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The American Pavilion Announces Its Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival

The crescent-shaped coastline of a sandy beach in Cannes, France.

Celebrating its 26th edition, The American Pavilion announces the 2023 Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at the forthcoming Cannes Film Festival. 38 short films comprise this year’s Showcase, with 22 projects featuring women filmmakers.

The selected films are divided into the following categories: Student Short Films, Student Documentaries, Emerging Filmmaker Short Films, Emerging Filmmaker Documentaries, Emerging Filmmaker LGBTQ Showcase Films and an Alumni Showcase. Films from the U.S., Australia, Canada, Nigeria and Sweden are represented among the lineup this year. All screenings with filmmakers in attendance will be followed by a live Q&A.

“As we celebrate the Emerging Film Showcase’s 15th year as a competition, we are proud to welcome 38 official selections, more than half of which were directed by women,” said Julie Sisk, Founder and Director of The American Pavilion, in a press release. “Since its inception in 1997, this has  evolved into a prestigious event for up-and-coming filmmakers such as Ryan Coogler (Black Panther) who showed his USC student film in 2009, Manjari Makijany (Skater Girl, Spin) who screened two of her shorts with us, and Alex Camilleri (Luzzu) who won the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase student documentary award for his Vassar short film in 2010.” 

Competition winners will be selected by a jury that includes agents, managers, producers, and industry members. Naturally, Emerging Showcase winners will be announced at The American Pavilion during this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

“We received record-breaking submissions from our alumni this year so we launched an alumni showcase to support them as they continue to grow in their careers,” added Monika Skerbelis, Director of the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase. “The Alumni Showcase received more than 35 submissions from alumni and 9 submissions from student program alumni.”

Find the full slate for the 2023 Emerging Filmmaker Showcase below. For more information, visit the program’s official webpage.


All In
2023, 14:51 min., USA, Drama 
Writer/Director: Dusan Brown 
Producer: James Kexian Lee, Joyce Kelly-Brown 
Cast: Dusan Brown, Daniel Chernish, Rolando Boyce, Staci Ashley and Dante Brown When an enterprising teen is left with a $130,000 debt by his unscrupulous, late father, he must play poker to either make the money back and save what’s left of his family… or die trying. 

2022, 8:48 min., USA, Animation/Documentary 
Writer/Director: Jaime Sunwoo 
Producer: Alex Griffin, Jessica Simon, Jaime Sunwoo 
Cast: Jaime Sunwoo 
After discovering old diaries and notebooks, artist Jaime Sunwoo examines her shapeshifting penmanship and wonders why she’s never had a consistent style. Through playful paper puppetry and animation, she reflects on what handwriting means to her personally, its significance throughout history, and its relevance in our computerized world. 

2022, 10:11 min., USA, Thriller 
Writer/Director: Zoey Martinson 
Producer: 20th Digital, Korey Jackson, Anne Troupe
Cast: Marchant Davis, David Costabile 
Evan is on house arrest in a haunted house. Or so he thinks? 

2022, 7:30 min., USA, Comedy 
Writer/Director: Julie Sharbutt 
Producer: Whitney Wolanin 
Cast: Julie Sharbutt, Jackie Welch 
When a phone scammer makes one last late night call, the woman on the other end gives her much more than she bargained for. 

Warriors: The Bernie Mac Disease
2023, 24:10 min., USA, Documentary 
Director: Nicholas Markart 
Producer: Steve Hilfiker 
Cast: Rhonda McCullough, Bernie Mac, Papa Yaw Annan Addo-Boateng, Marilyn Aponsah Annan, Stefan Brixner, Andrea Budde, Chasta Posey, Dr. Bettina Heidecker, Dr. Nadera Sweiss Bernie Mac’s widow, Rhonda, takes us on a deeply personal journey through the life and legacy of the beloved comedian and the impact that sarcoidosis had on his rise to fame. Patients from the USA, Germany and Ghana describe their fight. 


