Best of the Fest

Each year the Rochester International Film Festival compliles the most popular films from our festival as indicated by audience surveys.

These films, as well as all festival films with permission of filmmakers, are available on loan for private or group screenings in the Rochester area. The only stipulations are that no fees be charged for showing the films and that no film be duplicated.

2016 Best of the Fest Winners

PAPER WRAP FIRE – Raymond Yeung
PASTIME – Nate Mancini, Johnny Sikma and Craig Peterson
LONG JOHN – Joe Bellavia
WHERE LEAVES FALL – Alicia Albares Martínez
THE BENCH – Cameron Burnett
WHERE WE BEGIN – Mitsuyo Miyazaki
REMEMBER WHEN – Swati Srivastava
THE APOLOGY – Yu Shibuya


2015 Best of the Fest Winners

CARRY ON – Yatao Li
TUNING OSCAR – Mikel Alvariño
OPEN 24 HOURS – Henry Chaisson
COWBOYS – Bernabé Rico
RAMONA – Giovanna Rodríguez Zacarías
OMUL – Brigitte Drodtloff
HEYLN SPRINGS – Noah Camenker
FOSTER DOG – Lisa Alonso Vear
5 WAYS 2 DIE – Daina Papadaki
HSU JI (Behind the Screen) – Thomas Rio
TAXISTOP – Marie Enthoven
DRONE STRIKE – Chris Richmond
JAYA – Puja Maewal
THE LAST SESSION – Natxo Fuentes


2014 Best of the Fest Winners

9-1-1 – Andrew Fairbank
Distance – Aimee Long
We Are Enemies – Ilya Rozhkov
Tin Cans – Chris Edwards
Way in Rye – Goran Stankovi?
Virtuos Virtuell – Thomas Stellmach and Maja Oschmann
Dies Irae, jour de colère (Day of Wrath) – Emmanuel Dubois
Hotel – José Luis Alemán
Small Talk – Peter LeVake
The Choice – Evan Kaufmann
Bingo Night – Jordan Liebowitz
Shenanigans – Peter Kimball
Butterfly Dreams – Venkat Krishnan
The Sidekick – Michael J. Weithorn and Rob Benedict


2013 Best of the Fest Winners

Zombi – David Moreno

Free Kick – Bernabé Rico Herrara

The Poker Lesson – Jim Thalman & Louis Pappas

Les cybernautes rêvent-ils d’amours digitales ? – Gilles Bindy

Les perruches (The Parakeets) – Julie Voisin

Le radar (The Radar) – Jan Rouiller & Nicky Marbot

The Future – Venetia Taylor

This is Vanity – Oliver Goodrum

Desconexión – Yecid Benavides

The Op Shop – Lee Rogers

Grantræet, (The Fir Tree) – Lars Henrik Ostenfeld

The Last Marble – Manjari Makijany

The Bard – Adam Carboni

A House, A Home – Daniel Fickle

Elegy for a Revolutionary – Paul Van Zyl

BLACKWOOD – Natasha Johns-Messenger

Our Rhineland – Faren Humes

Ema- Jean-Marc Simonneau

The Collegians – Bryan Lewis

¿Cual es el precio? (What is the Price) – Sergio Yunta

Foreign Language – Adam Kelly Morton

The Unpardonable Night – Minji Kang


2012 Best of the Fest Winners

Shéhérazade et le délice casher - Agnès Caffin, Paris, France
Catharsis - Cédric Prévost, Paris, France
Lunch Breaks - Noah Bench, RIT, Rochester, NY
Prunelle and Melodie - Mathieu Simonet, Paris, France
My Angel My Hero - Faizan Sheikn San Francisco, CA
LUZ - David Liz, FSU
I Will Greet The Sun Again - Shahbaz Noshir, Tehran, Iran
A Finger, Two Dots Then Me - David Holechek, Los Angeles, CA
Young Mother Nature - Stephen Conroy, Columbus, OH
Historias - Gloriana Fonseca-Malavasi, Costa Rica/FSU
Carbon for Water - Evan Abramson, New York, NY
Crescendo - Alonso Alvarez Barreda, Mexico/USA
Trashland - Jim Ed Wills, FSU
Kerozene - Joachim Weissmann, Brussels, Belgium

