2022 Selected Films

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29 Years, A Second Chance

44 mins

Dir. Steve Saunders | Documentary

Hymel volunteers to serve his country as a B-52 pilot during the Vietnam War. This decision forever changes the course of Bob’s life. His B-52 “ASH I” is hit by a pair of surface-to-air missiles over Hanoi, North Vietnam the day after Christmas, 1972. The crew nurses the severely damaged plane back to Utapao, Thailand where they crash on landing. Bob is rescued from the burning wreckage, recovers from his injuries, and completes a long career with the Air Force. Haunted by the memory of the ASH I crew killed in the crash; Bob joins the Defense Intelligence Agency as a civilian. He finds himself in the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. Fate catches up to him when, 29 years after surviving the crash of ASH I, he is the only person with ties to the U.S. Air Force who is killed when the airliner, hijacked by terrorists, slams into the Pentagon on that tragic day.

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A Juddering

19 mins

Dir. James Lantz | Short 

Through his bare feet, a troubled teen feels something wrong with the Earth. Granddad
won't listen.

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A Waste of Time

2 mins

Dir. Isaac Hall Prevatt | Animation

A man attempts to find the time, which leads to a waste of everyone’s.

 
 
 
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All Roads End

29 mins

Dir. Michael Minard | Short & Iowa Made

All Roads End tells the story of Sylas, a doting father and husband whose life takes an unsuspected turn when he meets Dominic, a man still reeling with grief from losing his family. A thriller that navigates the path of grief, anger, and regret.

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Autumn Artistry via Canoe

10 mins

Dir. Bruce McKee | Local

Dale has solo-paddled the Winnebago River in North Iowa in every month of every year for nearly two decades. This film, the third in a series, highlights his Autumn canoe floats, emphasizing river stewardship and passing on the joy of paddling to the next generations. Narrated with his prose and observations of his passion of paddling and nature around him.

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Bed Bugs

9 mins

Dir. Kaitlyn Busbee | Student

A young woman confronts her trauma by dealing with the only thing she has power over: her mattress.

 
 
 
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Big Iron

16 mins

Dir. Arik Hess | Short & Student

An Arizona Ranger travels to the tiny town of Agua Fria to locate the deadly outlaw Texas Red. This western short film is inspired by the classic Marty Robbins song, “Big Iron.”

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Captain

8 mins

Dir. Jared Weber | Student

When a space captain (Carolynn Stouder) damages the navigation system after taking control of her ship from her AI companion, C.H.A.R.L.I.E. (Adam Rebora), she must overcome her fears and make repairs before it's too late.

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Dani's Twins

39 mins

Dir. Brad Allgood & Steve Dorst | Women Filmmaker

Dani's Twins captures the pregnancy and early parenting journey of Daniela Izzie, one of the few quadriplegics in history to ever give birth to twins. While a source of great joy, Dani’s twin pregnancy is highly unusual and susceptible to an array of risks, ranging from blood pressure spikes that could lead to a stroke to the almost-certain likelihood of preterm labor. When the Covid-19 pandemic strikes, it raises the stakes for an already complicated pregnancy. Amid these ups and downs, Dani’s story depicts her unwavering determination against all odds to deliver healthy babies and be a great mother.

 
 
 
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Doubt

22 mins

Dir. Fred Ebong | Documentary

Doubt goes beyond sports and affects all things in life. This Documentary is about Jared Downing, an MMA/Kickboxing fighter, and how he had to overcome doubts in both his life & fights.

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Driftless

1 hr 15 mins

Dir. Harper Philbin | Feature

Driftless is a feature-length drama about Nova Abbey, a park ranger at work during a state government shutdown on a busy 4th of July weekend, protecting the park from the people and the people from each other.

