PBS Online Film Festival features Two Austin Films

Today, PBS announced the 25 short films that will be part of the third annual PBS Online Film Festival beginning June 16 – July 31. Austin filmmakers Joshua Riehl and Nidhi Reddy are among those featured in this year’s Festival for their films Digging for Water and The Yellow Wallpaper.

The films will be available for streaming across all PBS digital platforms, including PBS.org, Roku, Xbox, YouTube and PBS social media channels. Viewers are encouraged to vote for their favorite film to win the “People’s Choice” award. For updates on the festival, follow #PBSolff on Twitter.

Digging for Water
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Joshua Riehl is filmmaker based in Austin, Texas, with a strong background in investigative journalism. Originally from just near Detroit, Michigan, he moved to Austin in 2009 to attend the University of Texas at Austin. He was a producer for PBS Frontline’s 2010 season premiere “Death by Fire” about the questionable execution of Cameron Todd Willingham. With an interest in criminal justice stories, he was Associate Producer for the 2013 SXSW Film Festival’s Audience Award winning documentary “An Unreal Dream” about the highly publicized case of Michael Morton’s wrongful conviction.

Digging for Water came out of three separate trips to Haiti over the course of 18 months and a longtime desire to visit the underdeveloped nation. Falling in love with the country and the people, Riehl intends to continue working in Haiti and  hopes to tell the story of dictator “Papa Doc” Duvalier’s tortuous rule in the future.

The Yellow Wallpaper
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Nidhi Reddy is a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, majoring in both Mathematics and Radio-TV-Film.  Her short animation, The Yellow Wallpaper, was an official selection of the 2013 London Feminist Film Festival, 2013 Portobello Film Festival in London, 2014 Austin Film Society ShortCase, the 2013 Longhorn Showcase, and has won grand prizes in two student film festivals.

The PBS Online Film Festival showcases powerful stories from filmmakers across the country while providing an opportunity to reach an engaged and digitally savvy audience. Attracting more than 1 million video streams and over 50,000 votes in its first two years, the PBS Online Film Festival has become a popular annual online event.

The PBS Online Film Festival showcases diverse films from Independent Lens, POV and collaborations with public television producers including, Center for Asian American Media, Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB), National Black Programming Consortium (NPBC) and Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC), Wisconsin Media Lab and Vision Maker Media. This year, several locally-produced short films will be featured from PBS member stations including KQED (San Francisco), KLRU (Austin, TX), Alaska Public Media, Vermont PBS, Arkansas Educational Television (AETN), CET/ThinkTV(Cincinnati/Dayton), WCVE (Richmond, Virginia) and Louisiana Public Broadcasting.

“PBS and member stations are committed to experimenting with new platforms to reach diverse audiences with high-quality and engaging content,” said Ira Rubenstein, Senior Vice President and General Manager, PBS Digital. “PBS is the home for independent film, both online and on-air, and we’re proud that the Online Film Festival has become an annual celebration of unique films representing a diverse array of voices and viewpoints.”

 

PBS Online Film Fest: The Longest Sun

Austin has three locally-made films in the 2nd Annual PBS Online Film Festival. You can vote for the audience award until March 22. Vote at pbs.org/filmfestival

The Longest Sun is a narrative short film inspired by the mythology of the Tewa peoples of northern New Mexico, and is told entirely in the endangered language of Tewa (less than 500 native speakers remain). A blend of fantasy, mystery, and historical fiction, The Longest Sun is a quest story that follows Tahn Pi, a young Tewa boy who sets out on a mythical journey to stop the sun from setting.

As the first film told entirely in the Tewa language, The Longest Sun is the culmination of nearly three years of collaboration with the San Juan, San Idelfonso, Santa Clara, Nambe, and Pojoaque pueblo communities and local governments. From conception to translation, the filmmaker and various Tewa community leaders worked together to document and preserve the oral traditions and language of the Tewa people through the medium of film. Peppered with colorful characters and rich in oral tradition, The Longest Sun explores universal perceptions of time, maturation, and death through a modern adaptation of an ancient Tewa origin story.

About the Filmmaker: Patrick William Smith (MFA in Film Production, UT Austin) works as a director and cinematographer between Austin, TX and Seattle, WA. He has directed a number of award-winning fiction and nonfiction films, web-series, and commercials. His documentary, Shades of The Border, toured at over two dozen film festivals worldwide (including SXSW, Media That Matters), garnering a number of awards and DVD distribution.  Patrick went on to direct a reality web-series for internet mogul, Penny Arcade, and later developed a comedy web-series funded through a successful, front-page crowdsourcing campaign on Kickstarter (Kris and Scott’s, Scott and Kris Show), which drew national media attention. Patrick’s most recent endeavor, a narrative quest film told entirely in the endangered Tewa language, is currently touring festivals worldwide. Looking ahead, Patrick has begun development on his first feature. 

PBS Online Film Fest: Mijo (My Son)

Austin has three locally-made films in the 2nd Annual PBS Online Film Festival. You can vote for the audience award until March 22. Vote at pbs.org/filmfestival

Mijo is an immensely personal documentary about the relationship between a young mother who is a professional dancer and her 6-year old son, as she undergoes treatment for breast cancer. The film is a delicate balance between the son’s innocence, the mother’s medical journey and its depiction through dance. Ultimately, the film is an affirmation of love and the purpose of life.