2011 Best of the Fest Winners

Le Négociant - Joachim Weissmann
Defying Deletion - Andre Anton
Holdup - Aprile Ruha
Altarcations - Ron Leach, Chris Luckhardt
Touch - Jen McGowan
Na Wewe (You Too) - Ivan Goldschmidt
Bad Influences - Kate Emery
Mozambique - Alcides Soares
Cliquetastrophe - Michael Felker
The Gem of the West - Joseph Rechtman, Jared Kowalczyk
The Perfect Gentleman - Michael Rohrbaugh
Motel - William Peters
All Birds Whistle - Roy Khalil


2010 Best of the Fest Winners

An Unfinished Romance - Alison Heather
Late Bloomer - Yitzchak Enav
Lovesick Fool - Dominic Polcino
Boond (A Drop) - Abhishek Pathak
Lightheaded - Mike Dacko
Sebastian’s Voodoo - Joaquin Baldwin
Lastrain - Tony Lopez
Whisperwalk - Elli Weisbaum
Land Gewinnen (Gaining Ground) - Mark Brummund
True Beauty This Night - Peter Besson
The Incident at Tower 37 - Chris Perry
Zimbabwe - Anjuli Hinds
Flint Creek - Christopher Hall
El Encargado (The One in Charge) - Sergio Barrejón
Some Boys Don’t Leave - Maggie Kiley


2009 Best of the Fest Winners

A Matter of Degrees - The Tupper Lake Wild Center
Alternative - Andrew Swan
Arranged - Suraj Das
Before It’s Gone - Paulo Leierer
Butterflies Die in Snow - Karim Azimii
In the Dark - Alex Fazeli
Interpretation - Lin Oeding
Karklesbarn (Love Child) - Daniel Wirtberg
Old Days - Matthew Shapiro
On the Road to Tel Aviv - Khen Shalem
Open Your Eyes - Susan Cohen
Purge - Brad Kammlah
Thanks to the Whistleblowers - Dave Puls/Animatus Studio
The Best Man - Justin Lazernik
Worth - Kathi Carey
Written Off - Camron Berner, Com 414C
My Four Inch Precious - Sou Yun Sim


2008 Best of the Fest Winners

Instant Karma - Tristan Higgs
Still - Susan Schwartzwald
Chain - Hyunmi Park
The Replacement Child - Justin Lerner
Medium Rare - Stephan Stuckert
MIA - Catherine Rehwinkel
Pismo - Matvei Zhivov
Mojado - Angela Trevino
The Wall - Michael Lloyd Green
Speed Dating - Crystal Liu
Borderline - Sam Lembeck
Zefirino - Gerardo Puglia
Penguin: The Musical - David Metzger
Forasteiro - Thiago Fogaca, Priscila Andrade
Edgar and Elisabeth - Renee Webst


2007 Best of the Fest

A Life’s Work Jason Crain  11 minutes
An emotional filmmaking experiment that portrays the story of a woman’s 86 year life in 24 hours.

Deviation Jon Griggs  6 minutes
This film was shot using an online game engine with the virtual actors and director never having met. Macintyre, an online-game character and member of a four-man counter-terrorist squad, attempts to break out of the cycle of futile violence that has been his sole existence.

Dog Eat Dog Jonathan Zames 15 minutes
Fueled by an abiding faith in the American dream, a hot dog vendor networks and schemes in this black comedy about what it takes to make it to the top.

Home for Good Todd Tinkham 10 minutes
Amy Trentham dreams of one thing – her young husband returning from the war. When that happens, everything will be perfect.

