The 17th Annual Iowa City International Film Festival (ICDOCS) will be presented as a free live-streamed three-day event April 30-May 2, 2020. We made the decision to suspend all in-person events for ICDOCS due to growing health concerns surrounding COVID-19, and instead present short films in competition, moderated Q&As with filmmakers following the film screenings and special programs entirely online. In addition, Jurors will fulfill their commitment of reviewing programmed films in competition.




LORE / Sky Hopinka / US / 2019 / 10:16 – Images of friends and landscapes are cut, fragmented, and reassembled on an overhead projector as hands guide their shape and construction in this film stemming from Hollis Frampton’s (nostalgia). The voice tells a story about a not too distant past, a not too distant ruin, with traces of nostalgia articulated in terms of lore; knowledge and memory passed down and shared not from wistful loss, but as a pastiche of rumination, reproduction,  and creation.

maɬni – towards the ocean, towards the shore / Sky Hopinka / US / 2020 / 1:20:09 – This film follows Sweetwater Sahme and Jordan Mercier’s wanderings through each of their worlds as they wonder through and contemplate the afterlife, rebirth, and the place in-between. Spoken mostly in chinuk wawa, their stories are departures from the Chinookan origin of death myth, with its distant beginning and circular shape.

COMPETITIVE PROGRAM #1 “New Shoes” in “Eden” @ 8:30PM CST

Field Resistance / Emily Drummer / US / 2019 / 15:45 – Charging scenes of the present with dystopian speculation, Field Resistance blurs the boundaries between documentary filmmaking and science fiction to investigate overlooked environmental devastation in the overlooked state of Iowa. Footage collected from disparate locations—a university herbarium, karst sinkholes inhabited by primordial flora and fauna, a telecommunication tower job site, a decaying grain silo, among others—interlocks to evoke a narrative of present danger and future disaster, of plant expansion and humanity’s retreat. The film rejects the human individual as the focus of narrative cinema, and, instead, adopts the perspective of a symbiotic “implosive whole” in which human and nonhumans are related in an overlapping, non-total way.

Wasteland No. 2: Hardy, Hearty / Jodie Mack / US / 2019 / 6:40 / silent – Garden ghosts flirt with the weeds of spring, cycling matter[s] and lives and deaths. From Felix Salten’s Bambi, chapter on Winter: “Can it be true,” said the first leaf, “can it really be true, that others come to take our places when we’re gone and after them still others, and more and more?” “It really is true,” whispered the second leaf. “We can’t even begin to imagine it, it’s beyond our powers.” “It makes me very sad,” added the first leaf. They were very silent a while.”

Animal Farm / James Hollenbaugh / US / 2019 / 2:53 – The animals do not stay long at the ‘Animal Farm’. Animals arrive but never leave. Uncle Steve won’t let them. It’s a place where animals come to die.

Vesuvius At Home / Christin Turner / US & Italy / 2018 / 14:00
Volcanoes be in Sicily
And South America
I judge from my
Geography— Volcanoes
nearer here
A Lava step at any time
Am I inclined to
A Crater I may contemplate Vesuvius at
– Emily Dickinson
A fantastical journey from the filmmaker’s childhood re-enactment of The Fall of Pompeii, through decades and decline, to the Sibyl’s Cave, wherein she discovers Vesuvius’ symbiosis with cinema, memory, and Giambattista Vico’s spiral of time.

Bitter with a Shy Taste of Sweetness / Saif Alsaegh / US / 2019 / 8:47Bitter with a Shy Taste of Sweetness contrasts the fragmented past of the filmmaker growing up in Baghdad with his surreal California present.

¡PíFIES! / Ignacio Tamarit / Argentina / 2017 / 4:00¡PíFIES! (from the Spanish slang, “mistake”) is the kind of film I would like to see when I screen home-movies, but that I never end up finding. From clippings of my own collection of home- movies, I built a rhythmic collage where at first the focus was placed on the films technical problems: violent pans, out of focus, insane zoom-ins, abrupt cuts, or what would have been discarded by the cineiste instead of being kept in the final cut. However, ¡PíFIES! ends up being an eulogy to home-movie filmmaking, to the construction of these amateur handmade films, to the filmmakers who shoot their families, their exotic trips, their daily lives so that they are remembered.