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Embrace

5 mins

Dir. Latesha Merkel | Animation

Embrace is an animated short film about asexuality--an orientation generally defined by a lack of sexual attraction, regardless of gender. The narrative explores the common asexual experience of feeling different than most of the population, and the isolation, confusion, and self-loathing that difference can create. However, the story also emphasizes the self-love and joy that can come from recognition of one's asexuality and the asexual community, and how it's possible to embrace the orientation by viewing it in a different light.

 
 
 
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Eyes Upon Waking

1 hr 50 mins

Dir. Timothy Zwica | Women Filmmaker

A troubled woman must come to terms with her suicide attempts while spending several days in a holding facility.

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Familiar

10 mins

Dir. Thomas Tulak | Short

Loss shapes our lives in very unexpected ways. On the anniversary of his wife's death, Ryan finally begins to deal with the loss of his wife. That loss begins to lead to new discoveries that he never expected nor anticipated.

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Fractal

10 mins

Dir. Kiarra Goldberg | Women Filmmaker

Grace experiences a miscarriage after a first date leads to an accidental pregnancy. Fractal follows the story of her struggle across three different realities; memory, present-day, and a dream of what could have been. How do you mourn the loss of something that you never had?

 
 
 
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Freshwater

51 mins

Dir. Ian Planchon & Lynn Melling | Documentary

Freshwater is a documentary that dives into the cold waters of Lake Superior along Minnesota's North Shore. It contains 10% of Earth's freshwater, yet this massive force of nature remains largely unexplored. One group of people, however, is intimately aware of its power. From the surfers who catch its waves to the scientists who study its depths, learn why Lake Superior is a precious resource that should never be taken for granted.

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FU*AB

1 hr 36 mins

Dir. Stephen Folker | Feature & Iowa

Eccentric inventor, Dr. Sigmund Allen believes he's created a machine which can make contact with Uranus.

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Great Artist Dorm Challenge

33 mins

Dir. Susanne Crane | Local

The Great Artist Dorm Challenge is a project involving several local and regional artists, a 1918 YWCA in Mason City, IA with old dormitories in need of rehabilitation, a budget of $1,000 per room and a timeframe of 7 days to complete the project. This is filmed with cell phones and a hand held camera on a gimbal. The film gives you an inside look into the process, the personalities and the difficulties in managing a group of very different characters with a tight budget and time constraints. This is a friendly, human interest, inspirational project and film with many moving parts.

 
 
 
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How to Survive Your First Date

9 mins

Dir. Reese Robers | Student

In this dark parody of 1950's instructional films, Dotty and her date Darryl try to survive against the voyeuristic narrator manipulating them.

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Hush

25 mins

Dir. Emilie Beck | Short

In public 12-year-old Martin seems like a normal smiling boy, but at home he faces uncertainty, and at times a harsh reality. With an alcoholic father, and a mother who barely manages to handle the situation, Martin is forced to do what it takes to keep the family together. Hush is a short about loyalty, fear and about growing up way too fast.

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Imprints

15 mins

Dir. Vivie Myrick | Student

Jen is a young girl in a dysfunctional family that is trying to make her way out of an abusive household. After getting into an elite private school, she meets Astro. A socially awkward, young boy who is able to quickly open up to her. Astro and his family opened Jen's eyes to what her life should look like.

 
 
 
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Into Flight Once More

1 hr 9 mins

Dir. Adrienne Hall | Documentary

Into Flight Once More, narrated by Gary Sinise, brings the history of June 6, 1944 to the present through the lens of one squadron and their epic recreation journey across the North Atlantic to Normandy for the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. Along the trip we meet some of the last remaining D-Day Veterans and younger generations of men and women who have re-charted their path to honor their sacrifice and thank them for their service.

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Leavin'

5 mins

Dir. Erica Faye | Women Filmmaker

What do you do when you feel like you have given your all to your spouse without so much as a thank you in return?

