the Milwaukee Art Museum? Follow firebrand florist Sally Vander Wyst -- wild child, rebel and Slow Flower devotee -- as she interprets the museum's masterpieces with her own creative style and art that is as fleeting as it is beautiful.

31 mins

 

about the director

Cynthia Eggert-Johnson is the owner and creative director at Johnson & Johnson Creative Content Sweet Pea Cinema. She is a former newspaper journalist, most recently at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, St. Paul Pioneer Press among others. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.


 

BIRDS DROPPING

Two friends experience one nightmare of a road trip after they find themselves out of gas on a deserted stretch of road.

11 mins

 

about the director

Mary Rachel Gardner was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area by a big Greek family. She graduated from USC in 2013 with a major in Acting and s double minor in Business and Film Production. She also spent a semester abroad studying at a theatre conservatory in London. Mary Rachel has been performing since she was six years old, and is constantly active in dance, musical theatre, and filmmaking. Gardener has worked at several production companies, such as Steve Carell’s Carousel Productions and agencies such as William Morris Endeavor. She worked for The Ellen DeGeneres Show, where she learned about the production and operation elements of running a live television show. She also developed many of her own independent projects with her production company Kalliste Zoe Productions; including music videos, parodies, comedic sketches and short films.


 

BLACK CHRISTMAS

A man is accused of attacking a woman and must convince an angry mob of his innocence.

6 mins

 

about the director

Susan Davis was born and raised in San Diego, where she currently resides. She fell in love with movies at the age of four when she saw her first movie, Dr. Dolittle. In addition to directing, Davis has also worked in virtually every crew position, including Assistant Director, Director of Photography, Production Sound, Boom Operator, Camera Operator, and Production Assistant. She has also written and produced all of her films, edited many of them, and done the same for others.

 


 

 CIRCLES      

Circles is a documentary short that explores why women shame each other. Women from all ages experience gossiping, backstabbing, and broken friendships. In other words, high school never ends...

13 mins

 

about the director

Mariah Smallwood is the Managing Director of the Visions Film Festival & Conference. She loves making schedules and treats her spreadsheets like they are her babies. Mariah has also worked on various film shorts like You Mean Chickens? (2015) as the sound mixer and as a makeup artist for Open Mic (2016) and The Rite Side (2016). She recently worked on the narrative short film, Baby Oil (2016) as the Co-Producer and Unit Production Manager. Her personal interests include pop culture, gender studies, and how societies function. She hopes to utilize these interests to create films that document social interactions and how they shape individuals. While finishing up her education at UNC Wilmington, Mariah is still searching for the perfect puppy(s). 


 

CROSSING FENCES

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In 1974, a young East German couple is desperate to leave their restricted lives behind and attempts to escape into the West on a handmade boat across the Baltic Sea.

13 mins

 

 

about the director

Annika was raised in former East Germany.  She is known for Mob City, The Originals, Expendable Assets, Hindsight, and Unbelievers. 
After receiving her B.F.A. in Theater History and Directing at Bayreuth University, Annika received a Fulbright scholarship at Indiana University and completed her education with a Masters in Film Directing at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. She is currently working on TV and film projects in Los Angeles.


 

ETYMOLOGY

Etymology follows Catherine and her daughter Millie during the build-up to an important spelling bee. But as preparations gather pace, so does the pressure, and soon the veil of perfection begins to slip.

9 mins

 

about the director

Maria McIndoo is a writer, director, and producer. After writing and directing her first feature, Say It Like It Is (2013), she has worked on several features, including Pale Horses (2013), Nina Nobody (2014), and Let It Go (2014). Most recently, she has worked under Michael Rauch, who is the executive producer of numerous projects, including Royal Pains (USA), Love Monkey (CBS), and Life Is Wild (CW). McIndoo is currently working on the web-series Young Widows, starring Eleonore Condo, Anna Baryshnikov and Kaley Ronayne. Additionally, she is in pre-production for her next feature, Undone. 


 

FEMINISTA

Feminista tells the story of the Feminist Caravan, which consisted of a group of feminists from Serbia, France, Portugal, Brazil. Together, they embarked on a journey through twenty European countries to meet other women in order to break their isolation, share their strategies and struggles, and encourage each others.

