Director Biography – Rachel Knoll (LET THE BLONDE SING)

Rachel works on a range of video and interactive projects with an emphasis on finding new and innovative ways to capture and tell human-centric stories. Combining her interest in emerging technologies and know-how of traditional disciplines, Rachel has been recognized internationally for her perspective by Wired Magazine, Vimeo Staff Picks, The National Film Board of Canada, The Atlantic, Vice, Adweek, and Fast Company.

Short Film: LET THE BLONDE SING, 13min., USA Documentary

An intimate look into a small community in Alaska through the eyes of Beverly Sue Waltz, the bartender of the only bar open all-year-round.

Born in Texas, Beverly had dreams of becoming a country singer and traveled around the US performing at a young age. Pregnant at 15 and escaping a troublesome relationship, Beverly found herself in a small Alaskan town where she cares for her community that gathers in the Anchor Inn bar, occasionally singing on the bar’s stage that was built for her.Director Biography – Rachel Knoll

Director Biography – Samantha Sanders (BALLHAWKS)

Samantha began her career in film by working for some of her favorite filmmakers including Jim Jarmusch, and Barbara Kopple. She returned to school to study film and video at Columbia College Chicago and received her MFA in June 2001. Her films and screenplays have won awards internationally. A feature film she produced, entitled Chicago Boricua, premiered at the 2004 Tribeca Film Festival and is released on home video by Screen Media/Universal. She has written/produced television for the series American Justice and Biography on the A&E network and produced the pilot episode of When Forensics Fail for MSNBC. In the summer of 2006 she produced the Weather Channel’s first HD special Storm Stories: A Hurricane Katrina Anniversary Special. She produced Witness: GI Homecoming and Witness: Joplin Tornado which both aired on the National Geographic Channel May 2012. An indie fiction feature she co-produced entitled American Folk – a contemporary musical road movie set in the backdrop of 9/11 – premiered theatrically and on demand on Hulu January 2018. She loves anything that takes her out of her comfort zone – which this summer was a beginning attempt at hang gliding. Miraculously unscathed, she plans to continue that pursuit although her fear of heights may work against her.

Short Film: BALLHAWKS, 10min., USA, Documentary

Outside of Wrigley Field, a group of die-hard Cubs fans have attended years of games and only rarely entered the park. They spend the innings on the corner of Waveland and Kenmore in the hopes of catching home runs in what they call the far outfield. Their shared passion has led to lifelong friendships and a community spirit that hearkens back to the early days of the game. In the fall of 2016, after a 100-year dry spell, the Cubs will play in the World Series and these Ballhawks have a chance they’ve only dreamed of – to catch a World Series home run ball.

  • Film Type:Documentary
  • Runtime:10 minutes
  • Completion Date:April 30, 2019
  • Production Budget:4,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:United States
  • Country of Filming:United States
  • Film Language:English
  • Shooting Format:Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:16:9
  • Film Color:Color

Director Biography – Cecelia Condit (WE WERE HARDLY MORE THAN CHILDREN)

Since 1981, Condit has created videos and heroines whose lives swing between beauty and the grotesque, innocence and cruelty, strength and fragility. Her work puts a subversive spin on the traditional mythology of women in film and the psychology of sexuality and violence. Exploring the dark side of female subjectivity, her “feminist fairy tales” focus on friendships, age, and most recently the natural world.

Condit has received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, American Film Institute, National Endowment for the Arts, Mary L. Nohl Foundation, Wisconsin Arts Council and the National Media Award from the Retirement Research Foundation. Her work shows internationally and is represented in collections including the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and the Centre Georges Pompidou in France.

She studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. In addition, Condit received a B.F.A. in sculpture from the Philadelphia College of Art and M.F.A. from Tyler School of Art of Temple University in photography. At present, she is professor emerita in the Department of Film, Video, Animation and New Genres at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Formerly, she was a professor and director of the graduate program in film.

Director Statement

“We Were Hardly More Than Children” is a tale of trauma and friendship. Lena’s story is of the Cape Cod artist, Diane Messinger, whose paintings are throughout the piece. Diane’s paintings are the anger she doesn’t feel and the hurts she doesn’t remember.