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Let Me Be Me

1 hr 15 mins

Dir. Dan Crane & Katie Taber | Documentary

When the Westphal family learned that their 6-year-old Kyle was on the Autism spectrum, they feared they might never develop a real connection to their child. Withdrawn and constantly wrapping himself in fabric and blankets, Kyle was retreating from the world around him. Determined to find a way to connect, his parents embarked on an intense and radical journey which involved compassionately joining Kyle in his unique behaviors. Twenty years later, the entire family looks back at Kyle's journey with candor and humor. Let Me Be Me reveals what happens when a boy who used fabric as his shield to hide himself grows up to become a fashion designer, forging connections with friends and family along the way.

 
 
 
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Lilian

10 mins

Dir. Carrsan Morrissey | Short & Iowa Made

The Proof of Concept "Pilot" for a web-series I am currently developing, revolving around a murderous vigilante named Lilian. The characters are based on the characters of the same name from my debut novel, "Old Wounds."

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Livestock on the Land

1 hr 17 mins

Dir. Nick Ohde | Documentary & Iowa Made

In broad-brush, “Livestock on the Land” is a story about regenerative grazing and its promise for the Iowa landscape. Up close, however, it’s a story about people – the farmers driven by love of family, land and livestock to seek more resilient solutions, and the community that emerges when livestock are on the land. The film goes beyond the science to show how livestock are central threads connecting people, diversifying farms, protecting soil and water, and anchoring rural communities. When livestock leave, so do the people. “Livestock on the Land” shows the reverse: how livestock can repeople our rural communities by giving farmers a chance to get started, grow businesses, provide for their families, work together and bring back the next generation to sustain the cycle.

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Meeting Dad

24 mins

Dir. Robert Jarzen | Short

An elderly woman expresses her dying wish to meet the father she never knew.

 
 
 
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Nightline

1 hr 34 mins

Dir. Robert Sedlacek | Feature

A bittersweet tale around a live interview radio broadcast that changes the lives of several innocent people. After lying low in the USA for almost 20 years Radek makes a surprise visit to his home city of Prague. Tech savvy he manages to avoid revealing all forms of his identity and location to tell his story on a late night radio phone-in show hosted by ambitious young journalist Eva. Eva bends over backwards to accommodate him and becomes embroiled in his mission to track down a young mother called Eliska. Eva has no idea that she herself is part of his plot from an event two decades ago. Czech law gives a 20 year time limit for all crime, including murder. Detectives on the late shift hear the interview and start to build a case but they only have a few hours left before the crime is deemed unpunishable. A fierce struggle for time and justice begins.

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Peanut

6 mins

Dir. Maya Estrada | Student

Tim, a longtime employee of Mr. Braun's Accountant Firm, awaits the end of the work day. However, his boss, Mr. Braun, interrupts Tim's last minutes at work to give Tim more assignments. As Mr. Braun leaves Tim feeling defeated, Tim notices something strange happening under his desk. Tim investigates and finds a strange, small, scaled creature with multiple legs. Despite initially being scared and confused, Tim grabs the creature after feeling that the creature is harmless. But, when the creature bites Tim, Tim quickly realizes that the creature is anything but harmless.

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Pre-Existing

19 mins

Dir. Kevin Isaacson | Local

A concerned husband seeks to buy a life insurance policy for his wife but her current condition is making it very difficult.

 
 
 
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Quando, Quando, Quando

10 mins

Dir. Kuan Cao | Student

Ben wakes up in the morning and explores his house. A self-taped video on a laptop found by Ben in a dishwasher reminds him of what happened to him and who he is. Later, a phone call from Ben’s son who is in great danger helps Ben to connect himself with who he is, and his family again.

