Festival Archives: CineYouth

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CineYouth Program

Chicago Lens

  United States     10 shorts | 68 minutes


Watch the city breathe life into the stories of ten local young filmmakers. From documentaries to music videos, this program represents the city’s long-term love affair with art and culture.

Please note: Films in this program contain themes, images, and language that may not be suitable for all ages.


The back of a person wearing headphone's head, with a CTA train station in the background.


Jacob Sutton, Adelaide Wilson | Chicago | Ages 21 & 22

Shot on Super 8 Vision 3, this music video compiles stop-motion, vignettes, and performance to showcase a coming-of-age ballad.

A close up of a young woman in uniform sitting on the sidelines of a basketball game.


Laya Bena Hartman & Jiaxin Wei | Joliet | Age 21

Rising young basketball star Lisa Thompson navigates expectations on and off the court as the number one-ranked player in Illinois.

A boy leans against a mural painted with symbols of the Aztec culture.

Once Upon a Time… In Aztlan

Andres Carlos | Chicago | Age 20

An abstract exploration of history, belonging, memory, and knowing from an immigrant perspective.

Two young people stand next to each other and stare up at the sky.

So There’s This Girl

Isis Gullette | Chicago | Age 18

Young and unrequited love between two friends reaches a breaking point, rendering their relationship’s future uncertain.

A person crouches on a stool within a dark room that is filled with different kinds of lamps.

I Can No Longer See

Raine Yung | Chicago | Age 22

A self-portrait of trauma, dilemma, objectification, and relief told through a collection of experimental shorts.

A young man sits at a piano with his head titled down


Jason Hart | Chicago | Age 22

Struggling to grieve the loss of a family member, a young boy spirals into self-harm before finding relief in an unlikely source.

Two college-age friends relax on a couch together, laughing.

All My Friends Are Nineteen

Jadyn Proulx | Chicago | Age 19

The friendships and intimacies (and lack thereof) that color the life of a 19-year-old college student.

A diverse group of young people, both sitting on the floor and standing, paint colorful murals in a community space.

Coloring Through the Eyes of Youth

Olivia Santiago | Chicago | Age 16

Go in-depth with an After School Matters program that guides teens through crafting murals for the Belmont-Cragin community.

A black and white photo of a man sitting formally behind an old-fashioned desk.

How to Spot a Heterosexual

Adamson Novak | Chicago | Age 21

A parody PSA that focuses on the real threat walking among us.

A bespectacled young man carefully inspects a table of oranges.

Fruit Math

Sam Friedman, Casey Wangman, Maddie Morse, Ryan Magrisi | Evanston | Age 21

One man’s wacky quest to solve a basic math problem spirals into chaos.

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CineYouth Program

Odysseys: Drama

  Canada, France, United States     5 shorts | 63 minutes


Follow along on the eclectic journeys of vibrant characters as they face the trials and tribulations of their lives. Travel back to 1940’s France, race alongside a fugitive teen, or come of age with a crew of misfit girls in this selection of bold and inventive works by the next generation of narrative storytellers.

Please note: Films in this program contain themes, images, and language that may not be suitable for all ages.


Two young women peer curiously into a fish tank.

The Damp Season

Olivia Huilin Gao | New York | Age 21

In this drama about family ties, a young girl comes across the teenaged version of her immigrant mother from whom she has long been estranged. A newfound empathy for her mother leads them to reconnect.

A group of young girls sit in a large, otherwise empty grassy field.

Caterpillars House (Lou, notre maison s’envole)

Juliette Balthazard | Canada | Age 22

A young girl, soon to move away from her hometown, runs away with her best friends. But as each friend slowly abandons the plan, the girl is forced to accept her reality and the heartbreak of losing friendships.

A boy peers nervously out a window, light reflecting across his face.


Eli Akio Williams | California | Age 16

A boy wakes up in a desert with no recollection of what happened to him. He hitchhikes back to town and comes to a horrifying realization as he begins to remember the actions that led him to this car.

Three teenaged friends sit next to each other. One girl stares at another, unbeknownst to them.

Space Coast

Caroline Bates | Florida | Age 21

A group of friends come to terms with the end of childhood in a dying tourist town home to the former space program.

Two boys in 1940s clothing sit against a tree, reading a pamphlet.

On the paths awakened (Sur les sentiers éveillés)

Axel Dahan | France | Age 17

In WW2 France, two teenagers are employed to deliver messages for the Resistance. Their journey will be long and arduous and not without moral dilemma, but they must push on, for liberty’s sake.

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CineYouth Program

Imagination Adventure: Family Friendly

  Canada, Mexico, United States     8 shorts | 49 minutes


The journey of growing up is an adventure filled with boundless possibilities and endless imagination. Eight young filmmakers from diverse backgrounds showcase their incredible talent and creativity in this all-ages program, transforming the screen into a vibrant cinematic playground.


A hand writing with crayons overlaps a child and a smiling young adult both wearing cowboy hats embracing each other.

Baby Boot (Botitas)

Lorence | Mexico | Age 21

In order to protect her favorite baby boots, Valery embarks on a playful “Baby Boots Battle” with her school.

