Bethesda Film Fest Selected Films

FilmlogoThe shorts docs of the Bethesda Film Fest are currently available to view online. Password is bup456. The films are available to watch free of charge, but donations are welcome.  (Please note that some material may note be suitable for younger viewers.)


These films will only be available to see as part of the Bethesda Film Fest through April 16th.

To participate in the online discussion with the Filmmakers & Subjects on Friday, April 16th at 7pm, register here.

IsabellA Mirror of the Earth (11 minutes)
Film by Isabelle Carbonell

A small mining town in Southern Spain is riddled with cancer from just 36 years of open-pit mining. Telling the larger story of capitalism’s cumulative effects on an environment over time, Llano del Beal is a microcosm of slow violence and the so-called Anthropocene, or ‘the Age of Man’. And yet, it is also the site of what may be the oldest human remains in existence, anywhere in the world. Ultimately, the film asks what kinds of futures are possible, and can we adapt? This short film is based on a feature-length work called A Mirror of the Cosmos.

Director Biography
Isabelle Carbonell, from Rockville, MD, is a Belgian-Uruguayan-American award-winning documentary filmmaker and a PhD Candidate in Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her work lies at the intersection of expanded documentary, environmental anthropology, and the anthropocene, while striving to develop new visual and sonic approaches and methods to rethink documentary filmmaking.

2021 Film_Good CandidateThe Good Candidate (14 minutes)
Film by 5Doc Productions

In June 2020, the GOP's identity crisis played out in a Congressional Republican primary in Virginia after the incumbent officiated a same-sex wedding. "The Good Candidate" follows the election and its aftermath: will the voters choose a "big tent," inclusive party idealist, or support an upstart candidate who advocates "traditional Judeo-Christian values"? At stake is the soul of Virginia's 5th District- and the GOP at-large.

Director Biography
5Doc Productions, LLC is a collective of filmmakers that started The Good Candidate as our final project for the 2020 George Washington Institute of Documentary Filmmaking. Dan Byrnes, Matt Collin, Aaron Evans, Pablo Henrich, Walker Hull, Stephanie Hydal and Emiliano Lopez met at the beginning of the 2020 Spring Semester, full of hope. In March, as we trained on cameras, the pandemic hit, and in-person classes disbanded.

2021 Film_Lipstick&LeatherLipstick and Leather (20 minutes)
Film by Amy Oden

In a buttoned-up city like Washington, D.C. what happens when drag queens go rogue? Lipstick and Leather explores the “alt-drag” community in the nation’s capital and how these performers are spreading their influence across the east coast.
Director Biography
Emmy Award-winning Producer and Director Amy Oden of Baltimore, MD, currently works at PBS's Maryland Public Television, where she sheds light on a variety of social and scientific topics, including the Baltimore uprising, fracking, mass incarceration, and the opioid crisis. She teaches intermediate documentary at the University of Maryland. Her work has won an Emmy, Davey and W3 Awards.

2021 Film_SqueegeeSqueegee (14 minutes)
Film by Khalid Ali

The squeegee boys are best known for washing windshields of cars stopped at intersections around Baltimore. Seen by some as hooligans and by others as entrepreneurs, little is known about the actual circumstances that drive these young men to pick up a squeegee.

Director Biography
Khalid Ali of Baltimore, MD, is a filmmaker, photographer, and educator based in Baltimore, Maryland. Khalid studied filmmaking at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California with the intention of pursuing a career in Hollywood. That all changed when he travelled to China for the first time. Upon graduation, Khalid began taking yearly trips to China to collaborate with brothers Omar and Tariq on more ambitious personal projects. These trips evolved into a series of short documentaries exploring Chinese kung fu, street food, and folk music. Khalid has been instructor of digital filmmaking at George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology since 2010.

2021 Film_WestVirginiaWest Virginia – Covid and Hunger Collide (10 minutes)
Film by Brian Boenau

West Virginia, a state where 1 in 7 adults and 1 in 5 children are hungry. What happens when a state like this gets hit with a pandemic? What would you do if all you had to eat for a week was peanut butter and crackers? If $20 was all you had to feed you and your five kids? This is the reality of many people across the state of West Virginia

Director Biography
Brian Boenau of Fairfax Station, VA, is a story teller, who takes pride in bringing stories to life. At the age of 10, Brian took my father's old camcorder and made various short films. Since his initial discovery, Brian's love of filming has grown tremendously. While receiving his Masters at George Mason University, he directed and produced two short films and one documentary. One film, "Playthings" won multiple awards in film festivals across the country. Taking inspiration from John Landau, who told him one day that he would see him in Hollywood; he swore to make that a reality.

2021 Film_Shi Fu PaulShi Fu Paul (7 minutes)
Film by Pearl Sweeney
**High School Filmmaker Category**

A short documentary following the life and teachings of Paul Jakubowski, a kung fu instructor and co-owner of US Martial Arts Academy Ltd. in Maryland, as he awards his newest generation of martial artists their black belts and shares his own journey and philosophies on teaching.

Director Biography
I first became interested in documentary filmmaking when I watched a series of documentaries focusing on environmental issues when I was in middle school. The films completely shifted my perspective on the world around me and I experienced first-hand the impact a documentary could make on an individual. Since then, I’ve worked on multiple documentary projects centering around the impact of sports on adolescents and I’ve began mering the style of documentaries into more experimental films. I hope to continue studying and creating films in college with an emphasis on social-impact and environmental advocacy documentaries. Pearl Sweeney is from Timonium, MD and attends George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology.

2021 Film_You Think You Know MeYou Think You Know Me (5 minutes)
Film by Mikayah Lee
**High School Filmmaker Category**

I was asked to create a music video for Mr. Sammy Rabinowitz's song “You Think You Know Me.” I wasn’t sure exactly what to make, but after listening to the song, and understanding the messages of equality, empowerment, and unity, I was moved and clear about what needed to be shown visually. I hope this video encourages people across the world to come together, stand up for what you believe in, call out the racism and injustices, and do everything you can to ensure we have real change in our country. Until we do that, we won’t solve these problems. My hope is that this song and video will contribute to that change, and remind people that even though we have come very far, there is still work to be done. As the wise Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “You can kill the dreamer, but you can’t kill the dream!”

Director Biography
Mikayah Lee is a well-versed director, filmmaker, photographer, editor, and creative being. She has been in performing arts almost all of her life, and fell in love with media and filmmaking in middle school at Thomas G. Pullen Performing Arts Academy. She went on to create and perform several creative written works at Duke Ellington School of the Arts, and create a Black Lives Matter video using her own, and online content. She believes strongly in fighting for what you believe in, and that everyone should find ways to give back to their community and help others during their time here on this earth. She aspires to continue to make a name for herself in the film and media industry, and make art that sheds light on injustices and issues throughout the world and uplifts others. Mikayah is from Washington, D.C. and attends Duke Ellington School of the Arts.