2021 UNBROKEN Short Film Festival

Welcome to the 2021 UNBROKEN Short Film Festival! Our shortlisted films will be available to watch from 10th October (World Mental Health Day) until 17th October. Please enjoy and share your responses on social media – you can follow us instagram @unbrokenfest

Congratulations to our 9 shortlisted films!

Please scroll down to learn more about the teams behind the scenes:

Huge thanks to everyone who submitted their work to the 2021 UNBROKEN Short Film Festival, we were delighted to once again receive films from around the world! In these difficult times it is incredible how we can still connect with each other from miles apart! 🎬✨

This year we received submissions from across Europe, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South America, and the UK. 

Thank you everyone for your submissions and your continued work supporting mental health throughout the current pandemic.

We hope you enjoy this years shortlisted films! – Don’t forget to vote for your favourite for their chance to win the ‘Audience Choice’ Award!

Voting will be open from 10th October (World Mental Health Day) till 16th October. Our Winner, Runner-Up, and Audience Choice Award will be announced on the 17th October.

Huge thanks to everyone who submitted their work to the 2021 UNBROKEN Short Film Festival. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to watch your work – and we were delighted to once again receive films from all around the world! In these difficult times, it has been wonderful to prove that we can still connect with each other on such a deep level, while miles and continents apart! 
 
This year we received submissions from across Europe, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South America, and the UK – and audience votes from even further afield.  We want to say a heartfelt thank you everyone for your submissions, for taking the time to watch and vote for your favourites, and for continuing to support the Unbroken festival, and mental health awareness in general throughout the current pandemic. We have been extremely touched by your enthusiasm and your kind words about the festival, a few of which you can read below:
  • I liked that many of the films had some theme around modern problems and left on an uplifting note.
  • I enjoyed the variety of topics and themes around mental health. Continue what you’re doing! A great festival.
  • I’ve enjoyed how the films had such a deep and personal connection with the audience that it truly is what filmmaking is about. 
  • It’s a great opportunity for budding film makers to have a festival to exhibit their creativity.
  • Beautiful and so needed.
  • They are all very powerful. Can’t really single out a specific one, I really loved them all!
  • Outstanding selection- thank you.

Now, however, it is time to reveal our 2021 UNBROKEN Winner and Runner up, as chosen by the judges, and the Audience’s Choice Award, voted for by the public, who have been watching all nine films over the last seven days…

2021 UNBROKEN Winner

Little Things

Judges’ comments: 

A proper short film! Within a short time you were invested, understood, and were moved.

A poignant portrayal of grief. Impressively simple and searing.

TOM GRACE – DIRECTOR
“We’re all overwhelmed and overjoyed to accept this award from Unbroken. We were in esteemed company and couldn’t be more proud that we’ve managed to make a film that resonates with audiences. It means the world. With Little Things, our message is one of cherishing those around us and the unique micro facets of our most important relationships which, I think, after the events of the last couple of years, is something that we’ve all realised is vital to our mental health and survival. Our film was only made possible by everyone in front and behind the camera giving their full hearts to the production and I thank them all with the whole of mine. Thank you to Unbroken for foregrounding the issue of mental health and I hope we’ve managed, in our own small way, to further the conversation. I’d like to dedicate this award to my late grandad Eric, my grandma Sheila whose selfless companionship throughout her husbands’ last years represents humanity at its most generous and to all carers of the elderly and disabled. You make the world a kinder place every day.

2021 UNBROKEN Runner Up

Judges’ comments: 

Brilliant! We were very, very moved by this film.

A clever and moving film that really brings home to you the scale of the problem and the number of people affected by the ripples.

2021 UNBROKEN Audience's Choice Award

Audiences’ comments:

  • Heartfelt and inspiring.
  • Everyone’s priorities have been reset over the past 18 months – I have enjoyed seeing this reflected in A Calmer Place as it has highlighted that we mustn’t take the simple things in life for granted – or anything, for that matter!
  • All amazing but A Calmer Place really struck a chord.
JONATHAN CORTES – WRITER & DIRECTOR
“I am so excited to be awarded in those two categories, thanks a lot for organizing this beautiful event, thanks for sharing with me the comments of the audience, reading those comments makes me feel very happy and I’m so proud of the short film.