2022, 12:50 min., USA, Coming-of-Age/Dramedy 
Writer/Director: Kameishia D. Wooten 
Producer: Janae Greene, Meagann Pallares, Victoria Brown 
Cast: Marajanai Kirby, Nandi Chapman, Maxcianna Saintilus, Keith Arthur Bolden Three very different friends find renewed connection as they await pregnancy results at their Los Angeles High School. 

De Closin Night
2022, 19:35 min., USA, Drama 
Director: Shicong Zhu 
Writer: Ella Rouwen Chen 
Producer: Ella Rouwen Chen, Brielle Yuke Li 
Cast: Ella Rouwen Chen, Rod Menzies, Jocelyn Liu, Claire Liu, Cooper Reynolds A Chinese theater student in America risks losing her first role due to her accent. Determined to succeed, she vows to eliminate it at any cost. 

Employee of the Month
2022, 18:56 min., Nigeria, Drama 
Producer/Writer/Director: Goga Clay 
Cast: Tope Tedela, Elma Mbadiwe
Ibinabo, a young husband and father-to-be, lives an unremarkable but exemplary life. He strives to prove himself to his boss, but gets caught up in the horrors of the October 2020 protests against police brutality. 

2022, 10:47 min., Canada, Drama 
Writer/Director: Nathalie Therriault 
Producer: Nneka Kidada Croal, Fabian Aspell Morales, Nathalie Therriault Cast: Ashley Cartwright, Hanna Moon 
Two seven-year-olds negotiate their after school life without adult supervision which slowly chips away at their innocence. 

2022, 16:15 min., USA, Drama 
Writer/Director: Anne Hu 
Producer: Anne Hu, Gilana Lobel, Oliver Brooks, Rachel Liu, Chenney Chen, Gabriella Murillo Cast: Anne Hu, Dawn Ying Yuen, Elizabeth Gao, Audrey Liao 
When a Taiwanese American woman prepares lunches from her childhood, she struggles to forgive herself for pushing away her immigrant mother. 

New Shoes
2023, 18:40 min., USA, Drama 
Director: Thommy Kane, Bojan Vanovac 
Writer: Thommy Kane 
Cast: Jacob Moran, Laura Whiteley, David Afflick, Joe Vingi, Courtney Rush, Denise Monteiro Young Tristan (Jacob Moran) desperately needs new shoes, but his mother struggles between feeding her drug addiction and providing for her child. 

Shower Boys
2022, 9:20 min., Sweden, Coming-of-Age/Drama 
Director: Christian Zetterberg 
Writer: Christian Zetterberg, Albin Abrahamsson 
Producer: Liselotte Persson 
Cast: David Ramirez Knezevic, Lucas Andreasson 
After a heated training match with the team, twelve-year-old Viggo and Noel go home to challenge each other’s limits and masculinity. A sudden stop to an innocent game questions what a male friendship is allowed to be. 


Beyond the Chair
2022, 8:05 min., USA, Documentary, Florida State University 
Producer/Director: Thomas Edward Hindy
Cast: Eden Schroeder 
An ambitious college student, Eden Schroeder, is paralyzed from the chest down in a swimming accident and learns to live with her disability. 

Big Mama’s Antiques & Restorations
2021, 11 min., USA, Documentary, Low Key Arts 
Writer/Director: Gabriel Henk 
Producer: Low Key Arts 
Cast: Stanley Ray Stevenson 
Antique store owner, Stanley Ray Stevenson, has a collection that would rival many museums, but many of his objects paint a complex portrait of American History from the civil war to the present. 

Waves Apart
2022, 24:55 min., USA, Documentary, University of Southern California Director: Josh Greene 
Producer: Aslan Dalgic, Ela Passarelli 
What happens when your passion conflicts with your heritage? A Jewish surfer confronts the dark, antisemitic history of the sport he once loved. 


