2019 Filmmakers to watch


SEAN PARKER & Austin Hillebrecht

Parker and Hillebrecht are a duo that can only be described in terms rarely applied to cinema these days: Cunning Linguists. They love words, language, innuendo, poetry and rhythm. “Word on the Street” is an homage to all these things and so much more, from film noir to buddy comedies. Expertly filmed, performed and edited, “WOTS” - and even its description - is nothing less than a complete delight: “For the duration of this creation, a pair of mobsters engage in a wordplay-filled conversation. The combination of Noir-style confrontation and a rhyme infatuation makes the film an inspiration. The filmmakers hope it garners your appreciation and earns a hearty recommendation.”




Lustick’s simple short following a day in the life of a group of friends in the boring suburbs in 2004 is remarkably detailed. From its VCR opening to the sound of the trampoline springs in someone’s backyard, ‘Aug 4’ shows Lustick’s keen eye for the power of film to evoke feeling in every shot. We can’t wait to see what’s next from this young filmmaker about to graduate college.



'One veteran dies of suicide every 65 minutes.' (VA, 2013). This documentary explores coastal access as an under utilized mental health treatment - told through the story of one Veterans experiences against the backdrop of his kayaking trip to the Oregon coast. Officially selected for the St Lawrence International Film Festival, Miami Independent Film Festival, 2019 Impact DOCS Awards, First Time Film-Makers Review, and Digital Monthly Online Film Festival (DMOFF). Written, Produced and Directed by Paul Kirby. Edited by Evan Johnson. Cinematography by Dustin Saigo. Music by BenSound.com



With all the technical and story prowess of a fully produced Pixar feature, Chan’s “Godspeed” is a thesis film filled with charm, emotional honesty and style. Via the familiar 3D animation style so familiar to viewers of mass market movies, Chan brings his own cultural experience to the simple story of a mother and her young son saying goodbye to each other at the airport. The exchange occurs in silence, delicately illustrated through expression and editing to reveal a bond that supersedes cultural norms and restrictions. As Chan says, “Love exists in all kinds of ways.”

This is a teaser of my thesis film, "Godspeed". Sunny Chan - Director, Layout, Animation Brian Nathaniel - Art Director & VFX Supervisor (Lookdev & Lighting) Yuna Chen - Lighting & Compositing Aster Lai - Lighting & Compositing Samantha Lee - Grooming Sherryn Pattarawuttiwong - Texturing Prakash Panchariya - Rigging Coco Zhan - UV Mapping Mom - Bonnie 2.0 Rig (Josh Sobel Rigs) Son - Boy Rig (CartoonFactory) Background music - Tomoka ♪ BGMch


Two films have been selected for this month’s Filmmaker to Watch slot: “Hidden,” a remarkable choreographed representation of the experience of living with Multiple Sclerosis created for the UK advocacy group shift.ms, and “Two Down,” a taught, well-acted tale of mono-syllabic crossed words in a London greasy spoon.

Dan Henshaw / james graley

Writer/Producer ‘Hidden’

GBR, 10:09, Narrative

'Hidden', a new short film from Shift.ms explores the impact of invisible symptoms on those with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). We follow Keisha a young Mser trying to come to terms with her diagnosis. A chance encounter with Charlie - a young boy on her estate, leads her to an unexpected relationship that helps her to start to come to terms with MS and realize that she doesn't have to give up her ambitions, just rethink how she can achieve them.

From Shift.ms: “"Shift.ms is thrilled to have won the Filmmakers to Watch award at St. Lawrence International Film Festival. Our films – by, for and about people with Multiple Sclerosis – tell compelling stories and connect MSers with world-leading experts. 

"Inspired by the conversations of the www.Shift.ms community, 'Hidden' is a film that makes invisible MS symptoms easier for the world to see. Thank you to every one of our members who have shared their experience of hidden symptoms of MS and supported other MSers." - George Pepper, Founder & CEO.

Rolfin Nyhus

Writer/Director “Two Down”


Gustav Egerstedt


Stockholm-based advertising creative Egerstedt has created a masterful docu-satire of the advertising world in his “Blame Yourselves if No One Comes.” This debut is everything we love about short-format filmmaking: it’s clearly crafted with immediacy, grit and - most importantly - HONESTY.

