The Hollywood spotlight will shine downtown next week as the Hanford International Film Festival returns to The Fox.

Skipped last year due to the COVID-10 pandemic, the third annual festival is scheduled to take place at 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 21. The festival will screen around two dozen short films from around the world – even a handful from right here in the Valley.

“I wouldn’t believe it if you told me that by year three the festival would explode like it did,” said founder and organizer George Miller.

Miller said the scope of the festival has made the competition tougher than ever, both in the judging that will take place during the festival and during the selection process for participation.

Receiving approximately three times as many submissions from aspiring and established filmmakers as in previous years, the selection process became more rigorous and tougher choices were made.

Many films have been made during the pandemic, and as such, a number of films address themes of loneliness and isolation, including “aLone” and “Father’s Day.” Some have used quarantine creatively, as a “Care Package”.

However, to say that the films deal with one subject or theme would be extremely inaccurate. The movies are as varied as any you can find on Netflix or Hulu – probably more.

Everything from absurd comedy and family drama to high-level sci-fi and noir thrillers can be seen at the Festival. The films were made by up-and-coming local artists as well as established Hollywood creators.

Each film lasts between 3 and 20 minutes and the winners in several categories will be announced at the end of the evening.

Tickets are now available at the Fox box office or online at: Pre-reserved seats are available for $10 online or $12 cash at the door.

Here’s a look at the films fans can expect to see at the festival.

This dark noir film tells the story of a couple of criminals fleeing the law after a job is gone. The film feels influenced not only by Quentin Tarantino, but also by the gothic criminal pulpits of the south. Writer/director Jeffrey Bowman, of Hanford, also co-stars in the short. Bowman creates a lot of atmosphere with few resources.

Shot in Boston, Massachusetts by director Joel Familier, this short film shows the budding relationship between music lover John and his new neighbor, the deaf Julie.

Directed by Don “Donny” Most, who audiences will remember as Ralph Malph from “Happy Days,” this film plays out like most of our pandemic years — over a Zoom-like video call. A woman played by Linda Purl (also known as “Happy Days”) chats via webcam with her sister about all the nitty-gritty of life in this goofy comedy with a dark, comedic twist.

A man spends Father’s Day alone, reminiscing about the good and bad times that brought him through. The physicality of certain actors shines through and is reinforced by the surprising use of some classic songs from The Smiths.

This surreal and poignant animated film deals with the loneliness of the COVID pandemic. We were sheltering in place and working remotely from home – but home might as well have been on another planet. We might as well have been on the Mars Rover, collecting information, observing, but never really interacting. Host David Lopez, 30, submitted this work from Medellín, Colombia.

Director Regina Ainsworth brings us this atmospheric dystopian sci-fi tale. The short is written by Karen Sandler, based on her “Tankborn Trilogy” of young adult novels. In it, Kayla, a genetically modified (GEN) non-human, sparks an uprising after the death of her best friend.

This film, directed by Will Sidaros, was originally created for the 48 Hour Film Project, a program that challenges filmmakers to create a complete short film in less than two days. In this silly black comedy, a family opts for the cheap option on their vacation and ends up spending the night at the house of a possible cannibal.

“For Whom the Bell Tolls”

In this beautifully filmed short, two strangers meet in a church and have a conversation about theology, morals and ethics. But, will any of them learn the true meaning of forgiveness?

This short film follows a young woman in training to become a professional wrestler – an interesting concept that has captured the zeitgeist lately on TV shows like “Glow” and “Young Rock”. The film benefits greatly from the writing and directing of Hanford’s Stanley Abad Williams, who treats the subject seriously. Tia Laulusa gives a great performance and the film also looks great thanks to the visual touches of cinematographer Chad Saechao.

A man spends his birthday working in his office. In a fun twist, his “boring” office job involves helping super spies on dangerous missions. However, the lives of secret agents prove mundane compared to the eccentricities of office politics.

Hanna Oliveros plays a young woman who wakes up in an abandoned factory, apparently kidnapped by creepy militants. Almost immediately, she begins to fight her way out in a flurry of frenetic action scenes that feel influenced by some of the best action films of the past 20 years – ‘John Wick’ and ‘Hardcore Henry’. Director Hubert Boorder’s long career as a stuntman is on full display as Hanna leaps from violent stunt to violent stunt in this fun action flick.

In this moving short film, a young girl saves a little of her glass of water every day to give it to the parched and cracked earth around her house. Although the film hails from Turkey, it will clearly resonate with viewers in the Central Valley who know the effects of drought all too well.

“The Dishwasher Prophecies”

A man receives life advice while doing the dishes.

A racist who regularly belittles his multicultural neighbors comes to a crossroads when he needs their help. Will he swallow his pride and ask for help? And will the neighbors help him?

On his daughter’s wedding day, a father reminisces about the last years he spent raising and watching her grow. There’s unlikely to be a dry eye in the Fox Theater audience as this sentimental and emotional tale comes to an end.

Depicting the early days of the war between the Scots and the English, this film takes full advantage of the outdoors to sell its setting.

This very short but very poignant story by Stockton director Paul Bestolarides is a must-read for anyone who likes to share a cup of coffee with a loved one in the morning.

This film, presented by Bay Area director Saurav Mohapatra, presents a dark and satirical look at the gig economy. When a hitman finds himself picked up by a nosy, talkative driver, he must decide whether to eliminate the potential witness or let him go. The neo-noir subverts many viewers’ expectations in the end.

A very cute and breezy addition to the often overlooked “fake trailer” short film subgenre. This two-minute short features a fake trailer for a Wes Anderson-esque fake movie.