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THREE OF YOU!!! 

Many thanks, one final time, to everyone who has been involved or taken an interest in this year’s UNBROKEN Festival.  We greatly appreciate it – and we hope to be back again in 2023 with more wonderful work to share. 

With all best wishes for the rest of the year and beyond,

Emma King-Farlow and Amy Floyd
For Shadow Road Productions & UNBROKEN 2021

Help support the UNBROKEN festival by donating via our Go Fund Me page

Meet the creatives and learn more about our 2021 shortlisted films

A Calmer Place

A wild swimmer tells the story of his struggle of dealing with his mental health during the lockdowns. After access to wild spaces was taken away it became more difficult to deal with the anxieties he faced. With the lockdown came a new appreciation and understanding of the importance of being able to be alone in wild spaces and out in the water.

The production company behind this film is Ambanja Films. The concept was put together by David Warren, DOP at Ambanja in collaboration with Robert Flood who is the swimmer in the film.

Director – David Warren

Time to time we like to produce a passion project to feed the soul and push our creative capabilities without the constraints of corporate client briefs. I was inspired to make this film after a chance phonecall with an old school friend, Rob Flood. He told me about the challenges he was facing during lockdown, coping with a young family, work and personal mental health. It resonated with me, as a family man myself and someone who was feeling the pressures of not being able to ‘get out there’ during lockdown. I felt this must be something that so many people must have been going through.

Rob told me how, during normal times he would spend time alone in the water to reset himself and get himself back to where he felt he needed to be mentally.

We began pre production on this with the aim of highlighting the benefits of nature on mental well being and how important it is not to take for granted what incredible freedom we have to explore wild spaces.

Our first challenge was to test out the water proofing of our kit and prepare for some very cold filming at night using the Sony A7s3. Once we had our story and kit fully set we headed up to the Lakes and had an amazing experience capturing this film both in and out of the water in April.

I hope that the message of mental health being strongly connected with nature and a gratitude for wild spaces is delivered in this film. Also I hope that viewers are left with the feeling of wanting to plan a trip out in nature somewhere to find their calmer place.

What inspired you to choose the particular subject and/or approach that you did?

Like many during the lockdown mental health was a particular focus as we were all kept indoors throughout the spring and summer. Robert’s story felt like it was a story told many times over by people across the country – the feeling of loss when your freedom to explore the outdoors is taken away. We felt that his story would resonate with people and hopefully help them through that difficult time with the promise of a return to explore the wild spaces again.

What attracted you to the UNBROKEN festival?

Mental health plays an important role in our film. Exploring the claustrophobic effects of the lockdown on mental health and also the importance of hope on helping us recover. Unbroken festival seemed like a natural choice for us with it’s focus on mental health.
What else would you like people to know about you or your film?
We hope that this film stands as a lasting reminder of the freedom we have and to remember that our ability to explore the outdoors is something never to take for granted because you never know what tomorrow may bring.

And She Rose

An intimate character piece that revisits two young women’s past with eating disorders and the journey they have taken toward loving themselves—helping other women heal along the way.

Director Biography – Carly Krieg

Carly is currently in her fourth year at Sheridan College–having spent a year obtaining her certificate for Media Fundamentals before getting accepted into their Film and Television program. Now, in her third year of BFTV, she has discovered just how passionate she is about writing, directing, and producing meaningful films, with the hopes of positively impacting even one person.

Who are the people behind the film?

Carly Krieg – Writer, Director, Producer, and Transmedia
Carlos Jochico – Picture Editor
John Dela Cruz – Sound Editor
Deedee Talusan – Assistant Sound Editor
Brianna Delvecchio – Assistant Transmedia
Anna Vagabova – Production Assistant
Mik Zazon – Subject
Gabby Male – Subject

What inspired you to choose the particular subject and/or approach that you did?

What attracted me to the Unbroken Festival was the fact it advocates for and provides a platform for those who wish to have their voices heard in particular around the subject of mental health. I find any organisation, person or principal that holds space for and allows people to share their messages in an open and authentic manner incredibly inspirational.  

What attracted you to the UNBROKEN festival?

Having personally suffered from disordered eating and a severe lack of self-love throughout my life, not only is this subject matter deeply personal, but I believe that Mik and Gabby’s story will resonate beautifully with an audience of people all around the world. It’s an important reminder to those who have struggled or are currently struggling with loving themselves and their bodies, that the number we see on the scale is the least interesting thing about us.

