Filmmakers will be present, and Q&As will follow each screening. All screenings are free & open to the public. RSVP here. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or to contact any of our filmmakers.
★Thesis Showcase Spotlight
Selected filmmakers have the opportunity to share their films with a group of documentary Industry Advisors who can potentially help further their projects – and careers. In addition, these filmmakers will receive career strategy consultations. Industry Advisors including Karen Arikian, U.S. delegate and competition selection committee member, Berlin International Film Festival; creative director, Hamptons Take 2 Doc Fest ; Opal Bennett, shorts programmer, DOC NYC ; Karin Chien, film producer and founder dGenerate Films distribution; Dominic Davis, programmer, Rooftop Films ; Wendy Ettinger, founder, Chicken & Egg Pictures ; Leslie Asako Gladsjo, director and series producer, Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise; Tom Hall, executive director, Montclair Film Festival ; Marcie Hume, senior executive producer, A&E ; Mona Nicoara, filmmaker, Our School ; Bryce Norbitz, manager, Artist Programs, Tribeca Film Institute.
8th Thesis Showcase
SVA Theatre - 333 W. 23rd Street, NYC
★Thursday, September 20
6:30pm - Audry Funk, director: Yiwei Chen
length: 40 minutes. Audry Funk is a feminist rapper and social activist from Mexico who immigrated to the U.S. to continue working for social justice. Although she had an influential career in Central America, in New York City she has to rap on the subway and work in a restaurant to make a living. Audry is strong as an activist, but she is also vulnerable and nostalgic for what she has left behind. The film shows how she rebuilds her life, her ego and her pride as a woman, an immigrant and an artist.
7:30pm - Satellite Baby, director: Lucy Huang
length: 40 minutes. Julie immigrated by herself to the U.S., leaving her children to be raised by their grandparents in China. Seeking a better life, she settled in Flushing, Queens, and focused on the demands of being an immigrant worker in New York City. Seven years later, her children Sophie, Esther and Wisdom reunite with her, living in America for the first time. After the long separation, Julie struggles to be a good mother and rebuild her relationship with them.
8:30pm When The Lion Wakes Up, director: Bailin Li
length: 35 minutes. “Lion Dance is now a dying art,” says fifth-generation Kung Fu master Wan Chi Ming. In Chinatown he has led the Lion Dance team since immigrating there in 1973. The first man to raise the Chinese Communist flag in Lower Manhattan, he remains patriotic despite being far from home. Now, his son, Warren Chi Ming, struggles to keep Kung Fu heritage alive in the community, as his father approaches retirement. Striving to pass on their gifts to the next generation, Wan and his son create their own version of the American dream.
9:30pm Drifting in the Shadows, director: Lifei Diao
length: 60 minutes. How do you prove a 60-year relationship to the court? After the death of his life partner, Tom Doyle is about to lose his house at the age of 86. Drifting in the Shadows reveals an untold story: a vital portrait of LGBT pioneers in the West Village that lived on the fringe and battled discrimination for their entire lives. In this dreamlike film, Mr. Doyle is standing at the edge of his life, fighting for dignity and respect–so he doesn’t lose it all. (SocDoc Thesis Grant)
★Friday, September 21
★Showcase Spotlight Screenings★
6:30pm - Fat Monk, Small Temple, director: Yicheng Li
length: 50 minutes. In China, a Buddhist monk represents the principles of self-control. Shi- Zhaoneng has been a monk for 17 years and lives alone in an ancient mountain temple constantly on the verge of collapse. From the first day, he has worked to rebuild the temple. However, he has found the most significant thing is not remodeling the physical temple but helping the people understand again what the monk does, who the Buddha is, and what belief actually is. (China Scholarship Council)
7:50pm - Twinkle Dammit!, director: Chuang Xu
length: 60 minutes. Margaret Leng Tan is the world’s first toy-piano virtuoso. Renowned as a foremost John Cage interpreter, she has championed innovations that define the “new piano” over the past century. Tan is also the muse of the celebrated composer George Crumb; his new piano cycle Metamorphoses (Book 1) is composed for her. The film captures a ectionate and lively magnetism between these two extraordinary artists, and shows Tan in her perennial pursuit of art in the company of her many dogs. (SocDoc Thesis Grant)
