2017 Film Selection

The 2017 films were selected from more than 200 submissions from across the world.

Festival Program

Screening 1 (12:00 pm – 2:30 pm)

Driving with Selvi

Selvi, like so many girls living in India, is forced to marry at 14, only to find herself in a violent marriage. One day in deep despair, she chooses to escape, going on to become South India’s first female taxi driver. We first meet Selvi at a girls’ shelter in 2004 – timid, soft-spoken, a fresh runaway from a difficult life. Over a ten-year journey, we see a remarkable transformation as Selvi finds her voice and defies all expectations – learning to drive, starting her own taxi company, leading educational seminars, and much more. This character-driven story highlights the challenges that millions of devalued women and girls in India face. In a society where women are often considered expendable or worthless, Selvi is exceptional – a charming, strong, and utterly courageous young woman who moves beyond the pain she’s experienced to create a new life.
SF PREMIERE. Directed by Elisa Paloschi. Runtime: 78 min.

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Driving with Selvi director Elisa Paloschi

Elisa Paloschi

Elisa Paloschi is a documentary director, producer, cinematographer and photographer who is drawn to stories with a human voice. She is President of Eyesfull, a Toronto- based independent production company dedicated to making non-fiction documentaries with social relevance that reflect the diversity of the human condition. With more than 20 years’ experience in every aspect of documentary production, Elisa has taken her camera into the Roma camps of Palermo, the depths of the Coral Sea in Australia, and the breathtaking landscapes of Karnataka, to name just a few. Her work has been screened at festivals in Germany, Italy, Greece, and Canada, and broadcast on numerous Italian television stations. She completed her latest feature documentary, Embracing Voices: The Woman Behind the Music of Jane Bunnett, in 2012.

Primary Colours

A cine-poem by Sudanese-Canadian artist Roua Aljied, aka Philosi-fire, about the realities of domestic violence and how each step a woman takes is a new colour to paint on the canvass of her life. Created in partnership with Women in International Security Canada and the 16 Days of Activism Campaign in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and performed live for the 2016 International Women’s Day ceremonies in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
SF PREMIERE. Produced by Emily Ramsay. Runtime: 3 min.

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Emily Ramsay Primary Colours Producer

Emily Ramsay

Emily Ramsay, Producer — Emily is based in Ottawa, Ontario and is a recent recipient of the 2016 CMPA Ontario Production Mentorship as well as the City of Ottawa 2016 Youth in Culture Pilot Program grant. She studied screenwriting at Algonquin College, but also holds degrees from Concordia University in Canadian History and Library Studies. After five years in the federal government, she left the public service to fulfill her dreams in the film industry. Creating over 30 short films and having worked on a dozen feature films, television shows and documentaries, she has worked with women’s and feminist groups in Ottawa to create videos, documentaries and promos on intersectional topics concerning women and activist organizations in the area. Partnerships have included the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women, Immigrant Women Services Ottawa, 16 Days of Activism, Sexual Assault Network, WIIS-Canada, UNHCR and more.

She is the Co-Executive Director of Ottawa’s longest running catch festival – The Digi60 Filmmakers’ Festival which focuses on new and emerging film and video artists for both narrative and documentary films. She has been on the jury for several film festivals and is the Festival Director for the Lights! Camera! Cure! Film Festival, a fundraiser hosted by Vixens Victorious for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation. She assists at the Canadian Film Institute as the Front of House Manager, and is the Coordinator for the Carleton University chapter of Cinema Politica. Her passion for film lies in the intersection of topics directly related to the environment, decolonization and feminism. Primary Colours is her second collaboration with writer and performer Roua Aljied, who she believes is a mover and shaker in the fields of activism and art.

The Sandman

Dr. Carlo Musso has been helping the state of Georgia execute inmates by lethal injection since 2003. The medical community strongly and unanimously opposes the use of medicine for executions. Yet, moststates practicing lethal injection require a physician presence. In exchange, they offer a cloak of anonymity. The Sandman explores Dr. Musso’s own moral equivocation and justification for providing “end of life care” within the correctional environment, while personally opposing capital punishment.
Directed by Lauren Knapp. Runtime: 19 min.

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The sandman director Lauren Knapp

Lauren Knapp

Lauren Knapp works across platforms to tell nonfiction stories. While her interests vary (Mongolian rock music, lockdown drills in elementary schools, DIY body hackers, the experience of femininity through aging, the use of medicine in executions), her approach is consistent – she dives deep into the story. Her first 360 video project, “The Crystal Reef” (co-directed with Cody Karutz), premiered at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival as part of the Virtual Arcade. Documentary is a form of investigation – of an idea, a location, an event, or a person. Her work has appeared on the PBS NewsHour, NPR, PRI’s The World, The New York Times, and The Atlantic website. Her films have been shown at festivals throughout North America, Europe and Asia including the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Big Sky Film Festival, Independent Film Festival of Boston, and Thin Line Film Festival.