Egerstedt films himself on a journey to create his ‘brilliant’ film, with all the hope, despair and legal issues known to so many who have fallen before him.

To say more would be to deny viewers the opportunity to experience Egerstedt’s journey with him. Do yourselves a favor and watch the trailer below, then look for the title wherever it plays next.



Originally from New Jersey, Marielle Woods is an award-winning filmmaker who thrives in the high-stakes world of action storytelling.

After receiving her BA in Visual Studies from Harvard University in 2008, she moved west and has been working as an LA-based director and producer ever since. She got her start in docudrama television, directing and producing shows for networks including Discovery, History, A&E and Animal Planet. She cut her teeth filming gunfights, avalanches and animal attacks, traveling around the globe in pursuit of good stories. Now, she lives every week like it's Shark Week.

Moving into the scripted world, Woods has spent much of the last four years working with some of the best stunt coordinators and second unit directors in the business, on films including JOHN WICK 2, BABY DRIVER and BRIGHT. She has helmed award-winning branded content as well as internationally recognized short-format narrative pieces. She flipped a car in the jungles of Puerto Rico for her short, MI CORAZON, and recreated war-torn Iraq on a soundstage in Culver City for her 2018 film, DO NO HARM. Most recently, Woods turned sign-spinning into a martial art for her DWW film, SPIN.

Woods likes to push buttons and boundaries, telling stories that make audiences think — with a few explosions or car chases along the way.

Everything about this poppy, colorful tale of self-determination and grit is filled with style and joy. Made under the AFI Directing Workshop for Women, ‘Spin’ takes us gleefully beyond the #metoo era to an empowered, exuberant and fun future! For more about Marielle, be sure to follow @spin_short_film on social media.

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wyatt m. ermen

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Delayed is a film that examines a relationship between a father and son in this new age of technology. Will the technology help them communicate or will there still be something missed in the end? While the film seeks to understand the complexities of the modern age it also acts as a critic of the ways in which social media and new technologies inhibit further advancement of the human experience by cutting us off from the one thing we all need, human interaction.

Find more from this talented filmmaker: @goodkidz95


philippe renault

A silent drifter stays in the homes of people while they are away, as a sort of uninvited house sitter. When one of them unexpectedly returns, the two share a mysterious connection.

Renault’s quiet short surprises with its intimacy and sense of danger. His storytelling hand is assured and full of care for its brief yet intense emotional core. We can’t wait to see more of his work.


2018 Filmmakers to watch


Yatoni Roy Cantu

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La Source is the third short film from 24 year old Yatoni Roy Cantu. A Swiss production from the young Franco-Mexican who grew up in short film mecca Claremont-Ferrand, this true international product is a masterpiece of tension, restraint and tone. At once terrifying and mystical, La Source tells its tale simply and beautifully with no more or less than required to move the viewer with each frame.

Yatoni Roy Cantu is truly a Filmmaker to Watch.

Directed by: Yatoni Roy Cantu Production: ECAL/ Ecole cantonale d'art de Lausanne Synopsis (english): In the middle of the darkness of a chalet of a past century, between the cracks and the dirt of an old mirror, somebody appears. It is Lisbeth. She moves forward in her dressing gown with precaution, trying not to wake Anne who is still sleeping. In front of her reflection, she discovers her shoulder. The skin is cracked, darkened and in blood. The disease is back.


Jérémie Seguin

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With a PhD in Neuroscience, director Jeremie Seguin applies a deep understanding of human nature - and emotion - to his films. “Sweetheart” is no exception.

“The audience has to be immersed right from the first shot into the inner world of the main character,” Seguin says. “A voice over is the best way to do so: thanks to it, we enter into the teenager’s streams of consciousness. We can hear him think while he’s running in the street. This very first shot is fully understood at the end of the film. But thanks to the voice over, we enter into this young man’s life, without any concern about time lapse.

SWEETHEART is a story of rupture. Rupture from childhood and the idealized vision we have of our parents. In a more unique and inherent way, related to the film, SWEETHEART is also the breakdown of a family context, as well as the collapse of the main character’s inner world, who is transforming while experiencing this peculiar stage: teenager angst.”


