2020 MWFF Regional Filmmakers Showcase

17 short films from the Northern IL and Southern WI area have been selected for our 2020 MWFF Regional Filmmakers Showcase!*

All showcases for the #2020MWFF will be available for viewing from 9am (CST) Friday, September 18th through Sunday, September 20th at 7pm (CST). You can get your tickets online and in advance by clicking the link below.


Selected Films:

Long Way Down

A round, chunky cat is lazily playing with a squeaky mouse toy on top of a steep staircase. After accidentally nudging the toy, the feline heads down into an inevitable predicament.

Director: Brandon Lopez

Director Statement

I directed this short film to bring out a comedic, visually comfortable experience involved with a lazy, round household cat. I was inspired by my recently adopted cat, Tofu, and her behavior with a new toy. While the actual event that occurred wasn’t as intense, I wanted to utilize the capabilities of animation to create an exaggerated story with an emotionally driven character.

What makes this film so special to me is the collaborative creation of a character personality based on our own personal experiences as students. As a student, things can go wrong, and you may try to correct it. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, and it’s okay to stop if you know it will hurt you. In the end, how you feel is the most important.


What was once familiar is now unrecognizable. All previous desires are overshadowed by the need to disappear completely.

Director: Nick Flaherty

Keep the Change

A comedian pulls a dine and dash in hopes of luring the owner of a restaurant to his show.

Director: Tom Doherty

Tom Doherty is a graduate of The Palm Beach Film School and Rock Valley College. He loves movies and has been passionate about filmmaking ever since he was a little kid. His short films have been featured in a number of festivals and have been honored with multiple awards over the years.

You Can Go Now

An abrupt personal tragedy uproots Tanda from her day and she rushes to face the inevitable. Her new, jolted world feels peculiar—a strange experience that is impossible for any of us to put into words.

Director – Marisa Merkl


Director: Parker Healey

Give a Sh*t

A short documentary about the lessons a live event program at DePaul University teaches its students and the positive environment it creates.

Director: K.J. Sparrow


On a date with Vanessa, David explores his twisted fantasies after discovering he can restart the date through the bathroom. We watch the pair learn about each other through their respective pitfalls and instinctive motives.

Director: Michael Villalobos

Director Statement

“Restart” is my most ambitious film to date. It was the largest crew I had ever worked with and my first time directing stunts. Thankfully I had a stunt choreographer to work alongside, but “Restart” has still been a crazy journey. I’m very excited to share it with the world on the big screen!

A Self-Portrait

This found footage film is a journey within myself and my experiences, and overall a visual description of who I am as a human being.

Director: Parker Healey

Ballad of a Breakup

An experimental short reflecting on past breakups in friendships.

Director: Lauren Loesberg

Director Statement

This particular project is extremely personal to me. My female friendships are my most influential relationships in my life, and therefore have been deeply affected by those that ended. Ballad of a Breakup” is a visual poem set to short letters written (but never sent) to former friends. Each of these people were, at one point, close friends of mine who made the decision to end our relationship. I also wanted to draw attention to how impactful friend breakups can be; romantic breakups are highly portrayed in film and media, but breakups between women are rarely portrayed. These breakups were extremely painful and plagued me for years. The process of making this film was therapeutic for me because it allowed me to tell each of them how their actions have affected me, and finally have closure.

*Award Finalist – Student Music Video

Music video choreographed to “Woman” by the Nordic band Vesper.

Director: Lauren Loesberg

Lauren Loesberg is a filmmaker and interdisciplinary visual artist majoring in Radio/TV/Film at Northwestern University, while also studying Dance and Integrated Marketing Communications. Her short films have screened at film festivals across the country, most notably “Feet” and “Janek to the River” (in Czech as “Janek k Řece”). She has held internship positions at Michael de Luca Productions, MXN Entertainment, Music Box Films, and Transfax Film Productions as well as works as an PA, AD, editor, and producer in addition to being first and foremost a passionate writer/director.

Outside of filmmaking, Lauren is a choreographer, traveler, and certified yoga teacher.


Leo is a timid 6 year old whose best friend is his hamster, Luna. One day he notices that Luna is sick, but before he can address her illness, he endures a tense family dinner. Throughout the evening, Leo navigates the depths of morality and mortality, learning to process loss.

Director: Allison Riley

Director Statement

Luna is an amalgamation of some of my most impactful childhood experiences. Like Leo, my best friend was a hamster. My world revolved around the fluffy little creature, until one day I was left heartbroken when I found him dead in his cage. The character of the mother is also based off of my own parents, who were both alcoholics. I wanted to depict an accurate representation of growing up in a family with unaddressed substance abuse issues.

