The documentary filmmaker mentorship and funding program IF/Then Shorts on Monday announced the finalists for its inaugural North Shorts Program: Six teams of diverse storytellers from the Northeast and Puerto Rico. This marks the first major development for IF/Then since it moved under the umbrella of the nonprofit Field of Vision in July; it was previously a part of Tribeca Film Institute, which is in the process of winding down operations.
The fellowship and funding program is a partnership between IF/Then, Points North Institute, LEF Foundation, and ScreeningRoom. Many of IF/Then’s programs are open to filmmakers residing in or making films about particular regions. The North Shorts program is aiding storytellers from the Northeast and Puerto Rico to explore a range of socially, politically, or culturally relevant topics rooted in those areas.
An external jury selected six filmmaking teams to receive a $5,000 post-production grant and invitation to participate in a monthlong online editing lab. There, they’ll be able to fine tune the rough cuts of their shorts with mentors Elizabeth Lo (“Stray”), Malika Zouhali-Worrall (“Thank You for Playing”), Donald Mosher and Mike Palmieri (“Gospel of Eureka”).
After the lab, the films will be shown at an invitation-only work-in-progress showcase during the 2020 Camden International Film Festival. IF/Then Shorts will then offer two months of distribution consultation.
“I’m incredibly impressed by the slate of films that are being supported through this first year of North Shorts,” said IF/Then Director Chloe Gbai. “It’s a testament to the tenacity of these filmmakers, who are working through unprecedented times to tell stories that challenge the status quo and uplift communities. The short-form landscape is ripe for imaginative and genre-defying work, and these projects are leading
Here are the finalists, with loglines provided by IF/Then:
“Expanding Sanctuary” follows Linda Hernandez during the emotionally taxing but historic campaign to end the sharing of the Philadelphia police database with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The city’s agreement with ICE has led to a rise in detainments and deportations. Immigrant mother Linda must now transform into a community leader to protect her family. The film follows Linda and her daughter Ashley as well as Juntos organizers Olivia, Marisa, and Miguel. The film outlines the full span of the campaign from community meetings, social media
archives, protests, and the last press conference officially ending the agreement.
Directed and Edited by Kristal Sotomayor
Consulting Editor: Priscilla Gonzalez Sainz
Location of production: Pennsylvania
A fleet of minibuses race up and down Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, providing commuters a familiar, if not occasionally harrowing, alternative to the subway for only $2 a ride.
Directed by Alex Mallis
Co-Edited by Alex Mallis and Travis Wood
Location of Production: New York
Queenie is a 73 year young Black lesbian that’s called the Marcy Projects home since 1988 but she’s ready to move to a building that better meets her mobility, safety, and social needs as an aging elder. She applies to Stonewall Residences, NYC’s first affordable housing for LGBT elders, hopeful that she’ll be able to live out her final days in a new place she can call home.
Directed by Cai Thomas
Edited by Cesar Martinez
Location of production: New York
“Nació Simón” (“Simón was born”) seeks to get to know Lis and their drag, Simón. Lis is shown in their daily life: working, taking care of her kids as a young/queer/non-binary mother, surviving the colonial landscape of Puerto Rico, and how their identity clashes with the heteronormative society. The documentary explores the blurry lines between who is Lis and who is Simón–their differences and meeting points, delving into the construction or birth of Simón.
Directed by Pati Cruz
Post-Production and Distribution Producer: Samara Pérez Santiago
Location of production: Puerto Rico
In 1952, the mayor of San Juan, Felisa Rincon de Gautier, partnered with the now defunct U.S. carrier Eastern Airlines to transport two tons of snow from New Hampshire to Puerto Rico. The snow was a gift to the island meant to enchant Puerto Rican children with a “white” American Christmas. The spectacle represented an unfair economic transaction: planes brought capitalist instant gratification in the form of snow, and returned to the U.S. filled with the Puerto Rican cheap labor that would populate el barrio. Puerto Rico’s colonial captivity is condensed in the “gift” of melting snow.
Directed by Janah Elise Cox
Produced by Allison Ferner and Sue Ariza
Consulting Editor Carla Gutierrez
Location of production: Puerto Rico
“Life Without Dreams”
Life Without Dreams is set in the outer space of consciousness, where the surfaces of far out planetary bodies form the terrain for an exploration of 24/7 capitalism, insomnia, and the disappearance of darkness due to light pollution.
Directed by Jessica Bardsley
Location of Production: Massachusetts