Pierluigi Braca, Luigi Montebello

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When we decided to write the story of this short movie, we already knew that this work would became a necessity for us, more than anything else. 

We were working on the subject for another job, things were going well, we were in the process of research and documentation to start the first draft. But, as often happens, research opens you up to new discoveries, and discoveries to new encounters. We didn’t find anything new but working with one of our historic collaborators, spending a lot of time with her side by side, allowed us to discover a huge set of nuances of her life. She opened the doors of her present and past: for her moving to Rome more than 15 years ago, it was like finding America just a few miles from home. she explained that living adolescence in a village on the outskirts of Rome, when you're a homosexual, was not easy at all. especially when your family becomes prison for you or, as in her case, sanatorium. From what? From her "being a lesbian". She said that you start to be afraid of people who have raised you with love. You meet with whom you like secretly, because if your father or your mother see you "still with her" they beat you, or even worse, you don't go out for months.

At the beginning we were just curious, as if these stories were far from us, were far from our ears. Then, going deep, we discovered a terrible world, made of violence and crime, which we still find hard to explain. Because it lives in a cultural root that’s not easy to eradicate. Sometimes it even seems impossible to focus on sensitization. With this work we wanted to open a window on the present. Because, even if the short movie is set in the 90s, all the story is a daily routine for someone. It is an edgy topic, sometimes even annoying to listen, because we talk about family, children. And we talk too much without understanding how to change things. Everything fits into the great classics. Salon topics that don’t seem to affect anyone as long as our children are called "normal".

short movie. Italy, 2018. Fiumicino. 1996. Two lovers, one game. The violent end of a relationship through the faces of a die. directed by Pierluigi Braca e Luigi Montebello written by Massimiliano Mattiello cinematography by Cristiano Pedrocco editing by Paolo Damiano Dolce produced by Pierluigi Braca Massimiliano Mattiello Luigi Montebello



Chris Lawing is an award-winning filmmaker with over two decades of writing, directing and editing experience in film, video and broadcast. His epic short “Greg’s Going to Rehab” is one of those familiar delights that still surprises you with strong performances and a great story.

From Chris: “I love Greg. I love the time of life where nothing seems to work right and you’re confronted with a pivotal moment where you can choose to do something different or just keep doing what you’ve been doing. It’s in that simple moment than can somehow carry the instance of transformation.

Greg is not autobiographical though I drew strong inspiration from my own wayward youth. In this film I wanted to take a journey through the rebellious inclinations of teen years in conflict with the sweeter more gentle side of youth and then the inevitable reality of growing up.

This isn’t a party film nor is it an after school special, moralizing on the ills of youth drug use. This is very simply about Greg opening his eyes and owning the journey he’s on. “

We’ll follow Chris on any journey he wants. We invite you to do the same here.


For the first time, SLIFF Online has select THREE Filmmakers to Watch for July. Each of these projects is exemplary in their own way while embodying the characteristics we measure to count them among the BEST FILMS IN THE WORLD!

mark valley

US, 9:39, Webseries

Season One a murder of a local meth dealer shifts the balance of power in this border town's underworld. Detective Harry Mallette negotiates the petty thieves, hustlers and ex-cons of his hometown. To watch the first season in its entirety, visit zburgny.com


GER, 11:00, Narrative

Day Off is about the relationship between three people involved to varying degrees in the sex industry. Set in Munich showing a side of the southern German city not often seen on screen, Day Off lays bare the power dynamics and contradictions of sex work.

Please visit alexander-griffith-gm6z.squarespace.com in order to view the entire film

Leslie Ortiz & Gabriela Cruz

SLV, 28:00, Webseries

The story of Alicia, a psychologist that uses painting as a tool for psychoanalysis. Her life intertwines with those women that have suffered the consequences of physical, psychological and sexual abuse. Alicia starts to dig deeper in one of the cases, taking her down a dark path with where she will face a serial rapist.

