The PBS Short Film Festival 2022 begins July 11!
The PBS Short Film Festival is part of a multiplatform initiative to increase the reach and visibility of independent filmmakers from across the country and amplify the voices of diverse content creators. Since its inception in 2012, hundreds of films celebrating love, acceptance, family, strength, equality, friendship, loyalty and more have been presented under the festival’s banner. The 2022 festival carries the tagline “Stories that Stick” to highlight the impact of powerful storytelling.
Starting at midnight on Monday, July 11, audiences can watch and share all 27 films. In addition, a panel of nine jury members will select their favorite film of the festival for the Juried Prize.
Jury members are respected professionals in independent film and public media and were invited by PBS to participate. Eric Gullive, American Experience Producer; Simon Kilmurry, International Documentary Association, Executive Director; Judith Vecchione, WGBH Educational Foundation, Executive Producer; Mike Sargent, Reelworld/Nightshift, Producer/Host; Adnaan Wassey, Digital Media Executive (formerly of POV); Antonia Thornton, Firelight Media, Artist Programs Coordinator; Wendy Llinas, PBS National Programming; Jada Leng, PBS National Programming; Weenta Girmay, Firelight Media, Regional Initiatives Coordinator.
Films featured in the PBS Short Film Festival have been selected and provided by 16 public media partners and PBS member stations. This year’s lineup includes films from Black Public Media, Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), Independent Television Service (ITVS), Latino Public Broadcasting, Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC), POV, Reel South, Vision Maker Media and World Channel, as well as PBS local member stations, Alabama Public Television (APTV), KLRU-TV Austin PBS, Louisiana Public Broadcasting (LPB), MPT Digital Studios, WKAR (Michigan State University), WMHT (New York) and WSIU (Illinois).
Generating more than 12 million streams over the course of the festival’s history, the Webby Award-winning PBS Short Film Festival continues to be an engaging annual digital event.
Where to Watch
This Year’s Films
Below is the full list of short films featured in the 2022 PBS Short Film Festival, separated into the five presenting categories.
“Wonderfully Made” (Austin PBS)
Kashmiere Culberson is a recent college graduate who embodies strength and confidence. Kash does not allow her disability to limit her pursuit of happiness and self-love.
“Kantan Hereru” (PIC)
An aging blacksmith tells stories from his past and shares the importance of his craft to daily life in the past. Historical experts provide testimony on the role the craft and products had played in Guam.
“The Daily Aesthetics of Alexander Martin” (WSIU)
A documentary about Alexander, a queer artist and drag queen living in Peoria, Illinois, who uses their artwork to take us on a journey through gender identity, expression, drag, and being queer in a Midwestern town.
“When I’m Her” (Independent Lens)
Michael was a ballet prodigy with his career ahead of him, but when life doesn’t go as planned, he finds refuge from trauma and liberation as his alter ego, Russian ballet instructor, Madame Olga. By slipping into this ostentatious character, Michael discovers a way to both embrace himself as an artist and reconcile his past.
“The Piñata” (Louisiana Public)
Mia’s family enjoys traditions, but when two school friends arrive for Mia’s twelfth birthday party, they don’t think her piñata is cool. Throughout the day, Mia finds it difficult to keep up appearances for both her friends and her family.
“Monograph: Lo Harris” (APT)
From Bessemer, AL to Brooklyn, NY, this self taught illustrator has transformed her practice into a full time art career championing confidence, joy, and vibrancy.
“Grilled Queso” (Austin PBS)
Ruth and Isaac are a couple who work in a food truck in the busiest area of downtown Austin, TX. Both arrived from Mexico many years ago, but they did not do it together. In Grilled Queso, Ruth and Isaac will tell us how they came to the United States and how they met, as we follow them through a busy night serving customers in Austin.
“Salvando A Salvador” (Austin PBS)
Salvando A Salvador is a dark comedy about three sisters who take matters into their own hands when bureaucratic chaos prevents them from doing right by their deceased father. It is a story about sisterhood and familial devotion that brings attention to an ongoing issue within the Mexican public health sector.
“Ma’s House” (BPM)
Contemporary fine art photographer Jeremy Dennis of the Shinnecock Indian Nation explores the evolution of Native American art and building Ma’s House & BIPOC Art Studio, an artist retreat and communal art space in New York, in this verité short doc.
“17 Year Locust” (Louisiana Public)
This film follows the story of Haitian immigrant Rene, who moves to Louisiana with his wife in hopes of raising a child and starting a new life there.
“Chilly and Milly” (Latino Public)
Chilly, William’s father, is a diabetic with kidney failure, whose illness detrimentally affects his and his family’s lives. Milly sees her sole purpose in life as to taking care of her loved ones. While watching the documentary, Chilly and Milly discuss their life together, and their successes and setbacks in life. When Chilly passes away during the pandemic, Milly comes to terms with her loss.
“Osage Murders” (Vision Maker)
“The Osage Murders” is a historical documentary focusing on the events that occurred on the Osage reservation in the 1920s. In the early 1900s death was all too common in the oil boom town of Fairfax on the Osage reservation.
