UNL alum Aliza Brugger to screen selection of films at the Ross

Aliza Brugger

November 1, 2022 by Erin Chambers

On Thursday, November 3 at 7:30pm, award-winning filmmaker and UNL alum Aliza Brugger will present a selection of her films at the Ross Media Arts Center, with a Q&A to follow. The event, which is free and open to the public, is co-sponsored by the Ross, the UNL Film Studies Program, and the UNL Women’s & Gender Studies Program.

Aliza Brugger is a screenwriter, director, and editor based in Los Angeles and New York City. Aliza graduated from UNL in 2015 with a B.A. in English and Film Studies, and minors in Sociology, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Theater. She went on to study at Columbia University, where she was awarded the Leta Stetter Hollingworth Fellowship and earned her M.F.A. in Screenwriting and Directing. Since then, she has written, directed, and edited features, TV pilots, and award-winning short films that have screened in festivals all over the world. She has also worked on music videos, commercials, and web content. Aliza enjoys exploring themes of sexuality, nature, family, and social class. Her goal as a filmmaker is to create stories that connect viewers to the image, to each other, and to the world.

FORGOTTEN LOVERS title cardAliza’s most recent short film, Forgotten Lovers, is an exploration of the moments immediately following a traumatic event. “When a zebra perceives a threat, like a crocodile, its brain hands control over to the body by pumping it full of adrenaline,” Aliza explains. “Once the zebra realizes it’s safe, it literally shakes the remaining adrenaline out of its nervous system by quivering from head to hoof. Human brains don’t instruct us to shake off trauma... traumatic experiences get stuck in our bodies leading to damaged nervous systems, flashbacks, and violent behavior.” Learning this lead her to reflect on her own experiences. “My body made decisions while my brain played catch up. What prevented my brain from regaining control from my body?” she asked. “What eventually helped get it back?”

We meet the protagonist of Forgotten Lovers, Quinn, in those moments of adrenaline just after a traumatic experience. Quinn finds herself pulled toward her half-sister, Tallulah, even though their relationship is hanging by a thread. “Forgotten Lovers explores this pull as a form of sisterhood that replaces Quinn’s missing instincts,” says Aliza. “I believe that sisterhood has too frequently been commodified as a cure-all, cozy solution. With Forgotten Lovers, I hope to portray it more truthfully as a cold and harsh, but necessary first step for Quinn to regain control over her body.”

Still from AIN'T NO MERCY FOR RABBITSAliza’s 2021 film, Ain’t No Mercy For Rabbits, is about a young girl and her grandmother fighting to survive in a desolate world with no drinkable water. Ain’t No Mercy for Rabbits was an official selection at the Toronto Film Festival, the Montclair Film Festival, and the Oscar Qualifying In the Palace International Short Film Festival, among others. It won Best International Short at the Female Eye Film Festival, as well as the Jury’s Citation Award for Narrative at the Thomas Edison Film Festival (formerly known as the Black Maria Film Festival).

“As a working-class, native Nebraskan who grew up with farmers as parents, I have seen and experienced the importance of our environment and the responsibility we have to care for it,” Aliza told the Washington West Film Festival. “However, I also have seen a blatant disregard for the damage we cause as the effects of climate change become deadlier and more tangible. In March 2019, historic flooding hit Nebraska, forcing entire cities to evacuate, sweeping away millions of animals, and even taking the lives of several Nebraskans. After seeing the impact these floods had on my home and family, I decided to tell a story that explores what could happen not only to our beautiful environment, but to the people who are fighting for it and who have minimal economical means of surviving in a world damaged by climate change.”

To learn more about Aliza’s numerous other short films and projects, including her award-winning shorts Roadkill, Pothos, and The Music Box, visit her IMDB profile and her website, alizabrugger.com.