Sinopsis "Lienzo en Blanco" cuenta la historia de Alicia, una psicóloga que utiliza la pintura como herramienta de psicoanálisis. Su vida se entrelaza con la de diferentes mujeres que han padecido las consecuencias de abusos físicos, psicológicos y sexuales. Alicia comienza a profundizar más y más en uno de los casos, hasta entrar en un oscuro camino sin retorno que la colocará frente a un violador en serie. Producción general: Leslie Ortiz | Verónica Barrientos Dirección: Leslie Ortiz | Gabriela Cruz Guion: Leslie Ortiz | Libia Pérez Dirección de fotografía: Guillermo Argueta | Miriam Ortiz Asistente de dirección: Leticia Macua Montaje y edición: Carmen Guzmán Diseño sonoro: Eduardo Cáceres Música original: Francisco Huguet Colorización: Claudia Macchiavello Sonido directo: Enrique Pocasangre Asistente de sonido: Ángel Cortez Agente de ventas: Janaina Moraes


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June, 2018 Winner, 'How NOT to Capture the Grand Canyon' - USA

With handmade charm and intimacy, this compact account of the grandest of all natural formations is as deeply carved as its subject. Director Romey packs us along with the rest of his gear - losing some to the Colorado River and some to technical gremlins - before showing us the climax of his trip in the pages of a sketchbook.

Says Romey, "Sketching and watercolors can seem like outdated skills, until all your fancy camera equipment is sitting at the bottom of the Colorado river. In todays world it can be easy to see life behind a screen, but after this experience I am trying to spend more time looking and experiencing than capturing." 

As much a meditation on the nature of technology and storytelling as it is on Nature itself, 'How NOT to...' is what short documentaries should be: travelogues for the spirit.

Here's to Romey sharing as many of his experiences as he can.


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May, 2018 Winner, 'I Will Crush You and Go To Hell' - FRA

Advertising Art Director Fabio Soares has turned his well-honed skills on filmmaking to dizzying effect. IWCYAGTH is a relentless visual feast crafted with style and attitude. A road movie that follows two angry sisters hell-bent on collecting their due, this teaser for a feature length iteration of its story is a standalone gem promising great things from its creator.



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James Cripps

April, 2018 Winner, 'Blind' - AUS

Writer/Producer James Cripps created the webseries 'Blind' as a "youth-focussed comedy-drama with an existential pulse and countercultural soul." That's about right. 'Blind' had us dizzy with its take on the lives of young people, drugs, music, and relationships. A digital funhouse that dares to push the boundaries of serialized web content through its well-crafted characters and rich story world, 'Blind' has us craving more from this team. And according to Cripps, the next project can be summed up in one word: "Vampires!" Follow 'Blind' on Twitter and Instagram: @Blind_Webseries or Facebook: @blindwebseries.


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tyler Mendelson

March, 2018 Winner, 'The Hun' - USA

An Emerson College senior, Tyler Mendelson has more than just this finely crafted period piece to his name. He also served as a sergeant in the United States Marine Corps during Operation Enduring Freedom. A history buff, writing and directing 'The Hun' was a natural extension of Tyler's interests and experiences. With a goal of shedding some light on American involvement in World War 1, Tyler has created a moving - and timeless - story. As he graduates from Emerson with this calling card, we look forward to his next project, no longer a student, or a sergeant, but as a true filmmaker.


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Zohar Melinek Ezra & Afek Testa Launer

February, 2018 Winner 'Spectrums' - ISR

Ezra's and Launer's docu-series on the Israeli transgender community is nothing short of revelatory. "You want to be a part of me,  my life?" asks one of the series' subjects. "See that you are worthy of it." That kind of resilience and hope contrasts with harrowing stories of rejection, oppression, depression and seemingly endless pain. "Spectrums" brings out the most profound honesty from its various subjects, who clearly need to be heard in a world still struggling to see trans people as humans worthy of respect. 

Ezra and Launer don't shy away from these stories or their landscapes, revealing a gritty Israel that feels at once young and ancient. Perhaps that dichotomy is what makes this series so watchable. Change  - personal or political - doesn't come easy in this place. And yet, in the face of towering acrimony, the trans humans of 'Spectrums' are no different than any other Israeli or Palestinian asserting his or her right to belong in that strip of land. They are Worthy. And demand to be treated as such.


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January, 2018 Winner: 'Envy' - UK

Like many of our submitters, Sam Hoggarth is a working professional and cinematographer/gun for hire during the day. His SH Film is home to a menu of services including wedding videos, corporate communications and even custom actor showreel demos. Sam's entrepreneurial spirit seems an essential quality for today's independent filmmaker: the only way to get your film made today is to do it yourself.

