Theatrical Experience

Experience the animated and experimental films from NDHRAF4 in a theatrical environment.

Theatrical Screenings

Thursday, June 24 | Minot, ND | Oak Park Theater
Tuesday, June 29 | Fargo, ND | Fargo Theatre

As part of the North Dakota Human Rights Arts Festival, a special theatrical screening of experimental and animated films will take place in Minot and Fargo. The films highlight the talents of avant-garde artists using innovative techniques in storytelling to highlight important human rights issues. 11 short films will be screened.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Films begin at 7. The events are free and open to the public. Goodwill donations accepted.

The North Dakota Human Rights Arts Festival is supported in part by a grant from the North Dakota Council on the Arts, which receives funding from the state legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Minot screening is supported in part by J&S Productions.

The Fargo screening is supported in part by The Arts Partnership, with support from the cities of Fargo, Moorhead, and West Fargo. 


Thursday, June 24 | Oak Park Theater

Tuesday, June 29 | Fargo Theatre

The Films

About Her


Year: 2020 | 5 min
Genre: Animation
Language(s): English, Portuguese
Directed by: Wagner Cinelli
Country of Origin: Brazil

Special presentation from the 2020 North Dakota Human Rights Film Festival

ABOUT HER deals with a sad and unfortunate issue: domestic violence against women. It is the story of a relationship marked by inequality and violence in which the male partner’s abusive behavior grows daily. Besides physical and psychological aggressions imposed on women, death could be one of the outcomes. At the end of the day, these abusive men frequently become killers in their own homes. Due to the alarming numbers of feminicide worldwide, it is urgent: we must talk about it.

Altab Ali and the Battle of Brick Lane


Year: 2020 | 12 min
Genre: Animation
Language(s): English
Directed by: Diwas Bisht
Country of Origin: United Kingdom

Special presentation from the 2020 North Dakota Human Rights Film Festival

ALTAB ALI AND THE BATTLE OF BRICK LANE is a short animated documentary that explores the events surrounding the racist killing of Altab Ali, a young Bangladeshi worker in east London in the late 1970s. It tells the tale of the widespread racism faced by the Bangladeshi community living in east London at the time and how the incident inspired a generation of Bangladeshis to join hands in the fight against the racist forces. Using interviews of the activists involved in the anti-racist struggle and striking contrasting imagery, the film tells the tale of the event that marks a turning point in London’s race relations.



Year: 2020 | 1 min
Genre: Experimental
Language(s): English
Directed by: Phoebe Wong
Country of Origin: Hong Kong

AURORA is a social experiment animation project that is about hope. 20 collaborating HongKongers places blank post it’s on different places all over the world, including United States, United Kingdom, Taiwan, Hong Kong.

A blank post-it represents the silent protest against the suppression of the freedom of speech because one may face prosecution because of what they said or wrote. Other than blank post-its, the drawings that represent the 2020 vision of the collaborators are connected together by morph animation from one vision to another vision.

Director's Statement

2020 is a very unique experience for me. While the world is busy fighting against the pandemic, this year has a very different meaning to me. I chose to collaborate with friends from Hong Kong because we are the ones that share this unique and bizarre experience together. With the National Security Law imposed in July, more and more people are being prosecuted because of political beliefs, it is increasingly dangerous to protest on streets or even voice out, the government is making use of pandemic policies to quiet down social unrest.

We are not losing our hopes and belief, but 2020 is definitely the long darkness before dawn. Aurora is a Roman goddess of dawn, also refers to polar lights, which are rare, beautiful, and natural. The tagline of the animation is “post tenebras spero lucem”, which means “after darkness, I hope for light.” in Latin.

Due to the circumstances in Hong Kong, many people chose to leave because of possible political prosecution, my friends are now scattered all over the globe, we share our same confidence in freedom, but we are exiled from the place that we love. There is a saying that, on the day when Hong Kong is finally liberated from totalitarianism, HongKongers that are exiled and jailed would return to the city and celebrate freedom.