“The First Monument” (BPM)
Until 2021, there was not a single official monument erected for the legendary Black Panther Party. This finally changed when Fredrika Newton, the widow of former Minister of Defense Huey Newton, worked with the city of Oakland to commission a bust of Mr. Newton that now stands on the block where he was killed. Following sculptor Dana King from conceptualization through the unveiling ceremony over a year-long period, The First Monument offers an exclusive look at the process and significance of this groundbreaking memorial for an iconic Black movement.
“Amplified Voices” (WMHT)
Amplified Voices is a community collaborative public mural project spearheaded by artist Jade Warrick to amplify the voices of local artists of color while also providing youth mentoring opportunities.
“Twice as Likely” (WKAR)
While the White infant mortality rate is 4.6 per 1,000 U.S. births, the Black infant mortality rate is 10.8. Longstanding, systemic inequities result in racial disparity in every facet of maternal and infant health, studies show. Dr. Renee Canady shares her intimate experience of the painful loss of her newborn son.
“On All Fronts” (WORLD)
The Moss family, a biracial Black-Indonesian family living in Minneapolis, open up about how they moved through the chaos of 2020. In intimate conversations, each family member reveals personal experiences never shared before with their loved ones, and navigates through the difficult issues that have haunted them.
“I’m Free, Now You Are Free” (POV)
I’m Free Now, You Are Free is a short documentary about the reunion and repair between Mike Africa Jr and his mother Debbie Africa—a formerly incarcerated political prisoner of the MOVE9. In 1978, Debbie, then 8 months pregnant, and many other MOVE family members were arrested after an attack by the Philadelphia Police Department; born in a prison cell, Mike Africa Jr. spent just three days with his mother before guards wrenched him away, and they spent the next 40 years struggling for freedom and for each other. In 2018, Mike Africa Jr. successfully organized to have his parents released on parole. “I realized that I had never seen her feet before,” was a remark he made when he reflected on Debbie’s homecoming. This film meditates on Black family preservation as resistance against the brutal legacies of state sanctioned family separation, documenting an intergenerational healing that possesses, defiantly, dignity and joy.
“Ala Moana Boys” (PIC)
“Ala Moana Boys” follows five friends caught in the middle of a scandal in 1930’s Oahu. Based on true events during the Thalia Massie trials, this short drama recounts a small slice of the story from the point of view of Joe Kahahawai, Horace Ida, Henry Chang, Ben Ahakuelo and David Takai. The five young men must consider their futures and their families as they weigh the consequences of inaction versus action. Their dedication to truth and stoicism in the face of violence has a dire cost, but the decision will stoke solidarity among Hawaii’s residents and reverberate through the islands for generations.
“83 and Alone” (CAAM)
Bhutan, despite being one of the world’s two carbon negative countries, suffers from a changing climate that has led to a disastrous water shortage. After his children leave him, Daw, an elderly Bhutanese villager, must fend for himself. 83 AND ALONE explores a community made empty because of water.
“Ka Ho’i (Formerly titled Ho’okahi Po)” (PIC)
A Hawaiian War Veteran grapples with the struggles of growing older, the nightmares of his past, and the even scarier thought of being forgotten as the world around him seems to leave him in the dust.
“Disrupted Borders” (Reel South)
This is a coming-of-age story about two best friends living on the US-Mexico border in a scarred landscape of racial tensions, family wounds, and lack of opportunities as they embark on their extraordinary journeys in 3D innovation and artistic creativity to heal themselves, their families, and their community.
Against the backdrop of a community pool, a young Yezidi girl wrestles quietly with her traumatic memories of the Mediterranean Sea.
“The Dig: Bmore Club” (MPT)
Ducky Dynamo discusses the history of Baltimore Club, the city’s unique music and dance genre that is poised for a post-pandemic comeback. “Club music isn’t dead, we just lost a lot of momentum. My focus now is working with everybody to reignite the culture, get people to see what is good here…based specifically on the Baltimore Club scene.”
“Road to Step” (Reel South)
A University of Mississippi step team vies to defend their title at the annual Black Greek Step Show. Embodiments of Black southern culture, brotherhood, creativity, and determination, the Eta Beta chapter of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. offers a deeper look into the lives of Black students at the university and how Black culture is lived out in a predominantly white environment.
“You Can’t Stop Spirit” (Reel South)
The Mardi Gras Baby Dolls’ masking tradition fearlessly explore themes of identity, sexual liberation and the freedom that carnival lends in New Orleans amongst Black women. The group pulls a thread throughout time to reclaim culture, tradition and freedom while challenging society’s perception on how Black women are to act and exist in the world. They create an alternative social space.
“Senior Prom” (Independent Lens)
At Triangle Square, a haven for LGBTQ retirees in Hollywood, California, the idea of a “senior” prom has taken on a new meaning. Senior Prom joins the celebration of an LGBTQ generation that spent a lifetime fighting for the right to live and love openly, and via rich personal archives retraces lives lived in resistance that helped change the course of civil rights.
“My Chinatown, With Aloha” (WORLD)
A fourth-generation Chinese American, filmmaker Kimberlee Bassford explores her family’s relationship to Honolulu’s Chinatown. She also examines the parallels between the COVID-19 pandemic and the 1899-1900 bubonic plague in Hawai‘i, highlighting the ways the two public health crises transformed the iconic neighborhood then and now.