2022, 15 min., USA, (Subtitles), Drama, Santa Monica College 
Writer/Director: Alci Rengifo 
Producer: José Gutiérrez, Katia Arami 
Executive Producer: Salvador Carrasco 
Cast: Shahrooz Mahmoodi, Afshin Katanchi, Zina Torab, Wayne Hodges, Rana Ghiassi, Nakta Pahlevan, Ali Azizian 
Iran in 1971. Two young students from opposite ends of society meet by the sea in a time where revolution hangs in the air. Bijan, the son of aristocrats close to the regime of the Shah, prepares to leave for college and feels the pressures of a future already decided by his powerful father. He meets Layla, a girl from the wrong side of Tehran, who forces him to question everything. Their bond will challenge class and social divisions in a world soon to disappear. 

2023, 18.06 min., USA, Drama/Social Justice, University of Southern California Writer/Director: Jacqueline Elyse Rosenthal 
Producer: Robin Wang, Marian Cook, Josh Powell 
Cast: Jill Renner, Bailey Humiston, Bradley Layne Beachum, Avis Murphy, Gary Daniel Mosher, Ivan Ellis, Natalie D. Woodard, Madeline Rae Heyman, Beth Fraser The true story of a young collegiate woman who tried to find justice for three years for her shelved rape kit—only to become the key witness in the Senate hearing to end the rape kit backlog. Can she trust the system that betrayed her?

El Carrito
2021, 15:20 min., USA, Subtitles, Drama, University California Los Angeles Writer/Director: Zahida Pirani 
Producer: Zahida Pirani, Mauricio Piratova, Ran Yan 
Cast: Eli Zavala, Idalia Limón, Jose Febus, Eduardo Gonzales, Jayden Toledo, Vanessa Ortiz Nelly lives alone with her elderly father. The only way she makes ends meet is by working as a street vendor from dawn to dusk. She has learned not to trust anyone until one day she is forced to take a leap of faith or be resigned in her position forever. 

2023, 20 min., USA, Action/Fantasy, University of Southern California 
Writer/Director: c. Craig 
Producer: Mitchell Graham Colley, Anthony Gaitros, Letia Solomon, Alexa Villarreal, Brandyn Johnson 
Cast: Kapri Ladd, Tremari Limbrick, Tika Sumpter, Notlim Taylor 
When one of the last free children of Junkyard Paradise has her brother stolen away from her, no Ragamuffin army or vicious beasts will stop her from getting him back. 


2022, 15 min., USA, Documentary/LGBTQ+, Chapman University 
Producer/Director: Isabella Miller, Gabe Braden 
Cast: Ambrosia Starling 
An activist drag queen in rural Alabama is forced to keep her identity secret as she fights for human rights in a race against the systematic erasure of her own history. 

Benny & James
2023, 14:50 min., USA, Drama/LGBTQ+ 
Writer/Director: Logan Vaughn 
Producer: Laurie Bernhard, Ria Pavia, Mayon Denton, Robert Arnold 
Cast: Phillip James Brannon, Calvin Leon Smith 
A man, unsettled by his imminent life-changing decision, suspects his terrifying dream and his husband’s daunting parallel encounter might be a signal from God to cancel a long awaited arrival. 

Fearless: Jazmin Theodora
2021, 4:36 min., Australia, Documentary/LGBTQ+ 
Producer/Director: Nicole Sullivan 
Cast: Jazmin Theodora 
Jazmin is a positive person, a psychic and tarot card reader. All her life she has tried to stay true to herself, paying no mind to those who wanted to tear her down. At 83, she plays an active part in her community, and her psychic abilities attract people from all around Australia. 

The Letter Men
2022, 8:41 min., USA, Drama/LGBTQ+ 
Director: Andy Vallentine 
Writer: Andy Vallentine, Danny Vallentine 
Producer: Mike Diaz, Cameron Hutchison, Siddharth Ganji, Garrett Clayton, Matthew Postlethwaite 
Cast: Matthew Postlethwaite, Garrett Clayton 
Based on the largest collection of queer love letters from WWII, The Letter Men is a window into the untold true story of two gay men desperately in love but torn apart by war. 

