Over 300 films from 62 countries played during the Palm Springs International Short Film Festival, the place where filmmakers from around the world become movie-loving family for a straight week.
Lili Rodriguez is the festival director and she see’s film as a gateway to go deeper into the issues facing society.
“I think there’s a lot of heart when it comes to filmmaking and it translates, I also think it helps us connect with our humanity as well,” Rodriguez said.
One of the winners for the Best Emerging Student Filmmaker did just that, Sontenish Myers is a student at New York University and she challenges the culture of silence among women in her short film, “Cross My Heart”.
“How I often feel black women feel invisible,” Myers said. “Especially in these conversations that we’re having and so I am just grateful that Palm Springs saw the beauty and subtlety of the film, I am really grateful they saw it for what it is.”
But besides the recognition, the ShortFest also allows emerging filmmakers to learn from each other. Jianna Maarten is the writer and director of “Sin Cielo”, she describes her film as a modern Romeo and Juliet love story but in the violent setting of Juarez Mexico.
Maarten said, “It was really good to see these films from all of these countries and also talk from all of these filmmakers from all of these walks of life and see different forms of cinema.”
Maarten won the Young Cineastes Award for her film and helping her win was Angelina Quirante, a student from Yucca Valley High School.
Quirante said, “Human trafficking is something I don’t necessarily see a lot of films about and I thought it was really impactful how they added teenagers into that.”
Quirante was part of the student judge panel that helped select the award-winning films.
She said, “Being from Joshua Tree and living in Yucca Valley not being able to have that connection to people that love film as much as I do, I think that was the super important part for me and probably one of my favorites.”
The festival director said she wants more locals to join, Rodriguez said, “The energy that I feel at ShortFest is really something special and I would love it if more people from the valley could come.”