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Elisha Shapiro is the director of the Nihilist International Film Festival. Learn more about Shapiro and the festival here.

Get to know Nihilist International Film Festival director Elisha Shapiro

As the awards season continues to push through looming lockdown uncertainty, the festival circuit continues to churn out Oscar hopeful after another. Yet on the flip side, there is an equally healthy part of the moviegoing world that doesn’t take the glitz and glamour anywhere near as seriously. The Nihilist International Film Festival is back again for 2021.

According to festival director Elisha Shapiro, the festival has been going strong for over two decades presenting the Nihilist viewpoint through an exemplary range of filmmaking styles with singular panache worthy of international attention. 2021 is set to be no different as filmmakers from all over the world converge in Los Angeles to present over two hours of short films. From comedies to drama and all in between, the Nihilist viewpoint is strong as ever.

Let’s take a closer look into what this other side of the festival circuit has to offer this year, and what it has brought to the table in the past.

Stacked American Lineup

American filmmakers make a solid contribution to the festival this year. So far, the program for the show lists contributions from Chicago, Los Angeles, New Jersey, Connecticut, Texas, and New York. 

Chicago-based Danny McCarthy is opening the festival with A Krampus Family Easter. Luis Tovar’s Mask On follows close behind depicting how difficult it was to meet new people in the middle of 2020. Sarah Baskin’s Donut Chase follows slapstick police officers trying to be helpful.

Worldwide contributions

The festival is not only stacked with American talent, but festival worthy filmmaking from across the Atlantic. Pakistan’s Rahul Aijaz mockumentary I, Prophet  revolves around a group of atheists forming a society in order to preach atheism to people in Pakistan. 

According to Aijaz, the film is based on the director’s experiences with religious preachers and imagines a role-reversal, which, subsequently, reflects on the religion-like mindsets of radical atheists as well as the hypocrisy of religious fanatics. 

Elsewhere, Yannis Ntousiopoulos represents for Greece with their lyric video for band 1000mods’ “Lucid” song. As the director says the video is inspired by Dadaism and Surrealism, this lyric video is an animated collage touching on various modern society issues. Topics that stick out most are equality, human rights, sexism, refugee crisis, suicide and the media.

Stalwart leader

As a Los Angeles-based conceptual artist, Elisha Shapiro is known for bodies of work across multi-hyphenate mediums. He worked on the 1984 Nihilist Olympics, and a campaign for President of the United States in 1988. He also ran a campaign for Los Angeles County Sheriff in 1994, and the Nihilism Expo World’s Fair in 1999. 

Elsewhere, Shapiro is the founder of the International Nihilist Film Festival held annually in Los Angeles since 1999, and the publisher of the annual Nihilist Calendar. He also produced a public access TV show called “Nihilists’ Corner” that ran from 1992 until 2006 in Los Angeles and New York. Recently, Shapiro wrote a book called LA Freak about growing up in Los Angeles in the 60s and 70s. It is available for reading today.

Pushing forward

Director Shapiro has high hopes for the proceedings despite the obstacles of the pandemic. It wouldn’t be the first set of hurdles the festival has had to face.

“Since 1999, we have been doing this film festival.  And things have changed a lot.  More people have access to better technology, and more access to film festivals.” the director said. “More people are able to make great art expressing their weird nihilist world view.  So we have a great selection this year in spite of the pandemic situation.”


Which of the movies shown at the festival do you think has what it takes to transcend into the larger festival circuit? Let us know in the comments!

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