9:20pm - Feelin' Famous, director: Ana Montgomery-Neutze
length: 60 minutes. Lifelong best friends Bryce and Greg are older than their teenage years. Growing up in Brooklyn public housing has pushed them to build a better life. Commit- ted to their dreams of fame, they work full-time dancing on the subway and perform their music in clubs hoping to get their big break. But, as time passes, reality sets in. This is a story of true friendship and sheer determination. (Fulbright New Zealand Graduate Award; AAUW International Fellowship; Ngārimu VC & 28th Māori Battalion Scholarship; Queen Elizabeth II Fellowship; Rangatiratanga Fund; SocDoc Thesis Grant)
★Saturday, September 22
12:00pm - Night Cleaners, director: Hanna Nordenswan
length: 25 minutes. After hours, familiar spaces turn into something else entirely: quiet, empty shadow-worlds where the cleaners are our guides. Dreams of becoming a per- former echo in an empty dance studio, a man who never finished school cleans up after students, and a former troublemaker polishes a judge’s bench at the court house. Through the stories of those that clean up our messes while we sleep, our eyes are opened to lives that exist all around us, that we rarely notice. (SocDoc Thesis Grant, SVA Alumni Society Award, SVA Paula Rhodes Memorial Award)
1:00pm - One Island, One Storm, One Mission, director: Atarah Jeffers
length: 30 minutes. In 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, stripping the island of food, water and power. Puerto Ricans faced an apocalyptic reality in a modern time, with little aid from the government. On this journey to restoration, a group of dedicated missionaries from the Bronx, New York, travel to the island to bring hope and supplies, without knowing the great depths of desolation they will see.
1:50pm- Floating Victoria, director: Bella Randle Racklin
length: 45 minutes. Constantly seeking to transform her experience of the mundane into the heavenly, idiosyncratic artist Victoria MacKenzie-Childs recounts her journey from ceramic dinner plates to a ferry boat. As the sprightly 70-year-old and her frail husband tackle the ambitious restoration of the oldest surviving Ellis Island ferry, we examine the artist’s life and the roles of housewife, sculptor and captain that inspired her to redefine the boundaries of her artistic practice. (SVA Alumni Society Award, Pigott/BAFTA Scholarship)
★Showcase Spotlight Screenings★
3:30pm - The Wanderer, director: Ziyu Tang
length: 50 minutes. A girl is supposed to be traveling home from Beijing to Changsha for her grandfather’s funeral. Instead, her journey meanders through towns where she has lived; her reluctant route reflects her ambivalence towards “home.” Each town offers an opportunity to explore her past. A journey through the rapidly changing landscape of China, The Wanderer confronts growing up while healing from the wounds of the past through a life on the road. (SocDoc Thesis Grant)
4:50pm – Sanctuary, director: Andrea Cordoba
length: 63 minutes. Amanda Morales, a Guatemalan mother of three U.S.-born children walked into a church not knowing when she would step out again. She’s the first immigrant in NYC to claim sanctuary since President Trump took office, publicly resisting her deportation. Sanctuary gives rare and intimate access to this family’s fight to remain together and adapt to life inside the church. (SocDoc Thesis Grant, SVA Alumni Society Award)
6:20pm - Genghis Security Academy, director: Tiantian Wang
length: 60 minutes. As China grows richer, the demand for personal bodyguards increases. On a hot summer’s day outside Beijing, 40 people gather at Genghis International Security Academy for a month-long training. They are there to pursue a new career or to lose weight–some even having been tricked by their parents. As they work towards graduation, they endure sleeping in tents and long, brutal training days. Disparities in age and social class cause challenges for the students in communicating with one another. (SocDoc Thesis Grant)
7:50pm - The Boxers of Brule, director: Jessie Adler
length: 49 minutes. Shaionna, a young Lakota woman, creates a girls’ boxing team to counter the youth suicide epidemic spreading on the Lower Brule Sioux Reservation. As she fights to bring hope and healing to her community, she struggles to cope with her own experiences of trauma and loss, while her past demons of drug addiction threaten relapse. We follow Shaionna and her team of sassy pre-teens to boxing matches, slumber parties, graduations and funerals as they find new purpose in Lakota tradition and sisterhood. (TFI/ESPN Short Documentary Grant)
★Filmmakers' Reception 9-11pm