'Envy' is one of 5 shorts helmed by this young auteur, and demonstrates the results of Hoggarth's grit. A dark tale of youthful anxiety run amok in a small acting class, 'Envy' is performed by a young cast expertly guided by Hoggarth.

With plans for a feature version of 'Envy' and television concepts, as well, Hoggarth's name is one to keep an eye out for as he makes his own way.

(Note: While 'Envy' continues its festival circuit run, the film is restricted from online showings. Until that journey is over, enjoy Hoggarth's cinematography, below. You can also follow the film itself at the SH Film site, here.



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jacob pilgaard

October-November Winner: 'Se, Hvilken Klovn' ('Behold, Such a Clown') - Denmark

Jacob Pilgaard's sensitive short, 'Behold, Such a Clown' immediately plunges the audience into such emotionally raw territory, it almost feels as though you've stepped into the middle of a feature film of staggering tragedy. It is, however,  a beautifully performed short film with the emotional depth and complexity of the greatest stories, regardless of length.

A snapshot of the last day of employment for a clown at a children's hospital, 'Behold, Such a Clown' reveals the talents of all its creators through their pure dedication to story and character. It is a shining reminder of the power of cinema that should be required viewing for novice and veteran filmmakers alike.

Pilgaard's next project is a comedy which begins shooting in January. "We really hope to make people laugh next time," he says. We're looking forward to whatever he creates in his bright future.



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Adalbert Wojaczek

September Winner: 'Luca' - Germany

Writer/Director Adi Wojaczek's 'Luca' is a tautly executed tale of humanity, identity and courage. Set in the middle of a prestigious dance competition during which a last minute change of a principal dancer must be made, 'Luca' manages to create remarkable tension, pathos and comedy into 15 minutes of charge filmmaking. 

Wojaczek's school-age outsider status has informed much of his work. "I I like telling stories of outsiders or people who are disadvantaged in a way," he says. " 'Luca' is the next step in this evolution."  His next project is a music video trilogy following an asian boy raised to be a soldier in the imperial army who must face his deepest fears.

A German qualifier for this year's Academy Awards, 'Luca' continues a very successful festival tour by gracing SLIFF Online with its powerful story.

Follow the film and Wojaczek on Facebook @LucaShortFilm


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Christian Cieplik

August Winner: 'Warrior' - Canada

Cieplik's short documentary focussing on three Canadian infantry veterans of deployment to Kandahar, Afghanistan is a unique view into the human experience of battle. The courage and sensitivity of the film's subjects is well-matched with that of the filmmakers, who deliver these warrior's stories as though we are all their war buddies.

The film's producer, Maria-Nicole Miriklis says, "Our intent in making this film was to bring the 'ground truth' to a civilian audience.  We wanted to have the audience literally take on the perspective of a solider and show just how complex the issues and the people who deal with them are. It is always important to consider how war impacts people and as a society we often overlook or tend to avoid the hard task of listening to soldiers' experiences."

Those experiences are brought into sharp focus not only from their camp-fire testimony, but remarkably via the soldiers' own helmet camera footage shot during their deployments.

To see what's next for the film and filmmakers, follow @QallamContent on Twitter and Instagram and WarriorDocumentary on Facebook.


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Frank Aron Gårdsø

July Winner: 'Takk for Alt (Thanks for Everything)' - Norway

Working behind the scenes day to day, filmmaker Frank Aron Gårdsø spends his free time making short films amidst Norway's tight-knit film community.

His sixth short, Takk for Alt is a carefully structured tale of chance, relationships, regret and tragedy, told with a wry, fresh voice and restrained visual style.

Filled with character revelations and small clues which illuminate its themes, Takk for Alt is that rare short film which contains as much story and character as any feature length film.

Which is appropriate, as Gårdsø's next project is a feature. "It's time to take the jump," he tells us. 

Just as long as it's not off a bridge, we can't wait for the leap.





June Winner: 'Antarctica'

Global explorers who document the far reaches of the planet, the Andreievs have made a name for themselves via their Paganel Studios .