As for my approach, this was heavily inspired by covid restrictions. This documentary was made when we were in lockdown and I started to think about ways that I could still tell this story successfully. This process gave me time to consider how vital the social media element is for both Mik and Gabby’s story and therefore felt like the perfect way to share their story.

Drifting

Trying to understand the new normal in the wake of job loss and isolation.

Filmed as a collaboration (social distanced and no contact)

What inspired you to choose the particular subject and/or approach that you did?

As lockdown one in 2020 began to ease, I got a message from Bee asking if we could make something together. She was having a tough week, like a lot of us have over the last few months. Worries about work, time just feeling weird, the anxiety of being in and the anxiety of being out. We wanted to create something that reflected some of those feelings and showed some of the ways Bee shook them away. Back when we made this I was a new filmmaker, also struggling without any work and struggling with isolation. I really felt like I resonated with her and so we felt we could create something that reflected what both of us felt.

What attracted you to the UNBROKEN festival?

Unbroken festival stood out immediately because everything that Covid has brought us has had such an impact on our mental health – and the outdoors has been a huge solace to people around the world. The film concept was inspired by mental illness and our collective and individual mental health.

Most of my own film projects are based around mental health in one way or another, as it’s something I find incredibly important to show and normalise in the media. 

What else would you like people to know about you or your film?

Bee’s partner Rory filmed everything indoors and I did all the outdoor shooting, to keep to Covid rules at the time.

Goodnight Mr. Vincent Van Gogh

How can we talk to our children about suicide?
This animation was created to help support those who have lost someone to suicide and promote forward thinking on suicide awareness. It is based on the children’s book, “Goodnight Mr. Vincent Van Gogh,” which is on permanent display in the Vincent Van Gogh Library in Nuenen, Netherlands.

Director – Lindsey Doolittle

Lindsey Louise Doolittle was born in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 1982. She grew up in Kansas and currently resides in Kansas City, Missouri. Doolittle is an art educator, children’s author and artist to the Faces After Suicide exhibition.

Who are the people behind the film?

Narrator: My niece, Mercedes Silva

Animator: Brett Smith

Audio: Aaron Crawford

Illustrations: Each illustration was created by a suicide loss survivor from my support group

Writer/Director: Lindsey Doolittle

What inspired you to choose the particular subject and/or approach that you did?

My late husband, Sgt. Brett Doolittle of the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department, died by suicide in 2015. I published a children’s book on how to have an honest & open conversation with kids about suicide without sweeping it under the rug. The book was based on my niece and the animation is based on the book.

 

What attracted you to the UNBROKEN festival?

I wanted to submit to a festival wanting to encourage support and promote forward thinking on suicide awareness. 

What else would you like people to know about you or your film?

I’m an elementary art teacher in Kansas City. My students wanted to know what happened to Officer Doolittle, but my principal at the time told me not to tell. We can talk about any other death with our students except suicide. It continues the stigma. I dedicated my book to my students and my nieces & nephews. 

Her Cold Hands

“Her Cold Hands” is a music video with a mission to raise awareness of suicidality. Singer-songwriter Stephen Covell served as a combat medic in the 82 Airborne on two tours during Operation Iraqi Freedom. About this video he wrote the following, “Take what’s ugly in yourself and turn it into something beautiful. Repurpose the hurt, the shame, and the guilt, all the secret feelings we are told we shouldn’t share. The more we shine a light on the darkness, the less power it has over us.”

Director Biography – Matthew McKee

Matthew McKee is an award winning video creative who has honed his craft over the last 13 years working in sports, music, dance, documentary, advertising… pretty much anything that piques his interest. A curious spirit with a passion for learning, he is drawn to projects that are driven by imaginative hearts and purposeful collaboration. In his own words, his goal is always to “make cool things with fun people.”

Who are the people behind the film?

Director: Matt McKee

Assistant Director & Choreographer: Ben Needham-Woods

Songwriter: Stephen Covell

Dancers: Terez Dean and John Orr

Executive Producers: Guy & Tracy Jaquier

What inspired you to choose the particular subject and/or approach that you did?