Larga Distancia (Long Distance) / Juan Manuel Calisto / Peru / 2019 / 12:14 – How to forgive and understand an absent father after his death? This personal documentary tries to answer this question. A young man calls the woman who was his deceased father’s trans ex-girlfriend when he abandoned his home, to have a better understanding of the story of this man, the reasons for his absence, and the human tale behind the prejudice. Based on the audios of this phone-call and family found footage.

We Were Hardly More Than Children / Cecilia Condit / US / 2019 / 8:39We Were Hardly More Than Children tells an epic tale of an illegal abortion, as lived by two women on a perilous journey through a world that has little concern for their survival. Paintings by Diane Messinger. Music by Renato Umali. Lena and friend: Flora Coker and Cecelia Condit.

FRIDAY, MAY 1, 2020
COMPETITIVE PROGRAM #2 – A lot of responsibility isn’t it? @ 2PM CST

If the edges start to hurt / Emma Piper-Burket / US & France / 2020 / 3:44 – There is a big tree in Southwestern New Mexico where wild turkeys  often roost. The tree is near a house, and at dusk everyone in that house gets very quiet hoping the turkeys won’t get scared away and go somewhere else to sleep. As the birds fly up to the highest branches their wings flap, displacing the wind around them. The whole process can last an hour or more. This is a film about staying supple after heartbreak and what happens when it snows in the desert.

When It Is Still / Anna Kipervaser / US / 2018 / 10:00 / silentAn enactment of transmutation, of the animation of the previously inanimate, the dead, the unborn. A rebirth of the self.

NEGRUM3 (BLACKN3SS) / Diego Paulino / Brazil / 2018 / 21:56 – Between melanin and far away planets, BLACKN3SS proposes a dive into the journey of the black youth of São Paulo city. A documentary on blackness, queerness and spacial aspirations of the diaspora’s children.

RUN! / Malic Amalya / US / 2019 / 11:00RUN! examines how ideologies of war structure structure landscapes,  community rituals, cinematic technology, entomology, pandemic management, and even notions of LGBTQ liberation.

Отнасяйте се с мен като с койот! (Treat Me As a Coyote!) / Nэno Бэlchэv (Neno Belchev) / Bulgaria & United States / 2018 / 2:20 – Being video-documentation of a pseudo-hooligan’s act, the video reflects the nowadays world migrant crisis. Moreover, the footage was filmed in front of the fence of LAX (Los Angeles International Airport), which is considered a very important border-crossing point in USA. A PSEUDO-HOOLIGAN ACT (ХУЛИГАНСТВО) 2018 12 05 NB

A Country Drive /Trevor D. Byrne / US / 2020 / 7:35 – On an afternoon drive through Pennsylvania coal country, a poorly secured tripod sparks a meditation on the limits of control.

Continuous Becoming / Robert Orlowski US / 2019 / 9:17 – Utilizing the concept of space-time popularized by Einstein’s special relativity, Continuous Becoming attempts to translate 4 dimensional space through the 2 dimensional plane. The film revolves around the axis of a 360 degree camera rotation. With each rotation, partitions are gradually added dividing the frame, each of which, are off-set by a frame ahead in time. The image, once fixed by a single locality and temporality, slowly becomes a malleable surface susceptible to the pressures of expanding space-time. Near the end of the film, the entire duration of the pan is displayed on screen. But at this point, could the entirety of the film be shown at once? Space and time are no longer passive conduits of the image, but rather fissures in our understanding of cinematic geography.

Untitled / Paul Razlaf / Germany / 2019 / 2:41 / silent – The search for possibilities of movement in space.

Amusement Ride Tomonari Nishikawa / Japan / 2019 / 6:00 – Shot with a telephoto lens from inside a cabin of Cosmo Clock 21, a Ferris wheel at an amusement park in Yokohama, Japan. The distorted image shows the structure of the Ferris wheel, focusing on the intermittent vertical movement, which resembles the movement of a film at the gate of a film projector or camera.

A Clear Presence: This program gathers work that poses formally challenging and exquisite considerations of time, place, culture, and historiography. Each film enacts a distinct study and crafting. The title is borrowed from an Aisha Sabatini Sloan essay I adore. Enjoy the program. Be safe. Stay at home. Onward.

Condor / Kevin Jerome Everson / US / 2019 / 8:00 – A 16mm, black and white film of the solar eclipse over the coast of Chile, July 2, 2019, capturing 100% totality and audio in real-time. The condor is the state bird of Chile.

