The PBS Short Film Festival 2023 begins July 10!
Every year the PBS Short Film Festival seeks new ways to celebrate new perspectives and new filmmakers. We are proud to host films that come from various filmmakers from across the country and love to watch their careers bloom. This year’s tagline “Stories in Bloom,” is a nod to that sentiment. This represents the growing and changing narratives we get to play a small part in each year. We encourage the audience to take the time to watch these films with the hopes that they inspire and plant the seed in new potential filmmakers.
For more information, including a listing of this year’s films, visit pbs.org/filmfestival.
Where to Watch
This Year’s Films
“Lucky Fish“ (CAAM)
Maggie’s family has her entire life planned out, but she wants more for herself than predetermined clichés. When she encounters an enchanting girl at a local Chinese restaurant, she must reflect upon the values and desires that whisper within her. Through poignant dialogue and vivid imagery, Lucky Fish champions the adolescent desire to flourish.
“Miss Chelove“ (Reel South)
Indonesian-American artist Cita Sadeli, a.k.a. MISS CHELOVE, begins work on a mural in a soon-to-open Indonesian coffeehouse in Washington, D.C. As she paints, Cita talks about her life in the DMV area, her cultural heritage, the influence of punk and hip-hop on her life, and how she came to fall in love with graffiti in the 1980’s when there were few women drawn to the art at the time.
“The Funeral Band“ (Louisiana Public Broadcasting)
On his first day as the newest member of a dysfunctional brass band, a teenager displaced by Hurricane Katrina learns all about the unique community he’s been disconnected from and the traditions that follow them to the grave.
“Be Heard: I Am Who I Say I Am“ (Black Public Media)
“Be Heard: I Am Who I Say I Am” is a documentary short film series by Black Public Media capturing three personal stories of gender identity. Presented episodically during LGBT History Month and leading into Trans Awareness Week (November 13-19), this project introduces us to Jei, Brit, and Dr. Maya as they each offer their take on navigating gender.
A filmmaker’s intimate phone calls with her brother explore his fragile recovery from opioid addiction. Using imaginative animation, they journey both into the cosmos—a place her brother has encyclopedic knowledge about—and an all-too-real world where shame and pain take their toll.
“Cartoon Academy: Welcome to the Ocean Floor“ (WQED)
Cartoonist Joe Wos takes viewers of all ages through the creative steps of drawing cartoon characters while sharing tips on developing skill, artistic terms, and educational facts about the characters. In this episode, dive deep with Joe as you learn how to draw an octopus, blobfish and anglerfish–while learning about the importance of depth and dimension.
“WINN“ (Reel South)
After experiencing neglect and traumatic loss while pregnant in prison, Pamela Winn becomes an activist, leading hundreds of thousands to support the Dignity Bill to end the shackling of pregnant people in prison. “WINN” exposes the horrifying experience that incarcerated pregnant people endure and documents Pamela’s mission to end shackling and ultimately prison birth.
“New Beginnings“ (WQED)
Sofia Caloiero, a college Junior, spends an afternoon making biscotti with her grandmother Vittoria, who immigrated to the U.S. from Calabria, Italy. Vittoria shares the story of her arrival in this country, her life as a new bride, and the joy of raising her family.
“Everything Wrong and Nowhere to Go“ (ITVS)
Exploring the field of “climate psychology,” Everything Wrong and Nowhere to Go is a candid and comedic self-portrait in which the filmmaker turns the camera on herself and goes in search of a cure for her crippling climate anxiety. This personal documentary asks how we can find a space of emotional balance, where we can stay attentive to the climate crisis without becoming debilitated by it.
“Monograph: Guadelupe Robinson“ (APT)
Monograph is a digital series documenting Alabama’s rich tapestry of creative works and artistic endeavors. Coverage embraces a multitude of disciplines and human identities, showcasing voices both inside and outside the traditional arts framework to honor the cultural vibrancy of our state. Episodes are aired quarterly in a broadcast special hosted by Jackie Clay.
“Lucie and Annie“ (MPT)
Lucie and Annie discuss their struggle to become married, and encourage others to fight for LGBTQ+ rights.
“Kumu Niu“ (PIC)
The island of O’ahu is covered with coconut palms, but for fear of liability the vast majority of these sacred trees have been stripped of coconuts. The grassroots movement “Niu Now” is on a mission to restore the “niu,” or coconut, as a fundamental food crop in Hawai’i and spread the Indigenous wisdom of “aloha ‘āina:” loving land and serving people.
“Folk Frontera” (ITVS)
Far West Texas is a place where local folklore looms as large as the landscape. Two fronteriza women — one a public radio music show host, the other a Mariachi and folklórico dancer — live in two cultures at the same time, as they struggle to find their place in the vast Chihuahuan Desert. Touches of magical realism infuse this portrait of life along the U.S.- Mexico border.
“Last Call Baking“(APT)
Last Call Baking Co. owner Chanah Willis opened her shop in Birmingham, AL where she creates fresh, unusual, and delightful baked goods. Inspired by her Southern and Jewish heritage, a love of travel, and a background in fine arts, Chanah’s wild appreciation for ingredients sets her apart from your average Betty Crocker.
“DC’s Shoe: The Origin of New Balance in Washington DC“ (WHUT)
“DC’s Shoe” is a visual history of New Balance in Washington, DC. The film explores the shoe’s transition into a lifestyle icon in the 80s. Interviews with DC natives give deeper perspective and direct insight into the stories that follow. This isn’t about who started the trend- draw your own conclusion. Celebrate the vibrant culture and storytelling of America’s unparalleled city, Washington, DC.
“Plum Town” (Louisiana Public Broadcasting)
A young land developer returns to his childhood home in the Chinese countryside for the first time in a decade to convince his stubborn father to finally sell the failing family plum orchard. When the two struggle to understand one another, they turn to an old karaoke machine to find a common language.
“Box: The Impossible Puzzle” (KLRU-TV)
A box that can’t seem to open challenges several people to think critically on how to open it. Curiosity, frustration, and enthusiasm are explored as the guests exercise these emotions throughout their puzzle solving. The solution for the box might be handy too in a life or death situation, who knows? Box is a comedic parody paying homage to online explainer video producers such as Vox and Vice.
“Stories from St. Metz” (WPSU-TV)
Brothers Fred and Lee Metzger recall their eccentric upbringing in a converted church, where trout fishing in pools, motorcycles in the living room, and wild pets were the norm. Reflecting on their unorthodox childhood, they share life lessons of hard work, humor, and family values.
“A Little Off the Top” (BPM)
“A Little Off the Top” is a humorous web-series about an elderly, African-American barber, whose advice inspires his recurring millennial customer. Using 3D figures in a miniature barber shop set, each webisode addresses social issues faced by young black men in America, offering a unique perspective on navigating contemporary struggles with humor and insight.
“Dream Carriers” (Austin PBS)
Framed through the migration of monarch butterflies, a college-bound Chicana reflects on the generations of women before her.
“Bertie the Brilliant” (Latino Public Broadcasting)
A young boy takes on more chores and odd jobs around his neighborhood to raise money for a ticket to a magic show, but when his grandma loses her job, he is faced with a difficult decision.