This is an unreachable vision in 2020, when the authority presses their charges on teenagers, on old people, on every man and woman of Hong Kong. Yet, the hope is still out
there when everyone is willing to help and stay strong.



Year: 2020 | 3 min
Genre: Animation
Language(s): English
Directed by: Jacob Updyke
Country of Origin: United States

Special presentation from the 2021 North Dakota Environmental Rights Film Festival

In the midst of a desolate wasteland, a farmer boy hopes and dreams that he may one day see a real live bird. Amidst the wreckage of climate change and on the heels of mass extinction, little AYEO represents the future of humanity if climate change is not addressed. In the parlance of the Internet, AIO means “All In One”. Spelled a little differently, little AYEO represents the reality of our interconnectedness and our need to behave as one people.

Director's Statement

Q&A with Jacob Updyke

Q. How did this all get started?

A. I’ve always been enchanted with animated story-telling, and, as the industry has grown to portray much more realistic and relevant issues, I wanted to emulate this with my own work. Additionally, I felt (and still feel) as though a lot of people are unaware of the current state of the planet’s environment and climate. People hear the terms “global warming” and they’ve almost become desensitized. They don’t truly grasp the gravity of the situation.

Q. Let’s talk about You Reap What You Sow. Why did you choose to make YRWYS in black and white? What is the significance of the blue facemask at the end of YRWYS?

A. Black and white sets a mood of darkness and hopelessness, and I wanted the audience to feel that way. The face mask at the end just is a reminder that we are losing our ability to breathe. I find this terrifying.

Q. What is your process for animating?

A. Prior to YRWYS, I have never done a full-blown animation before. I started out using free software called Krita. After working with it for a month or so, I realized there were many better tools out there. I then moved to Adobe. I also was lucky enough to get a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro 16 tablet halfway through the animation. This helped a lot. It took me seven months to animate 2 minutes because I was learning through trial and error. You can actually see my progression as an animator as the story moves forward. Ultimately, I made 1600 frames by hand and spent seven months on that first film.

Q. What do you think each individual can do to affect the future of our planet?

A. Push for large-scale change. There is a common misconception that in order to help the environment, individuals need to reduce their personal impact – and while this is helpful, the reality of the situation is that the actual threats to our environment are more likely to come from corporations and industries which produce huge sums of fossil fuels.

Q. Tell me about One Man’s Trash. How did that film come to exist?

It was the product of a collaboration I did with the Millburn Environmental Committee, which is made up of township residents, parents, and students here in town. They wanted something special for Earth Day. They wanted to create a PSA for the town’s Earth Day efforts and they heard about YRWYS. They approached me and asked me to come up with a concept. I had just seen a documentary on the Great Pacific Garbage patch, so this seemed like a good topic.

Q. What about AYEO? What is the meaning of his story?

A. AYEO, like YRWYS, is a story that takes a look at a likely future if we continue to abuse our environment. In the case of AYEO, he is one of humanity’s last survivors – barely hanging on in a world with dirty water, the loss of animals and people. He dreams of one day seeing something we take for granted: a bird. When his dream comes true, he follows the bird and provides us with a tour of his landscape, a grim wasteland destroyed by pollution and global warming. In my research, I came across many modern-day communities that are forgotten in remote parts of the world where children live surrounded by trash and lack access to potable water. It scares me that AYEO’s plight is not as futuristic as we might like to think.

Q. What are you hoping to spark with your films?

A. I hope they will spread awareness about the subject of climate change and ecosystem destruction. We are becoming increasingly more disconnected from these matters and it is my greatest fear that we leave them behind entirely.

Beyond the Model



Year: 2020 | 5 min
Genre: Experimental
Language(s): English
Directed by: Jessica Lin
Country of Origin: United States


After the assaults and discrimination of Asians because of COVID-19, this film shines a light on what it is like be a “model minority” in an increasingly divided America.



