California Women’s Film Festival


January 2017 selections and Winners

Audience Award Winners

(Audience Winners will be posted by January 10th)

1st Place

Madame Esmeralda And The Audition

Dir. Todd J. Phelps

2nd Place 

Things That Happen At Night

Dir. Laura Jean Bransky

3rd Place

Black In Red Out Dir. Monica Moore-Suriyag

Jury Category Winners

(Category Winners will be presented at the end of the film’s screening block)

Best Feature Film

Polaris Dir. Soudabeh Moradian

             Producer:  Christina Jo’Leigh p.g.a.

(Presented at the end of Block 5 on Saturday 1/7/2017)

Best Short Film

Plaything Dir. Yufei Qioa

(Presented at the end of Block 1 on Friday 1/6/2017)

Best Feature Documentary

Special Blood Dir. Natalie Metzger

(Presented at the end of Block 1 on Saturday 1/7/2017)

Best Short Documentary

Women Prayed And Preyed Upon

Dir. Kankana Chakraborty

(Presented at the end of Block 2 on Saturday 1/7/2017)

Best Student Film

The Boy In The Mirror Dir. Fernanda Schein

(Presented at the end of Block 1 on Friday 1/6/2017)

Best Foreign Film

Aftermath Dir. Sonja Kebler

(Presented at the end of Block 3 on Sunday 1/8/2017)

Best Animation

One Per Person Dir. Nasheet Zaman &

Jacquelyn “Jac” Piette

(Presented at the end of Block 3 on Saturday 1/7/2017)

Best Music Video

Wicked Game Dir. Sohrab Mirmont

(Presented at the end of Block 5 on Saturday 1/7/2017)

Best Experimental Film

Emergence Dir. Rocco Cataldo

(Presented at the end of Block 1 on Friday 1/6/2017)

Best Feature Script

Seriah’s Legacy by Julie Kaufmann

(Presented at the end of Block 2 on Friday 7/6/2017)

Best Short Script

He Is My Music by Vicki Bartholomew

(Presented at the end of Block 2 on Friday 1/6/2017)


Feature Script Finalist

American Royalty by Joshua Russell & Dorothy Marks

Bluebirds by Simon Wilkinson

Good Luck Miss Wyckoff by Robert Weinbach

Ole: Rising Above Mith by Kelly Jean Karam

True by Rose Tavelli

Short Script Finalist

Mama Charlotte by Reka Ehrentreu

Snow Day by Sam Kench

Ten Mothers by Tess Carroll

The Dulcet Swan by Jess Grant

The Missing Button by Kelly Jean Karam

Jury Creative Nominees

(Creative Winners will be announced and presented during the opening night party on Friday, January 6th which starts at 10pm)

Best Director

Sonja Kebler  -  Aftermath

Soudabeh Moradian - Polaris 

Yufei Qiao - Plaything

Cheyenne Pasquer - Worth It?

Julia Verdin - Lost Girls 

Best Actress

Marianne Bourg  -  Plaything

Jenn Schatz  -  Unengaged

Bar Paly  -  Lost Girls

Anna Florence  -  The Demo

Alicja Bachleda  -  Polaris

Best Supporting Actress

Jennifer Lange  -  I Am Be

Cristina Cibrian - Lost Girls

Alison Pill - Unengaged

Samantha Sutliff - Plaything

Jacqueline Wright - Dryland 

Best Actor

Ramsey Krull - This Path

Gabriel Burrafato  -  Plaything

Jacob Fortner - The Boy In The Mirror

George Fearing - Worth It?

Kevin Weisman  -  The Accent Wall

Jury Creative Winners

(Creative Winners will be announced and presented during the opening night party on Friday, January 6th which starts at 10pm)

Best Director

Yufei Qiao - Plaything

Best Actress

Marianne Bourg  -  Plaything

Best Supporting Actress

Jacqueline Wright - Dryland

Best Actor

Gabriel Burrafato  -  Plaything

Official Selections


Dir. Marie Ilene

Sunday  1/8/2017 Block 2

A retelling of Emily Dickinson's poem explored through stop motion animation and original music.


Dir. Sonja Kebler

Sunday  1/8/2017 Block 3

Germany 1916. The war has also left graves in interpersonal relationships. The friendship of two dissimilar outsiders allows hope to emerge. But is blood thicker than water?


Dir. Erin Shea

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 2

A playful visual music journey through the universe from the subatomic to the galactic.

