HIGHLIGHTS – APRIL 2021 ROMANCE Short Film Festival

AUDIENCE AWARD WINNERS:
Best COMEDY Film: THE MAN OF THE TERMS OF SERVICE
Best ROMANCE Film: THE MANILA LOVER
Funniest Film: ONCE BEAUTIFUL WOMAN
Best Performances: TUTTI IN BALLO
Best Cinematography: CONVERSATIONS AT DUSK
Best Sound & Music: SERGI & IRINA
Best Direction: PARENTHOOD 2050

Theme of night: Starting over after trauma.

NOTE: Festival took place during the COVID-19 virus lockdown so all screenings were held in private.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Videos:

festival posterTHE MAN OF THE TERMS OF SERVICE, 13min., Japan, Comedy
festival posterTHIS IS THE WAY, 4min., USA, Comedy/Action
festival posterMESSAGE FROM THE FUTURE, 3min., USA, Comedy/Animation
festival posterONCE BEAUTIFUL WOMAN, 8min., Comedy
festival posterTUTTI IN BALLO, 15min., Italy, Comedy/Family
festival posterJUICE ACTORS, 8min., Japan, Comedy
festival posterPARENTHOOD 2050, 9min., USA, Comedy/Romance
festival posterCONVERSATIONS AT DUSK, 10min., USA, Romance
festival posterSERGI & IRINA, 24min., Spain, Romance
festival posterTHE MANILA LOVER, 26min., Norway/Philippines, Romance

The beginning of a (temporary) new era.

See you at the festivals. Whenever that happens!

– Matthew Toffolo

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Director Biography – Amber Tordoff- Gibson (CONVERSATIONS AT DUSK)

Amber Tordoff – Gibson is a London based filmmaker who released her debut short ‘OverExposed’ in 2019 and since has been writing and developing her naturalistic and character driven style films.
‘OverExposed’ was well received at both Exit 6 & Little Wing Festival and now with her latest film ‘Conversation at Dusk’ she has pushed further her voice to explore the relationships we hold closest to us.

Director Statement

‘Conversations at Dusk’ was conceived many years ago having been inspired by the ‘Before’ trilogy and ‘Slacker’ to create a film that follows three couples who inadvertently cross paths and who are more alike than they first realise.
This film was made in lockdown and was a real testament to the cast and crew who with me learned how to make films in the current climate.
Conversations at Dusk is conversational piece that although simple in its style and concept I hope speaks volume as it takes the audience through the different stages of a relationship and how we change as we grow with age and each other.

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Short Film: CONVERSATIONS AT DUSK, 10min., USA, Romance

A film that follows three couples who inadvertently cross paths and who are more alike than they first realize.

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Director Biography – Johanna Pyykkö (THE MANILA LOVER)

Johanna Pyykkö is a director & screenwriter from a Swedish-Finnish minority-group and her nationality is Swedish. She is now based in Oslo, Norway.
She has a bachelor’s degree in film directing from The Norwegian Film School (2016). She’s made several award-winning shorts, worked as Joachim Trier’s director’s assistant and been an episode director (ep. 7) on “Nach” (Discovery) and writer for several TV-series including critically acclaimed “Home Ground”. Her debut feature “Ebba” was part of TIFF Filmmaker Lab in Toronto (2019) and her short “The Manila Lover” screened at the 58th Semaine de la Critique, in Cannes (2019) and in 42nd Festival International du Court Métrage de Clermont-Ferrand (2020), and won Norwegian Amanda Academy Award for Best Short (2020)

Director Statement

For a short time, I was working in the fashion industry in Scandinavia, where I met a woman from the Philippines. She told me about white, Nordic men approaching her, thinking she was “poor and easy”. I was stunned. It was so strange to me that these men could not see this Filipinas real persona. Being from a working class background myself, I’ve met many white, Nordic med who think they can travel to the Philippines and find love, just because they are Nordic men. I’ve also seen that these men, although with prejudiced assumptions, have an emotional and sensual side to them at the same time. I’ve never seen the complexity of this shown in a film before, and I wanted my short to reflect upon all of this.
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Short Film: THE MANILA LOVER, 26min., Norway/Philippines, Romance

During a trip to the Philippines, middle-aged, Norwegian Lars has met Abigail – the Filipina he wants to share his life with, but does she share his plans?

