AFI Announces Licensing Partnership with TechRow – American Film Institute


AFI Announces Licensing Partnership with TechRow

AFI announced today that a curated selection of AFI Conservatory thesis films from a diverse team of filmmakers will become part of TechRow’s innovative and immersive learning platform and be integrated into their curriculums for K-12 students and content library, which can be viewed at Films to be licensed for 2020-2021 are: BALLOON, COUNT, FIDO, MOTH, NEW YEAR’S EVE, NO RETURNS, OUR HOME HERE and RUNNING SHADOW.

“With this partnership with TechRow, not only will young audiences be able to experience the stories told by our talented AFI filmmakers, but it will be part of a larger curriculum designed to inspire and educate,” said Susan Ruskin, Dean of the AFI Conservatory and EVP of the American Film Institute. “We look forward to the AFI films and their powerful narratives being part of TechRow’s innovative approach to education.”

Based in New York, TechRow uses virtual reality technology and develops content-based curriculum to increase student engagement in remote and classroom-based learning environments.

“There is a great deal of focus on technology access in education. Elevating premium and inclusive content are equally important – our partnership with the American Film Institute creates the necessary content inroads into the technology adoption narrative that education needs now and in the future,” said Travis Feldler, Founder & CEO, TechRow. “The ability to experience the work of AFI’s outstanding filmmakers in a virtual reality platform is beyond exciting!”

About the selected films:


BALLOON (2018) 

Producer: Christina Cha

Director: Jeremy Merrifield

Cinematographer: Frances Maxwell Kroon

Screenwriters: Jeremy Merrifield, David Testa

Production Designer: Jerry Marsini

Editor: Bowei Yue

Synopsis: The only way Sam knows how to survive junior high is to stay below radar. But that’s impossible after Jason picks a fight with him and it quickly becomes the school’s next viral video. His only friend pressures him to “hit back.” But Sam isn’t so sure—even if he does have super powers.


COUNT (2018) 

Producer: Emily Schroeder

Director: Samuel Askland Gordon

Cinematographer: Shannon Connally

Screenwriter: Chris Kingsleigh Licud

Production Designer: Juliet Bradford

Editor: Jody Carter

Synopsis: When his protective sister is rushed to the hospital, a young boy must survive his strained relationship with his controlling older brother


FIDO (2018) 

Producer: Ruby Mateo

Director: Anna Golin

Cinematographer: Carlo Canlas Mendoza

Screenwriter: Jacob Stock

Production Designer: David M Lawrence

Synopsis: Annette, an elderly widow, is content to live a life of quiet routine. But when her one and only companion – a robotic dog named Fido – malfunctions unexpectedly, her carefully-curated world is thrown into chaos. As she sets off to save her dear friend, Annette rediscovers a spark and a strength that she thought were gone for good.


MOTH (2018) 

Producer: Kexin Lu

Director: Shuchen Zhu

Cinematographer: Ayinde Anderson

Screenwriters: Shuchen Zhu, Garrett William Wilson

Production Designer: Harshita Reddy

Editor: Guangwei Du

Synopsis: An Asian-American actress struggles to revive her career in the sexually commodified entertainment industry. In the wake of an impending transformation, we observe the banality of her daily routine as her mental state slowly deteriorates.


NEW YEAR’S EVE (2018) 

Producer: Milagros Remedios Atayde Alcain

Director: Yuhaojie Zheng

Cinematographer: Jake Hossfield

Screenwriters: Hao Zheng, Leqi Kong

Production Designer: Katelyn Ann Budke

Editor: Bowei Yue

Synopsis:  It’s not always easy to come home and face your family on New Year’s Eve, especially for 19-year- old XIAOYU, who returns to his childhood home in rural Gansu, China with a medal he won at his Kung Fu school and mixed feelings about whether to show it to his mother, JUAN, who has always wanted him to go to a “real” college instead. During dinner, with his similarly aged cousin outshining him at every turn and the encouragement from his drunk uncle, Xiaoyu performs a Kung Fu routine for his family. When Juan is still unimpressed, Xiaoyu has to find another way to reconcile with his mother before the New Year comes at midnight.


NO RETURNS (2017) 

Producer: Joyce Liu-Countryman

Director: Youwen Ma

Cinematographer: Roi Vissel

Screenwriters: Joyce Liu-Countryman, Youwen Ma

Production Designer: Geraldine O’Brian

Editors: Guangwei Du, Benjamin Tolentino

Synopsis: KATIE, an 18-year old American adoptee from China, is about to start college when her adoptive mother, SARA, hands her plane tickets to Fujian. She’s old enough now to go on her own to finally meet her birth mother. She pieces together her earliest memories to arrive at the true reason why she was given up, throwing her into an emotional deep end. All seems lost until she recalls endearing memories of her life with Sara. Where one mother brought her heartache, another helps her heal.



Producer: Elena Aksenova

Director: Angela Chen

Cinematographer: Michal Jakub Wronski

Screenwriters: Angela Chen, Yumiko Fujiwara

Production Designers: Jake Vollmer, Somya Sachan

Editors: Benjamin Gonzalez Tolentino, Xiaoyao Shen, Mengchao Lin

Synopsis: Parallel stories of broken relationships between parents and their children striving for the American Dream all revolving around one explosive night at a fast food joint in a small town.



Producer: Joyce Frances Liu-Countryman

Director: Carlos Rafael Betancourt

Cinematographer: Brian Thien-Khoi Nguyen

Screenwriters: Joyce Liu-Countryman, Carlos Rafael Betancourt

Production Designer: Doriane Desfaugeres

Editor: Marc Charles Sedaka

Synopsis: A young Lakota woman dreams of running competitively outside the Reservation, but with broken shoes and no real track to practice on, her chances seem slim. Even with the best shoes, she’s haunted by the guilt that she couldn’t run fast enough to save her sister from suicide. Those traumatic memories stop her from running fast enough on any track. When her coach father surprises her with a chance to compete off the Rez, her fears become unbearable. Only by revisiting her trauma and standing up to her father can she find the strength to run on her own terms.




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