On Love & Other Connections

Need an antidote to mass-market romance, or to those soullessly saccharine depictions of platonic love that diminish the complexity, and the beauty, of human relationships? Look no further than On Love & Other Connections, where love is almost always “an action,” as the feminist scholar bell hooks once wrote, “never simply a feeling.” Here, love is a challenge. It insists on vulnerability, and, on occasion, demands life-altering acts of courage—something the characters in these films know only too well.

Spilt Milk

Cierra Glaudé | Los Angeles, CA | 18 min
Genre: Narrative Short

Single mom Ximena (Dascha Polanco of Netflix’s Orange is the New Black) moves back in with her parents while struggling to care for her young son. An old wound opens when she reconnects with her ex, Lena, who is raising the child they conceived together through a sperm donor.

I have to think of us as separate people

Chris Berntsen & Stephen Ira | Brooklyn, NY | 4 min
Genre: Experimental Short

In an effort to illustrate (and bridge) the gap of intimacy and trust between cis and trans gay men, the filmmakers fracture and blend their own bodies and voices, creating a split-screen collage.

Later Gator

Carson Markland | Irmo, SC | 11 min
Genre: Student, Narrative Short

Free-spirited Celine thinks her mother’s ashes should be scattered in the mountains. Her type-A sister, Leslie, thinks otherwise. After fleeing an awkward funeral service (with their mother’s remains in tow), the sisters hash it out in a nearby parking lot, unsure of how to proceed.

 

Lawn

Quinton Dayne Moore | Raleigh, NC | 3 min
Genre: Student, Narrative Short

In this wistful narrative short, a mixtape from an ex releases a cascade of memories for a young woman—from plundering record stores and used book shops together to dining al fresco, arguing in coffee shops, and more.

Cool for Five Seconds

Dani Wieder | Chicago, IL | 12 min
Genre: Narrative Short

Caustic, rebellious Eleanor agrees to meet with her estranged sister, Colleen, at a late-night diner during Christmastime. As their conversation turns toward the past, the two trade more than just jabs, as old resentments and other hard feelings come to the fore.

The House These Words Built

Gabby Follett Sumney | Boston, MA | 3 min
Genre: Experimental Short

Dishes piled in a sink, mail strewn across a tabletop: these quiet images, shot on 16mm black-and-white film, offer a glimpse into a loving queer relationship. Inspired by written correspondence between the filmmaker and their partner.

 

Shelter 

Jo Hatcher | Winston-Salem, NC | 7 min
Genre: Student, Narrative Short

In this narrative short, an undocumented young woman seeking asylum walks toward McAllen, Texas with her seven-year-old daughter in tow—unaware that the Trump Administration’s so-called Zero Tolerance Policy has just taken effect at the US border.

Coby & Stephen Are in Love 

Carlo Nasisse & Luka Yuanyuan Yang | Austin, TX & Beijing, China | 31 min
Genre: Documentary Short

Indie Grits alum Carlo Nasisse returns with this transfixing dual portrait of Coby Yee, a 92-year-old retired nightclub dancer, and Stephen King, an experimental filmmaker 20 years her junior—two creative souls who have forged an unlikely partnership. Nasisse’s documentary short, East Side, will also screen in this year’s festival.



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