This year’s lineup features 19 films from 10 countries including 2 world premieres

San Francisco, CA - November 25, 2019 The COVEN Film Festival, committed to highlighting the voices of women and non-binary filmmakers from the Bay Area and across the world, is proud to announce the full lineup for the festival’s second year. The festival takes place January 10-12, 2020, at the historic Roxie Theater in San Francisco’s Mission District and will feature 16 short and 3 feature-length films.


In addition, COVEN is proud to announce a Saturday, January 11th screening of the film “A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud.” by award-winning actor, director and screenwriter and 2020 Independent Spirit award nominee Karen Allen. Following the screening, Allen will teach a masterclass on directing for participating filmmakers and VIP pass holders. 


On Sunday, January 12, Seed&Spark’s Maria Mealla hosts the workshop “Crowdfunding to Build Independence” on how to engage audiences at every stage of a film project and the best way to leverage audience engagement for distribution and future projects.  


COVEN Film Festival Director of Programming Faridah Gbadamosi says, “I have been inspired by the films we are featuring this year. Our mission as an organization is to amplify the voices of women and nonbinary filmmakers while also emphasizing the intersectional concerns of communities within that umbrella. You will see a range of stories at Festival—from fantasy sequences that challenge how we look at being different to comedies about leaning on social media a bit too much to make life decisions. All of these stories serve to showcase a variety of perspectives that don’t often get heard.”


Film Festival Director and Filmmaker Cameo Wood adds, “We’re thrilled to be back for our second year. When we chose the name COVEN, our intent was to signify a sisterhood, a gathering of like-minded people who could support and lift each other. It’s our goal to help to create tomorrow’s award-winning and successful directors.”


Last year, Kailey and Sam Spear submitted their original sci-fi short CC to the inaugural COVEN festival and won Best Picture. Since then, the Spear sisters have gone on to write and direct a short film Alien: Ore for 20th Century Fox in celebration of the 40th Anniversary of Alien. “Festivals like COVEN remind us how important community is in our industry and how creating a positive network of filmmakers makes filmmaking more exciting...it keeps us inspired to strive for the best in our own work.”




Opening Night Film, Reception, and Afterparty:

What Lies West - directed by Jessica Ellis. California Premiere. When new college graduate Nicolette takes a summer job babysitting sheltered teen Chloe, the two must overcome a wide personality gap to set off on a summer adventure that will change both their lives. Filmed in Sonoma County, this is the first feature film by filmmaker Jessica Ellis, a graduate of the UCLA and the American Film Institute. Together with her writing partner Nick Sinnot, Jessica’s scripts have won the Creative World Awards and have been identified as one of the Top 50 Scripts in the Nicholl Fellowship. 


Before the film, join the COVEN Film Festival for an opening night reception and afterwards, attend our after party at 518 Valencia.  


Closing Night Film, Awards, and Red Carpet

Accept the Call - directed by Eunice Lao. California Premiere. Twenty-five years after Yusuf Abdurahman left Somalia as a refugee to begin his life anew in Minnesota, his worst fear is realized when his 19-year-old-son Zacharia is arrested in an FBI counterterrorism sting operation. Through the eyes of a father striving to understand why his young son would leave his American life behind to attempt to join a terrorist organization in a foreign country, Accept the Call explores racism and prejudice against immigrants, the rise of targeted recruitment by radicalized groups, and the struggles of Muslim youth growing up in the US today. This intimate film captures the story of this father and son attempting to mend their relationship after breaking each other’s hearts.

A former broadcast journalist, Eunice Lau has a penchant for telling social justice stories. Her film Through the Fire was filmed in Somalia and nominated for best short documentary at AMPAS Student Academy in 2013. Her works have appeared on the Discovery Channel, Al Jazeera English, and Channel News Asia. 


Following the film, the COVEN Film Festival will host an awards ceremony at 518 Valencia for participating filmmakers and VIP pass holders. 


