The second Annual Valkyrie International Film Festival, showcasing films directed by women from all walks of life, runs for five days, Thursday, March 21st – Monday, March 25th, at the Screening Room Cinema & Arts Café, 880 Alberta Drive in Amherst. VIFF is held each March to celebrate Women’s History Month.

Festival Founders Kaelin and Tamar Lamberson

Festival programmers Tamar Lamberson and her daughter Kaelin have selected 73 films produced around the world to screen at this year’s event, each directed by a woman. Genres include comedy, drama, documentary, horror, science fiction, animation, experimental, Western New York, student, and WNY student films.

Attendees at the 2023 Valkyrie Film Festival

As many as 28 out of town filmmakers, some from the United Kingdom and Canada, will attend screenings of their work, and 16 films were produced by local artists. An amazing 50% of the films are scheduled to be followed by filmmaker Q&As. The Valkyrie Awards ceremony will be held Sunday, March 24th at 7:30 pm.

After last year’s festival, the Lambersons spoke to Cindy Abbott Letro about the experience for Behind the Camera:

A full festival Pegasus Pass is available at the Screening Room box office for $50. Day Passes are available for $20 except on Saturday, which is $25 for five five blocks. For a full schedule, film descriptions and trailers, visit


Block #1: 6:00 PM

All Grown Up directed by Meg Dole (U.S. Narrative, Coming of Age, Drama, 38 mins). A driven girl wants to leave the Midwest after failing to understand why her loved ones are content staying in their hometown their whole lives.

ReImage directed by Jo O’Donnell (WNY Narrative, 22 mins, Q&A). AJ leaves her ranch and starts living the life she wants, discovering new things and who she wants to be.

Why the Dogs and Wolves Fear Each Other directed by Sydni Wolpert (U.S. Student Animation, 4 mins). A story from the Lenape (Delaware) tribe of Native Americans told in its original language.

He Told Us the Sky is Blue directed by Cecilia Mellieon (Canada, Student, Documentary, 55 mins). An Indigenous filmmaker embarks on an autoethnographic exploration rooted in multidisciplinary research, delving into her family’s narrative and navigating intergenerational trauma, cultural identity, and the enduring impact of colonialism on Indigenous communities.

Block #2: 8:30 PM

Like Someone in Love directed by Victoria Hutton (WNY Musical, 3 mins, Q&A). Jazz standard “Like Someone in Love” takes place in a traditional theater lounge and references the essential chanteuse vibe of old Hollywood while making it modern with inserts of candid moments.

The 9 Lives of Barbara Dane directed by Maureen Gosling (U.S. Documentary, 1 hr. 48 mins). Singer, activist, wife, mother, feminist, record producer, maverick, and general troublemaker, Dane was born in the 1920s and took the power of her voice from the stage to the streets of 1960s America, recording volumes of remarkable music in the service of social justice and civil rights.


She’s The Protagonist

Block #3: 6:00 PM

She’s the Protagonist directed by Sarah Carlot Jaber (Belgium, Narrative, Road Movie, Western, 14 mins). The Protagonist, by her given name, is in her natural environment: a jungle, sadly, often lacking in density. But today enough is enough! Being the mother, the secretary, the lover, the nanny, the baby bottle, the side piece of the main male character is no longer enough for our dear Protagonist! Put on “mute” after the allocated time for female characters in a film is reached, she runs away with her friend Voice-Over for a new journey with plenty of humor.

To the Moon & Back
 directed by Amanda Besl (WNY Experimental, 5 mins, Q&A). A film about the gravitational orbit within an unhealthy relationship in which leaving might feel as impossible as traveling to outer space. But could space be closer than we imagine?

Showrunner directed by Maria Gian (U.S. Student, Coming of Age, Drama, 10 mins). Two young women grow up and apart. Samira has always depended on her best friend, Eva, for support, and as Eva starts her first romance, Samira feels alone and desperate for the attention she once had.


Rest directed by Joan Cassin (U.S. Narrative, 10 mins, Q&A). In a stale church basement during a support group meeting, we hear from the leader of the day, Rose, who through her past reveals that this group has gotten more than they bargained for after receiving a life-saving treatment.