A Love Song for Latasha / Sophia Nahli Allison / US / 2019 / 19:00A Love Song For Latasha is a dreamlike archive in conversation with the past and the present to reimagine a more nuanced narrative of Latasha Harlins by excavating intimate and poetic memories shared by her cousin and best friend.

Sensus Plenior / Steffani Jemison / US / 2017 / 34:36Sensus Plenior (Latin for “fuller meaning”) follows Reverend Susan Webb, leader of the Master Mime Ministry of Harlem, New York. Stemming from the genealogies of French mime artist Marcel Marceau and West African dance, gospel mime interprets songs through gesture. Jemison’s film explores this tradition as a continuation of her research into language and storytelling traditions. With no dialogue, the work “speaks” about language, gesture, identity, and the limits of identification. Jemison’s minimal editing harks back to early silent films while also leaving respectful space for Webb to perform.
Note: Viewers are advised to use headphones in order to achieve the best possible viewing experience.

Maravilla / Darius Clark Monroe / US / 2019 / 11:00 – The handball courts of Maravilla, East LA, were made by and for its community.

Mi Piel, Luminosa (My Skin, Luminous) / Gabino Rodríguez and Nicolás Pereda / Mexico & Canada / 2019 / 40:00 – In March 2018 our production company was commissioned by the Ministry of Education to make a record of how the resources for the ‘Improving Primary Schools’ initiative were being used by various schools across Mexico. We visited the Thomas More School, in Michoacán. In this place we found a story that felt like a dream.

COMPETITIVE PROGRAM #3 – To Paint, Extract, Reverse @ 6:30PM CST

Chinese Portraiture / Zhou Hongxiang / China / 2019 / 12:50 – In this conceptual image work, we see one portrait after another of various Chinese people: they either impersonate or stage a prototypical character, or ‘impersonate’ themselves. We see normal workers, employees, old people, young girls, young men, intellectuals, farmers, but also someone wearing the clothes of the emperor of Qing Dynasty, we see a monk, a judge, and a beggar. Image after image scrolls before the eyes of the viewer.

Oh My Homeland / Stephanie Barber / US / 2019 / 4:00 – In 1985 the great soprano Leontyne Price sung the title role in Verdi’s Aida as her farewell opera. After the ‘O patria mia’ aria, the audience breaks into a four-minute applause. Oh My Homeland is the third in a series of minimal single shot 16mm films I’m currently building. It’s a film about representation, art, and material exchange. It’s a film about endings. It’s a film about identity, love, power, patriotism and the transcendent potential of art through the viewing of a face receiving adoration. A minimal gesture akin to the practice every portrait painter or mother recognizes as ineffably powerful. It is essentially a readymade and like my book ‘Night Moves’ and my video “Tatum’s Ghost” it continues to explore Youtube as a cultural and social archive. Oh My Homeland, while being simply a shot of Ms. Price’s face as she receives the applause and before returning to the role, expands with the unaltered meditation on the shot. The transformational power of art for society and the maker alike; the implication of Ms. Price’s race and the context to which she dedicated her life; the staggering political implications of the Verdi aria (a mournful and complicated love letter to Aida’s homeland) in a time in which love of (my) country is hard to muster.

International Face / Natalie Tsui / US / 2019 / 7:16 – A meditation on race, queer diaspora, and image classification systems, International Face is an autoethnographic essay film that attempts to situate romantic experiences and visual observations of a queer non-binary person of color within a stock video footage archive.

COLOR-BLIND / Ben Russell / Polynesia, France / 2019 / 30:00 – A deliriously synaesthetic S16mm portrait made between French Polynesia and Brittany, COLOR-BLIND recruits the restless ghost of Paul Gauguin as an uneasy spirit guide in excavating the colonial legacy of a decidedly syncretic post-post-colonial present. Featuring im/material guest appearances by: white-tipped reef sharks, Aldous Huxley’s Island, Marquesan techno, authorized Gauguin reproductions, Bretagne dance competitions, an illegal kava ceremony, the beach from the 4th season of Survivor, the long decay of French nuclear testing in Polynesia (1960-1996), and so much more. Filmed in Polynesia and Brittany, France. Opening Text Adapted From “A Letter To Mette Gauguin From Paul Gauguin, 8 Dec 1892”

