This year’s San Diego International Film Festival showcased many short films from a wide range of subjects and themes. The following ones were just a few we took notice of among the long list.


Student Ejun Hong created “Mother” in honor of their grandfather who has Alzheimer’s. This animated tribute used little to no words to convey the story of his life but instead the blend of simple shaped and very decorative patterns. The way the film went from life event to the next felt like the characters from some of those intricate clocks that have figures pop up. The gentle and calming music added more to the soft atmosphere even through those tragic scenes.

For those interested in seeing how Hong made the film, check out their production video on their YouTube channel.


This CG-animated short from Suyoung Jang took an interesting approach with telling story of inequality. A factory continuously built humanoid robots, giving each either a male of female model. Depending on the gender, the assembly line shipped them out to different locations. The leading female model took note of how it discarded her along with the rest of the women. Not wanting to stay trapped, she took action to rise above. While the film had a pretty clear story, it was a necessary one to tell for women today along with many others of diverse backgrounds feel the oppression and discrimination the protagonist felt.

“The Wheel Turns”

Director and Writer Sang Joon Kim of Tadoh along with his team created “The Wheel Turns”, a short film about a man’s monotonous life being disrupted. The man headed down every day to operate his New York subway train for the morning rush. He however had to stop when he discovered trespassers painting a red door by the rails. When he and his passengers turned into toad beings, he headed towards the door, feeling its connection to his predicament but unsure what is beyond. The art style had a texture similar to traditional art like pastel and paints and the twists will keep you wanting to see its ending. “The Wheel Turn” was a film that made the audience thinking about what gave them passion for the things they do. 

For more about the film, you can check out Tadoh’s website for concept art and their facebook for production video clips and updates.

“The Gospel of Combat”

David Hutchinson’s documentary focused on Ben Kiyaga, an Aikido instructor in Nairobi, Kenya. Sensei Ben and the movie looked back at the chaos of the 2017 Kenyan elections and how the teacher found peace within the Japanese martial art form. It was interesting to see how Ben put the philosophy into action, especially in a place filled with conflicts and opposition.

Huchinson mentioned in the post-screening discussion that he was actually a neighbor of Ben’s during his stay in Nairobi. He said that they trained together and then he approached Sensei Ben with his idea for the documentary. For more information on the film, check out Hutchinson’s website.

“The Interpreter”

Filmmaker Benito Bautista brought a story of love in his film “The Interpreter”. Jacob set up a date with a woman named Hiromi but he needed to bring Kaito because he only spoke and understood English. Though it was awkward having the three of them, Kaito took advantage at the fact he was the only one able to understand both of them. Having feelings for Hiromi, Kaito let her know his worries about her relationship with the American. Due to the situation, Kaito still had to thee the two even though there was a bit of tension. However there is concern about Jacob and his habits.

Bautista shocked attendees when he said at the post-screening discussion that the film was based off of a true crime that happened. He said that he added Kaito as the “inside man” along with other things with his co-creator to have the narrative to bring up sexual rhetorics about women.

For more information on “The Interpreter” including Bautista’s upcoming movie, visit Wanderlustproject Film’s website.