Stand UP Speak OUT – Reproductive Rights: Know Your Rights directed by Elisabeth Harris (U.S. Documentary, 29 mins). The history of American women’s reproductive rights, from no say over our own bodies, to rights to contraception and abortion, to Dobbs v. Jackson and the ongoing fight for reproductive autonomy.

Last Girls’ Trip directed by Dusty Noval (U.S. Narrative, 36 mins, Q&A). Three lifelong middle-aged girlfriends set off on the last of their many girls’ trips, to find that a huge ask is about to change their lives and challenge their bond.

Block #4: 8:40 PM

Car Spider directed by Victoria Hutton (WNY Documentary, 11 mins, Q&A). A friendship blossoms between a spider living on a car and the human who drives it.

Fight for Ukraine: 12 Women’s War directed by Karen Kanes Floyd (U.S. Documentary, 1 hr. 22 mins). This documentary follows 12 Ukrainian women from all walks of life, who have been redefined by the war in their homeland. Their relentless challenges and agonizing losses are documented in never-before-seen footage captured covertly in May 2023 in the cities and countryside — and on the very fringe of the front lines.



Block #5: 2:00 PM
Amplifying Feedback Loop directed by Vanessa Sweet (WNY Animation, 2 mins, Q&A). The magnifying “domino effect” of the causes and effects of the Climate Crisis is contextualized.

Undrown directed by Sofia Andrea Hernandez, Anahí Colombina Poblete, Hazel Fernanda Guarachi (Chile, Student Animation, 5 mins). A girl heals from childhood trauma.

Pier 35 directed by Raina Liwen Yang (U.S. Student; Language: English, Cantonese; 9 mins). A senior Asian dancer from Chinatown lives her life with humor and lightness, even as loneliness and old age catch up with her.



Nereid directed by Lori Zozzolotto (Canada, Narrative, 8 mins, Q&A). A mysterious woman escapes from an abusive relationship.

The Hollow directed by Yvonne Trobe (U.S. Narrative, 13 mins). A re-telling of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”


Goldenrod directed by Marjorie DeHey (WNY Narrative, Period, Drama, Family, Civil War, Farm, 18 mins, Q&A). When seven-year-old Clara Payne’s father leaves to fight for the Union in the Civil War, Clara must follow in his footsteps and help not just her family but another as well.


Block #6: 3:45 PM

Incantations directed by Amanda Besl (WNY Experimental, 5 mins, Q&A). A childhood spent in the forest and spells passed down by fragile birds are separated only by time.

Die Dame directed by Taylor Martin (WNY Narrative, Thriller, Horror, Suspense, Drama, Action, 11 mins). At the tail end of WWII, an American nurse, Betty, finds herself captured in an off-the-beaten-path Nazi experimentation lab with devastating results.

Trust directed by Diane Lansing (U.S. Narrative; Language: English, German; 14 mins, Q&A). Trust is inspired by true events that are all too familiar today. Set in Varese, Italy during WWII, a young girl is questioned by a Nazi Lieutenant who tries to trick her into revealing her family’s Jewish identity.

Wallie’s Gals directed by Mary C. Ferrara (U.S. Narrative/Television, Web/New Media, 59 mins, Q&A). It’s 1989 and “Wallie’s Big Deals” isn’t doing too well due to competition, so the employees, affectionately called “Wallie’s Gals,” use their unique personalities to draw more business. Fast forward 30 years, and Maxine, the store’s manager, needs them back.

Block #7: 6:15 PM

Always Wear Comfortable Shoes directed by Angie Hansen (U.S. Narrative, Horror, Comedy, 1 min, Q&A). Paula learns one of the golden rules to surviving a horror movie the hard way.

Brutus directed by Julia Samborski (U.S. Student Animation, Music Video, 3 mins). Based on “The Tragedy of Julius Caesar,” this animated music video recontextualizes Brutus not only as a woman but as someone who sought the same glory her closest friend had received in spades.

