The Austin Film Festival enters its second week. Elle Bent and Brena Ullrich are back on the scene with more surprises from the film world.


By Elle Bent and Brena Ullrich, Photo courtesy of Austin Film Festival

As the Austin Film Festival enters its second week, Elle Bent explored the world of independent film on Monday. Brena Ullrich, meanwhile, chatted with AFF founder Barbara Morgan and more incredible shorts.

Monday Oct. 31

The Austin Film Festival continues for its fifth day on Monday, Oct. 31. Today’s schedule was packed with screenings of independent films. At 4:00 p.m., audiences lined up in a long queue to pack the Rollins Theatre for another shorts program, titled “Navigating Life.” The shorts screened dealt with themes of coming of age, sexuality, oppression and family, amongst other turbulent life events that throw their main characters around. “Navigating Life” consisted of eight short films filmed or made in North America. 

Soft Sounds of Peeling Fruit

From writer/director So Young Shelly Yo, Soft Sounds of Peeling Fruit is a coming-of-age story of Korean-American teenager Hayoung as she navigates the complexities of her mother’s love. 


From Canadian writer/director Aisha Evelyna, ALEX follows a young Black woman out shopping with a friend who must reckon with oppressive systems. What was a fun shopping trip transforms into a situation spiraling out of her control. 

Birds, Bees, and Threes

Birds, Bees, and Threes is a comedic coming-of-age story from co-writers Paige Hullett and Gunnar Anderson. The short follows a couple as they navigate the embarrassment and confusion after having “the talk” with their triplet daughters.

The Hostage

From writer/director Natalie Prisco, The Hostage follows a middle-aged woman bored with her life. She becomes entangled in a group of diamond thieves while desperately looking for a change of pace. 

Sunny Side Up

Written and directed by Tanner Jarman, this short follows a pair of late-night delivery drivers in Los Angeles. They’re hired to dispose of dead bodies all over the city. The pair must deal with an unforeseen issue while on route and scramble to reach a resolution before the sun rises. 

Clam Shack Blues

Witten by Matt Ott and directed by Michael Yocum, Clam Shack Blues follows two New England clammers who are at odds about living out the rest of their old age. One feels practical, while the other has big dreams. 


Maneki is from writer Maggie Wong and director Brandon Okumura. The story follows a ramen shop cashier. She is rejected by a customer she asks on a date and must navigate the awkwardness when the customer continues to return to the shop.


Written and directed by Mary Angélica Molina, Fernanda follows the titular character navigating the complexities of her identity and the desire to make the world a better place. Fernanda is bold and funny and features an unexpected musical number.

Tuesday, Nov. 1

Day six of the Austin film festival brought a calmer air to the scene. The crowds were gone, and most attendees seemed to be hiding out until the feature films later in the day. Tuesday started with a meeting with Barbara Morgan, founder of the Austin Film Festival. She had quite a bit to say about how the festival post-pandemic will continue to thrive in the coming years.

Shorts Program: Documentary Shorts 

After a short drive to Rollins Theatre, committed festivalgoers stood outside the studio in a steady mist of rain. The shorts program consisted of seven short documentary films followed by a Q&A with some of the creators. 


Directed by Thomas Shannon and written by Jenay Shannon, this film follows a native woman who handmakes traditional Parks in the arctic of Alaska. The film beautifully captured how this sacred tradition connects the Inupiaq people to their environment and culture. 

Free To Care

The threatre was filled with sniffles after this film ended. Directed by Chris Temple and Owen Dubek, Free to Care was a heartwarming and inspiring story of single mom, Lisa Creason, who fights to change unjust laws against people with criminal records. The fight to create more opportunities for people like Lisa continues; the film created a website to spread the word.

Three Seconds Later

After a farming accident that took two lives and impacted thousands, something needed to change. Directors Justin Sweidel and Christopher Shepard share the tragic story and impact of the father and son who lost their lives while encouraging even the most skilled workers to call 811 before installing any pipeline. 

World War Ryan

Director Dan Winters artistically captures the life and inner world of a 12-year-old boy with an obsession with World War II. The short film used many artistic elements to depict an isolating life, making for a unique documentary film. 

Con Su Pluma En Su Mano: The Ballad of Gustavo Arellano

 Effortlessly funny, this feel-good film follows Gustavo Arellano, one of the most famous Latino journalists in America. Director Thomas Shannon did an amazing job illustrating Arellano’s career and the change he and many journalists have had to face in changing times. 

Chulita Vinyl Club

Following three Latina women in Austin, this film showcased how the love for music, culture and DJing brought so many people together. Hugo Hiempel directed this film and highlighted the influence that music like cumbia, salsa and Tejano had on the three women. The club is open to people who identify as women, non-binary and members of the LGBTQIA+ community.


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