Because I Love You

Dir. Amanda De Lany

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 4

After escaping her abusive ex-boyfriend, Derrick, Audrey falls into a spiral of depression and paranoia. Her mother pushes her farther by conveying a message from Derrick, asking for another chance. Audrey's cousin wants to help her out of this vicious cycle, but she can only help herself when her nightmare comes to visit.

Before I Die

Dir. Katherine Joy McQueen

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 2

Before I Die is based off a true story. It’s about a 30-year-old single man that feels stuck in his life. He’s a carpenter that spends all of his days doing what he loves most–woodworking. Yet, he still doesn’t feel like he has purpose in the world. He builds a chair that represents his desire to build a family and his life around it.

Between Shifts

Dir. Lysandra Petersson

Friday  1/6/2017 Block 1

'Between Shifts' is a short film that follows Joanne, a lonely diner waitress, as she embarks on a journey one afternoon while on break between her lunch and dinner shifts.

Black In Red Out

Dir. Monica Moore-Suriyag

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 4

BLACK IN RED OUT is a commentary on the pressures of hook up culture among young people. Sometimes we are so worried about meeting expected social standards that we lose sight of what our real priorities should be.

Cast The First Stone

Dir. Kafia Haile

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 6

A CIA interrogator faces the moral ambiguities of her job.

Confessions Of The Fashion World

Dir. Carolina De Athey

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 6

A model gets confronted with a dilemma that every model faces. What happens behind the curtains of the Fashion World?

Daisies Grown

Dir. Ilayda Cetinkaya

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 2

16 year-old Mia, tired of following the rules of her mother moves into a boarding school in which she is forced to explore her self-identity.

Divorce Party

Dir. Lauren Manes

Friday  1/6/2017 Block 1

Surprises abound when recently separated husband unexpectedly shows up at his ex's divorce party...

Dream Girl

Dir. Brett Newton

Sunday  1/8/2017 Block 2

A fed up girlfriend fights to prove that a 'real' girl is far better than her boyfriend's obsessive movie star fantasies.

Driver’s Ed.

Dir. Chase Norman

Sunday  1/8/2017 Block 1

A shy, overweight young woman leaves the safety of her home for an unwelcoming high school classroom.


Dir. Live Prior Colliander

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 4

Reeling in the aftermath of her mother’s suicide attempt, a young swimmer works through her trauma in the water while desperately trying to break the wall of silence at home.

El Camino

Dir. Jordan Santacana

Friday  1/6/2017 Block 2

A female Veteran travels across Post Apocalyptic Mexico in search for California, only to be dragged into a vicious Civil War.

Eleven Hundred To Lubbock

Dir. Sara Radle

Friday  1/6/2017 Block 2

After the recent death of her brother, Samantha 'Sam' Danzinger finds herself continually pestered by his best friend, Ashley, who enlightens Sam with the news of her brother's last wishes. All Sam wants is to be left alone, but she soon finds hersel

f on a journey to making unlikely friendships and running halfway across the country.


Dir. Rocco Cataldo

Friday  1/6/2017 Block 1

Emergence is a non-narrative interpretive dance film evoking emotions through movement, not dialogue.

Evil Rising

Dir. Savion Smith

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 4

A young woman with disturbing dreams suddenly finds herself thrust into her nightmares. Struggling for her sanity and her life, she must overcome the demons inside her to break free and save the souls of those who remain to be alive.....but can she also manage to save herself?

Falling Star

Dir. Jessie Chu

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 1

A Ph.D. student discovers her pregnancy, but her parents believe that abortion is the only way for keeping her life on track. Thus, she needs to choose between her family and her baby.

Food For Thoughts

Dir. Luisa Novo

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 3

Much to Hope's dismay, when her boyfriend dumps her a parade of memories of her exes is triggered by things around her house that are connected to these past relationships. But she will get the last laugh.

Grace & Grit

Dir. Olivia Applegate

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 5

A twisted celebration of me, myself and I.

I Am Be

Dir. Cheri Gaulke

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 2

The short film is a retelling of the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone through a contemporary lens of sexual violence and female empowerment.

In No Sense

Dir. Eliana Alcouloumre

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 1

In No Sense is a narrative art film exploring how betrayal and a loss of innocence can transform an individual.

It’s Not Me

Dir. Shirley To

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 2

This is a story about how I'd have to tell my newborn son the condition of this world now: poverty, income inequality, gender inequality, black lives matter, gay rights, climate change, women's right, etc. At the end, I decided that it'd be safer if my baby went back inside my womb.


Dir. Genki Yoshimura

Sunday  1/8/2017 Block 3

The strange woman who appeared in usual stairs.  what is she on earth?