A Normal Girl - directed by Aubree Bernier-Clarke. Activist Pidgeon Pagonis was born intersex, not conforming to standard definitions of male or female, and experienced genital mutilation as a child. Now Pidgeon is fighting the medical establishment, seeking to end medically unnecessary surgeries and human rights abuses on intersex people in the United States and around the world. An estimated 1.5% of the population is born with intersex traits. While most of these babies are healthy, their bodies are treated as a medical emergency. It is common practice for doctors to perform genital surgeries on intersex infants—often with disastrous results including total loss of genital sensation, lifetime synthetic hormone dependence, and being assigned gender with which they do not identify. Through the story of Pidgeon’s remarkable journey and fight for bodily self-determination, A Normal Girl brings the widely unknown struggles of intersex people to light.


The Boogeywoman - directed by Erica Scoggins. Late blooming Sam Rains finally gets her first period at the annual all-night skate. While at first a triumph, her new condition brings strange side effects. An erie electrical problem has the kids teasing about “the Boogeywoman,” a local legend, a sorceress who feeds on men’s souls and eats little girls. When a friend leaks about Sam’s period, the boys tell her she’s fair game for the Boogeywoman. With an expected tryst derailed, Sam leaves the skating rink in a fever only to meet the legend in the flesh. Instead of a monster, Sam finds a mother, a goddess, a mentor—opening the door to womanhood.


Desaturated - directed by Marina Stepansk. Bay Area Premiere. Desaturated is a 10-minute visual comedy. The comedic value of the film is built on the fact that the character knows she’s a character in a film and is trying to overcome the visual cliches without which we cannot imagine modern cinema. The main conflict of the character is in her having a color that is different from the general color treatment of the film. In 9 minutes, the character must bring everything to the same color palette. The film is set in realist Lviv, with a focus on the visual color conflict of modern Lviv (old architecture that is chaotically painted in bright colours). 


Farta - directed by Silvia Cannarozzi. Teresa has documented all of her daughter Marta’s childhood on social media without considering the full consequences.


Gemini - directed by Mily Mumford. California Premiere. Angie is a popular figure in the near future VR Game “Gemini.” On her way back home, she meets a man called Chad on the subway platform. Through their conversation, Chad recognizes her voice and realizes they both play “Gemini” and that she is the game’s star player. As sparks fly, they discover they have a past—which exposes the dark side of virtual reality and gaming.


The Gift - directed by Jacintha Charles. San Francisco Premiere. Iris, a young girl with very large ears, is often bullied in school because of her appearance. She feels isolated and alone but she comes out of her shell whenever she spends time in the woods with her only friend, a magical crow. She feeds it every time they meet, and in exchange, it presents her little trinkets which she treasures in a box. One day, she receives a pair of earrings. Iris is surprised by the gift but puts it away after deciding she will never wear it. As they grow closer, Iris's confidence grows. She finally decides to wear the earrings to school, an event that will eventually lead her friend the crow to turn the tide with unexpected consequences.


La Llorona - directed by Rosana Cuellar. La Llorona is a surrealist film about a group of children living in a house without adult supervision who feel haunted by the ghost of the Llorona, the legendary Mexican ghost of a woman who murdered her children. They hear the Llorona sighing at night, and their powerful fantasy, guided by fear, unleashes a chain of events that lead them to become a part of the legend themselves. Shot in Puebla, Mexico, this s3D film plays in its oneiric style, an atmospheric haze befitting childhood.


Lego - directed by Faryarsadat Hosseini. World Premiere. When a couple enters the woman’s mysterious childhood house, the woman disappears. In searching for her, the man finds a newborn baby defenseless in the bathroom with his wife’s necklace on her neck. In a chain of events, he gets convinced that the baby is actually his wife and that she has countlessly repeated this loop over and over again. He decides to raise the child. After several years, when he’s old and the woman is a young lady, she asks his permission to go out with her boyfriend and puts him in a situation where he has to act as either her father or her lover.


Lola - directed by Julie Cohen & Mariah Hoffman. World Premiere. A young woman builds her own tiny home.


Made Public - directed by Foster Wilson. On the eve of his wedding day, Dave commits a cardinal sin: He has doubts about tying the knot and they go viral. Alone at the altar, the groom must confront his own cold feet, a Greek chorus of bridesmaids, and the bride herself... all to save his marriage before it's even begun. Written by Brian Leahy, directed by Foster Wilson, and starring Jeanine Mason (Roswell, New Mexico) and Josh Zuckerman (90210), the award-winning Made Public explores the impulse to share our most intimate thoughts and sacred moments with the general public—and how much we're willing to lose in order to obtain the approval of strangers.