House of the Olive Trees Thouly Dosios 29 minutes
This Greek film introduces us to Anna, who is content in her unbearable loneliness until she meets Markos.

In Search of White Crows Michael Keene 21 minutes
This is the story of the life of the Fox sisters and the birth of the spiritualist movement.

Kodachrome Jurgen Lossau  5 minutes
Kodak introduced Kodachrome color reversal film in 1935. Kodachrome production stopped in 2006. This Super 8 film is a humorous final homage to this magnificent material.

Lets Have Tea Pepsy Kettarong  25 minutes
This documentary is about the creation of “Let’s Have Tea,” a sculpture that pays tribute to two of America’s greatest social revolutionaries, Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass.

Ninety Days Tristan Higgs  15 minutes
South Africa, 1964. Helen is determined to communicate with her lover, Oliver, who has been detained without contact under Apartheid’s infamous ninety-day rule.

Peephole Allison White  15 minutes
Jack spends his days watching the world through his peephole, obsessed with his beautiful neighbor down the hall.

Polka Rodolfo Collado  5 minutes
A whimsical animated story about a shy, young girl who tries to establish a conversation with an interesting stranger.

Somewhere in the City Ramsey Denison 12 minutes
Former drug addict, Toby Cray, has straightened out his life and he now wants to help others. His efforts to help the homeless have been unsuccessful until he meets Gabe.

Swing Esteban Azuela  3 minutes
An aging couple, happy and in love, find the means to go back and feel what they did when they were young.

When Broomsticks were King Jason Cusato  27 minutes
Told in a documentary style, when street teams competed for only glory and bragging rights, this film is a tribute to Brooklyn Stickball and the heroes who played.

When they Could Fly Piotr Kajstura 28 minutes
A group of slaves live on a 19th century plantation in South Carolina under severe conditions .As their situation worsens, they lose hope. Change occurs when a man brings them an impossible tale.

Worms in the Big Apple Jenn Guitart 18 minutes
The story of urban composting: from garbage to garden. All over New York City, tiny creatures are transforming residents’ garbage to soil.

Roma Sub Rosa Jim Thalman  28 minutes
A politician’s empty words echo the glory of war as a generation of battle hardened veterans decide that the murder of a politician is a wiser course of action than to knowingly march thousands to their death.


2006 Best of the Fest

Confessions of a Late Bloomer Jen McGowan 15 minutes
Donny, the smallest boy in class, is always the butt of someone’s joke. This is about to change when he accepts the school bully’s challenge to kiss Sheila, the girl of Donny’s dreams.

Cries from Ramah Loren Chadima 15 minutes
 A bombing on a Tel Aviv street takes the lives of a Palestinian and an Israeli. Later, at a police station, their mothers encounter each other.

Dear, Sweet Emma Lori Cernak 5 minutes
As the search is given up for Emma’s husband, Tucker, we learn that Emma has a secret, uncontrollable dark side.

Driver’s Ed Mike Standish 11 minutes
High school senior Kate must pass her driver’s test to visit her boyfriend in Seattle. Mr. Meeker thinks he can teach her how to drive.

Karma Chris John 11 minutes
Sara has been abused all her life by her older sister, Samantha. Now everything is about to change as a journey takes them down a dangerous and unexpected road where they discover the power of Karma.

Liberte Conditionelle Constant Mentzas 10 minutes
Waiting for his plane, a man is suddenly arrested. His examiners harass him with bizarre questions until he confesses. Caught in the crossfire of this war between absurdity and reason, will he be its only victim?

Mute Melissa Joan Heart 14 minutes
Eileen is seen sabotaging her elder sister Claire’s wedding. We start to realize that she and the groom have a past that has scarred Eileen in more ways than one.

The Legend of Black Tom Deron Albright 16 minutes
When freed American slave Tom Molineaux journeys to England to fight for the bare-knuckle boxing championship of the world, he faces not only his opponent in the ring, but also an entire nation.

