The 40th annual tour of the Thomas Edison (formerly Black Maria) Film Festival kicks off virtually with a premiere screening of several top award-winning films preceded by an audience Q&A with filmmakers and Festival Director Jane Steuerwald. Following the premiere, the films will be available on-demand through February 21.

Presented by the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Visual Arts and Thomas Edison Media Arts Consortium.


The premiere event is free and open to the public. Join for audience Q&A on Zoom; no registration required.



Viewers in need of other access accommodations are invited to contact the Lewis Center at least 2 weeks in advance at


Still from the film “Maya at 24” by Lynne Sachs

Maya at 24

by Lynne Sachs (Brooklyn, NY)
Experimental — 4 min.

Lynne Sachs films her daughter Maya in 16mm black and white film, at ages 6, 16 and 24. At each iteration, Maya runs around her mother, in a circle—clockwise—as if propelling herself in the same direction as time, forward. Conscious of the strange simultaneous temporal landscape that only film can convey, we watch Maya in motion at each distinct age.


paper doll cut out figures

Still from “The Ephemeral Orphanage” by Lisa Barcy

The Ephemeral Orphanage

By Lisa Barcy (Chicago, IL)
Animation — 15 min.

A group of tattered paper dolls daydream alternate realities and surreptitiously explore the hidden lives of their strict and secretive caregivers. Hijinks ensue and discoveries are made as the characters live out their childhood fantasies. Created with found paper dolls cut from a 1920’s newspaper and found in an attic, the film explores the adults attempt to dictate what girls learn, and the children’s talent for discovering forbidden knowledge.


Still from the film “The Toxic Pigs of Fukushima ” by Otto Bell

The Toxic Pigs of Fukushima

by Otto Bell (New York, NY)
Documentary — 35 min.

The Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 triggered a tsunami, nuclear meltdown and mass evacuations in Fukushima Prefecture. Today, as part of a Government push to encourage resettlement, local hunters have been enlisted to dispose of radiated wild boars that now roam the abandoned streets and buildings. The film follows a lone hunter into an isolated and changed landscape. Along the way, other citizens who still live near the reactor share their perspectives on the aftermath. “The Toxic Pigs of Fukushima” was inspired by the photographs of co-producers Toru Hanai and Yuki Iwanami. The original score was written and performed by renowned ambient artist Midori Takada.


two crouching figures wrapped in plastic

Still from the film “De-Eschatology” by Charly Santagado and Eriel Santagado


by Charly Santagado and Eriel Santagado (Metuchen, NJ)
Experimental — 5 min.

“De-Eschatology” is a physical manifestation of the claustrophobic conditions created by the Covid-19 crisis and the yearning to break free from them. The piece seeks to draw attention to a heightened sense of touch, which directly results from the lack of physical contact many in quarantine face. The film’s trajectory explores the gradual de-escalation of shelter-in-place orders, and its psychological effects.


Still from the film “A Trip with Mom” by Sophie Shui

A Trip with Mom

by Sophie Shui (New Taipei, Taiwan)
Narrative — 25 min.

In order to take care of his aged and disabled mother with dementia, Xia Changming is unable to work and lives at home with his mother, wife and son. Under multiple pressures of complaints from his wife, and economic, physical, and mental stress, Changming is always depressed and feels hopeless and helpless to change his family’s situation. Finally, after the police bring his mother back after she has wandered away, Changming decides to take her on a trip.


For 40 years the Thomas Edison Film Festival (formerly known as the Thomas Edison Black Maria Film festival) has been advancing the unique creativity and power of the short form. The Festival was founded in 1981 and was originally named for Thomas Edison’s West Orange, NJ, film studio, whose resemblance to the familiar black-box shaped police paddy wagons sparked the nickname “black maria.” The Festival’s relationship to Thomas Edison’s invention of the motion camera and the kinetoscope and his experimentation with the short film is at the core of the Festival. Thomas Edison Film Festival is an international juried competition celebrating all genres and independent filmmakers across the globe.

The Festival is a project of the Thomas A. Edison Media Arts Consortium, which also showcases the New Jersey Young Filmmakers Festival and the Global Insights Collection, an archive of films focusing on the environment, LGBTQ subjects, people with disabilities, international issues, race and class, and films with themes of social justice.

In addition to the support from the Lewis Center, the Thomas Edison Media Arts Consortium receives generous support from New Jersey State Council on the Arts; the Charles Edison Fund – Edison Innovation Foundation; the Hudson County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs and Tourism; the Hoboken Historical Museum; Big Sky Edit; WithumSmith+Brown; Lowenstein Sandler, LLP; the NBA; Monster Remotes; Syracuse University; Fairleigh Dickenson University; Adobe Systems, Inc.; and Microsoft through

Learn more about the Thomas Edison Film Festival and the Thomas A. Edison Media Arts Consortium

Presented By

  • Thomas Edison Media Arts Consortium
  • Program in Visual Arts