About the Filmmaker: Chithra Jeyaram is an emerging documentary filmmaker and educator with an MFA in Film Production from University of Texas at Austin. Her first exposure to filmmaking began in 2004 with a failed attempt to fund a film about an explosive water-sharing dispute between two southern states in India. Deeply affected by that experience, she quit a decade-long career as Physical Therapist and enrolled in film school.

A diseased human body is a chaotic system and as a filmmaker she is interested in telling stories of the disruptive consequences of illness from unique perspectives. Approximately 30% of women diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States have young dependent children living with them. In Mijo, she highlights some of the difficulties experienced by cancer survivors with young children.

Besides making non-fiction films, she loves to illustrate, animate, take spontaneous trips, cook exotic recipes and work as a physical therapist.

PBS Online Film Fest: Noc na Tanečku (Night at the Dance)

Austin has three locally-made films in the 2nd Annual PBS Online Film Festival. You can vote for the audience award until March 22. Vote at pbs.org/filmfestival

In the late 1800’s, tens of thousands of Czech immigrants settled farmland in Central Texas. They brought with them the tradition of the community dance hall, building over 1,000 halls in little towns from Temple to Anhalt. Fewer than half remain open today. Noc na Tanečku (Night at the Dance) profiles Sefcik Hall, in Seaton, one of the last true Czech dance halls in Texas, and the elderly folk that still come there each Sunday to wax the floor and dance the polka, even as they struggle with old age, illness, and in some cases, death.

About the Filmmaker: Annie Silverstein is an Austin based filmmaker and media educator. She directed the feature documentary March Point (Independent Lens 2008), in collaboration with three teenagers from the Swinomish Tribe and is Co-Founder of Longhouse Media, an indigenous media arts & education organization based in Seattle, WA. Annie has worked internationally as a Producer, Director, Cinematographer, and Editor on films ranging in theme from land access issues in Ethiopia to the experiences of LGBTI refugees living in South Africa. Most recently she produced/directed Noc na Tanečku (Night at the Dance), which screened at festivals internationally, and wrote/directed her first fiction film Spark, which screened at Slamdance and SXSW, where it won a Jury Award for Best Texas Short (2012). Annie is currently earning her MFA at University of Texas-Austin.

PBS Online Film Festival showcases Austin films

KLRU is a presenting partners in the second annual PBS Online Film Festival. The festival showcases 25 short films that feature a diversity of subjects, voices and viewpoints, accessible via all PBS digital platforms, YouTube and PBS social media channels.

“PBS is committed to providing access to the best in independent filmmaking, in short and long form, online and on-air. The Online Film Festival is a great example of how PBS can leverage the web’s reach to showcase the terrific work of our producing partners, including PBS member stations,” said Jason Seiken, PBS SVP and General Manager, Digital. “We see the Online Film Festival as another example of how PBS and our partners are innovating and experimenting with different formats and platforms to deliver great content.”

Films contributed to this year’s festival by KLRU are:

“Noc na Tanecku (Night at the Dance)”
See a profile of the last days of a Czech dance hall in rural Texas — and the old-timers who go there to polka. Watch and vote at pbs.org/filmfestival
About the Filmmaker: Annie Silverstein is an Austin based filmmaker and media educator. She directed the feature documentary March Point (Independent Lens 2008), in collaboration with three teenagers from the Swinomish Tribe and is Co-Founder of Longhouse Media, an indigenous media arts & education organization based in Seattle, WA. Annie has worked internationally as a Producer, Director, Cinematographer, and Editor on films ranging in theme from land access issues in Ethiopia to the experiences of LGBTI refugees living in South Africa. Most recently she produced/directed Noc na Tanečku (Night at the Dance), which screened at festivals internationally, and wrote/directed her first fiction film Spark, which screened at Slamdance and SXSW, where it won a Jury Award for Best Texas Short (2012). Annie is currently earning her MFA at University of Texas-Austin.

“Mijo”
This is an evocative portrayal of a mother and child’s intimate relationship in the midst of life-altering medical events. Watch and vote at pbs.org/filmfestival
About the Filmmaker: Chithra Jeyaram is an emerging documentary filmmaker and educator with an MFA in Film Production from University of Texas at Austin. Her first exposure to filmmaking began in 2004 with a failed attempt to fund a film about an explosive water-sharing dispute between two southern states in India. Deeply affected by that experience, she quit a decade-long career as Physical Therapist and enrolled in film school.