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Roulette Girl

1 hr 12 mins

Dir. Carrsan Morrissey | Feature & Iowa Made

Greta (Ally Jo Williams) is a performance artist living in Waterloo, Iowa. To pay her bills, she works as a barista in a coffee shop owned by a family friend. But when her shift ends, she dons a theatrical costume and becomes Roulette Girl, a "living statue" who acts out miniature scenes dictated by the spin of a wheel. But there's more to Greta's life than espresso and face-paint. A recent tragedy has left its mark on her, and Greta is struggling to cope with the reality of what she's experienced. The ghosts of her past, both figurative and not, lurk in the shadows of her empty apartment. Can Greta find peace, fulfillment, and maybe even love? Or is she doomed to spin forever, weighed down by the horrors of her recent past? This is a story of guilt, trauma, creativity, hope, love, and passion. This is "Roulette Girl."

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Saving Silhouettes

8 mins

Dir. Kristopher Gathercoal | Iowa Made

A boy investigates the woods south of town where he once met a girl who claimed to live there.

 
 
 
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Something in the Clouds

13 mins

Dir. Josh Sikkema & Johnny Ray | Short

A fourteen-year old boy witnesses his neighbor get

abducted across the street. A moment of bravery to

save her will test his courage on the bike ride of

his life.

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State of the Unity

1 hr 28 mins

Dir. Nathaniel Hoff & Jillian Speece | Documentary

Is unity possible? This simple question launched the Brooklyn-based band The Bergamot on a quest to all 50 States to unite people with music, community, and collaboration. What began as a simple idea in the band's touring vehicle, brought about a profound revelation. How do we reframe the way we perceive and understand unity? "For it is not a shared narrative of a future, but a narrative of a shared future, that can unite us together" says David Hooker Ph.D. How the duo connected people, with that exact vehicle they were sitting in, started a conversation that continues to this day. Join them in this timely 50,000-mile tour in human understanding, perseverance, and empathy that changed their lives forever.

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Static Space

29 mins

Dir. John Klein & Kate Black-Spence  | Short

Jamie is a young woman living in rural Indiana struggling to figure out her place and identity. When she inadvertently stumbles across a frequency on her ham radio and makes contact with astronaut Noa currently orbiting Earth, the two women are presented with the opportunity to find meaningful connection, even while worlds apart.

 
 
 
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Stopped Motion: The Story of Gulp

49 mins

Dir. David Busch | Iowa Made

A comedic documentary about the rise and fall of the literal biggest star in Hollywood, a claymation dinosaur named GULP.

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Strange Ballet

7 mins

Dir. Carol Montag | Iowa Made

On August 10, 2020, Cedar Rapids and other eastern Iowa towns experienced an inland hurricane known as a derecho. In Iowa, we are familiar with tornadoes, not derechos. Winds were as high as 140 miles per hour. The derecho lasted about 45 minutes. As a result, the City of Cedar Rapids lost 65% of it's tree canopy. Many trees were simply uprooted from the high winds. Many homes were damaged beyond repair. Our home was without electricity for 10 days and we had no internet for 31 days. In the aftermath of this very rare and destructive storm, everyone did their best to clean up their yards, driveways, and sidewalks. Many streets were blocked by downed trees. Our neighborhood required several cranes to remove large trees from rooftops. In the midst of the clean up effort, my husband, Paul, and I took a break in our driveway to watch a crane lift branches off a neighbor's roof. The inspiration for this song/video came from that break.

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That Thing That Sound

1 hr 11 mins

Dir. Kelsey Hammer-Parks & Nathan Emerson | Documentary, Women, Iowa Made

That Thing That Sound explores the uncertain future of the steel guitar, an instrument primarily played by older, white men. Because it’s an expensive and challenging instrument, most young and diverse musicians do not have access to steel guitars or instructors. The film follows a man's journey to pass on his knowledge and keep the steel guitar alive. His inspirational story is a model for anyone looking to make a difference in the world.

