Trenton: To the Moon and BackDirected by Josh Leong
NOMINEE – Best Documentary Short
In 2017, Brian Auga (20) was recruited in the Solomon Islands for the International Leadership Training Program. Both he and his brother, Moses, were promised college scholarships and flown to the US. Over the next two years, the brothers and at least 25 indigenous teens/YA’s were trafficked in vans across state lines, soliciting money. Enduring inhumane living conditions, the boys were indoctrinated into the Unification Church – colloquially known as the “Moonies”. Only through COVID-19 did the boys dramatically escape the trafficking group. Finding refuge in a rural town in Trenton, Georgia, the pair remained in hiding until 2022, impacting the deeply conservative community there, forever.
Directed by Josh Leong
Produced by Sam Gollob, Will Nelson, Sofia Bara, and Josh Leong
Director’s Bio: Josh Leong is a Webby Award®-winning writer, director, and producer from the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. His latest film, “Chicken”, premiered at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival and he was a spotlight director with NBCUniversal’s Scene in Color Film Series. Most recently, Josh was awarded a blind script deal by Universal Television and acclaimed film producer, Will Packer. Lost Boys, his upcoming feature debut, was a semifinalist at the 2021 Sundance Creative Producing Lab and 2022 Development Track. Currently, he’s a selected writer with the MACRO x The Blacklist Feature Screenplay Incubator, and a semifinalist at the DGA Commercial Directors Diversity Program.
“[My] film’s structure adopts Polynesian perceptions of non-linear time, where past, present, and future intertwine. The past coexists with our present and future.” –Karin Williams This quote could frame this year’s Pacific Shorts Showcase. These award-winning shorts from filmmakers throughout the Pacific involve journeys across time, space, culture, and religion. From a docu-art piece about a young man who travels from luxury resorts to a time when his tīpuna first settled to animated queer mythic love story inspired by the Hawaiian concept of aikāne, these stories trace the interconnections between self and community and the power of belief.