Operation Encore is a non-profit that helps military veteran singer/songwriters with their professional music careers. I am also a board member of this organization. Stephen Covell won our 2019 songwriting competition with this song about his personal struggles with suicide, and how it can be a dark and tempting mistress who sometimes returns.  We produced and released the song, and then teamed with members of the San Francisoc based Smuin Ballet to bring this film to life.  Our goal is to project this message of hope to others who may be struggling with mental health.

What attracted you to the UNBROKEN festival?

We are very interested in suicide prevention.  In the US, the current rate of suicide by military veterans is running about 22/day. We also know that, globally, the isolation, lock downs and pressure of the COVID pandemic have exacerbated this issue for those many.

What else would you like people to know about you or your film?

This was not an easy film to produce during COVID.  As for many film makers, we faced ever changing regulations and protocols.  Our dancers faced months and months of delay, all the while trying to keep in peak performance condition while rehearsing in garages and back yards.  When we were finally cleared to film, the San Francisco Bay Area was blanketed with thick smoke from Napa Valley wildfires.  Filming outside reduced some COVID risks, but unfortunately, dancers need to breath when they perform.  In the end, through the tremendous commitment of our whole team, we were able to get this done…on a $20,000 budget!  This was a work of passion for our art, our message and our desire to share it.

Little Things

An elderly man and wife take a walk to their favourite spot. But the man is actually alone and it’s the little things he misses most.

Little Things is the product of the inaugural Anon. Project by Bobbin Productions: a scriptwriting competition with an anonymous submission process. The winning script received a ÂŁ500 budget to make the film.

Director Biography – Tom Grace

Born in Melbourne Australia, raised in Hertfordshire now settled in South London, Tom Grace trained as an actor and has a life-long love for cinema as an escape, a space to grow and feel and as a force for change in the world.

Alongside his acting career, Tom founded Bobbin Productions in 2012. Tom would go on to produce commercial video content across the UK, Europe, USA and India for charities, national art organisations and some of the world’s biggest brands.

Little Things marks Tom’s directorial debut and Bobbin Productions’ first narrative film production.

Directors Statement

Witnessing my late grandfather’s slow deterioration from multiple sclerosis and my father’s own current battle with the same disease has given rise to an affinity with stories concerned with companionship in the elderly and infirm. The unconditional, unrelenting and often thankless love and support that serves as a lifeline to vulnerable people represent humanity at its least cynical. Having the chance to tell a micro-story with such experienced and excellent actors and crew on the theme of remembering one’s lifetime companion was an opportunity too close to my heart to miss.

I’m incredibly proud of what we managed to achieve with Little Things. Morgan Davies’ script was submitted to Bobbin Productions’ Anon. Project – a screenwriting competition with an anonymous submission process – which awarded a ÂŁ500 budget to produce the winning script. The judging process was rigorous with each and every script read and debated like it could have been submitted by Aaron Sorkin. Everyone involved was paid at least the London Living Wage and post-production (including the recording of our original score) was completed during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.

What attracted you to the UNBROKEN festival?

The chance to screen our film at a film festival like Unbroken which helps shine a spotlight on mental health and fitness was one we were keen to jump on and I hope the film serves as a simple reminder to cherish everything we share with each other, no matter how little.

So OCD

So OCD is a silent film that follows a 20-something with severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder through a typical night out…well, typical for her.  She is social and enjoys going out with her friends, but instead of being able to go home at the end of the night and go to bed, she has to spend hours finding resolution for all the triggers she encountered along the way – people touching her at the bar, sitting on restaurant benches, handing off her credit card, etc. Ashamed to share how difficult seemingly inconsequential activities end up being for her, she quietly handles them at home.  Alone.  

Director Biography – Jason Avezzano

Jason Avezzano is a writer and director known for his various short films, music videos, and web series, which explore emotions and human connection from an off-center and reflective point of view. He began his career as an AD on off-Broadway plays in New York City before making the move to Los Angeles to pursue directing as a career. He further developed his unique perspective and enhanced his ability to coach actors from his experience as assistant to Casting Director, Cara Rosenbaum at McCarthy/ Abellera and Kerrie Mailey at KM casting. In 2019, he directed his first feature, Love Dump, a Hallmark romantic comedy-spoof created by a pair of Second City Chicago comedians. His short, Open, which examines queer relationships, sex, and monogamy premiered at the Beverly Hills Laemmle in 2019. 