DoorSlash directed by Sabrina Peña Young (WNY Experimental, Horror, Comedy, 10 mins, Q&A). What if the Grim Reaper had an app? In this quirky horror comedy written for the first time by the Young Mother/Daughter duo, teen Ember tries to save up to buy a pet store by working for DoorSlash, but the Grim Reaper has other plans.

Lorelei directed by Jaime Nebeker (U.S. Narrative, Fantasy, Horror, Puppet, 18 mins). Rose finds herself the prey of living woods while picking berries to make her grandmother’s berry pie.

The Sicks directed by Taylor Martin (WNY Narrative, Drama, Social Commentary, Action, Thriller, 20 mins). A father enters a deadly competition to win money to save his sick daughter.

Block #8: 7:40 PM 

Outbound directed by Missy Bell (U.S. Narrative, 9 mins, Q&A). A bedraggled young wanderer lives completely isolated in a desolate world until reviewing past choices forces a call for help.

White Female directed by Sarah Falkiner (U.S. Narrative, 10 mins, Q&A). Two childhood friends realize their lifelong connection was much more fragile than imagined.

Pickled Herring directed by Milana Vayntrub (U.S. Narrative, Comedy, Drama; Language: English, Russian; 17 mins). After an embarrassing accident, Irina must rely on her old world father’s care, but he uses the opportunity to pester her about everything including starting a new family, even though she’s barely surviving the one she was born into.

She, Who Dared directed by Gabrielle Rosson (U.S. Narrative, Biopic, Drama, Romance, History, 1920s, 1930s, 24 mins, Q&A). A short proof-of-concept about silent era female filmmaker Lois Weber, a pioneer of cinema who has been largely forgotten since she died in 1939. The film aims to remember one of the most notable lost “mothers of film” and her contributions to Hollywood, encouraging a reimagining of film history. It features an original score by Ian Rashkin and a recreation of the lost ending to Weber’s film What Do Men Want? 

Block #9: 9:30 PM

Interception: Jayne Kennedy, American Sportscaster directed by Safiya Songhai (U.S. Documentary, Sports, Sportscasting 15 mins, Q&A). A bronze-skin bombshell rocks the world of Sunday Morning Football – millions tune in, but few know the story of Jayne Kennedy, the first Black woman to boldly run interception on the racial lines of American sportscasting.

Take the Ice directed by Rachel Koteen (U.S. Documentary, 1 hr. 28 mins, Q&A). Take the Ice follows the founder and commissioner of the first professional women’s hockey league and the athletes competing to win its first championship. As the commissioner struggles to keep the league afloat, the players must come together in the wake of an on-ice accident that leaves their teammate paralyzed.


Block #10: 1:45 PM

Yeetcosystem directed by Suzanne Skaar (U.S. Animation, Comedy, Commentary, 1 min). An exciting new solution to the housing crisis, income inequality, and more!

Lessons in Cage Decoration directed by Kimberly Te (U.S. Experimental, 3 mins, Q&A). A woman is increasingly entrapped in her surroundings.

With My Dad directed by Zeinab Badri (Iran, Animation, 7 mins). A little girl learns from her father how to live in the world in sweet daily adventures.

Solace directed by Aminah Hughes (Australia, Narrative, 10 mins, Q&A). Isolated and facing her mortality, a woman finds solace in the natural world around her.

Wilderness directed by Amelie Leroy (U.K., Narrative, Horror, Adventure, 15 mins, Q&A). When a successful but emotionally exhausted woman seeks to find herself on a solo hike, she must face a primal darkness or lose herself entirely.

A Mermaid on a Summer’s Night directed by Ke Liu (U.S. Student, Drama, Fantasy, Children, Female, 14 mins). Introverted, seven-year-old Zoe daydreams about the little mermaid and lives with her single mom, Eva, a temperamental and otherworldly music teacher.

This is Not a Pipe Dream directed by Tracy Snyder (WNY Narrative, Surrealist, Drama, 18 mins, Q&A). Far-removed in a backyard woodland, our suicidal woman is united with a younger and older version of herself in a surrealist dreamscape. Ancestral ghosts stage stories that rally our woman who is nearing release from a psychiatric hospital. A fanciful tale based in truth.