 
 
 
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The Collins Story - Connecting the Moon to the Earth: Steps to the Moon

1 hr 12 mins

Dir. Eric Freese  | Documentary

In the days before personal computers, before the Internet and the worldwide web connected us to global information, before smartphones connected us to one another, before GPS guided our journeys…Before this technology was a part of everyday life, American astronauts explored new frontiers in space and on the moon. A half century ago, men on board the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space capsules talked to earth, navigated in space and to the moon and back, and exchanged critical data with mission control. How was this accomplished five decades ago? By the ingenuity and dedication of a company founded in the heartland of America – The Collins Radio Company in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The 3-part series tells the little-known story of the people who designed the space communication systems and how they did it. These systems were technical feats that had never been done before, and played a crucial role in America’s race to be first to land a man on the moon.

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The Honey War

3 mins

Dir. Dick De Angelis | Short, Animation & Iowa Made

A fun look at a crazy piece of Iowa history. In the 1830's, "The Honey War", a boundary dispute between Iowa and Missouri, didn't end in bloodshed. But it almost did! An animated three minute doc by filmmaker Dick DeAngelis with drawings by classic TV and film animator Bonita Versh.

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The Long Haul

58 mins

Dir. Scott Harves | Documentary

In March of 2020, Ben O’Donnell was Minnesota's first critical COVID-19 patient. The 38-year-old husband and father spent nearly a month battling for his life in a Minneapolis hospital’s intensive care unit. Upon his release in April, in what seemed like an unattainable stretch of the imagination to those around him, O'Donnell set his sights on training for, and completing a 140.6-mile triathlon.

 
 
 
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The Shoulders of Giants

35 mins

Dir. Quinn Early | Documentary & Iowa Made

In 1895, the son of a runaway slave overcomes various obstacles and fights racial inequality as he embarks on a journey, becoming the first African-American college football player in the state of Iowa. He attends the University of Iowa and leads the Hawkeyes to their first ever conference championship.

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The Truth about Happiness and Wellbeing

44 mins

Dir. Olesya Holker | Documentary, Women, & Iowa Made

Numerous scientific studies show that the ability to be happy depends on actions and habits that are under our control. This film will help you understand the misconceptions about happiness and help you implement positive change in your life.

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To Memphis and Back

27 mins

Dir. Eric Smidt | Iowa Made

When the Buckmiller/Schwager Band won the Iowa Blues Challenge, they had an opportunity to play on Beale Street in Memphis, TN at the International Blues Challenge and continue their mission to keep the blues alive. With the trip to Memphis serving as the backdrop, To Memphis and Back captures how this blues band uses their live shows to educate each crowd about the blues.

 
 
 
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Torch

10 mins

Dir. Matty Weiland | Short & Iowa Made

After a mission goes south, Agent 44 takes refuge in an agency safehouse. Unbeknownst to him, this is more than just a haven, and what he finds makes 44 question the organization he has dedicated his life to.

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Tryouts Today! 

7 mins

Dir. David Mair | Animation

Two aspiring superheroes make an unexpected connection while waiting in line to try out for the Des Moines Defenders.

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Two Finns On A Fish

1 hr 15 mins

Dir. Kent Flaagan | Feature

Brothers Shawn and Mickey Finn, young Irishmen new to the United States, are using a phony lottery ticket to ply their trade of deception and fraud as grifters. After swindling two young women out of their money for the lottery ticket, the Irishmen discover their targets are daughters of a local Italian crime boss. Making the circumstance even worse, the money the young women use is counterfeit! The crime boss is not happy with the grift pulled on his daughters, so Mickey and Shawn must make amends.

 
 
 
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What Follows the Shadows

8 mins

Dir. Carrsan Morrissey | Short & Iowa Made

A film-noir created for the Des Moines 48 Hour Film Project. It went on to win "Best Use of Genre" and was the runner-up for "Best Trailer."

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Who Killed Cooper Dunn?

1 hr 31 mins

Dir. Nino Aldi | Feature

Six friends succumb to madness as they attempt to figure out which one of them killed their childhood pal on a wilderness camping trip.

 
 
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Know You Well

10 mins

Dir. Micheala Wadzinski| Animation

Going to college can be isolating, but when four students find one another they will form a bond that will help them through almost anything.