ByDesign [Online] 2020 – The clocks were striking thirteen: Short Film Program

This event took place Mar 19 - Mar 21, 2020

Sliding scale admission: $0–25

Please pay what you can; proceeds support our move to a virtual platform!

Showtime listed is Pacific Standard Time.



ByDesign Festival 2020 is STREAMING ONLINE! Northwest Film Forum’s physical space is temporarily closed in light of public health concerns around COVID-19, but community, dialogue, and education through media arts WILL persist.

• • HOW TO WATCH • •

  • Purchase a ticket or festival pass through Brown Paper Tickets as usual.
  • 30 minutes before each screening, NWFF will send a link and password to your registered e-mail address! (Don’t see it? Check your spam filter.) The password will expire at the end of the film.
  • If by showtime you do not receive an e-mail with details, please contact for a quick follow-up. (But please, check your spam!)


An expedition-type urban cruise that takes you to nostalgic harbors of the past and surreal ports of the future.

Curated by NWFF Programming Assistant Anastasia Babenko. Header image: Go Home, by Jeff Frost.

Short films in this program:

All Inclusive

(Corina Schwingruber Ili, Switzerland, 2018, 10 min)

A sun deck to lounge on, restaurants to choose from, pools galore, and a sky-high matrix of rooms  all with an ocean view: around-the-clock fun is guaranteed on a luxury cruise. All Inclusive casts an eye on the industry and culture built from the concept of the luxury ocean liner. These ships afford every customer a celebrity experience, however its one that few will return to at home. In the towering ship’s wake, we are left behind with a hoard of digital memories and a cloud of exhaust fumes on the horizon.

Trailer >

16 District, 16 Floors, 16 People

(Tatevik Vardanyan, Armenia, 2018, 20 min)

16 District, 16 Floors, 16 People, is a short film featuring a district in Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia. In this district, the legacy of the Soviet Union still occupies the minds and daily lives of the residents, particularly those living in huge unfinished monolithic structures built in the shape of the letters CCCP (USSR), as the urban legend holds. In 1986, people still invested in some of the apartments in the letter P, left incomplete at the time of the Soviet Union’s collapse.

The film highlights the community’s everyday issues and concerns, describing changes and difficulties that span from past to present, affecting citizens whose superpower has long lived in a state of decay.

Trailer >


(Nils Clauss & Neil Dowling, 2017, 6 min)

if… was commissioned and screened as the opening film for the World Architects Congress in Seoul 2017. The film explores the creativity of a group of children from all over the world as they respond to the cityscapes they inhabit. In asking what they would do differently and how they express themselves creatively we go on a fantastic journey of the imagination, that touches on many different aspects of their lives.

In the Robot Skies

(Liam Young, Belgium, 2016, 10 min)

Directed by speculative architect Liam Young and written by fiction author Tim Maughan, In the Robot Skies is the worlds first narrative shot entirely through autonomous drones. In collaboration with the Embedded and Artificially intelligent Vision Lab in Belgium the film has evolved in relation to their experiments with specially developed camera drones each programmed with their own cinematic rules and behaviors. The film explores the drone as a cultural object, not just as a new instrument of visual storytelling but also as the catalyst for a new collection of urban subcultures.

In the way the New York subway car of the 80s gave birth to a youth culture of wildstyle graffiti and hip hop, the age of ubiquitous drones as smart city infrastructure will create a new network of surveillance activists and drone hackers.

From the eyes of the drones, we see two teenagers each held by police order within the digital confines of their own council estate tower block in London. A network of drones survey the council estates, as a roving flock of CCTV cameras and our two characters are kept apart by this autonomous aerial infrastructure. We watch as they pass notes to each other via their own hacked and decorated drone, like kids in an old fashioned classroom, scribbling messages with biro on paper, balling it up and stowing it in their drones. In this near future city, drones act as agents of state surveillance, but also become co-opted as the aerial vehicles through which two teens fall in love.

It's Going to be Beautiful

(John Henry Theisen & Luis Gutiérrez Arias, Mexico & US, 2018, 9 min)

Eight prototypes for a border wall stand on the US-Mexico border. To choose a winning design, Border Patrol officers and the military attempt to climb, dig under, or breach the structures using techniques employed by immigrants and drug dealers.

Trailer >

Go Home

(Jeff Frost, US, 2019, 4 min)

The uninhabitable structure used in this work is itself unable to be what most (but not all) would consider an acceptable living space, suggesting the fragility not just of physical spaces and ideas, but also of the circumstance of home. This series of optical illusion paintings on an abandoned structure in the southern Californian desert act as a contemplation of the many layers of an idea often taken for granted. Attempts at defining home, beyond a physical structure, readily invite complication both inner and outer. The paintings themselves operate on different layers, but one accessible starting point is to imagine the projection of emotion not just onto physical space, but onto the idea of home itself. In order to maintain a world view our emotional alignment must be very precise. One step to left or right, and the illusion breaks.

ECOS | Oda al Silencio

** Co-presented with Velocity Dance Center **

(Andres Arochi, Mexico, 2018, 4 min)

Mexican architect Luis Barragan’s Casa Estudio—a modernist house in Mexico City—hosts a body-bending dance troupe who twist and move through the geometric building’s colorful spaces and rooms. Through play and experiment, the dancers evoke the energy of the building; the vibrations and ambiances of each volume. This multidisciplinary piece blends architecture, cinema, performance and music to elicit the human experience within Barragan’s space.

About the curator:

About the curator:

Anastasia Babenko is a Programming Assistant and this year’s Gala Producer at Northwest Film Forum. Before switching to film and moving to Seattle, she used to work as a news reporter in Ukraine, Germany, and Washington D.C. Her first curatorial experience at the Center on Contemporary Art in Seattle inspired her to become more actively involved with film programming. Besides her work at NWFF, Anastasia is also a part of Seattle International Film Festival’s 2020 programming team.

View ByDesign 2020 Festival Program:

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