A black and white image shows a man in a suit wearing sunglasses, sitting on a bench in the park, smiling.

Be Mine, Mime

Mathew Sharifi | California | Age 20

In a world devoid of color, sound, and hope, a mime and a young man fall in love, bringing vibrancy to each other’s lives.

A room filled with the ocean, where a young boy swims among seaweed, turtles, and fish.


Neo Sky James | South Carolina | Age 18

As a boy explores the ocean in his dream, his joy fades when he uncovers human-induced perils beneath the once-clear waters, sparking his determination to take action.

A young boy and a man walk along a path carrying paint cans and brushes, with trees and tall buildings in the background.


Simon Finkel | Highland Park, Illinois | Age 17

As a painter who awakens colors in the grayscale world, a young boy, on his first day of work with his father, seems to have unconventional ideas.

A teenage girl wearing a green hoodie sits at a table, resting her chin on her hand, smiling thoughtfully.

The Spelling Bee

Katherine Ramirez | Chicago | Age 16

Preparing for the spelling bee, high schooler Barry stumbles upon a lucky winning clue.

Two girls dressed in pirate costumes hold a treasure map, smiling at each other.


Yanely Castellanos | Chicago | Age 19

After discovering a mysterious map, two lively sisters embark on a magical treasure hunt and discover a reward better than gold at the end of the path.

A little girl wearing a pilot hat holds a paper airplane, looking at the front and smiling.


Nathan Rivers | Canada | Age 19

Obsessed with launching paper airplanes, Milly’s playtime ignites conflict between mother and daughter.

A young girl lies on the grass, mouth agape and eyes wide with fear.

Broccoli Chase

Carter D. James | Chicago | Age 11

A little girl dreams of fleeing and dodging the dreaded broccoli.


Presented by logo: Adobe Premiere Pro 217x75

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CineYouth Program

Friday Night Frights

  Australia, China, Ireland, Philippines, United States     5 shorts | 60 minutes


An array of frights await in this assortment of horror films. These shorts from around the world tap into our most primal fears and darkest secrets in unique, uncanny, and inventive ways.

Please note: Films in this program contain themes, images, and language that may not be suitable for all ages.


Claymation title card shows the words 'Artist on the go' on a painter's palette.

Artist on the Go! (DS Advanced Unreleased Gameplay)

Nathan William Frost | Montgomery, Illinois | Age 17

A surreal, nightmarish game in which the player (or the viewer) is confronted with abstract and frightening tasks to complete.

A stark black and white photo of a person's knees are shown from behind.

The Body

Justine Borlagdan | Philippines | Age 20

An abstract tone poem, which uses the human body as a landscape for a variety of sensations and processes.

A young Irish boy is holding a dead rat against a lush green environment in Ireland

Rat King

Róisín Leavy-Sahin | Ireland | Age 18

A young boy’s affinity for a dead rat brings dire consequences to himself and his local community.

A young religious woman places her hand on her heart.

The Veiling of a Heart

Jess Nipperess | Australia | Age 18

Devout Catholic Miriam is forced to choose between forbidden romance and religious obligation.

A silhouette of a person posing to the left of a blood stain and to the right of a drum set


Charlie Li | China | Age 23

An obsessive workaholic pits his wits against a loud drummer in a battle for peace and quiet.

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CineYouth Program

Thinking Funny: Comedy

  Australia, Spain, United States     6 shorts | 62 minutes


Navigating life and tragedy, these hilarious stories showcase characters in absurdist situations of all kinds. Thrown into the trenches of the human experience, our characters rise victorious holding the holy grail of humor in their hands.

Please note: Films in this program contain themes, images, and language that may not be suitable for all ages.


A lonesome turtle rides down a parking lot on a skateboard.

Goodbye Herman

Ryan Santia | California | Age 18

As Ryan shares the news of his departure, Herman comes to terms with this unexpected change in their friendship.

An animated character's heart beats aggressively as she lounges on a live action counter top riddled with records and CD's.


Sruchi Patel | California | Age 22

In a twist of the classic Cinderella story, Saloni seeks out the boy with the flyest Nikes having never seen his face.

The profile of a young woman's face is backlit by a soft purple light

first date?

Kylie Ramirez | Chicago | Age 21

Dropped in the throes of Gen Z dating culture, Sammy and Kari explore the different facets of romantic relationships through their scintillating discussion.

A concerned younger woman comforts an stressed older man as he caresses his own hand in a nice and neat kitchen.

Contagious Swagger

Calvin Callins Jr. | Florida | Age 21

While Jeffrey tries to make the best impression on his girlfriend’s parents, his shoes prove to be an unexpected ally in the situation.

A robed altar boy turns away from a frightened young man, who stands in the doorway. An older priest stands by a cross.

Body of Christ (Mi primera comunión)

Ángel Villahermosa | Spain | Age 22

As Pablo falls in love with the altar boy Sebastián, he finds that God has become an obstacle to their relationship in more ways than one.

A woman holding a sign labeled "Don't Listen To Him" stands next to a well dressed man in a theater.

The Murder

Alex Dymalovski | Australia | Age 20

About eight minutes before her murder, a woman takes us on a journey to confront her killer’s arduous masculinity.