But with 'Antarctica,' the duo have outdone themselves. A montage of spectacular footage of the icy continent, this short film reveals one natural wonder after another within it's brief seven and a half minutes.

"We show life as it is there - beautiful and severe," says Andrii. 

Amongst the beauty they documented: a "bubble feeding net" from krill-hunting whales. This technique of creating a spiral bubble formation below the surface of the sea traps krill within its confines just long enough to be scooped up by open-mouthed whales rising from directly below. From the bird's-eye view of Paganel's drone, the phenomena is as visually arresting as it is scientifically significant: such hunting techniques had only previously been observed around Alaska's shores until Paganel's footage confirmed whales have been practicing at the southern pole, as well.

The Andreievs are a pair worthy of the title Filmmakers to Watch - as every new adventure they pursue yields one more fresh view of our world.



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Michael Bofshever

May Winner: "Echo Park Blues"

Veteran Actor Michael Bofshever makes his directorial debut with Echo Park Blues with a screenplay by Rick Lieberman based on their original story. 

A sensitively rendered tale of washed up jazz saxophonist Teddy Bender, who has finally written the song of his life, Echo Park Blues explores the themes of success, redemption and love via sadsack Bender's creative journey. Solid performances and camerawork deliver a complete world in 17 minutes that exemplifies the power of short format storytelling as well as any we've seen.

Bofshever is known from his film and television credits include notable roles in Breaking Bad, The Jersey, and True Blood, A Dog's Purpose, United 93, and Crime of the Century. A teacher and published author, Bofshever is the author of Your Face Looks Familiar...How To Get Ahead as a Working Actor

However, his future behind the camera continues apace:  Bofshever has optioned award winning writer Donald Lystra's collection of short stories, Something that Feels like Truth with the aim of turning it into a screenplay with screenwriter Steve Armour.

Follow Michael on his website and Echo Park Blues at www.echoparkblues.com.


The filmmaker has elected at this time to screen only the film's trailer here. For more information, please visit the film's website.


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Patrick Biesemans

April Winner: 'Embers & Dust'

Patrick Biesemans's "thank you card" to Orson Welles, imagination, and the importance of mass media communications is an exquisitely produced short film. Striking images, careful casting and an unusually skilled orchestration of tension mark this piece as award-worthy.

Biesemans considers short films "as postcards from another time and place," which fairly sums up this film's ultimate effect on the viewer. Produced with a grant from Musicbed's 2016 Film Initiative, "Embers & Dust" perfectly pushes the boundaries of the short film format, delivering feature-length emotional impact and unforgettable visual style in 11 minutes.

His first foray into writing, producing and directing, Biesemans has more in store for us in the future, noting, "I've been hesitant for so long venturing into the world of writer-director territory but now, because of the positive and enthusiastic response to Embers & Dust, I have the confidence to nurture my ambitions."  

Follow Patrick, and the film, on Facebook or www.embersanddust.com




Pauline mabille 

March Submission: Narrative Short 'Ici ou La-bas (Right Here or Over There)'

SLIFF Online's first Filmmaker to Watch is awarded to this first-time filmmaker from France. Mabille's story of a young woman's return home after several years gone is a masterful work of short cinema, from its expertly revealed story to its carefully rendered characters. With stellar performances from Anaelle Corlin, Chantal Baroin and Erik Stouvenaker, Mabille's 16.5 minute glimpse into a family shattered by tragedy is a study in sensitive filmmaking and the power resulting from a restrained hand.

Not surprisingly to us, the film has seen great success on the festival circuit, including a coveted position in Canne's Short Film Corner. Says Mabille: “Ici ou La-bas is my first film. The festival success of this film is incredible for me. Since I was 6 years old, I’ve dreamt of making movies, but never formally studied filmmaking, so I’m entirely self-taught. I hope to make a feature length version of this story and am writing a second film about love, friendship and the passage of time. I’m so grateful for our wonderful crew who trusted me to make this film.”

For a freshman effort, this film promises great things from Mabille. We’re honored to name her our first Filmmaker to Watch and can't wait to see what's next from her.

(NOTE: While the film continues its real-world festival journey, SLIFF Online is prohibited from screening the film in its entirety. As soon as the streaming rights become available, we look forward to being able to share it with you)

Follow the film on Facebook