Short Film: WE WERE HARDLY MORE THAN CHILDREN, 9min., USA, Documentary

“We Were Hardly More Than Children” is an epic tale of a friend’s traumatic abortion; a deep hurt not remembered, but poignantly visible in her paintings.

Project Links

  • Film Type:Documentary, Experimental, Short
  • Genres:Experimental, Women, Narrative, Documentary
  • Runtime:8 minutes 45 seconds
  • Completion Date:March 7, 2019
  • Production Budget:1,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:United States
  • Country of Filming:United States
  • Film Language:English
  • Shooting Format:Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:16:9
  • Film Color:Color

Director Biography – Brian Ernst (WELL DONE)

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Brian Ernst has spent the majority of his professional career in journalism and freelance videography but has found his greatest success in short form comedy.

He and his fellow producers, Mitch Brinkman & Nathan Hennenfent, made their festival debut in 2015 with their short web series “Dirty Laundry”, a one room, single camera narrative featuring a blossoming friendship.

A DePaul University graduate and former Chicago Tribune video producer, Brian has trained in writing at the Annoyance and iO Theaters, most recently participating in the latter with a Monty Python style sketch revue. During his tenure at the Tribune, Brian spearheaded several series, including the Theater Loop Showcase which aimed at recreating and documenting the theater scene in Chicago.

Brian received an Emerging Cinematographer award for his work on “Ludo”, a short documentary showcased at the Cannes Film Festival, but aims at focusing his efforts on episodic and feature length comedy with his fellow producers.

Brian is currently the Director of Digital Operations for the Chicago Sun-Times overseeing their video efforts.

Short Film: WELL DONE, 3min., USA, Comedy


Neil needs his co-worker BBQ to go off without a hitch in order for his boss to entrust him with the warehouse club membership. Then he will choose the SNACKS!

Project Links

Director Biography – Pegah Pasalar (SATURDAY)

Pegah Pasalar (born in 1992) is an Iranian interdisciplinary artist currently based in Chicago.


She received her bachelor’s degree from the Art University of Tehran majoring in cinema editing.


She is a full-merit scholarship awardee at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she is pursuing a master of fine arts in studio with an emphasis in film and video.


The theme of her work is centered on the position of women in the family and society,social criticism of childhood and immigration,and the transitions and effects within interpersonal relationships.

Pegah is currently continuing to work on a series of short films, each titled after a day of the week. With the completion of the short film Sunday, she is now working on Saturday. Each of these works take place over the course of one day.

Director Statement

A family vacation ends in grief and unanswered questions…

Over View

Saturday, my latest film, a part of constellations of works each titled after a day of the week,is an evocation of the irregular, illogical and nonlinear process of grief at the loss of a child, and of the gap in time between the moment a traumatic event occurs and when it is perceived. As the viewer follows a joyful trip to the beach by a family with three young children, innocence and happiness give way to the unthinkable. While the day unfolds on-screen, the audience comes to realize, through subtle audiovisual cues, that a tragedy has occurred: one of the three children has drowned. Decisions are made in a state of shock, and the blurred lines between the rational and irrational interrupt and fragment the journey back home. The parents opt to bring their dead son back in the same car with the two other children pretending as if he is sleeping.

Saturday springs from the liminal space between the personal and the political. It is a response to the wars and strife that have engulfed the Middle East, and to the lived reality of an encounter with death. In an era, strife with refugees fleeing from frequent turmoil, a new generation is learning that the beauty of the sea is intertwined with its indifference and cruel force. The widely circulated image of Alan Kurdi, a child who drowned en route to Europe while escaping the Syrian War with his family, comes to mind. The film’s approach, though, is intimate and its focus is on the mundane.

While this experimental fiction short film is deeply personal and local to my own family in Iran, Saturday also focuses on a much broader complexity of human conditions. It depicts an alternative way of facing the immediate aftermath of trauma. One that pushes up against society’s prescribed behaviors and social norms and attempts to show that there is no one way, or correct way, to grieve. Saturday focuses in the universality of intergenerational differences,
of childhood and parenting, and on the altering states of denial, reality, and truth. It explores the relationships between life and death, death and sleep, smiling and weeping, paleness of color and saturation, whispering and shouting, proximity and distance. The film for the most part is depicted through little sister’s point of view, and so there the moments are shown in a
fragmented and non-conventional way.