Girls Level Up

An inspiring voice in the conversation about the future of women in the video game industry, GIRLS LEVEL UP profiles a summer camp where girls are given three weeks to make their own video game demo. Camp founder Laila Shabir, who grew up in a conservative Muslim neighborhood in the Middle East before coming to the United States, provides a unique perspective on the challenges facing girls who love video games and dream of making them.
WORLD PREMIERE. Directed by Anne Edgar. Runtime: 9 min.

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Girls Level Up director Anne Edgar

Anne Edgar

Anne began her career as an assistant, creative executive, and screenwriter working with filmmakers including Fred Roos, Warren Beatty, and Sophia Coppola, before going on to co-found animation and motion graphics company Transistor Studios. In 2008, she became a partner at Los Angeles-based Artifact Studios where most recently she executive produced the feature-length documentary OPERATION POPCORN, which aired in 2016 on Public Television’s Emmy-award-winning series America Reframed. She is also Executive Producer of the interactive documentary project CRITICAL PATH, a seven-year-long-and-counting documentation of the evolution of video games.


Viv, a talented musician, faces late stage Leukemia that threatens the life she’s built in London. Her best hope is a bone marrow transplant from her estranged family, but reconnecting means confronting a difficult past.
Directed by Daphne Schmon. Runtime: 14 min.

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All of Me director Daphne Schmon

Daphne Schmon

Daphne is an award-winning American director. She founded Seek Films in 2009 after graduating with honours from Wesleyan University. Her first feature documentary CHILDREN OF THE WIND garnered seven awards in the festival circuit, including “Best Documentary” and “Best Emerging Filmmaker” at the world’s premiere action sports film festival X-Dance. The film was also nominated for the “CNN Best Documentary Award” at the American Black Film Festival. She has led teams in nine countries, including Kenya (SHIFTING GROUND) and Venezuela (DOWN TO EARTH) directing documentaries, commercials and music videos. ALL OF ME marks Daphne’s narrative directorial debut and was shot on location in London with an all-female crew.

Screening 2 (3:00 pm – 6:00 pm)

What Tomorrow Brings

With unprecedented access, WHAT TOMORROW BRINGS goes inside the very first girls’ school in one Afghan village. While the girls learn to read and write, their education goes far beyond the classroom as they confront what it means to become a woman in a rigidly patriarchal society, and how they can achieve their dreams despite the obstacles they face. Remarkable changes happen when a community skeptical about girls’ education learns to embrace it. Sill, threats that girls face – from forced marriage to Taliban attack – loom large. Filmmaker Beth Murphy embeds herself in this school and community for a most intimate look at what it really means to be a girl growing up in Afghanistan today.

SF PREMIERE. Directed by Beth Murphy. Runtime: 76 min.

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Director Beth Murphy

Beth Murphy

Director/Producer Beth Murphy is Director of Films at The GroundTruth Project and founder of Principle Pictures – both Boston-based. Murphy has directed/produced more than 20 documentaries – including the features BEYOND BELIEF, THE LIST, and WHAT TOMORROW BRINGS– that have premiered at top-tier film festivals Tribeca and Hot Docs and aired on PBS/POV, Sundance Channel, History Channel, Discovery International, Discovery Health, Lifetime, and numerous international outlets. Over the past decade Murphy’s work has focused on: the human impact of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – highlighting moral responsibility, women’s rights and girls’ education; the impact of climate change on women and children globally; and the lives of Fukushima nuclear refugees. Her work has recently been recognized with these awards: Overseas Press Club Award, National Edward R. Murrow Award, Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, and 2017 Emmy nomination. She holds an MA in International Relations/International Communications from Boston University where she was a Fellow at the Institute for Iraqi Studies.


After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, élodie turned her suffering and fears into a creative fight against the disease and the debilitating effects of the treatments used. Her latest work, Iridescence, is the personal story of her fight with cancer and the way she found to deal with the disease in a creative and hopeful manner. It’s also a way of giving back and handing on the positive vibes that she’s received from friends, family and strangers during the course of her disease.

Directed by Eileen Byrne. Runtime: 6 min.

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Director Eileen Byrne

Director Eileen Byrne

After her European baccalaureate at the European School Luxembourg, Eileen first studied theatre in Winchester (UK) and Munich before starting her film directing studies at the University of Television and Film Munich. Since their childhood Eileen and Elodie have worked together on several theatre and film projects. They are currently developing their third feature film screenplay together. Iridescence is their first co production as director-dancer.