Dir. Marlo Bernier

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 4

A survivor of sexual abuse rethinks suicide after falling in with a group of drifters.

Les Connards

Dir. Brynn Alexander

Sunday  1/8/2017 Block 1

During a long, boring brunch shift, a rather ungracious waiter meets his match while serving at a restaurant.

Lolly Font, Yoga Rebel

Dir. Liz Cane

Sunday  1/8/2017 Block 1

Lolly Font, a spunky 84-year-old yoga teacher, leads her students in a way of living that is spontaneous and mindful inside and outside the yoga studio. Using yoga to heal herself from crippling arthritis, Lolly helps her students navigate the aging process with grace and wisdom.

Lost Girls

Dir. Julia Verdin

Friday  1/6/2017 Block 2

A former victim who is forced to lure young girls into sex trafficking is given an unexpected gift from a 15 year old she kidnaps. It taps into her lost faith and memory of her former self and gives her the courage to confront her inner demons and dangerous employers in order to break free from the cycle of victimization.

Madame Esmeralda And The Audition

Dir. Todd J. Phelps

Friday  1/6/2017 Block 2

Told she’s “too ethnic,” a singer with stage fright twirls into Madame Esmeralda's magical garden and discovers that failure is impossible.


Dir. Jason Baumgardner

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 6

MEGAN is a bar owner, a lawyer, and a mother...but not in the same life. The choices she made years ago set the trajectory of her life along three very distinct paths.

Mere Players

Dir. Dan Levy Dagerman

Sunday  1/8/2017 Block 2

An actor prepares for his roles, one blind date at a time.


Dir. Natasha Ward

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 4

When a woman wants to be married, she will stop at nothing to make her dreams come true.

Muslim Writer’s Room

Dir. Muna Deria, Akifa Khan & Yousuf Syed

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 2

A Hollywood show runner enlists the aid of six Muslim comedy writers to develop a pilot about Jihad, the only problem is none of them nowhere to start.

One Per Person

Dir. Nasheet Zaman & Jacquelyn “Jac” Piette

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 3

An awkward fast food worker gains a new perspective on life while competing for customers against an excessively happy-go-lucky rival.


Dir. Yufei Qiao

Friday  1/6/2017 Block 1

A woman who is trapped in a dangerous polygamous relationship, is desperate to fight for her love by playing the Mahjong game against other women, until she finds out what is really hidden behind.


Dir. Soudabeh Moradian

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 5

Due to circumstances beyond their control, an Iranian couple is forced to take refuge in the home of an American nearby neighbor. As the story unfolds, the underlying conflict and hidden secrets of the characters emerge until the situation ultimately reaches a point of no return.

Pretty Face

Dir. Jessica Janos

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 3

1969. Two teen girls encounter a family living on a movie ranch. Not any family. The Manson family.

Reco’s Magic

Dir. Corinne Jayaweera

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 1

The children’s entrepreneurial spirit come to the rescue of a middle class family when they face hard financial times.

Secret Admirer

Dir. Justin Powell & David Charbonier

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 4

A woman suspects she has an intruder when a mysterious gift turns up at her door.

Shards Of The Heart

Dir. Brianna Arambula

Sunday  1/8/2017 Block 1

Over the course of one day, a troubled young greeting card writer must confront the emptiness and lack of fulfillment in her life. Along this journey, she is accompanied by a small and unexpected companion.


Dir. Cassie Marin

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 6

Music video to 'Slowly' by Cassie Marin

Special Blood

Dir. Natalie Metzger

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 1

Failed by a healthcare system that is largely ignorant of their existence, four patients with a life-threatening, rare disease learn to find strength in each other and their small, but strong community.


Dir. Sharmaine Urbiztondo

Sunday  1/8/2017 Block 1

In a grand library, the tiny gnome librarian, Giles, stamps the few books he has left to get through the night. Giles attempts to stamp the last book when it comes to life and dodges his attempts. Mischievous as the book is, it swallows the stamp and runs away with it commencing a chase sequence with Giles that ends with his life in danger.

Stay At Home Mom - 2

Dir. David M. Gutel

Friday  1/6/2017 Block 2

Leah, now at the end of her pregnancy, thinks she’s adjusted to the stay at home mom world, until she learns that one of her fellow mom friends is now working with her husband, and her new hot OB may be more than she can handle. Just when she thinks she has a hold on her pregnant life and marital challenges, new and sudden circumstances make her question if the parent/marriage life will ever get easier.