Viola Fondente Fabio Simonelli 13 minutes
Viola is an overweight, beautiful woman. Her frustrating life is pivoted on a monotonous job and a hateful husband.

Wentworth R. Stephen Suettinger 17 minutes
A neurotic misfit must choose between the fantasy girl of his dreams and her real-life flesh and blood counterpart.

When the Moon is Full Marc Lesser  25 minutes
From a troubadour’s guitar spins the tale of Javier, a recent Ecuadorian immigrant, who longs for Olivia, the woman whom he serves from behind his deli counter every day.


2005 Best of the Fest

The Adventures of Arthur Conan Doyle
Michael Vaingauz & Erynn Midwall  20 minutes
Sherlock Holmes is dead. Creator Arthur Conan Doyle’s daughters are being held for ransom to bring back Sherlock Holmes. Instead Doyle decides to solve the kidnapping case himself.

Donna’s Room Stephen Lindsay & Michael Bartolotta 17 minutes
 A woman “awakens” to find herself in a strange room with her hands bound. A mysterious man appears with knowledge of Donna’s past. Does he hold the key to setting her free?

Juliet Kristina Jessica Doyle 21 minutes
Juliet uses the conventions of the horror genre to explore the boundaries of fear, desire, and the lengths to which one will go to belong.

Lis and Ogre Jim Bruck & Vale Bruck Jackson 9 minutes
 A visually spectacular adventure in which the characters move through many extraordinary fantasy environments toward a final confrontation inside an imaginary ore processing factory.

Parallel Worlds Dave Puls 7 minutes
The abuse of Iraqi prisoners moved this filmmaker to reexamine his own memories of working at a NY State Mental Hospital in the early 1970′s.

Rainbow’s End Chris Mancini & Bill McCullough 15 minutes
Three small time crooks capture a leprechaun and try to shake him down for his pot of gold.

Hunting Camp John C. Lyons 36 minutes
A story of deception, lies and betrayal. Two men, two lives, one deadly secret.

Sailing for Madagascar Tom Oesch 13 minutes
The friendship between a young white girl and a Japanese-American boy is challenged by racism and bigotry emerging in post-Pearl Harbor California

The Murder of William Lyman Michael Keene 23 minutes
Historical recreation of the first murder committed in Rochester, NY. Verbatim court transcripts and police eyewitness reports were utilized.

If You Step on a Crack Jennifer Atkins 18 minutes
When the Cubs are your home team, losing can become a permanent state of mind. But the night before her breast biopsy, a worried woman refuses to give up hope.

A Story of the Woods  Jihong Min 13 minutes
A child had found a young sleeping lady sitting on a chair in an old house. She becomes his secret until, as a young man, he finds an old woman in the house.

The Abbey of the Genesee Paulo Almeida & Joshua Morrell 13 min.
We take a brief look into the Monastic lifestyle focusing on labor, Lectio Divina [Divine Reading], and prayer as the monks tell their story at The Abbey of the Genesee in Piffard, NY.

Stopover Evelin Longo  21 minutes
A mother is torn between two great passions of her life: her beloved daughter and her acting career.

Oedipus Jason Wishnow 8 minutes
 The story of Oedipus in 8 minutes, performed by vegetables in the tradition of Ben Hur.

Sophie Matisse, a New York Painter Christine Lombard 27 minutes
Meet Sophie Matisse, a painter living and working in downtown Manhattan. “Being the great granddaughter of Henri Matisse can be daunting,” says Sophie, “but recovering from 9/11 is a much larger challenge.

Death as a Tango Valerie C. Plimpton 23 minutes
Kasey Barnett struggles to rekindle her passion for life, while dancing with death.


Best of the Fest 2004


An Assignment John A. Rangel 23 min.

On the verge of expulsion from a city high school, Tommy must choose between loyalty to old friends and a possible future with a new friend.