Project Links

News & Reviews

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Director Biography – Miquel Verd, Àlex Tejedor (SERGI & IRINA)

In 2007, Àlex is nominated to Max Prizes for “Tape”. In 2011 received 3 Prizes Escénica for “Algú Que Miri Per Mi”. In 2012 released his first short film “Lucifer” at Aguilar de Campoo Shorts Film Festival. He’s professionally worked as actor, director, screenwriter, and composer at many projects. Miquel Verd is the owner and executive producer of Singular Audiovisual SL, a film and television production company, created in 2001 and located in Mallorca. He has produced and directed all kinds of film and television projects, for regional television IB3 and TVE.

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Short Film: SERGI & IRINA, 24min., Spain, Romance

Raixa, June 21rst 1939. Sergi, the heir of the mansion falls in love with Irina, the mansion overseer’s niece, during the summer solstice party. Second World War previous circumstances force them to separate, but that night they arrange to meet next year, at the same place, at the same time. Will they keep their promise?

Project Links

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FEATURE FILM TRAILER: LOVE IS NOT LOVE, 95min., USA, Romance

Directed by Stephen Keep Mills

Early December, New York City, and everyone is on the hunt for love. Why? Because they haven’t found it and because they haven’t found it, they make it into a myth and chase the myth instead. That is not love in this romantic drama of fantasy, fate, and yearning.

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Director Biography – Stephen Keep Mills (LOVE IS NOT LOVE)

Stephen Keep Mills (Writer/Director/Actor/Producer) started out as an actor leaving the Yale Drama School in the spring of 1969 to join the Guthrie Theatre and then appearing over the next seventeen years with many regional companies in both the US and Canada. He performed in “The Shadow Box”, “Story Theatre” and “Metamorphosis” on Broadway and in several Off-Broadway houses including The Roundabout Theatre and The Public where his performance in Vaclav Havel’s “A Private View” earned him a Drama Desk nomination. His television credits include guest-starring roles in over 25 episodic shows and Movies Of The Week, a regular stint on the series “Flo” and a recurring role on the Sci-Fi series “VR-5.”


In the late 1990’s, Mills began directing and producing his own written works on stage, gaining critical notice with “SquareOne” in LA as well as an Ovation Nomination for his adaptation of “A Christmas Carol: The Ghost Story of Christmas” which he directed in collaboration with DeafWest Theatre in American Sign Language. In 2003, he produced and acted in the film of his play “Hotel Lobby”, and thereafter cast himself full-time as a filmmaker. He made his directorial debut with the 15-minute film “A Cigar at the Beach” (2005) which screened world-wide in 166 festivals, winning 47 awards. He followed up with another short “LIMINAL” in 2008 that accumulated 84 festival screenings and 30 awards. Mills is a member of Academy Award Winner Bobby Moresco’s Actors’ Gym and is included in Del Weston’s (AOF) Top 100 Indie Filmmakers In The World Part 1. He is mortally coached by the “living” ghost of Stella Adler. “Love is not Love” marks Mills’ first feature as director.


Director Statement

I am more attracted to the irrational swirl of interior particles of the human condition than the linear logic of exterior plots—sort of a psychological pointillism. The most epic dramas are all silently pitched on internal battlefields and we enter them like dreams, cracking the code of their riddles.


I want to put the viewers in places and situations they recognize but without dropping the breadcrumbs to tell them how they got there. I want to open their private eye onto the impressionistic world of the Interior. Our shared Interior. The drama I prefer is the drama of the private “I”.

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LOVE IS NOT LOVE, 95min., USA, Romance


Early December, New York City, and everyone is on the hunt for love. Why? Because they haven’t found it and because they haven’t found it, they make it into a myth and chase the myth instead. That is not love in this romantic drama of fantasy, fate, and yearning.

Project Links

  • Project Type: Feature
  • Genres: Romance, Drama
  • Runtime: 1 hour 34 minutes 41 seconds
  • Completion Date: January 1, 2020
  • Production Budget: 250,000 USD
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Country of Filming: United States
  • Language: English
  • Shooting Format: RED
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Film Color: Black & White
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