Marylu and Lauralie are gay and Mormon––two identities that might seem to contradict each other. While living in a conservative Mormon town in rural Utah, they must adapt and change their relationship in order to remain compliant with Mormon standards. For Marylu and Lauralie, the way forward isn’t choosing one or the other, it is finding a way to be authentic to themselves and their faith. Faithful is a love story about two women in love with each other, their faith and their God.
World PREMIERE. Produced by Jenn Lee Smith & Directed by Dane Christensen. Runtime: 16 min.

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Dane Christensen (Director)

Dane Christensen (Director)

Dane Christensen grew up in Utah and is a second-year in the Documentary Film & Video MFA program at Stanford University. His filmmaking is rooted in the belief that the stories we tell can make change happen. His impetus for making this film comes from the urgent need to understand, empathize, and support our LGBT+ Mormon brothers and sisters.

Faithful Jenn Lee Smith (Producer)

Jenn Lee Smith (Producer)

Jenn Lee Smith was born into the Mormon faith in Taiwan and was raised partly in rural Utah. She worked in academia for over 10 years and pursued a PhD that focused on telling the stories of women migrants. Jenn Lee is a life-long student of film and writing, and strives to give voice to those who have yet to be heard.

Surviving International Boulevard

SURVIVING INTERNATIONAL BOULEVARD reveals the complex reality of domestic child sex trafficking through the experiences of two local women from Oakland, California. Driving along International Boulevard’s dark streets, a mother recounts her own wild determination to rescue her 15-year-old daughter from a sex trafficker ‘boyfriend’. Switching to daylight, a nonprofit advocate and survivor of sexual exploitation shares her extensive experience getting young victims the help they so desperately need. Driving along The Blade as they call it, Sarai T. Smith Mazariegos, co-founder of M.I.S.S.S.E.Y. and founder of S.H.A.D.E., Inc., unveils her personal story while breaking down the raw truth about victims and traffickers as it unfolds on the street around her.
Directed by Sian Taylor Gowan. Runtime: 22 min.

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Sian Taylor Gowan Zappettini.

Sian Taylor Gowan

Founder and filmmaker of Red Scarf Films, Sian Taylor Gowan makes her directorial debut with ‘Surviving International Boulevard’, bringing attention to the plight of local children and teens being sex trafficked in our midst. With a passion for social cause work and a professional background in nonprofit advertising and outreach, Sian has served as Board Member for Afghans4Tomorrow and as Advertising Director for progressive independent news site, AlterNet.org. Combining her creative production skills and nonprofit experience, Sian has created Red Scarf Films in order to produce social cause films for awareness and community action. For her next project, Sian is currently co-producing a feature documentary film, ‘Home Yet Far Away: Searching for The Feminine in Iran & the U.S.’ with Sabereh Kashi of Woven Multimedia.

He Said

A wealthy young woman is brought to court after a man she spent one night with contracts HIV. She knew she was HIV positive but never told him.
He is suing for damages, hoping to receive enough money to cover his medical bills for life. If she doesn’t pay, he may not live. It should be an open and shut case, so why isn’t it?

SF PREMIERE. Directed by Tara Lynn Orr. Runtime: 14 min.

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Tara Lynn Orr

Tara Lynn Orr

Tara Lynn Orr, Bio (Director) Tara Lynn Orr graduated with a BA in theatre from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts; She studied acting at David Mamet’s Atlantic Acting School in New York and at the Lee Strasberg School in London. Tara spent most of her life in the theatre as both an actor and assistant director. Her extensive experience as an actor gives her subjective insight into character development. This deep understanding of character provides a natural foundation for her relationship-driven storytelling style. In 2013, Tara founded avenueROAD Films with producer/actor Philippe Brenninkmeyer. Tara’s first screenplay, the short film BIS GLEICH, was avenueROAD’s inaugural production . BIS GLEICH received over 40 awards from around the globe in various categories including Best Short Film at the following festivals: The United Nation’s Global Voices Festival, Manhattan Film Festival, Cleveland International Film Festival, Badalona Int’l Film Festival, Sedona International Film Festival, Pasadena International Film Festival, Heartland Film Festival, etc. In 2016, BIS GLEICH was short-listed for an Academy Award.

HE SAID is Tara’s directorial debut. This important film premiered at the Cleveland International Film Festival where it was awarded the prestigious BEST WOMEN’S FILM award. It also won the Best Female Filmmaker at WestChester Film Festival and Best Screenplay at StoryMode Film festival.

Chase Hinton Bio (Screenwriter) Chase Hinton is an award-winning actor and writer with skills in editing and producing. A former fellow at the Writers Boot Camp and the scribe of multiple feature films, Chase prides himself in attention to detail and fresh perspectives. Aside from his vast work in narrative storytelling, Chase is honored to have been part of many important PSAs, accounting for millions of views online and multiple awards, including special commendations from both a Governor and a President.