The Asifa Bano Story directed by Mina Isabella JafriMalik (U.S. Documentary, Socioeconomic and Human Rights Issues, Language: English, Urdu; 39 mins). Eight-year-old Asifa Bano was abducted, drugged, starved, raped, and brutally tortured before eventually being murdered by perpetrators who hoped to chase her people away from their homeland.

Block #11: 4:45 PM

CAUGHT directed by Kim Karpanty (U.S. Experimental, Dance, 1 min). CAUGHT by surprise? Rescued from falling? Either we coexist through resistance and division or pledge to support, connect, and uplift each other.

Holy Moly Meteorite directed by V. Leigh (U.S. Narrative, Sci-Fi, Comedy, 3 mins, Q&A). Two people spend their last minute on earth on an awkward date.

Still Calling Darilyn directed by Natalie Marmol (U.S. Music Video, Love, Empowerment, Women, Afro-Latina, Black Woman, 4 mins). An ex keeps calling a woman who has moved on.

Trying directed by Emily Alpren (U.S. Narrative, 7 mins, Q&A). She expected getting pregnant would be easy. Then she started trying.

V-Card directed by Brooklyn Braaten (Drama, Dramedy, Romantic Dramedy, 8 mins, Q&A). Remorseful about giving away what the world has deemed her most precious asset, this first-time bowler wrestles with a world where virginity is personified into a tangible V-card.

Baba Yaga Smoked Me Out directed by Julia Berkey (U.S. Narrative, Comedy, Horror, LGBTQ, Lesbian, Fantasy, Puppet, 10 mins, Q&A). In this puppet-tastic queer 420 comedy, a heartbroken and unemployed dyke unknowingly smokes magical weed and summons the mysterious Baba Yaga – an old hag witch that grants wishes for a price.

The Trials and Tribulations of Therapy directed by Carolina Herrera (U.S. Student, 10 mins, Q&A). A young autistic woman begrudgingly goes to therapy and ends up connecting with her therapist for the first time in her many failed attempts over the years.

Eupnea directed by Trish Morrissey (U.K. Experimental, 12 mins). A surreal, dreamlike journey through life, death, loss, longing, and maternal desire, one breath, one heartbeat at a time.

The Sweetest Goodbye directed by Emily Schooley (Canada, Narrative, Social Impact, Drama, 14 mins, Q&A). When a chronically ill woman throws a goodbye party under false pretenses, her best friend uncovers the real reason behind her departure – and confronts her in a last-ditch effort to get her to stay.

Awards Presentation: 7:30pm – 8:30pm

Block #12: 9:00 PM

Ardor directed by V. Leigh (U.S. Narrative, Drama, Dystopian, Sci-Fi, 6 mins, Q&A). In the not-too-distant dystopian future, a couple must decide whether love, family, and passion can overcome a world divided by race.

Poppet directed by Dan Raymond (U.S. Animation, Horror, 4 mins). The horrors of those who hold grudges for the smallest of actions are revealed.

Company directed by Dan Raymond (U.S. Animation, Horror, Suspense, Thriller, 5 mins). A soul gets lonely when trapped in the basement.

Gummies directed by Renetta G. Amador (U.S. Narrative, Horror, Drama, LGBTQIA+, 5 mins). A tomboy transforms the gender trappings of her childhood to show her cruel mother how sugar and spice don’t equal nice.

Dibs on Mars directed by Julia Tutko-Balena (U.S. Experimental, Comedy, Musical, 6 mins). An  overworked woman has an evening in with some pizza and a bit too much sangria. She falls asleep and dreams about a musical vacation to Mars, where her unethical boss and every man who’s ever taken a promotion she deserved are far, far away. But can she truly leave her problems behind? Spoiler alert: NO.

Chipper directed by MK Kopp (U.S. Narrative, Horror, Comedy, Slasher, 10 mins). A high-achieving sorority queen practices every type of murder to find the perfect act of vengeance.

