The AFI Conservatory is one of the premier film schools in the world. Its alumni/ae are always represented in each year’s Oscar nominations. As part of AFIFest, there are a number of programs to showcase the short films of recent graduates. It could well be that some of these young filmmakers will bring exciting new stories to our screens in the years to come. I’ll note the director of the films, but in reality these are team projects with Fellows from different disciplines in the filmmaking process. That is a reminder that all films are the creation of many people working together.
Dave the Fiancé, directed by Andrew Jasperson, was a fun film about a young man who is trying to fit in with his in-laws to be, when something goes terribly wrong. He feels guilty and a bit chagrined with the family’s efforts to cover it all up. Nice humor as he tries to deal with people with a much different morality than he has.
Soredia, directed by Julia Ponce Diaz¸ follows a young French woman who is taking a trip to the mountains with friends, although she is a bit of an outsider. She has a growing obsession with her new friend.
The Portrait, directed by Razzaaq Boykin, was a very interesting riff on the Dorian Gray story. We watch as the Dorian and his portrait go through various emotions.
Under the Roses, directed by Henry Wolf, a lawyer going through a divorce goes to visit an old girlfriend. We see the ways each is struggling with their relationship with their children.
Fire Born, directed by Daniel Carsenty, is the story of a rookie police officer whose mother was killed in a police shooting. She is confronted with a situation that could change many lives.
Suck Hard, directed by Eva Neuwirth, watches a high school girl trying to cope with a breakup and move on. But how can she put on a brave face when returning her boyfriend’s stuff?
Kissy and the Shark, directed by Lola Blanche Higgins, tells of a girl who lives in poverty near the port with her grandmother and very sick mother. When she comes across an injured shark on the shore, she brings it home to try to save it. It provides her with an interesting discovery about life and death.
Desert Dream, directed by Dante Jiayu Liu, shows a Korean student who has just been suspended from his American school and about to be deported. He spends what time he has left here living out his dream of being a cowboy.
Lane Five, directed by Matthew Sliger, a young woman is struggling to care for her father with advancing dementia. When he gets carried away with his story of bowling a 300 game, he goes off to recreate his memory. Finding them provides a chance to bond anew.
Zenaida, directed by San-San Onglatco, is the story of an undocumented Filipino-Muslim who works as a caregiver for an aging diva with dementia. He borrows some of her dazzling wardrobe to use in his drag act. But when she mistakes him for a thief, a strange twist is involved.
The Basics of Love, directed by Joshua Nathan, shows us Lefty and Liz, co-workers who spend their day in a garbage truck, and the friendship they share. When they get caught in a dangerous robbery, perhaps they will discover there is more than friendship involved.
All of these films show off the skills that the filmmakers (from all the disciplines) have developed at AFI Conservatory. My favorites among the ones I saw were The Portrait, Dave the Fiancé, and Desert Dream. It is a pleasure to see the future as it begins to unfold.