On September 23rd, the Oscar®-Qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival (HSFF) will once again host a star-studded Opening Night celebration. Attendees of the in-person ceremony will witness short film premieres from Academy Award-winning alumni and Hollywood heavyweights. Kicking off the 17th annual festival will be a special screening from Film Independent and Netflix Film Club.

For the first time in over a year, HollyShorts filmmakers and audiences will rub elbows at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood. Guests attending in-person will be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative test within 48 hours of the event. The Opening Night festivities will include short films like Julian Joslin’s No Longer Suitable For Use executive produced by Academy Award® winner Sam Rockwell; The Long Goodbye starring Academy Award-nominee Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal); Koreatown Ghost Story featuring Grammy and Emmy® Award-nominated comedian Margaret Cho and Lyrica Okano (Runaways); Desmond’s Not Here Anymore starring Yolonda Ross (The Chi) and multi-award-winning actress S. Epatha Merkerson (Law & Order), scored by Grammy® -nominated composer Ray Angry from The Roots; Travon Free and Martin Desmond Roe’s Oscar® -winning short Two Distant Strangers; Life, Unexpected from Oscar® winners and HSFF alumni Guy Nattiv and Jaime Ray Newman (Skin); and Boys directed by Luke Benward and produced by HSFF alum and Academy Award® winner Andrew Carlberg (Skin). See below for the full program list.

The Opening Night Programs will be hosted by Ben Lyons and Zorianna Kit.

Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Film Independent Spirit Awards, partnered with Netflix Film Club to support five Black filmmakers and their visions through a short film grant program. The “Vision 2020” goal was to inspire and empower filmmakers to tell their stories amidst a pandemic and social unrest. Five filmmakers were selected to produce their shorts, each receiving a $10,000 grant. After months of writing, directing and editing, all five films are available to watch on both Netflix Film Club and Strong Black Lead and will be screened at HollyShorts.

The Opening Day Programs include:

180 Seconds starring and directed by Perry Strong
Block: Opening Night Program at 7:30PM
Logline: 180 Seconds. A man travels six months into the past to warn himself not to get fat during the pandemic shutdown.

5150 directed by Denzel Whitaker
Block: Opening Night Program II at 7:30PM
Logline: A world-famous black celebrity is detained at a mysterious psychiatric facility following his erratic behavior and political activism.
Cast/crew includes: Producer David Oyelowo (Selma), producer/writer John Trefry, Jovan Adepo (Watchmen), Raquel Antonia (Step Up: High Water), Douglas Weston, Angela E. Gibbs, and Lindsey Hutchinson

Black Prom directed by Nijla Mu’min
Block: Film Independent & Netflix Film Club at 5:00PM
Logline: A Black girl’s dreams of going to the prom are disrupted when she and her boyfriend are faced with a hostile police encounter.

Boys directed by Luke Benward
Block: Opening Night Program II at 7:30PM
Logline: Two boys let their imagination run wild in a barren desert, but the fun and games come to a shocking halt
Cast/crew includes: Producer Ariel Winter (Modern Family), executive producer Andrew Carlberg (Skin), Cameron Crovetti (Big Little Lies), August Maturo (Girl Meets World), Scott Reeves (The Young and the Restless), Jules Willcox (Bloodline), Bart Johnson (Little Women)

Break In directed by Alyssa Lerner
Block: Opening Night Program II at 7:30PM
Logline: When Nousha accidentally texts erotic fiction to her crush, she enlists best friend Oliver to set out on a mission to delete the text.
Cast includes: Kimia Behpoornia (Atypical), Sara Young Chandler (9-1-1), Riley Westling, Cat Davis, and Vas Provatakis

Desmond’s Not Here Anymore directed by Mmabatho Montsho
Block: Opening Night Program at 7:30PM
Logline: A gothic family drama about a devoted daughter struggling to lovingly care for her mother with dementia because her mother won't let go of a painful memory from their past.
Cast/crew includes:  Yolonda Ross (The Chi), S. Epatha Merkerson (Law & Order), HSFF winner and writer Lindiwe Suttle Müller-Westernhagen, executive producer Marius Müller-Westernhagen, Grammy-nominated composer Ray Angry from The Roots, producer and HollyShorts Managing Director Nicole Castro, Seattle Film Summit's Ben Andrews and Marissa Fujimoto, and HollyShorts/88th Street Productions Daniel Sol and Theo Dumont

Home directed by Ellie Foumbi
Block: Film Independent & Netflix Film Club at 5:00PM
Logline: Moving is always hard, especially when the new neighborhood turns against you.

Injustice System directed by Frederick Thornton
Block: Film Independent & Netflix Film Club at 5:00PM
Logline: A mother struggles to deal with the unknown condition of her incarcerated son during the worst pandemic in over 100 years.

Koreatown Ghost Story directed and written by Teddy Tenenbaum and Minsun Park
Block: Opening Night Program II at 7:30PM
Logline: In this supernatural horror tale based on a Korean ritual starring Margaret Cho and Lyrica Okano, a woman entertains a macabre marriage offer that would let her pursue her dreams, for better or for much much worse.
Cast includes: Producer and starring Margaret Cho, Lyrica Okano (Runaways), and producer Jim Wedaa

Life, Unexpected directed and written by Guy Nattiv and Jaime Ray Newman
Block: Opening Night Program at 7:30PM
Logline: Shot over 10 years in intimate, raw home footage by an Oscar-winning filmmaking couple, LIFE UNEXPECTED tells the story of the unforgiving roller coaster of bringing life into this world.

My Brother Jesus directed by Jarrett Lee Conaway 
Block: Film Independent & Netflix Film Club at 5:00PM
Logline: After an unorthodox painting of Jesus goes viral, the artist and his muse discuss its significance in the wake of BLM protests in Richmond, Virginia.