Dir. Dr. Ruth Farrar

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 1

What does it mean to be strong? Heather Swift provides an honest answer sharing the rarely discussed mental health benefits of climbing. Filmed in the Peak District, UK and Chamonix, France.


Dir. Tyna Ezenma

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 3

Meg struggles to leave a husband who keeps treating her bad, when is it too late to leave?

The Accent Wall

Dir. Natalie Avital

Sunday  1/8/2017 Block 1

A man in crisis is forced to re-evaluate his priorities when confronted with his sister's devastating news.

The Boy In The Mirror

Dir. Fernanda Schein

Friday  1/6/2017 Block 1

A man suffering of multiple personality disorder tries to make his cold-hearted sister a remarkable birthday present while he struggles to stay connected to reality.

The Creeps

Dir. Mollie Fitzerald

Sunday  1/8/2017 Block 2

Jordan has some friends over to visit while she prepares to put her late Aunt's estate on the market. However, after being visited by a paranormal expert, and her friends leaving, she hears strange sounds. She is suddenly at the mercy of something or someone terrorizing her in the house, and she is desperate to figure out who or what is creeping her out. She soon discovers that she is indeed not alone and she may well be in a life or death situation.

The Demo

Dir. Craig J. Williams

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 6

Emma Strange, a frustrated actress with a desperate need for stardom takes things into her own hands and enlists her lonely neighbor Ray Nelson into kidnapping Hollywood's celebrity elite to give her the greatest acting reel the town has ever seen. Ultimately they succumb to each others dark side and find themselves on a twisted journey to fame.

The Last Year

Dir. Sheryl A. Gauntlett

Sunday  1/8/2017 Block 2

A coming of age story. With her best friends by her side Sarah finds who she is while tackling living alone for the first time.

The Pitch

Dir. Rebekka Johnson

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 1

When two young screenwriters pitch their screenplay to a television executive they receive a hilarious lesson in the hard business of Hollywood.

Things That Happen At Night

Dir. Laura Jean Bransky

Friday  1/6/2017 Block 1

When a couple attempts to assemble a bike in the back of an SUV for their son's birthday, they travel down the road not taken and make an unexpected turn.

This Path

Dir. Meko Winbush

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 6

Detective Jessica Davis, makes a chance arrest that will give her and the man she has arrested a hard lesson in causality -- the capacity of one event to bring about the existence of a second.


Dir. Marie Ilene

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 3

Singer -Songwriter D Henry Fenton and his guitar arrive late at night to the city of Los Angeles alone and haunted by the woman he left behind. He explores the streets of Los Angeles searching


Dir. Elizabeth Bell

Friday  1/6/2017 Block 2

Boxer, Alex 'Sweet Pea' Williams, fights to overcome trauma from a physically abusive relationship as she confronts her fears and proves herself to be undefeated.


Dir. Lauren Palmigiano

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 2

Best friends Rose and Edie break off their engagements and move in together to help each other get back on their feet.


Dir. Priyanka Patil

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 3

Walter a short film, is a portrait of a troubled, emotionally-complex man who is very reserved and delusional. He is in a mental asylum and struggles to deal with the tragic loss of his son.

Water On The Moon

Dir. Phoebe L. Dunn

Friday  1/6/2017 Block 2

During a late night broadcast, a pirate radio host explores the many distractions that come between us and accomplishing anything.

Weekend Encounter

Dir. Nancy Hendrickson

Sunday  1/8/2017 Block 2

Jessie and Charles go to a couples encounter weekend to try to save their marriage, but Jessie is more intrigued by the tango conference in another of the hotel's ballrooms. In the course of the weekend, they manage to solve their problems but not at all in the way they expected.

What Fresh Hell

Dir. Can Turedi

Sunday  1/8/2017 Block 1

A teenage girl is stuck in a psychological war with her mother in an isolated beach town.

Wicked Game

Dir. Sohrab Mirmont

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 5

Make me dream of you... This is a fantastical video sequence about a woman who dreams of her perfect lover.

Women Prayed And Preyed Upon

Dir. Kankana Chakraborty

Saturday  1/7/2017 Block 2

A 30 minutes Docudrama on Violence against Women.I mainly focuses on India. It highlights the irony that men who prey upon women are the ones who pray to GODDESSES.

Worth It?

Dir. Cheyenne Pasquer

Sunday  1/8/2017 Block 3

In a long awaited bid to rebuild the empty relationship with his daughter that he left for dead, skilled criminal, JONATHAN's dangerous past comes back to hinder any chance of reviving their bond.