“The Longest Sun”
A narrative short film inspired by the mythology of the Tewa peoples of northern New Mexico is told entirely in the endangered language of Tewa (less than 500 native speakers remain). The film follows a young Tewa boy who sets out on a mythical journey to stop the sun from setting. Watch and vote at pbs.org/filmfestival
About the Filmmaker: Patrick William Smith (MFA in Film Production, UT Austin) works as a director and cinematographer between Austin, TX and Seattle, WA. He has directed a number of award-winning fiction and nonfiction films, web-series, and commercials. His documentary, Shades of The Border, toured at over two dozen film festivals worldwide (including SXSW, Media That Matters), garnering a number of awards and DVD distribution. Patrick went on to direct a reality web-series for internet mogul, Penny Arcade, and later developed a comedy web-series funded through a successful, front-page crowdsourcing campaign on Kickstarter (Kris and Scott’s, Scott and Kris Show), which drew national media attention. Patrick’s most recent endeavor, a narrative quest film told entirely in the endangered Tewa language, is currently touring festivals worldwide. Looking ahead, Patrick has begun development on his first feature.

Viewers will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite short film through March 22; the film with the most votes will receive the People’s Choice Award.

The featured films  were produced by a number public media partners, including Independent Television Service (ITVS), POV, Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB), Vision Maker Media, National Black Programming Consortium (NPBC) and Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC). This year’s festival also includes films from PBS stations KCTS 9 (Seattle), KLRU (Austin), PBS SoCaL (Los Angeles), WGTE (Toledo) and WCVE (Richmond, Virginia).

Other short films featured in the PBS Online Film Festival include:

Independent Television Service (ITVS)
“Brionna Williams”
Meet Brionna Williams: At 14, she was suffering from health problems and chronic asthma. Now a 17-year-old senior at Kansas City’s Central High School, Brionna has become healthier and has found focus as a highly recruited student athlete.

“Can’t Hold Me Back”
The film follows Fernando Parraz as he becomes the first in his family to earn a high school diploma — his ticket out of the struggles of inner-city poverty and violence. With a mountain of roadblocks stacked against his educational achievement, Fernando finds support from an unlikely figure: his father — a former gangster who has suffered the costs of his own mistakes.

“Story of an Egg”
Can learning the meaning of a single term actually help change the food system? David Evans and Alexis Koefoed think so. These poultry farmers explain the real story behind such terms as “cage free,” “free range” and “pasture raised” so that consumers can make informed decisions when they go to their local supermarket.

POV
“Ars Magna”
Nominated for a News and Documentary Emmy® Award, “Ars Magna” enters into the obsessive and fascinating world of anagrams with a man who took the first three lines of Hamlet’s “To Be or Not to Be” and created what has been called “the world’s greatest anagram.”

“CatCam”
An engineer straps a camera on a stray cat in North Carolina and inadvertently creates a media sensation.

“Sound of Vision”
A blind musician spends his waking hours confronting the hurdles and embracing the cacophony of “The City That Never Sleeps” — New York — which he will never see.

Center for Asian American Media (CAAM)
“Verses in Exile: Why I Write”
Vehement Khmer-American spoken word artist Kosal Khiev delivers a passionate personal narrative in this engaging, head-on collision between the political and personal.

“Indian Summer”
This short documentary brings together first-generation Indian-American youth with similar feelings of alienation to document their religious and cultural point of view.

POV and Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB)
“Sin País” (Without Country)
Winner of a 2012 Student Academy Award®, “Sin País” explores a family’s experience as members are separated by deportation.

Vision Maker Media
“Hoverboard”
After watching Back to the Future 2, an imaginative young girl and her stuffed teddy bear try to invent a real working hoverboard.

Vision Maker Media and ITVS
“Injunuity: Buried”
“Injunuity” is a unique mix of animation, music and real thoughts from real people exploring our world from the Native-American perspective. “Injunity: Buried” shares Oblone activist and educator Corinna Gould’s reflection on the destruction of sacred shell mounds in the San Francisco Bay Area of California.

National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC)
“Asylum – Bisi”
Bisi Alimi describes coming out as a gay man — on national television — in Nigeria.

“Asylum – Skye”
Skye Tenevimbo stood up to Robert Mugabe, and her actions brought unwanted attention to her family back in Zimbabwe.

Pacific Islanders in Communication (PIC)
“Lina’la’ Lusong”
Unshaken by centuries of colonial conquest and the changing tides of occupation, the lusong has endured to heal and feed the people of the land, and to impart a sacred lesson of survival.

KCTS 9 (Seattle)
“Capsule”
Two astronauts struggle to stay alive as their crashed space capsule slowly runs out of oxygen.

“Honor the Treaties”
A portrait of photographer Aaron Huey’s work on the Pine Ridge Reservation features Shepard Fairey.

“The House I Keep”
In this short film, observe a young woman’s emotional struggle to come to terms with her miscarriage.

PBS SoCaL (Los Angeles)
“Breathe Life”
The Montelone family must fight cystic fibrosis every day, but their passion for love, life and surfing allows them to get through the uncertainty.

“Still”
Dive into the world of Carlos Eyles, ocean photographer, to discover the powerful connection between humankind and the seas that surround us.

“Worlds Apart”
A young Native-American woman copes with the struggles of college away from her reservation.

WCVE (Richmond, Virginia)
“Live Art”
View a groundbreaking educational program and concert event, created and led by the School of the Performing Arts in Richmond, Virginia.

WGTE (Toledo)
“Heel”
From the theater stage to the wrestling mat, this is the surprising story of a young woman’s journey to be a wrestler.