Nana Dara Is Gay
2023, 7:48 min., USA, Comedy/LGBTQ+ 
Director: Andrea Maxwell 
Writer: Tammy Lynne Stoner, Andrea Maxwell 
Producer: Theresa Gallagher, Diana C. Zollicoffer, Andrea Maxwell 
Executive Producer: Greg Tally, Tammy Lynn Stoner 
Cast: Theresa Burkhart Gallagher, Sheri Mann Stewart, Puppett, Phylliss Bailey Brooks No amount of sweet tea and vodka will ease the tension when Nana Dara makes the big announcement to her step-children: the flamboyant, Bible thumping Miss Debbie and her “sister who’s a mister”, Edna (“Eddie”). 

A Question of Service
2022, 24:50 min., USA, Drama/LGBTQ+ 
Director: Erin Brown Thomas 
Writer: Hans Obma 
Producer: Elle Shaw 
Post Producer: Gabrielle Fernandez 
Cast: Hans Obma, Dexter Farren Haag, Zina Badran, Marco Da Silva, Kojo Attah, Caleb Conner, Yessica Sanchez Thurnherr, Roshni Rathore, Lex Quarterman, Trev Fleming
From the cliffs of Wales, to the basement of MI6, to a Wisconsin farmhouse, “A Question of Service” follows Joseph, an MI6 interpreter…who may or may not be a Russian spy. 

Seven Minutes
2023, 8:21 min., USA, Drama/LGBTQ+, Young Actors’ Theatre Camp 
Director: Shawn Ryan, Hannah Madgett, Hannah Baer 
Writer: Shawn Ryan, Hannah Madgett, Diana Glogau 
Producer: Shawn Ryan, Valerie Dohrer, John Ainsworth 
Cast: Brooke Sanders, Claire Marquette, Ethan Politzer, August Petersen, Mackenzie Brown, Judge Cantrell 
When Hailey and Jordan’s friends push them into a game of spin the bottle, they have no idea that their worlds are about to turn upside down. What is said to be a pivotal moment in each teenager’s life turns into a momentous occasion for these two lovebirds. Your whole life can change in just seven short minutes. 

Show Pony
2021, 17:41 min., USA, Drama/LGBTQ+ 
Writer/Director: Meghan Lennox
Producer: Meghan Lennox, Julianna Gelinas Bonifacio 
Executive Producer: Christian Papierniak 
Cast: Britt Lower, Clara McGregor 
Kate, a painter who hasn’t created new work in years, finds inspiration when she happens upon an adult ballet class and quickly becomes infatuated with her teacher, Laura. As their lives intertwine, Kate is shocked to discover a side of Laura she struggles to embrace. 

2021, 23:53 min. USA, Drama/LGBTQ+ 
Writer/Director: Astor Kim-Stark 
Producers: Mona Xia, Sage Sokol-Lanting, Damon Laguna 
Cast: Danell Leyva, Kyler O’Neal, Ashton Grooms, Raven Miles 
A stealth trans woman has a run-in with the Unicorn Gang. 


The Audition
2022, 8:10 min., USA, Drama, Saint Ann’s School 
Producer/Writer/Director: Eli Berliner 
Cast: John Gialitis, Sam Lazzara, Abigail Gampell 
A young pianist makes a startling discovery while painting that changes his relationship to music forever. 

Bee the Solution
2022, 8:59 min., USA/UK, Documentary, St. Margaret’s Episcopal School Producer/Director: Charlotte Quintanar 
Cast: Paula Carnell, Nick Tew, Amanda Mahaffey 
Leading bee experts explain the causes for declining bee populations around the world and offer approachable solutions individuals can take to support their local pollinators. 

