AFI Films To Be Integrated Into Immersive Learning Platform

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Los Angeles, CA, November 23, 2020 – The American Film Institute (AFI) announced today a new licensing partnership with TechRow. A curated selection of AFI Conservatory thesis films from a diverse team of filmmakers will become part of TechRow’s 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. More details about the titles can be found below.

“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.

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.

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.

About the American Film Institute (AFI)
Established in 1967, the American Film Institute is the nation’s nonprofit organization dedicated to educating and inspiring artists and audiences through initiatives that champion the past, present and future of the moving image. AFI’s pioneering programs include filmmaker training at the AFI Conservatory; year-round exhibition at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center and at AFI Festivals across the nation; workshops aimed at increasing diversity in the storytelling community; honoring today’s masters through the AFI Life Achievement Award and AFI AWARDS; and scholarly efforts such as the AFI Catalog of Feature Films that uphold film history for future generations. Read about all of these programs and more at and follow us on social media
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About the AFI Conservatory
The AFI Conservatory opened its doors in 1969 to an inaugural class that included Terrence Malick, Caleb Deschanel and Paul Schrader. Today, the Conservatory offers a two-year MFA degree in six filmmaking disciplines: Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design and Screenwriting. In a collaborative production environment, AFI Fellows learn to master the art of storytelling, collectively creating up to 175 films a year. Fellows actively participate in the entire life cycle of a film, from development through production and exhibition.

Alumni of this elite program, ranging from modern masters to bold new voices defining the state of the art form, include Andrea Arnold, Darren Aronofsky, Ari Aster, Sam Esmail, Brad Falchuk, Liz Hannah, Patty Jenkins, Janusz Kamiński, Matthew Libatique, David Lynch, Melina Matsoukas, Polly Morgan, Rachel Morrison and Wally Pfister, among others.

About TechRow
TechRow is an education organization based in Harlem, NY, that leverages immersive media and technology solutions for remote and classroom-based learning. We have reached thousands of students with immersive technology experiences. Our focus is on removing barriers and enhancing student experiences through a dynamic learning platform that harnesses premium and engaging content. TechRow partners with many of the world’s most renowned media organizations like the New York Times and Cartoon Network to ensure that students have access to premium content that aligns to an engaging curriculum. Learn more at

American Film Institute: Stacy Adamski, [email protected]


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