Liberty a film by Faren Humes. 2019, USA, 17 min. In Miami’s Liberty City, two dance teammates are confronted by the redevelopment of their neighborhood. Women to Watch: Five new shorts by exciting voices.


In insightful, beautifully poised short drama Liberty, two dance teammates’ friendship is tested when Liberty Square, the predominantly black Miami neighborhood in which they live, is forcefully redeveloped. Directed by accomplished short filmmaker Faren Humes and the winner of SXSW’s Special Jury Award and prizes from the Champs-Élysées, Berlinale and Miami film festivals, it screens now in its online premiere.


Working in 2015 as a location manager on Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, Humes was searching Liberty Square for a potential location when Miami City Hall announced sweeping plans for the public housing complex. Concerned about the protections, rights and agency of the residents during the impending upheaval, Humes soon returned with her own film crew. She then worked closely with the locals to build a story that addressed their problems and experience, often writing or improvising scenes around the stories they told her, and relying on her intuition to guide her.



“I have an interest in work that, through affect, engages the body; and explores the felt modes of navigating our personal and collective journeys. As a result, there’s a lot of ‘body work’ on set. I don’t cut until my body registers a moment of resonance. Otherwise, “Let’s go again.” ” FAREN HUMES


Humes found first-time actors Alexandra Jackson and Milagros Gilbert on local high school Miami Northwestern’s dance team. The team and its coach Traci Young-Byron were then weathering an intense media frenzy – as well as threats and sexist remarks – for costumes worn during their performances. Impressed by their courage, Humes cast from the group, who give amazingly sensitive and subtle performances, especially the two leads.


An alumnus of Florida State University’s graduate film program (where Barry Jenkins, Amy Seimetz and David Robert Mitchell had also studied), Humes is the recipient of fellowships from the Sundance Institute, Film Independent’s Project Involve and the Robert and Chaz Ebert Foundation. Her previous shorts include Macho (2016), a drama about “hypermasculinity in the South” that was an official selection of the Chicago International and New Orleans film festivals. One of Filmmaker Magazine 2019 “25 New Faces of Independent Film”, she is currently in development on her feature debut, Fire.w*rks, adapted from Liberty and set to shoot in January 2020.

Credits for
Milagros Gilbert, Alexandra Jackson, Willnya Jenkins, Ria Anderson, Mary Griffin, Mcarthur Richard, Calvin Bruce & Bernard Poitier Jr.
written by
Faren Humes
produced by
Katherine Fisher, Diego Nájera & Diana Ward
co-produced by
Esther Park & Dennis Scholl
associate produced by
Monica Sorelle
executive produced by
Kimberly Han, Valerie Castillo Martinez, Francisco Velasquez, Angel Kristi Williams
Zamarin Wahdat
Joel C. Hernandez
Aleshka Ferrero
production design
Gabriela Soto
costume design
Gabriela Soto
choreography by
Traci Young-Byron