2022, 4:48 min., USA, Documentary, John Marshall High School 
Producer/Director: Kyle Ward 
Cast: Brandon Masi, Erica Masi, Meredith Masi, Barbara Hees Masi, Christopher Masi, Walter Randig 
In Pflugerville, Texas, a community is faced with the challenge of unprecedented devolvement. As housing developers and commercial companies start to inch closer and closer to the farmland, the farmers are forced to wonder how long it will be until their way of life will disappear. Most of the farmers are left with land that has been used for farming over multiple generations. To them, the thought that a housing community would be built on the land they have farmed makes them despondent. Once the land is built on, there is no getting it back. It is gone forever. 

2023, 10:12 min., USA, Comedy/Drama, Young Actors’ Theatre Camp 
Writer/Director: Elizabeth Popov
Producer: Shawn Ryan, Valerie Dohrer, John Ainsworth 
Cast: Chase Nakayama, Myari Adams, Chris Phalen, Hannah Ballew, Leo Dibbelt, Laurel Ames
Max is nervous for his big date with Aimee… but what could go wrong? Uncontrollable hiccups, that’s what! While the evil Lord Hiccup torments the poor boy, Max’s friends try ever increasingly drastic measures to cure him! 

2023, 12:48 min., USA, Coming-of-age/Comedy/LGBTQ+, Young Actors’ Theatre Camp Director: Suzan Jones, Spencer Davis 
Writer: Jacob Manning 
Producer: Shawn Ryan, Valerie Dohrer, John Ainsworth 
Cast: Sam Shenkman, Jazzy Liston, Mason Bradshaw, Kaleah Taylor, Jacquelyn Packard, Riley Brown, Spencer Davis 
A gender non-conforming camper struggles to balance the conflicting advice of their ID and Super Ego in order to face their greatest fear… asking their crush to the dance. 

Life of a Mayfly
2022, 6:30 min., USA, Animation, Orange County School of Arts 
Producer/Director: David Du 
A mayfly is an insect that only lives for one day. This film revolves around a curious little mayfly and his adventure through life. It’s a deep take on the meaning of life and finding purpose, told in a sweet and simple story. 

Little Witches
2023, 11:46 min., USA, Comedy/Drama, Young Actors’ Theatre Camp 
Director: Maxim Bouffard, Frances Capel 
Writer: Frances Capel 
Producer: Shawn Ryan, Valerie Dohrer, John Ainsworth 
Cast: Sofia Alverde, Sydney Alvelda, Natalia Cruciani, Madden Wincentsen, Chase Nakayama, Amelie Pan 
A coven of witches run an operation at their school turning spells for quick cash. 

My Sisters in the Stars: The Story of Lee Yong-Soo
2022, 9:55 min., USA/Korea, Animation/Documentary, Harvard-Westlake
Writer/Director: Ian Kim 
Producer: Harry Kim, Kay Park, Sophie Kim 
Original Score: Abe Effress 
Cast: Yong-soo Lee 
An animated documentary about the life story of Lee Yong-soo, one of 11 remaining known survivors in Korea of the Japanese WWII-era Comfort Women system of human trafficking and sexual slavery. 

One for the Birds
2023, 8:40 min., USA, Drama, Young Actors’ Theatre Camp 
Director: Max Coddington, Jai Kamra 
Writer: Nathan Adloff
Producer: Shawn Ryan, Valerie Dohrer, John Ainsworth 
Cast: Jude Biggers, Teagan Nichols-Marcy, Dylan Arie, Sylvia Imbens, Lee Cummings, Caitlyn Gorman 
A camp is in lockdown after a dead body is discovered and Nicholas cannot seem to find his younger brother. Five best friends start a journey into the woods to solve the case. 

2022, 11:15 min., USA, Drama, Orange County School of the Arts 
Writer/Director: Carrington Holritz 
Producer: Melissa Holritz 
Cast: John Kerry, Alan Maxson, Naiia Lajoie 
An ornithologist loses his lifelong research to a strange and unusual bird. As he seeks to identify its obscure species and origin, the line between nature and nurture becomes hazy. 

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