Ave Maria – dir. Basil Khalil, Palestine/France/Germany, 15 minutes
Synopsis: Five nuns living in the West Bank find their routine disrupted when the car of a family of Israeli settlers breaks down outside the convent. Unable to use the telephone due to Sabbath restrictions, the family needs help from the nuns, but the sisters' vow of silence requires them to work with their visitors to find an unorthodox solution.
Shok – dir. Jamie Donoughue, Kosovo/UK, 21 minutes
Synopsis: In Kosovo in 1998, two young boys are best friends living normal lives, but as war engulfs their country, their daily existence becomes filled with violence and fear. Soon, the choices they make threaten not only their friendship, but their families and their lives.
Everything Will Be OK – dir. Patrick Vollrath, Germany/Austria, 30 minutes
Synopsis: Michael, a divorced father devoted to his eight-year-old daughter, Lea, picks her up for their usual weekend together. At first it feels like a normal visit, but Lea soon realizes that something is different, and so begins a fateful journey.
Stutterer – dir. Benjamin Cleary, UK/Ireland, 12 minutes
Synopsis: For a lonely typographer, an online relationship has provided a much-needed connection without revealing the speech impediment that has kept him isolated. Now, however, he is faced with the proposition of meeting his online paramour in the flesh, and thereby revealing the truth about himself.
Day One – dir. Henry Hughes, USA, 25 minutes
Synopsis: On the heels of a painful divorce, an Afghan-American woman joins the U.S. military as an interpreter and is sent to Afghanistan. On her first mission, she accompanies troops pursuing a bomb-maker, and must bridge the gender and culture gap to help the man's pregnant wife when she goes into labor.
ANIMATED SHORTS (Running Time: 86 minutes)
Sanjay’s Super Team – dir. Sanjay Patel, USA, 7 minutes
Synopsis: In SANJAY’S SUPER TEAM, the new short film from Pixar Animation Studios, accomplished artist Sanjay Patel uses his own experience to tell the story of a young, first-generation Indian-American boy whose love for western pop-culture comes into conflict with his father’s traditions. Sanjay is absorbed in the world of cartoons and comics, while his father tries to draw him into the traditions of his Hindu practice. Tedium and reluctance quickly turn into an awe-inspiring adventure as the boy embarks on a journey he never imagined, returning with a new perspective that they can both embrace.
World of Tomorrow – dir. Don Hertzfeldt, USA, 17 minutes
Synopsis: A little girl named Emily is taken on a fantastical tour of her distant future by a surprising visitor who reveals unnerving secrets about humanity's fate.
Bear Story – dir. Gabriel Osorio, Chile, 11 minutes
Synopsis: Every day, a melancholy old bear takes a mechanical diorama that he has created out to his street corner. For a coin, passersby can look into the peephole of his invention, which tells the story of a circus bear who longs to escape and return to the family from which he was taken.
We Can’t Live Without Cosmos – dir. Konstantin Bronzit, Russia, 16 minutes
Synopsis: Two best friends have dreamed since childhood of becoming cosmonauts, and together they endure the rigors of training and public scrutiny, and make the sacrifices necessary to achieve their shared goal.
Prologue – dir. Richard Williams, UK, 6 minutes
Synopsis: Clocking in at six minutes, PROLOGUE describes an incident in the Spartan-Athenian wars of 2,400 years ago. In it, a small girl bears witness as warriors battle to death. The dialog-free project utilizes natural sounds to complement the intense animation (entirely animated by Richard Williams himself). Williams - who is best known for his work as animation director on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, his unfinished feature “The Thief and the Cobbler” and Academy Award-winning “A Christmas Carol “adaptation - has worked on PROLOGUE for many years in between other projects. It was finally completed this year at the Aardman Studios in Bristol, U.K.
ADDITIONAL FILM: If I Was God – dir. Cordell Baker, Canada, 9 minutes
While dissecting a frog in Biology class, a 12-year-old boy who senses the approaching power of adulthood speculates about what he would do if he were God. This darkly whimsical, semi-autobiographical 3D animated short was directed by two-time Oscar®-nominated animator and long-time NFB filmmaker Cordell Barker.
ADDITIONAL FILM: The Short Story of a Fox and a Mouse – France, 7 minutes
Synopsis: A hungry grey fox sets out for a morning hunt, hoping to find a tasty rodent to snack on. But the mouse he finds is no ordinary mouse...
ADDITIONAL FILM: The Loneliest Spotlight – dir. Bill Plympton, USA, 6 minutes
Synopsis: The life and times of a neglected stoplight, voiced by Patton Oswalt.
ADDITIONAL FILM: Catch It – France, 5 minutes
Synopsis: A group of meerkats takes care of its beloved and unique fruit near their burrow, but a vulture intends to disturb their peace of mind. A chase begins in the savannah.
DOCUMENTARY SHORTS PROGRAM A (Running time: 87 minutes)
Body Team 12 – dir. David Darg, Liberia, 13 minutes
Synopsis: BODY TEAM 12 is tasked with collecting the victims at the height of the Ebola outbreak. These body collectors have arguably the most dangerous and gruesome job in the world. Yet despite the strain they emerge as heroes while the film explores their philosophy and strength. The story is told on the ground in Monrovia, Liberia through the eyes of the only female member of the team, who reveals the heartbreaking, lifesaving work of removing bodies from loved ones in order to halt transmission of the disease.
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness – dir. Sharmen Obaid-Chinoy, Pakistan, 40 minutes
Synopsis: Every year, more than 1,000 girls and women are the victims of religiously motivated honor killings in Pakistan, especially in rural areas. Eighteen-year-old Saba, who fell in love and eloped, was targeted by her father and uncle but survived to tell her story.
Last Day of Freedom – dirs. Dee Hibbert-Jones & Nomi Talisman, USA, 32 minutes
Synopsis: When Bill Babbitt realizes his brother Manny has committed a crime, he agonizes over his decision; should he call the police? LAST DAY OF FREEDOM is a richly animated personal narrative that tells the story of Bill’s decision to stand by his brother, a veteran returning from war, as he faces criminal charges, racism, and ultimately the death penalty. This film is a portrait of a man at the nexus of the most pressing social issues of our day; veterans’ care, mental health access and criminal justice.
DOCUMENTARY SHORTS PROGRAM B (Running time: 76 minutes)
Chau, Beyond the Lines – dir. Courtney Marsh, USA/Vietnam, 34 minutes
Synopsis: Chau, a teenager living in a Vietnamese care center for children born with birth defects due to Agent Orange, struggles with the difficulties of realizing his dream to become a professional artist and clothing designer. Despite being told that his ambitions are unrealistic, Chau is determined to live an independent, productive life.
Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah – dir. Adam Benzine, USA, 40 minutes
Synopsis: Thirty years after the release of the documentary SHOAH, filmmaker Claude Lanzmann discusses the personal and professional difficulties he encountered during the more than 12 years it took to create the work. Lanzmann also discusses his relationships with Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, and his teenage years spent fighting in the French Resistance during World War II.