A still from June 22nd courtesy of NFMLA

Michael .T and Estarlyn Hiraldo’s short film “June 22nd” is a tribute to that familiar high school sense of being lost and not knowing where to go next.

“A lot of the work that we do and the story is centered around identity and coming of age. That’s our bread and butter,” Hiraldo told NewFilmmakers Los Angeles in an interview.

“Growing up in our city, growing up in a Dominican neighborhood and surrounding all these white communities… going to schools where people don’t look like you — all of that like just kind of made us question everything we do. We wanted, really, to tell a story that pays homage to that nostalgia of being in high school, feeling lost, of the fears of growing up and not knowing what’s next.”

Making June 22nd

Written and directed by Michael .T and produced by Hiraldo, “June 22nd’ follows a group of high schoolers who, on their way to enjoy one of their last few days as teenagers, are surprised when they get confronted by a police officer and madness breaks out at the beach.

Michael .T counts among his inspirations The Power Rangers, The Breakfast Club, and John Hughes.

“The last two short films I did, they were very character-driven, and it was just one character. This one is more like an ensemble. And that was kind of like the idea I wanted to do for this third short film,” he says.

Michael .T started making films in 2016 by documenting his friends creating art around his hometown of Lawrence, Massachusetts. His first narrative short film was 2019’s “Boys Will Be Boys.” In 2020, he made his second short film, titled “Erika.”

Watch Michael .T and Hiraldo’s interview below.

“June 22nd” was part of NFMLA’s March film festival celebrating up-and-coming female talent in front of and behind the camera. The program included two shorts programs, along with award-winning filmmaker Dawn Jones Redstone’s debut feature.

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The day began with InFocus: Female Cinema Shorts I, a collection of films that explore motherhood, fertility, birth, and reproductive choice from a wide range of perspectives. The programming continued with the Los Angeles premiere of “Mother of Color,” the first feature from award-winning writer-director Dawn Jones Redstone. The night concluded with InFocus: Female Cinema Shorts II, an eclectic mix of short-form work from emerging talent, whose stories explored body image, intimate relationships, work and its many struggles.

NFMLA showcases films by filmmakers of all backgrounds throughout the year in addition to its special InFocus programming, which celebrates diversity, inclusion, and region. All filmmakers are welcome and encouraged to submit their projects which will be considered for all upcoming NFMLA Festivals, regardless of the InFocus programming. 

Main Image: A still from ‘June 22nd’ courtesy of NFMLA.