Black Gulch Michael Strode 15 min.

It was supposed to be a simple job: rob a small town bank. Unfortunately for Everett and his team, the town of Black Gulch has some nasty surprises waiting for them.


The Search for the Great White Ale Dave Puls, Fredrick Armstrong 17 min.

After drinking all the town’s honey-brewed mead, Derf the Viking hopes to redeem himself by finding the fountain of the Great White Ale.


One By Two Hardeep Kharbanda, Suruchi Pahwa 6 min.

A person sitting alone in a room is happy when he gets a visitor. But when they start getting into each other’s space, trouble begins.


The Dashing Diner Gregg Watt 17 min.

Two prisoners are released back into a dangerous chaotic world, a world they have seen too much of already–except, perhaps, for the restaurants.


Alter Egos Jon Kafarin 9 min.

A superhero performs his daily quota of good deeds, and then must face his toughest enemy: his wife.


Autobiograph of an Insect Chris Trebilcock 22 min.

An introverted art student and his eight-legged comic-book alter ego struggle with life and relationships.


Beat Box Philly Warren Bass, Liz Goldberg 5 min.

This animated cityscape explores the neighborhoods, polarities, popular associations, and visual rhythms of the streets of Philadelphia.


Day of Independence Chris Tashima 27 min.

The story of a young Japanese American and his family, torn apart by unjust incarceration in a U.S. internment camp during World War II.


Free Spectra Seokhan Ryu 5 min.

A visual symphony of lights filmed at night in the San Francisco Bay area.


Hand Job Hafeez M. Saheed     7 min.

An exclusive look behind the scenes of the fastpaced New Jersey nail salon circuit.


Jill Xavier Janghoon Lee     21 min.

Is it the brain or the eyes that store the memories of what we see? Since an eye transplant, Joshua has been haunted by horrible memories of a girl named Jill.


Lint Trapped Caleb Johnson     6 min.

One man’s brave pursuit of socks through the uncharted dimensions of his dryer.


Mojave Green Miles Duffy     16 min.

After a tragic accident, a man killing himself from guilt and a woman living with grief cross paths on a desert road.


Prayers from Kawthoolei Joe Hill White     30 min.

A documentary about three friends from the Karenethnic group of Burma. Two immigrated to Canada; we follow one back to Burma to find the third, left behind years earlier.


Seaside Trilogy Melissa Berman     28 min.

Journeys of loss, revelation, and self-discovery set along the Montauk seashore.


Tango Octogenario David Licata     7 min.

An ordinary, bickering, elderly couple work out their problems in an extraordinary way.


Time Streams Stephanie Maxwell & Allan Schindler     6 min.

Segments and ribbons of “time” evoke past,present, and illusory experience in this handpainted35mm animated film with a computer generated score.


Best of the Fest 2003


Alchemy Anna Condo 18 min.

What goes around comes around–and around. Saskia gives an unusual gift to her doctor only to receive it back from a friend.


All Games Are Home Games: Baseball in San Quentin Josh Springer 27 min.

Inside San Quentin State Prison you will be introduced to the all-inmate baseball team, the San Quentin Giants. This film answers the questions “What’s it like to play against an inmate serving a life sentence for murder?” and “How does baseball help them reform?”


All That I Perceive Lindsay Daniels 4 min.

Share an experience about an unsuccessful eye surgery that caused the filmmaker to have double vision giving her a unique and broad visual terrain that served as an inspiration to think about the world in a new way.


As Virgins Fall Natalie Barandes 28 min.

Amid sex, drugs, and the Viet Nam War, a privileged teenage girl is about to learn that no one is safe.


Back to One Reid Mihalko 10 min.

John has finally summoned up the courage to pop the question, but he can’t seem to make it come out right. Even the most well rehearsed moments aren’t what they seem.


Bamboo Master Ding Ye 4 min.