1 hr


about the director

Myriam Fougère was a photographer and sculptor before she became interested in film. She lived in New York, Vancouver and Montreal where, for nearly twenty years, she exhibited her sculptures in spaces for women. In 2007, she created Déroutes, an experimental work about breast cancer, that won the second prize at the ImagéSanté Festival in Liège in 2008 and Best Documentary at the Women's Film Festival in Baltimore in 2009. She then filmed, edited and directed the documentary Lesbiana - A Parallel Revolution, about the lesbian movement in Quebec and the United States in the 1980s. Myriam used many of her own photo archives and video, as well as her sculptures, in this film. Lesbiana has been selected in more than 60 festivals around the world in Montreal, Paris, London, Seoul, Moscow, Belgrade, Barcelona, an Francisco and many others.


FORGOTTEN FLORA

Forgotten Flora is a short, 2D animated film about a successful businesswoman named Megan, who lives in the big city. With her work becoming harder and harder to say no to, Megan forgets to nurture the important things in life and gets a thorny wake up call.

5 mins


about the director

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Reanna Miller is an animator, illustrator, and designer. She loves television as a personal source of inspiration and entertainment, and has fond memories of sitting down with her family to watch their favorite shows together. Instead of turning into a couch potato, she channeled this pastime into a love of art, specifically animation. She earned her Masters of Fine Arts in Animation from Ball State University in 2017, which is also where she earned her Bachelors of Fine Arts in Animation in 2014. She is a Digital Mentor at the Muncie Public Library, working with the community on building skills in technology and design. She was an intern and freelance animator with Adult Swim in Atlanta for the show FishCenter and contributed to other various facets of the studio. Her work with Adult Swim included a Scion commercial bumper, storyboards, and various parody animations. Reanna has recently completed her thesis film, Forgotten Flora, and has directed the short film Chasing Jenny. She has also contributed to short films Sealed with a Kiss, DairyLand, and the award-winnning short, Claire and the Keys.


FREEZER BURN

An enthusiastic businessman purchases a freezer. But there may be more to this routine transaction than there appears to be.

8 mins


about the director

Mostly known for her short film work, including Short Circuit (2013), Civil War (2012), Waste of a Fall (2014) and See How Easy That Was? (2015), Marina began her filmmaking career at a young age. She was first introduced to filmmaking at ten, when she co-starred in her father Carlo Bruno's independent feature film In April (2014). Marina decided to follow in her father's footsteps, and made her first official short film at 16. She then founded her production company Wondering Pictures and created several new short films. At 19, Marina wrote, directed, produced and edited her first feature film Cotton String (2015), making her one of the youngest ever established filmmakers in cinematic history. She continues to create new works, all of which are showcased on her YouTube channel and in several film festivals across the globe.


GARDENING AT NIGHT

The period between knowing death is near and death’s arrival forms an unbearable state of regret, sadness and anticipation for Samantha. She is powerless to help Anne, who on the eve of her death has not come to terms with her fate and remains angry and afraid. Waiting expands time to the point that it loses meaning. The world shrinks to encompass only her and her phone, which will ring soon with the news. That night, she can no longer bear the stillness, and despite the darkness, Samantha tries to put her neglected garden in order. Caring for living things gives her a temporary sense of control. Afterwards, she realizes how she can help Anne let go of her fear, which also gives her the chance to say goodbye to her friend.

12 mins


about the director

Shayna Connelly’s work explores hauntings, liminality, and the boundaries between documentary, experimental, and fiction filmmaking. Her early work screened at Heaven Gallery, The Milwaukee Art Museum, and the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis. Her most recent work has screened at IC Docs, CIMMfest, Reel Shorts, Big Muddy Film Festival, Columbus International Film Festival, Charlotte International Film Festival, Chicago Underground Film Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, and Athens International Film and Video Festival, among others. Newcity Magazine named her one of Chicago's 50 Screen Gems of 2016.


GLASS CEILING

Two female contract killers seek revenge when they discover they've been underpaid due to their gender.

12 mins

 


about the director

Tash Ann is a writer and director currently splitting her time between living in Los Angeles and Cincinnatti. In the early 2000s, she co-wrote and co-produced the feature film A Beautiful Road to Albinbam which received a theater release in Finland. Her directorial debut short Bizaria was licensed by ShortsTV on Comcast/DIrect TV and currently airs regularly along with her co-created web series Week Night Stands. She is currently working on producing her feature film, Initiation of Duncan Baker.