Navel Gazers directed Kimmy Gatewood 
Block: Opening Night Program II at 7:30PM
Logline: In the inevitable future where everyone has a permanent curve in their spine from looking at their screens, one woman longs to break free of her screen and experience the world with her own eyes. After discovering an old chiropractic book from the past, her wish becomes a reality at a horrible cost.
Cast/crew includes: Kimmy Gatewood (Glow), Matt Rocheleau (Heathers), Gwen Hillier (Transparent), writer Annie Mebane (Goldbergs)

No Longer Suitable For Use directed and written by Julian Joslin
Block: Opening Night Program II at 7:30PM
Logline: A Syrian FBI informant and single father, faces an impossible choice when he gets one final chance to avoid deportation by setting up a target in a terrorism sting.
Cast includes: Executive producer, Michael Godere (The Affair), Ivan Martin (Billions), Craig muMs Grant (Oz), Laith Nakli (12 Strong), Waleed Zuaiter (London Has Fallen), Samir Zaim-Sassi

Sisters directed by Jess Brunetto
Block: Opening Night Program at 7:30PM
Logline: Hidden secrets cause tension when two estranged sisters are forced to confront each other while preparing for their ailing mother's death.
Cast includes: Mary Holland (Happiest Season), Sarah Burns (American Vandal), Rob Huebel (Transparent), Jorma Taccone (SNL), Angelina Spicer (Conan), and Florence C.M. Klein

The Archivists directed and written by Igor Drljača
Block: Opening Night Program at 7:30PM
Logline: In a dystopian future, three musicians discover a degraded vinyl record and attempt to reimagine one of its songs.
Cast includes: Noah Reid (Schitt's Creek), Bahia Watson (The Handmaid's Tale), Maxwell McCabe-Lokos (Tin Star)

The Long Goodbye directed by Aneil Karia
Block: Opening Night Program II at 7:30PM
Logline: Riz and his family are in the middle of a typical family day in their house, whilst a far right march plays out on the telly in the background, which eventually arrives at their front door, leading to a devastating outcome.
Cast includes: Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), producer Tom Gardner, Ambreen Razia (This Way Up), Rish Shah (Ms. Marvel)

Two Distant Strangers directed by Travon Free & Martin Desmond Roe
Block: Opening Night Program at 7:30PM
Logline: A man trying to get home to his dog gets stuck in a time loop that forces him to relive a deadly run-in with a cop.
Cast includes: Joey Badass (Grown-ish), Andrew Howard (Watchman), Zaria (Dad Stop Embarrassing Me)

Queen Bess directed by Sheldon Candis
Block: Film Independent & Netflix Film Club at 5:00PM
Logline: The allegory ascension of the first female African American aviatrix. Based on the true story of Bessie Coleman, the daredevil aerodynamic queen of the sky.

HollyShorts screenings will take place in-person September 23-30, 2021 at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood, with the annual, star-studded Awards Gala set to take place on October 1, 2021 at Harmony Gold. Panels will be located at Japan House Los Angeles. The festival will offer a streaming option for fans around the world via its proprietary platform Bitpix.

About HOLLYSHORTS FILM FESTIVAL (HSFF) #HSFF2021 | www.hollyshorts.com
The annual Academy Awards® Qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival will celebrate its 17th year in September 2021. HollyShorts (HSFF) brings together top creators, industry leaders, and companies and has launched many filmmakers into the next stages of their careers. HollyShorts, a regular on the MovieMaker Magazine Top 50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee list, also engages its community and spotlights short films year-round through monthly screenings, panels, and networking events. HollyShorts Film Festival will take place in-person between September 23-30, 2021 at the TCL Chinese Theaters in Hollywood, with the annual Awards Gala set to take place on October 1, 2021.

About BITPIX | https://bitpixtv.com/
Born out of the Oscar® Qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival, Bitpix is a new Premium AVOD platform, featuring the world's best short films. The platform is already live in alpha mode and available via Bitpixtv.com. Bitpix is streamed through the app for download on Airplay, Amazon Fire TV, Android, Android TV, AppleTV, Chromecast, IOS, Roku.

Film Independent is the nonprofit arts organization that champions creative independence in visual storytelling and supports a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision. Film Independent helps filmmakers make their movies, builds an audience for their projects and works to diversify the film industry. Film Independent’s Board of Directors, filmmakers, staff and constituents is comprised of an inclusive community of individuals across ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race and sexual orientation. Anyone passionate about film can become a Member, whether you are a filmmaker, industry professional or a film lover.

In addition to producing the Spirit Awards, Film Independent produces Film Independent Presents, a year-round screening series for its members that offers unique cinematic experiences for the Los Angeles creative community and the general public.

Through annual screenings and events, Film Independent provides access to a network of like-minded artists who are driving creativity in the film industry. Film Independent’s Artist Development program offers free labs for selected writers, directors, producers and documentary filmmakers and presents year-round networking opportunities. Project Involve is Film Independent’s signature program dedicated to fostering the careers of talented filmmakers from communities traditionally underrepresented in the film industry.

For more information or to become a Member, visit https://filmindependent.org.

Film Independent Artist Development programs promote unique, independent voices by helping filmmakers create and advance new work through Project Involve; Filmmaker Labs (Directing, Documentary, Episodic, Producing and Screenwriting); Fast Track finance market and Fiscal Sponsorship; as well as through Grants and Awards, which provide over one million dollars annually to visual storytellers.

For more information on any of the Labs or the projects that have been developed in them, please contact Lisa Hasko, Director of Artist Development, at lhasko@filmindependent.org. Additional information and application forms can be found at https://filmindependent.org.