Year: 2020 | 3 min
Genre: Animated
Language(s): English
Directed by: Henrike Lendowski
Country of Origin: United States

Special presentation from the 2021 North Dakota Environmental Rights Film Festival

DIMINUENDO visualizes the detrimental effects plastic waste has on marine life and the environment from an emotional point of view. Through visual metaphors, the viewer is guided through sceneries that get more and more covered by plastic. To emphasize the contrast between the natural world and the plastic world, the animation is done entirely with ink on paper, except for the plastic, which stands apart from the oceanic life in bright digital yellow. The two parts are united through the pulsing paper texture that shines through the semi-opaque yellow as a constant reminder of the underlying life it covers. But there is room for change. In the end, it is never too late for a helping hand.

Director's Statement

In my artwork, I am interested in creating visuals with a handmade look and feel. Coming from a background in illustration, combining analog with digital art by integrating crafted elements such as different strokes and textures is natural to me.

I am deeply invested in social and environmental themes, such as the protection of endangered species and the fight against plastic pollution, which led to the creation of my animated short film diminuendo.

In my animations, I am often inspired by a piece of music that becomes the soundtrack of my work and visually guides my first storyboards. This was also the case when I was working on diminuendo. The complexity and emotional richness of Shostakovich’s string quartet no. 8 has always intrigued me and sparked my imagination. The rising soundtrack of the piece is closely intertwined with the animation and forms one seamless entity with the visuals as the tension increases.

Through my artwork, I hope to create thought-provoking experiences for the viewer. As an artist, I believe in the ability of art to reach people and create awareness for the important issues of our time and eventually instigate change.




Year: 2020 | 3 min
Genre: Animated
Language(s): English
Directed by: Dermott Burns
Country of Origin: Ireland

Special presentation from the 2020 North Dakota Environmental Rights Film Festival

FOREST is an experimental short film rendered using real-time graphics. By contrasting a vibrant virtual paradise with a dark reality, the film reflects upon humanity’s ignorance of their destructive nature on earth; the innocence of youth, and the indifference of adulthood.



Year: 2020 | 6 min
Genre: Experimental
Language(s): English
Directed by: Samira Barragan
Country of Origin: United States


A young woman reflects on how gentrification has changed her neighborhood and wiped out the people who have worked there and lived there for years.

Give Us the Freedom


 Year: 2020 | 16 min
 Genre: Experimental
 Language(s): English
 Directed by: Rasika Ruwanpathirana
 Country of Origin: United States


On Wednesday, February 1, 2017, inmates from James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware took three correctional officers hostage, demanding better conditions and cessation of abuse by violent prison guards.

The siege ended the next morning when police breached the building and rescued a female staff member who was unharmed. The police claimed that they found a correctional officer dead.

The following are two audio recordings sent by an inmate from James T. Vaughn Correctional Center who is serving a 94-year sentence. He describes the conditions inside the prison.

I Want to Breathe Sweet Air


Year: 2021 | 11 min
Genre: Experimental Film
Language(s): English
Directed by: Pamela Falkenberg & Jack Cochran
Country of Origin: United States

I WANT TO BREATHE SWEET AIR, a film poem in three parts, is a terribly beautiful indictment of careless land development and the impact of climate change on the natural environment.

Director's Statement

For over five years, Jack Cochran and Pamela Falkenberg have been making personal films together again under the name Outlier Moving Pictures. They hope their work will prove worthy of the name: avoiding the usual patterns and approaching their subject matter from the margins (which sounds better than saying that as filmmakers they’re oddballs and cranks). Pam and Jack met in graduate school and made films together when they were young. Jack went on to become a professional cinematographer working out of LA and London, while Pam stayed in the Midwest, where she was a college professor and independent filmmaker before dropping out to work in visual display.