I THINK YOU SHOULD COME TO AMERICA

Using 16mm archival footage, letter excerpts from a Native American prisoner, documentation of the director Kamila Kuc's involvement with the Movement for the Supporters of Native American Indian Rights in Poland, the film explores a paradoxical fascination of the Poles behind the Iron Curtain with the ideal of America as a land of freedom. I Think You Should Come to America investigates the cultural conditions in which memories are created. While critically evaluating Kuc's own enchantment with America as a teenage girl from Communist Poland, she interrogates various patterns of perception in order to produce a form of reflection that is personal and political.  The film uses numerous American educational films to expose the patterns of cultural (mis)representation. 

20 mins


about the director

Kamila Kuc is a writer, experimental filmmaker, and curator. Her work reflects her interest in how film, as a technology of memory, acts as a creator of memories themselves. Kuc's films explore complex relationships between personal and collective memories, and ultimately, deal with the politics of representation. Kuc was the 2016 Artist in Residence at Basement Films, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and is currently the Artist in Residence at Culture Vultures, Sefrou, Morocco. She is the recipient of numerous international grants, namely New Mexico Arts and McCune Charitable Foundation, New Mexico Humanities Council and British Council, among others. She is also the author and editor of numerous books and articles on experimental media practices. Kuc is a Course Director of BA (Hons) Media Production/Senior Lecturer at Coventry University. Her work is held in the artinCINEMA archives.

 


JDF16

José Delfín Fernández was a little kid in the Big Leagues. The documentary chronicles the remarkable and tragically short life of the Florida Marlins pitching ace who died in a boating accident on September 25, 2016 at the age of 24.

51 mins


about the director

Laura Prieto is a Colombian video journalist interested in telling human stories that are visually and emotionally appealing. Prieto has always been drawn to trying new narratives and techniques to deliver a story, always putting the emotion it conveys first. She is the producer, videographer, and editor of almost all the stories she works on. Prieto started working for the video digital team of Univision in 2013. She has been the recipient of the Edward Morrow, Glad, and Rey de España Award, among others.


NUCLEAR WINTER-THE MUSICAL!

After an unfortunate, explosive, radioactive, and tragic event, two very different people attempt to live together in a fallout shelter, or else face the deadly nuclear winter.

12 mina


about the director

Erin LeMair is a spunky girl who really likes to break radios.


ONE IN FIVE

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An investigative documentary, by two young female filmmakers, which exposes the stagnant attitudes towards women in the male-dominated UK film industry.

12 mins


about the directors

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Holly Bourdillon is a passionate feminist who also produced, directed, edited, and created the VFX for One In Five. She hopes to push for this film to be shown at many festivals and shared online in the hope of spreading awareness on an important topic.


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Hannah McMeeking has seen her passion for developing the narrative and understanding the importance of research in filmmaking grow as a result of being involved with this project since its inception. She hopes this film reaches new audiences and furthers the conversation.


PANIC ATTACK!

You know the nagging thoughts that start with wondering whether you left the coffee on and turn into: am I pregnant with a devil baby? This hand-drawn animation explores anxiety, obsession, and one woman’s slippery hold on reality. 

3 mins


about the director

Eileen O'Meara is an American artist known for her hand-drawn films Agnes Escapes from the Nursing Home and That Strange Person. She received the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and Women in Film Foundation’s Hollywood Film & Video Grants. She has produced and directed commercial animated spots for clients including Warner Home Video, Motown, HBO, and WEA Latina. O’Meara’s work is featured in Get Animated! by Tim Maloney and Making it Big in Shorts by Kim Adelman.


RETURN TO ME

As Tina combs through her girlfriend's suicide note for answers, her sister Deirdre struggles to help her move forward.

9 mins


about the director

Lauren Barker is a writer and director from Madison, Wisconsin. After earning a B.A. in English (with a Theatre minor) from Winona State University, she attended Vancouver Film School’s screenwriting program and graduated with honors. Lauren’s films have screened around the world. She enjoys stories that inspire social change or character-driven pieces about exploring and facing one’s own emotions.