Hath No Fury directed by Kayleigh Keane (U.S. Student, Sci-Fi, Drama, Thriller, 13 mins). Heather wakes up on the steps of a church she’s never seen. Confused as to how she got here, she explores. Inside the church, she meets Peter, whom she looks to for help but ends up even more perplexed.


Block #13: 6:00 PM

Carnations directed by Sarah Mehani (WNY Student, 5 mins, Q&A). A deep love manifests into obsession and fear, forcing the protagonist to redefine its worth and value.

Blowing Off The Lake directed by Maria Brandt (WNY Experimental, 14 mins, Q&A). The legendary ghostly lady in white wanders by bodies of water looking for her lover, child, or…? A mother, daughter, and rover weave through a doomed psychosexual triangle in an interpreted answer to this question.

Mother’s Essence directed by Kylie Kuty (WNY Student, 5 mins, Q&A). The personification of Autumn is awoken at the beginning of her season, and after learning of the destruction humans have wrought on the environment, she takes vengeance through her control of the climate.

Gentle Wind directed by Marta Arjona, Maite Blasco (Spain, Experimental, Historical, Youth, Woman, Human Rights, Literature, 8 mins). A young student becomes frustrated after realizing she knows the names of many battles and fronts of the Spanish Civil War but little about the feelings and emotions of those who lived through the conflict. She finds the “War Ballads,” which will take her on a personal journey she will want to share with the world.

Little Dreams with Eyes Wide Open directed by Carolina Kzan (France, Experimental, Video Dance, 28 mins). 30-year-old Frida enters a building she goes to for dreaming with her eyes wide open. Frida takes us on an adventure about sisterhood, transmission of knowledge, and life experiences between women of different generations and backgrounds.

Fireflies directed by Cristina Otero Roth (Spain, Documentary, Mental Health, Inequalities, Disability, 39 mins). The protagonists of this documentary are fireflies that inhabit the night of mental illness. They call us from the dark to be seen, accepted, integrated. Being recognized for who they are and not because of a diagnosis is part of their healing.

Block #14: 8:00 PM

Love Letters for the Subway directed by Mary Hawkins (U.S. Animation, 2 mins). Hand-drawn, animated letters representing New York City’s subway lines as a love letter to NYC.

Soraya directed by Maryam Rahimi (Iran, Narrative, Drama, Family, Melodrama, 8 mins). Fearing family prejudices, Soraya, an Iranian woman, decides to immigrate illegally.

Conceal Her directed by Anna Maria Logan (WNY Student, 11 mins, Q&A). A girl dies from a drug overdose and her friend, a mortuary cosmetologist, gives her a makeover.

Citizens of Nowhere directed by Alicia Sully (U.S. Documentary, Social Issues, Human Rights, 11 mins). U.S. millennials discover their lack of legal nationality, sparking a search for recognition and belonging that unites them and offers hope for the future.

Love’s a Drug directed by Summer Faye Harris (WNY Student, Romance, Comedy, Drama, Dramedy, 12 mins, Q&A). An immature man finds a positive pregnancy test and hastily buys drugs, only to discover crudely inscribed Valentine sweethearts that lead him on a journey to reflect, and fix his love life.

Suspicious Minds directed by Imelda O’Reilly (Ireland, Experimental, Animation, Romance, Drama, 18 mins). A romance at a trippy Halloween rave goes wrong… Lola’s public breakup is disrupted when an Elvis impersonator comes to the rescue.

Murmurs of the River directed by Jeanne Travers, Bliss Kohlmyer, Dora Arreola (U.S. Experimental, 19 mins). Inspired by the anti-racist work of Ibram X. Kendi, this is a call-to-action response to systemic racism, bringing together the passionate voices and creativity of actors, dancers, musicians, visual artists, poets, and writers to build a genuine and constructive response to the historical review of concepts of human equality and civil rights.

Y directed by Tamara Cook (Australia, Experimental, Fantasy, Epic Myth, Comedy, 30 mins). Set in an apocalyptic future, four surviving women search to overcome their need for ‘Y’ and to secure humanity’s future. Survival meets myth, and the realms of earth and magic are fundamentally intertwined.

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