We all want to feel safe. That desire for safety prompts us to move somewhere new or stand up to oppression in the place we are.


Those themes resonate through two of the student shorts at this year’s SCAD Savannah Film Festival.


Nicola Rinciari, a 2020 SCAD graduate, wrote and directed "Our Side." In the 2020 Student Academy award-nominated short, a woman named Adillah has found employment in Italy after fleeing a country in Africa. After a change to her visa threatens her safety, she has to decide whether to save her employer’s life or save herself.


Rinciari wanted to draw attention to the racial injustice and inequality he was seeing in his native Italy, but he also wanted to show how it’s also a problem worldwide.


"More specifically, we were getting into the story of Palermo, [Italy] and that particular situation with immigrants coming from Africa to Sicily, the more we felt we were touching a worldwide issue that everybody could understand and connect with."


21 SCAD students flew to Italy to work on the film.


"They decided to pitch in and come on this journey to Sicily from SCAD and see the original inspiration walking in the streets. It’s seeing this racial injustice, seeing these laws being made last year when the project started and noticing how prominent it’s become worldwide."


Even though the film is set in Italy, Rinciari has seen how people from many other places have connected with the film. He hopes it will help people empathize with the plight of those like Adillah who are just looking for a safe place to call home.


Another 2020 graduate, Hailey French, also hits on themes of safety in her film, "The Light Breaks."


"It’s about three generations of women who are faced with a life-changing decision based on the time period that they live in and also based on their race," she said.


The film switches between the 1950s, 70s, and the present day. "We felt it was really easy to look back 20 and 30, or 15 years and say, ‘Oh, how terrible? I can’t believe that they treated other people this way," French said.


"We really wanted people to reflect on our society today, and that’s why we created the modern day element."


828 student short films were submitted from around the world. Of those 828, only 22 were selected for the SCAD Savannah Film Festival this year.