A talented young martial artist is defeating renowned martial arts clans in China. One day he is defeated by the Bamboo Master in the Bamboo Forest.


Barntasia Helen Kiefer 12 min.

Beautiful photographic imagery from America’s historical barns dances to music in a fantasy of sound and light.


Crossing Riccardo Costa 9 min.

While walking in Manhattan, Cass meets all the people that matter most in his life. Something strange is going on.


Jungle Picnic Laura Di Trapani 5 min.

Two brothers, Stodgy and Starchy, lose their taste for the great outdoors when one encounters a tiger and the other has to decide how many hot dogs to eat.


La Toiletta Dave Goldenberg 8 min.

The epic saga of a fifth grader who has to go to the bathroom during a test, and the teacher who stands in his way. Presented, of course, as an operetta.


Match Scratch Fever Kristin Solid 3 min.

When a match escapes the matchbox and enters the world, he soon uncovers the meaning of life and embarks on a mission to fulfill his destiny.


Mount Everest—Up Close and Personal Ron Strobel 17 min.

This is a story about being middle-aged, out of shape, and lazy. It’s about two cultures literally a world apart. It’s about surmounting obstacles and seeking pure adventure and a life-long dream.


Nine Jennifer Campbell 26 min.

In this uplifting documentary, nine breast cancer survivors prepare for the world’s largest two-day rowing event. The film follows the women’s stories as they bond and share hope, from their first meeting through the entire race.


Reverberation Matt Costanza 7 min.

Live action footage of martial artists and dancers brings this experimental animation to life.


Rocks and Chocolate Teddy Sharkova 12min.

In a post-communist Eastern European country, times are tough. A little girl steals from the jar containing the poor family’s meager savings.


Shadowboxer Vilka Tzouras 28 min.

Filmed in a direct and provocative style, “Shadowboxer” brings issues of female teenage violence into focus through the story of a 16-yearold girl named Reena.


Smithee’s Lecture David Liban 24 min.

Follow five students as they rush to attend a lecture that their professor says is to be given by famous Hollywood filmmaker Alan Smithee.


Sobering Robert Deege, Michael Turfler 24 min.

A young man wakes up with little recollection of the night before. During the day, flashbacks and phone conversations provide conflicting evidence of what happened. In his search to figure out the truth, he makes a discovery that will change his life.


Some Lucky Bastard David W. Tamkin 22 min.

When Chris Miller is given the task of running the office pool, he discovers it gives him an excuse to see co-worker Tanya Nichols twice a week. Events lead the financially strapped Chris to take a risk that forever changes his life.


Taste it All Richard J. Liukis 27 min.

What goes on behind the scenes of the art world? A different view of the artist, the gallery owner, and the patron.


The Legend of Razorback Michael Greenspan 25 min.

Eleven year old Avery Small must find the key to unlock his silence and pain.


Tiny Magic John Takacs 21 min.

Nick, a magician with supernatural abilities, attempts to charm Michelle. A memorable evening punctuated by a magical ending.


Tremors Evelin Longo 12 min.

A woman in love is tempted by another man and gets lost in the seduction game, forgetting about the world around her.


True Believer Dave Puls 4 min.

The alarm is sounded to be aware of the True Believer. This film blends humor with stark observations of fanatics past and present.


Unearthed Christina Spangler 8 min.

Alone and exposed in the above ground world, an unearthed potato fights for survival and is given the gift of sight, only to realize the impermanence of its existence.


Waiting for Johnnie Walker Teddy Sharkova 30 min.

Hana is considered eccentric by the other patrons at the bar where she goes each night, waiting for her “mystery man” to appear and take her away. Karl, the compassionate bartender, looks after her.


Water Gabriele Zamparini 14 min.

An African immigrant searches for a job in Harlem, but finds something else….


West Bank Merry-Go-Round Bob Barancik 3 min.

A meditation on the cycle of violence between the Israelis and the Palestinians on the West



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