Short Block 1: Self Discovery

Self discovery is celebrated here with these four shorts. A woman who finds herself through through love and music (“Aurora”), a friendship that leads to more (“Emergence”), a savant rediscovering herself later in life (“The Color of Genius”), and a connection blooms between soulmates (“Essentials”).

4/28: Short Block 1 Premiere Screening + Q&A 5:30 PM PT / 8:30 PM ET, moderator: Maria Judice Premiere Pass, All Access Pass

4/28: Short Block 1 Second Screening 7:30 PM PT / 10:30 PM ET Second Screening Pass, All Access Pass

“Aurora” – directed by Dayna Li

USA | English | 30 min | Trailer

A young composer who moves to New York City after graduation develops an unexpected infatuation with a star singer-songwriter classmate, which heightens her confusion about her sexuality and voice as an artist.

“Emergence” – directed by Rey Tang

US | English | 14.13 min

When a socially anxious athlete is asked out by a teammate at college lacrosse tryouts, they strike an unlikely relationship and emerge together into their newfound queer identities.

“The Color of Genius” – directed by Mafer Bencomo

US | English | 7.18 min

“The Color of Genius” is a short documentary that follows the story of a Florida-based digital artist, Diana De Avila, who obtained her art skills in a non-traditional way. After a traumatic brain injury and the worsening of multiple sclerosis, artistic abilities awoke within her. This rare (almost magical) phenomenon is medically recognized as acquired savant syndrome, suffered by less than 100 people worldwide.

“Essentials” – directed by Allison Torem

US | English | 16.31

Shocked and exhausted by the screeching halt of daily life in April of 2020, Vivian muscles her way home with too many groceries until she is interrupted by a senior citizen who makes a “corny” joke that only she can top. While their reasons for human alienation differ– hers largely temporary but more nuanced than one might expect, and his ongoing and borne from family estrangement– they both find excuses to stay in the moment in a tentative connection which could, and perhaps should, end at any moment– but doesn’t, until it does, leaving them both surprised with the intimacy and vulnerability they have both shared with a stranger.

Q&A with filmmakers

Dayna Li (dir. “Aurora”)
Kripa Koshy (“Aurora” producer)
Rey Tang (dir. “Emergence”)
Mafer Bencomo (dir. “The Color of Genius”)
Allison Torem (dir. “Essentials”)


Maria Judice

M is a visual storyteller working in cinema, writing, photography, and public art. There is a fictional and documentary narrative hybrid approach grappling with stories of our memory. Wired magazine called M a “filmmaker provocateur.” PALM TREES DOWN 3rd ST. won the Adrienne Shelly Award, and it was called “a masterpiece” by Film Threat. 2017. The award-winning sci-fi MOONLESS was reviewed by Stigmart/Videofocus13. Obsidian Theater Festival produced and staged A METAPHOR IN 3 ACTS in 2020.