Marisol - directed by Zoe Salicrup Junco. San Francisco Premiere. Marisol is a young mother striving to make a life for herself and her young daughter, Maria. She poses as her friend Luisa and borrows her car to take fares on a ride-sharing app. But her last passenger of the day, a young white man named Frederick, acts increasingly suspicious. When he accuses Marisol of being undocumented, her worst nightmare comes to life.


Me También - directed by Valeria Vallejos. Two women from different races and backgrounds are fighting to make a living while fulfilling their dreams. They have their lives torn apart when a sexual predator decides to direct his attention their way. Monica is a rising executive in a marketing firm who has earned everything she has in life. Christina is an undocumented Mexican immigrant running from her past, trying to live out her version of the "American Dream" as a nanny to a wealthy family. When the true story of her employer unfolds, she realizes how this new dream world isn't so different than the one from which she's running away. Neither would have imagined how their fates would intertwine to provide the key to unlocking their chains of injustice.


Once Upon a River - directed by Haroula Rose. San Francisco Premiere. Based on the best-selling novel by Bonnie Jo Campbell, Once Upon A River is the story of Native American teenager Margo Crane in 1970s rural Michigan. After enduring a series of traumas and tragedies, Margo (newcomer Kenadi DelaCerna) sets out on an odyssey on the Stark River in search of her estranged mother. On the water, Margo encounters friends, foes, wonders, and dangers. Navigating life on her own, she comes to understand her potential, all while healing the wounds of her past. Haroula Rose’s directorial debut Once Upon a River was named one of the “most anticipated films of 2019” by Filmmaker Magazine. 


Playground - directed by Hanna Sköld. With a mix of claymation and live action we enter the world of Love, a 2 years old boy who struggles to get attention from his father and connect with his Granny. But Love’s father has no time to see him or listen since he’s totally preoccupied with trying to rouse Grandma to get out of bed. 


Strangers’ Reunion - directed by Liz Sargeant. California Premiere. Mira, a Korean-American adoptee travels to Hong Kong to meet her birth mother for the first time. Impulsively, she invites Yura to visit her in her hotel suite the day before their official meeting in the hope that they’ll find a connection ‘before a translator gets in the way.’ However, with only a basic understanding of each other’s languages and, to varying degrees, their own guilt and prejudices, misunderstandings threaten their tenuous attempts at connection, until an emotional breakthrough leads them to hope there is resolution and a future ahead for them both.


Sweet Sweet Kink: A Collection of BDSM Stories - directed by Maggie M. Bailey. What is our vanilla perception of the world of kink and BDSM? Dark dungeons, leather corsets, red rooms, riding crops, cracking whips, painful screams, public sex? While these aren’t completely false perceptions, they only represent a small, out of context piece of Kink and BDSM. What’s lying underneath the toys, spanking, and St. Andrew’s crosses? Trust, consent, lifelong partnership, intimacy, acceptance, therapeutic healing, community, exploration, and honesty. Through three vignettes, we will follow six members of the Austin, TX Kink/BDSM community reminiscing on the moments of exciting ‘firsts,’ the long journey of healing, and beginnings of lifelong relationships.


We Waited Until Nightfall - directed by Wendy V. Muñiz and Guillermo Zouain. We Waited Until Nightfall revisits repurposed cinemas through haunting images and sounds that trace the practices of belonging still embodied in the theaters’ remains.


Official sponsors of the COVEN Film Festival include SimpleDCP, Roxie Theater, 518 Valencia, BAYCAT, Ladies Take the Lead, Seed & Spark, and Phoenix Hotel. 





The COVEN Film Festival is a Charming Stranger Films, LLC production devoted to films by emerging women and non-binary filmmakers from around the world. COVEN Film Fest is run by Festival Director Cameo Wood, Director of Programming Faridah Gbadimosi, and Festival Producer Connie Jo Sechrist. 

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© 2019 by Charming Stranger Films

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