Their first film together, “The Cost of Living,” based on some of Jack’s short poems, screened at several film festivals, including the Buffalo International Film Festival and the Cornwall Film Festival, was nominated for two awards at the 2019 Queens World Festival, and took the award for best experimental film at the 2016 WV FILMmakers Festival. Other short poetry films have screened at the Ò Bhéal Poetry Film Festival (2016, 2018, 2019), the Juteback Poetry Film Festival (2017, 2018), the Festival Silencio (2017), the Filmpoem Festival (2017), the 6th CYCLOP Videopoetry Festival (2017), and the 6th, 7th, and 8th International Video Poetry Festival (Athens Greece). Their most ambitious film, “Teddy Roosevelt and Fracking,” about environmental threats to the wild landscapes of North Dakota, premiered at the 2018 Queens World Film Festival, where it was nominated for three awards and took the award for Best Documentary Short, followed by awards at the Go West Film Festival, the Ozark Foothills Film Festival, and the American Presidents Film and Literary Festival at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museum. Their most recent poetry films, “In West Virginia,” and “Flag Country,” based on poems by Dave Bonta, have already screened at the Buffalo International Film Festival, the Small Axe Radical Film Festival, the Newlyn Film Festival, and the North Dakota Human Rights Arts Festival. Pam and Jack have just completed a new triptych with Lucy English on climate change, “I Want to Breathe Sweet Air,” and they are currently at work on “Now and Then,” an experimental film based on a new collection of Jack’s poems, and also on their first feature together, an experimental road trip/documentary essay about the loneliest road in America, Highway 50 in Nevada.

Jack and Pam co-direct the films they make together, and they collaborate fully, even when they divide up the credits. Their poetry films usually start with a poem (often, but not always, one of Jack’s poems), which they think of as analogous to a script. However, when collaborating with Lucy English on “The Shadow” and “The Names of Trees,” the process was more dialectical: some images and sounds came first, then Lucy wrote the poems; the poems inspired more images, and eventually the edited film poems. For us, the exact process depends on the project and remains open to experimenting, so our body of work is somewhat disparate and hard to categorize. Some of our eclectic interests include collage, found footage, and repurposing; the film essay and film poetry; an image capturing and post-production techniques that reveal what cannot be seen with the eyes alone (e.g., high shutter speeds, moving cameras, infrared photography, green screen, and digital layering); landscapes and the ways humans mark them; human rights/social justice; and postmodern melodrama.

Jack has written poetry all his life, but he never knew what to do with it until he shared his notebooks with Pam, who said, “You’re a filmmaker — shouldn’t your poems be films?” Pam and Jack both want to make lots of different kinds of films together, but Pam is especially proud to have been the one who suggested that Jack’s poems should come to life as films. They are both delighted that making films of Jack’s poems has led to interesting collaborations with other poets and filmmakers.

Orbital Discourse



Year: 2020 | 8 min
Genre: Experimental
Language(s): English
Directed by: Marc Cartwright
Country of Origin: United States


The calm before the storm gives way to a ferocious battle, followed by an unsettling calmness.

Director's Statement

We are living in a time when people rely heavily on second-hand sources of information to educate themselves and form opinions about the world around them. Orbital Discourse was born out of feeling overwhelmed by the ideological bickering that seems prevalent in today’s society. People not listening to each other and just arguing to be right.

One morning, I was listening to a news program on TV while boiling an egg for breakfast. Two journalists were debating each other about current events and the ills of society. There was a lot of blaming with no real solutions presented from either party. Opinions disguised as facts.

As I listened to the two journalists, the water on the stove began a slow boil and I drew parallels to a viewer at home, with confirmation bias, getting worked up about the exchange. The viewer, armed with the opinions of their preferred journalist, would then go on social media or out into the world to argue with friends, family, or strangers who had differing points of view. Perhaps some of the quarrels would result in severed relationships or even worse – violence. (The consumer of the news becomes the news).

I imagined the network would be pleased that people were reacting. The absence of resolution would help the viewers remain in a heightened state of frustration and keep tuning in to stay “informed” or find out what happens next. More content, more viewers, more fear and anger – the cycle continues.

While editing Orbital Discourse, I wanted to create the sense of foreboding that exists when an argument is building and about to careen out of control; The calm before the storm gives way to a ferocious battle, followed by an unsettling calmness.




Year: 2020 | 6 min
Genre: Experimental
Language(s): English
Directed by: Guero
Country of Origin: United States


WAKE is an eco-feminist experimental dance film that serves as both a mourning and a celebration of the reemergence of nature.