Rochester International Film Festival, fest of short films, is back -- in person

Staff reports
Canandaigua Daily Messenger

The Rochester International Film Festival is back for a 63rd year of presenting the best in independent short cinema. And it’s fully back this year, after being forced to go online in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic: This year’s films will be screened for live audiences this weekend at the George Eastman House’s Dryden Theatre in Rochester, with a virtual version of the festival set for September. 

Presented by Movies on a Shoestring Inc., the festival features short films of all sorts – narrative, documentary, animated and more – submitted by filmmakers from around the world. This year’s submissions come from Jordan, Sweden, South Korea, Kazakhstan, Mexico and many other countries, plus various locales in the U.S. (including Rochester, with Rochester Institute of Technology student Taylor Domico’s “Meridiem.” 

Among the films in this year's Rochester International Film Festival: The 3-minute animated "Meridiem" by Rochester Institute of Technology student Taylor Domico.

The films will be shown in four clusters over three days Aug. 26-28, starting at 8 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, and 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday at the Dryden (in the Eastman house at 900 East Ave.) with free admission. Zoom Q&A sessions with selected filmmakers will follow the screenings. (A few of the filmmakers will be on hand in person, according to Josephine Perini of the board of directors.) The virtual screening currently is scheduled for September 17-23. 

The schedule for the festival can be found at Here’s a sampling of the 30 films being offered for screening: 

--“Untitled Earth Sim 64” by Jonathan Wilhelmsson (Sweden, sci-fi comedy): A woman is faced with an existential crisis after learning that the universe is an untitled simulation. 

“How to End a Conversation” by Gregory JM Kasunich (USA, drama): A heartbroken man, unable to stop calling his ex, enlists a therapist to help him lift the weight of his past relationship off his shoulders – literally. 

In "How to End a Conversation" by Gregory JM Kasunich, a man enlists a therapist's aid to help him lift the weight of his past relationship off his shoulders -- literally.

“The Robbery” (Canada, comedy): Two teams of gunmen simultaneously stick up the same convenience store. 

“All the Young Dudes” by William Stead (USA, drama): Georgia, USA, 1973, Glam rocker Billy rebels against his conservative high school, inspiring admiration from an unlikely ally. 

In William Stead's "All the Young Dudes," a glam rocker rebels against his conservative 1970s Georgia high school -- inspiring admiration from an unlikely ally.

“The Car Mechanic” (Greece, drama/narrative): The car mechanic locked in his own world spends his life repairing cars and communicating with them emotionally, as if they were living. 

“Meridiem” (USA, animation): As it flies through the air, a grey butterfly spreads dust on everything it passes. However, the butterfly and its seemingly ominous dust have a hidden beauty. 

“White Eye” (Israel, drama): In an attempt to retrieve his stolen bicycle, a man struggles to remain human. 

In "White Eye" by Israeli filmmaker Tomer Shushan: In an attempt to retrieve his stolen bicycle, a man struggles to remain human.

For the festival, each year a screening committee watches each submitted film, fills out comment forms and discusses their impressions of the films. They vote on what films move on to final judging, with a panel of judges from among the screening committee members determining which films will be screened and receive the Shoestring Trophy. Over the years, selected films have come from cinema veterans and novices alike. 

For more information on the festival, go to