Time! Time! Time!

A philosophy professor, being somewhat under-prepared, tried his best to describe the significance of the role that time plays in Bill Viola’s works during the panel session of Viola’s retrospective exhibition in Guangzhou, China, 2017. Time! Time! Time!, a short animation with the recording of the speech as the soundtrack, instead of making fun of it, is an attempt to find out what is really going on when people try to explain something beyond human cognition, like time. And, hey, maybe the speech is actually not that bad.

Director: Haomin Peng

Haomin Peng (1996, Guangzhou, China) is an artist who mainly works with media art, including videos, animations, films and new media. Seeing time as the most foundational element, he attempts to make artworks that question human experience and cognition on moving images, uses time-based media as a confrontation between mortality and individuality.

His works are made with a variety of approaches. Beside live-action film-making, he also proficient in creating 2-D and 3-D, hand-made and digital animation. New-media techniques such as game-designing and 3D projection mapping can also be found in his works.

Transparent Delusion

Animation/video poem “Transparent Delusion” is an attempt to solidify the transient sensation of how the varied locations appear in our dreams could have connections with each other. With a map of our very own dream world, hopefully, we are able to lucidly explore from here to there, from today to yesterday.

Director: Haomin Peng

Director Statement

Haomin Peng is an artist who mainly works with time-based media, including videos, animations, films and new media. Seeing time as the most foundational element, he attempts to make artworks that question human experience and cognition on moving images, uses time-based media as a confrontation between mortality and individuality.

One More Please

A lonely young man begins a playful drinking game with a handsome stranger.

Director: Aleksei Borovikov

Director Statement

Love is unavoidable. Even when we give up on our hopes, we still can meet it in unexpected times and places. Especially today, when people become freer in their preferences. The only challenge is to keep being open to it.

A Fixed Answer

A refusal of romantic and friendly gestures. Still video images were printed onto paper and cloth then rephotographed. The cloth was then sewn into a quilt.

Director: Britany Gunderson

Britany Gunderson is pursuing a BFA in Film, Video, Animation, and New Genres at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her practice is often interdisciplinary, creating film and video work that uses material forms such as hand-cut paper, textile fabrics, and celluloid. Exploring ideas of personal non-fiction, the body, and interactions in space, her work expands the idea of what a moving image can be. She has screened at venues internationally and received Honorable Mention at the 2018 Milwaukee Underground Film Festival.

Touch and Go Chess Party

“Chess is a game of war without Violence.” Touch and Go Chess Party is an experimental documentary on Cecil Locke and his 26 foot long 200 pound collapsible chess table located on Michigan Avenue in Chicago Illinois. He has set up outside of the art institute 6 days a week from April to November since 1998.

Director: Paul Restivo

Director Statement

Chess has held a special place in my heart for the past decade. My best friend Adam and I learned how to play chess in high school. Even when he joined the Marines and moved away, we were still able to bond over the game online. Adam discovered Cecil’s tables when he moved back to Chicago, and we spent a lot of time there that summer.

I had two immediate thoughts upon arrival. This is a work of art… and this is absolutely insane. 26 feet of chess tables at the corner of Jackson and Michigan? It all folds up into a rolling cart and Cecil brings it back and forth on the L? Am I in DIY heaven or hell?

As I got to know Cecil, I started realizing that he’s a man with a vision. He curated every detail of this work of art- and my goal with this piece is to do it justice.

Waiting by the Phone
*Award Finalist – Student Animation

As one woman living in an apartment for two, Dani struggles to live while coping with the tragic truth about her sister.

Director: Olivia Jensen

“When I first conceived of the idea and wrote the screenplay for “waiting by the phone”, I was thinking a lot about loss and how easily we can get used to having people and things around in our lives, to the point where we don’t know what to do when they’re gone.

I thought about my sister and how we both had such busy schedules all the time and hardly saw each other, but I took comfort in seeing her shoes at the front door or her empty dishes at the sink or hear her singing from the room next to me. I started to wonder what it would be like to not have those little comforts.

I thought of past relationships and how I had gotten so used to texting someone every day or having a hangout to look forward to, and how I struggled to find a new normal when that person was gone. “waiting by the phone” is a story about finding a new normal. It’s about our daily routines and how they become so ingrained in us. It’s about grief and moving on and how the smallest things can make a big impact on our daily lives.”

* A note that due to the move online because of COVID – not all films selected for the 2020 MWFF will be available for screening online.

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