THE SANDI CONNECTION

Psychic healer Sandi Athey connects with the universe unlike anyone. Many years ago, Sandi had a horrifying experience that led her to discover abilities she never knew she possessed. The Sandi Connection is a documentary web-series that follows Sandi’s life story, and now she's ready to connect with people from all over the globe. 

23 mins


about the director

Lorenzo Olson is an award-winning independent filmmaker and television producer from Rockville, MD. His most recent films are The Dream (2016) and Protector (2014). His previous films include Confluence (2006), and Angel (2008). Lorenzo is an innovative and cerebral filmmaker looking to challenge and entertain audiences in a new way.


SILENT NO MORE-LOUISE PENTZ: A VOICE FOR SOCIAL CHANGE

No longer willing to remain silent about the injustice she sees, Nova Scotia ceramist Louise Pentz uses her art as a force for social change. Her sculptures give voice to women around the world who are silenced by social, political, religious, or family circumstances.

27 mins


about the directors

Andrea Vandenboer served as co-producer, co-director, primary videographer, audio recordist, and editor on Silent No More. As an independent filmmaker, Andrea has produced, edited, and filmed a number of documentaries, live events, promotional videos, and research projects. She has created a life rich with experiences in numerous locations working within several artistic mediums, such as the theatre, music, fashion, and digital art industries. Originally from England, and resident of Canada since 1998, Andrea graduated from Selkirk College and Kootenay School of the Arts while living in Nelson, BC in the Digital Design, the Multimedia Production & Design, and the Advanced International Digital Film programs. She was awarded the CanWest Global Communications Scholarship in 2005. Andrea went on to form her production company, The Visual Blueprint Productions, in 2006 and is a partner in the Theme Room Films production house. Nova Scotia event coordination project highlights include the 2014 nine-day ARTs Unleashed! Annapolis Royal festival and four-day 2015 conference Local Prosperity: New Economics for rural Canada, hosted by the Centre for Local Prosperity. With film projects often resulting in screenings both at a local level and globally, with official selections for international film festivals, awards and distribution, Andrea continues to cultivate several collaborative endeavors, and is excited to invite more her way.

 


Scriptwriter Grace Butland, who also co-produced and co-directed, is a native of Alabama with B.S. and M.S. degrees in Clothing and Textiles from Auburn University. Following a brief corporate career in marketing and human resources, she owned and managed a contemporary crafts gallery in Connecticut for ten years. As a freelance writer, she has more than 150 published articles to her credit. She wrote regularly for The Crafts Report, the business magazine of the American crafts industry, from 1996 through 2005, and has also written for Canadian publications including Saltscapes, Coastal Life, and Harrowsmith. She immigrated to Canada in 1998, where she turned her energies to her first love of fiber art. She has been an active volunteer with many arts organizations and has served on the board of directors of both the Nova Scotia Designer Crafts Council and the Annapolis Region Community Arts Council. She is a founding member of both the Society of the Company of Angels Dance Projects and the Society of Fibre Artists of the Annapolis River. Her fiber work has been included in juried exhibitions of the Nova Scotia Designer Crafts Council and the Atlantic Canada chapter of the Studio Art Quilters Association, as well as group exhibitions of the Artists’ Way Collective and the Annapolis Region Community Arts Council. Her short plays have been produced as part of the King’s Shorts Festival of 10-Minute Plays. This is her first film. 


THE SUNRISE STORYTELLER

The Sunrise Storyteller follows the journey of teenage filmmaker and social justice advocate Kasha Sequoia Slavner as she sets out for six months on her 16th birthday across the world in search of stories of hope and resilience that shine a light on what it means to be a global citizen and how we can all make a difference.