His latest short, So OCD, follows a young woman’s struggles with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and has just entered the festival circuit. Jason recently finished writing an original spec which tells the story of a young boy falling in “friend love” and coming to terms with his homosexuality. His various works are featured on his website, jasonavezzano.com

Who are the people behind the film?

Writer: Jamie Bliss

Producer: Jamie Bliss

Director: Jason Avezzano

DP: Sean Geisterfer

Editor: Max Holste

Composer: Brandon Trapizona

Lead: Hailey Fyfe

What inspired you to choose the particular subject and/or approach that you did?

As a director, I am interested in capturing the emotional complexities people have within themselves and in relating to others. When I first met Jamie, the writer and creator of So OCD, she graciously trusted me with her most intimate realities.
Only a minority of us have directly experienced the grip of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, however it’s indicative of the deep-seated fears that all of us confront at some point. The routines that are vividly depicted in this portrayal take on a more universal and widely tangible context in a world where Covid-19 has dominated our lives. The all-encompassing pain of her compulsion is inescapable, unlike society searching for a vaccination. In a world where fear and uncertainty are commonplace emotions, I hope you will find this portrayal poignant and relatable as I did.

What attracted you to the UNBROKEN festival?

OCD is a daily and constant struggle for me.  And as I’ve gotten older, it has become very clear that most people really don’t have any idea what Obsessive Compulsive Disorder really is.  Colloquially, people use “OCD” to mean organized or particular, but OCD is pervasive and interferes with life in significant ways.  I think the language we use around mental health is important – how we talk about it, how we try to understand it, etc. – especially because mental illness is not typically the type of ailment we can see.  I am just beginning to learn how to share my journey in ways that are informative and engaging, and this has been my first point of entry. 

Sprout

A person struggles to live with their mental illness. A story of resilience.

Director Biography – Jessi Xiong

Jessi (they/she) is a Hmong animator and multidisciplinary artist based in Boston. They graduated from Massachusetts College of Art & Design in 2020 with a BFA in Animation. They have a passion for storytelling and bringing characters to life.

When she’s not making art she’s probably dancing, writing poetry, or trying to get someone to take her outfit pic of the day.

Director Statement

Sprout was inspired by my own personal experience with mental illness. I’ve struggled with my mental illness for years, and what I’ve learned is that it never truly gets easier. You never cure your mental illness and boom! you’re good for life. No, but you do get stronger. You learn how to cope; you learn how to heal. You learn how to grow and thrive despite it all.

Wolves

A Sunday lunch at granny’s house.
Holy greek family is being crumbled under the unbearable weight.
How many things can we ignore about our closest family members?
How many words are drowned before they are even spoken?
Our dearest family meals, start counting down…

Director Biography – Antonis Morgan Konstantoudakis

Antonis Morgan Konstantoudakis was born and raised in Athens. He is half British from London UK. He is a Director, Screenwriter and Creator. From 2020 he is working as a Director in the Greek TV Channel MEGA. He was awarded as Best New Director in London in 2017, for his short movies “Epsilon” and “DER”. 

He has directed short and featured films, TV spots, Campaigns, Theatrical Plays, Music Video Clips (for artists like Anna Vissi, Vanessa Adamopoulou, The Detachments, Alexandros Tzouganakis, Pavlos Pavlidis and more), theatrical trailers, the 7th ALL4FUN theatrical awards ceremony. He Directed the play “Spring Awakening” of Frank Wedekind in the Municipal Theater of Piraeus and other plays in Bageion Theater, in “Theatro Technis”, in Cartel and more. He has been awarded 6 times by Unesco of Piraeus for his accomplishments in the Arts. He is the co-creator of cinematography team NAIL.hitnrun and the head of the Piraeus Film Festival. Before 2014, he was a financier, graduated Business Administration in TEI Piraeus (2004), graduated MSc in Shipping in University of Piraeus and is PhD candidate in the University of Surrey, in the UK, while he was working in the Banking Industry for 10 years as a Project Manager and high banking officer (In Piraeus Bank, Emporiki Bank and Alpha Bank)

Help support the UNBROKEN festival by donating via our Go Fund Me page.