AFI DOCS: Your Guide to Shorts Program 1 – American Film Institute


AFI DOCS: Your Guide to Shorts Program 1

Watch the best in short nonfiction films at AFI DOCS, June 18-21. Get your ticket here.

Following the program, watch a recorded discussion with directors Tal Amiran (DAFA METTI), Jesse Auritt (THE PAINT WIZZARD), Kira Dane (MIZUKO), Alison Klayman (FLOWER PUNK), Alexandra Lazarowich (LAKE) and Martyna Starosta (ELEVATOR PITCH).


From Martyna Starosta about her approach to ELEVATOR PITCH:

“Not a traditional character-driven documentary, instead, the film juxtaposes tableaux of travelers struggling on subway staircases with audio excerpts from public testimonials. The MTA holds monthly board meetings where members of the public voice their grievances. I distilled 36 hours of testimonials into a 12-minutes audio collage. In my edit, I contrasted two different moods — the explosive outrage of the public speakers in the audio with the jaded resignation of the travelers in the visuals…To me, the broken infrastructure of public transportation is a powerful vehicle to tell a larger story of New York City’s inequality.


From MIZUKO co-directors Kira Dane and Katelyn Rebelo:

“I’m half Japanese, so I started looking into how Japanese culture handles the topic of abortion, and found out about mizuko kuyo, this incredible Buddhist ritual that people have been quietly doing for centuries. It doesn’t hinge on the belief that abortion is moral or immoral, but simply provides relief for people who’ve had to navigate an incredibly difficult decision about their bodies, their lives, and this new entity inside themselves that they don’t know how to define. The ritual helps them to define it, and then to let go of it.” -Dane

“We really wanted to recontextualize the idea of abortion in the United States and create a film that stylistically spoke to the nuances of this experience without being consumed by the politics of it.”-Rebelo


From Jessie Auritt, director of THE PAINT WIZZARD, about the subject of the film:

“Millie is unlike anyone we have ever met before. She challenges any and all societal stereotypes and that was something we wanted to explore through telling her story. Growing up in a conservative household, she never felt that she could be her authentic self. Even though she is unapologetically herself now, she still struggles to accept who she is. There are probably a lot of other people out there who may be in similar situations and feel that they can’t be their true selves or accept themselves for who they are. We wanted to tell this story to empower people to embrace who they are and live their truth, no matter how difficult it may be.”



From Tal Amiran about the inspiration for DAFA METTI:  

“When I visited the Eiffel Tower, I noticed numerous men selling identical looking miniature souvenirs of the monument. I visited the area again at nighttime and saw hundreds of mini Eiffel Tower souvenirs glowing in the distance. The tiny lights flickering in the dark looked like shimmering flames. It all looked quite magical and surreal, yet the vendors who were standing by their merchandise in the dark looked tired and apprehensive. It became apparent to me that they were all illegal migrants, mainly from Senegal, who were selling these souvenirs illegally… The stark contrast between what the vendors were selling – souvenirs of the most iconic French symbol, and the vendors’ illegal status in France was contradictory and tragic.”



From Alison Klayman about working on FLOWER PUNK:

“Working on this project was a chance to get out of my everyday concerns and constant engagement with politics and the news, and to be confronted with beauty. It was genuinely stunning to feast my eyes on the vibrant colors and shapes and varieties of flowers I never knew about. I also got to think a lot about life and death. We experienced this aspect of the story directly when we drove to Fukushima. Highway notices began to warn us about radiation levels as we approached…I hope audiences feel what I felt while making this film—inspired by an artist pursuing his interests and pushing the boundaries of creativity in the process. And most of all, to look at flowers and plants in a whole new light.”


About LAKE, directed by Alexandra Lazarowich:

Shot on 16mm and in a vérité lens, LAKE shares a contemporary portrait of Métis women net fishing in Northern Alberta.


Watch these short films and more at AFI DOCS. 

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