1 hr, 4 mins


about the director

Kasha Sequoia Slavner is an 18-year-old first-time documentary filmmaker who is a seasoned photographer, entrepreneur, and social justice advocate. Using her passion for visual storytelling to make the world a better place, she was recently selected as the recipient of the very first Kim Phuc Youth Award for Peace. At 14, Kasha was the youngest member to join Canada’s longest-standing and only feminist peace organization, The Canadian Voice of Women for Peace. Since then, she has accompanied the organization as a youth delegate five times on their annual trip to New York to The Commission on The Status of Women at the United Nations. After attending her first UN conference and hearing incredible stories of grassroots organizations' efforts to find positive and sustainable solutions to daunting obstacles they faced within their communities, she was inspired to create The Global Sunrise Project to put her storytelling talents to use for social good and motivate others to take action as well. She was selected for the 2017 class of Young Global Leaders by the We Are Family foundation spearheaded by TedXTeen founder and legendary music producer Nile Rodgers and his wife Nancy Hunt. In addition, Kasha tours with a 32-piece photography exhibition Travels into the Heart and is working on a second large-scale exhibition about Sustainable Development Goal #16 - Peace. She has just published her first book of photography, Reflections of the Sunrise Storyteller - A Journey into the Heart as a Global Citizen, is a public speaker, has been commissioned by National Geographic Learning, is a contributor to The Huffington Post, Good Magazine, Matador Network and more. The Sunrise Storyteller is Kasha's first feature-length documentary, which she directed, filmed, scripted and edited.


TIFF

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Tiff, a troubled young girl whose life is on a downward spiral, finds cutting as a means to escape and cope with the physical, verbal, and sexual abuse suffered at the hands of her drug-addicted mother.

14 mins


about the director

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Kimberley T. Zulkowski (MzK!m) has always been a believer in making a statement, and has overcome many obstacles that have been in her path. She has succeeded in giving back to her community by launching two successful companies. Faith Family Services, Inc is a home healthcare agency which assists individuals with disabilities by caring for them in their home instead of a facility. Harmony Social Services Child Placement Agency, Inc. is a foster child agency set up to place abused and neglected children into the hearts and homes of people willing to love and nurture them. She has been an active member in her community by being a participant at city council meetings. She has created the Talitha Cumi Fund in order to assist families affected by violence by aiding with funeral expenses. She has created a scholarship program, Margie's Legacy, which raises funds for foster girls with college aspirations. MZK!M's tireless efforts as a champion of human rights and active member of her community led her to receive the National Black Administrator Award in Washington D.C. in appreciation of her commitment to making the world around her a better place.


WHERE THE GREAT SPIRITS LIVE

Dirke, a war veteran, struggles with his own personal demons in a small town where he's shunned and misunderstood by everyone. Then he meets Emma, the girl of his dreams. She doesn't judge him, regardless of what her friends and co-workers tell her. Emma is the only comfort Dirke has when everything else in his life seems bleak. In his lonely, run-down motel room, he thinks and dreams about her, although they only just met. Emma has an intense hold on him, and his world will never be the same. It's a love story that takes place where fantasy and reality cross.

25 mins


about the director

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Melonie Gartner was born in Saigon and grew up in Chicago. Her mom was a big fan of Alfred Hitchcock, who's a major influence on her taste in films. In 2007, Melonie wrote her first short, Two Rivers. The idea for the script came when she wanted to make a low-budget psychological thriller. There were many obstacles, and the film took seven years to make. One of the obstacles was to find the perfect actor for the leading male character. But fate intervened, and Mark Borchardt came along. She was lucky enough to have Mark agree to be in the film, and the rest, as they say, is history. Everything happened very quickly and smoothly, as if the project was waiting for Mark to take shape. During the shoot of Two Rivers, the concept of its prequel, Where the Great Spirits Live, was formed. As a promise to herself, the rough draft of the script was completed right before the world premiere of Two Rivers. It was also a promise to herself that Where the Great Spirits Live would happen no matter what. In spite of setbacks and personal difficulties, Where the Great Spirits Live wrapped exactly two years later, with Mark Borchardt as her co-star once again. What will happen next is unforeseeable, but what's happening now is very exciting for Melonie, with both films being part of the festival circuit. As a novice in filmmaking, Melonie has the support of all her friends, people in her community, as well as Mark Borchardt, who's a big inspiration in her new journey.


WON'T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!

Third-graders Amanda and Catherine are writing a comic book about feminist superheroine Sergeant Laser. They are hurrying to finish as their deadline approaches, and their publisher, their classmate Andy, refuses to give them another extension. When Amanda strikes up a romance with the boy who steals her pudding at lunch, it gets in the way of their work (and their friendship), and she struggles to balance work and love. Can the modern working woman really have it all?

14 mins


about the director

Giorgi Plys-Garzotto recently graduated NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, where she concentrated on directing, and writing for TV. She loves wordy dialogue, inordinate attention to detail, and strong female characters.