Shorts Program: International Portraits

Co-presented by the Embassy of Switzerland


The River of the Kukamas

Being born from the spirit of the Amazon River, Kukama people have a special connection to the water. The river shrinks and grows throughout the year, affecting the lives of its citizens. Filmed at its widest state at the end of the rain season, this documentary highlights the challenges that Kukama people face today.


Directed by Nika Belianina

(Peru, 2018, 7 min.)




Alexis has a life-threatening disease. She spends her time in the wooded expanse of northern Scotland, where she takes care of dozens of others who are also sick, wounded, or dying. Some have terminal cancer; some were about to be killed because of their disabilities; some were saved from slaughterhouses. Alexis provides palliative care for animals. This film follows Alexis as she tirelessly tries to nurse a neglected sheep back to health. This quiet reflection on kindness in the face of death intimately explores the fragility and strength that comes from dedicating your life to the care of others.


Directed by Isa Rao

(UK, 2018, 15 min.)



Bayandalai – Lord of the Taiga

From inside his yurt deep within the heart of the sub-Arctic Taiga region, an elder of the Dukhas tribe muses about the significance of life and death in the largest forest on Earth. He is the last of the great reindeer herders of the Taiga.


Directed by Pablo Vidal SantosAner Etxebarria Moral

(Spain, 2018, 12 min.)



Black Line

A woman fishing in turbid waters, a suffering nature, the broken chant of the muezzin — they are all linked by a thin, black line.


Directed by Francesca Scalisi & Mark Olexa

(Switzerland, 2017, 10 min.)



Insect Guardian – Butterfly Paradise

Back in 1980, Willem bought a remote potato farm and transformed it into a butterfly paradise. He has worked the land with shovel and scythe for almost 40 years in order to preserve the butterflies. Willem’s paradise has become one of the most important habitats in the region for these fluttering beauties, but there is a problem. Due to an overload of nitrogen in the air, a monoculture of grass slowly drives away this flower-rich butterfly paradise. Butterflies that used to be common just a few decades ago are rare these days, or have completely disappeared.


Directed by Sander van IerselTim Visser

(Netherlands, 2019, 6 min.)



The Call of Pashmina

After news of a tragic snowstorm in Changtang reaches him, a Kashmiri man quits his job and embarks on a journey to become a shepherd. Six years later, he starts the Pashmina Goat Project — an N.G.O. to protect the Changpa community and their goats from the harsh implications of climate change in Ladakh.


Directed by Taira Malaney

(India, 2018, 16 min.)



The River Is Me

For many years, this river’s ownership was under dispute. Now, it owns itself. In what is believed to be a world’s first, the Whanganui River’s been granted legal personhood, with the same rights and responsibilities as you and me. But determining where a river ends and the rest of nature begins — that may be up for some debate.


Directed by David Freid

(USA, 2019, 17 min.)



(3/16 Only) Post-screening discussion feat. Taira Malaney (Director, The Call of Pashmina), Krish Makhija, (Director of Photography, The Call of Pashmina), & Nika Belianina (Director, The River of the Kukamas)


Encore presentation: March 18


Films showing as part of this event