Culture Capture: Terminal Adddition / Adam Khalil, Zack Khalil, Jackson Polys / US / 2019 / 7:00 – Half tongue-in-cheek absurdism and half deadly earnest, Culture Capture: Terminal Adddition continues the New Red Order’s ongoing project of ‘culture capture’, recruiting viewers to participate in a program of practical strategies to counter the ‘salvage mindset’ which sets aside Indigenous culture and sovereignty by consigning it to the past. These strategies include using new, accessible technologies, such as smartphone apps that produce 3D scans of objects, both of Indigenous material that museums and other institutions may hold and public monuments that celebrate and re-affirm the norms of European settler culture. The title of the work—Terminal Adddition—highlights the difference between addition and removal. The concept of ‘removal’ is central to current debates about whether to remove problematic historical monuments, for example, Confederate war monuments in the South. It was also in the name of the Indian Removal Act, signed into law by President Jackson, which resulted in the displacement and death of thousands of Native peoples in what we now call the ‘Trail of Tears’. Both present removal as a quick fix. With Culture Capture: Terminal Adddition, the NRO recognizes that acts of removal inevitably contain contradictions, and proposes an additive approach instead. —The New Red Order

COMPETITIVE PROGRAM #4 – Living Space @ 8:30PM CST

Cease & Desist / Ryan Steel / Canada / 2018 / 3:10 – A freelance graphic designer encounters a rare type of crickets.

Book of Hours / Annie Macdonell / Canada / 2019 / 8:00 – Mixing diaristic footage, psychedelic imagery and clips from Yvonne Rainer’s Lives of Performers, Book of Hours weaves together a play of gesture and pattern, in which quiet moments in a family home become a site of formal and intellectual experimentation.

A is For Artist / Ayo Akingbade / UK / 2019 / 4:55 – Following a tragedy, a young woman assembles photos from her father’s archive to encourage the pursuit of being an artist.

Amazonia / Roger Beebe / US / 2019 / 24:37Amazonia is a “desktop cinema” essay on one of the key sites where the virtual world of e-commerce transforms physical space—and physical labor: the Amazon.com fulfillment centers where the millions of items available for purchase with the click of a mouse await our orders. The film visits the four cities—New Castle, Delaware; Fernley, Nevada; Coffeyville, Kansas; and Campbellsville, Kentucky—where Amazon’s four original fulfillment centers were located to meditate on the impacts of our online purchases on the people and places “at the other end of the internet.”

I Signed The Petition / Mahdi Fleifel / UK, Germany & Switzerland / 2018 / 10:37 – Immediately after a Palestinian man signs an online petition, he is thrown into a panic-inducing spiral of self-doubt. Over the course of a conversation with an understanding friend, he analyses, deconstructs and interprets the meaning of his choice to publicly support the cultural boycott of Israel.

Something To Touch That Is Not Corruption Or Ashes Or Dust / Mike Stoltz / US / 2020 / 6:35 – Fences, zooms, blastbeats and oscillators search for possibility or perforation as walls close in. Attempting to break free from patterns and spirals as bodies become contained.

Itinerary of Surfaces / Carl Elsaesser / US / 2020 / 8:00 – What I am//What you are//salt and sweat on my tongue. A love letter of domestic imagination. The habits and musings of the ordinary in a remote location. A year of rain and other fluids. Contentment is a difficult emotion. 26 Main St. Bucksport, ME

Billy / Zachary Epcar / US / 2019 / 8:03 – The reenactment of a scene from a primetime soap opens this domestic psychodrama, an anxious look into the horrors of interior decoration and the boundless entanglement of things.

COMPETITIVE PROGRAM #5 – Bodies become Bodies @ 12PM CST

Alejandro & Miguel / Joie Estrella Horwitz / Mexico / 2019 / 8:52 – Multigenerational borders manifest both emotionally and vocationally in the relationship between Miguel Bencomo and his fourteen-year-old son Alejandro. In this portrait of ranch life in the town of Casas Grandes, Mexico, questions rise surrounding love, connection, escapism and the inherited responsibility of family lineage.

Union / Kevin Jerome / Everson / US / 2019 / 2:59 / silentUnion illustrates the Virginia Union University football working together.

At Midnight Plays A Dance-Tune / Roy Seerden / Netherlands / 2018 / 30:00 – After hearing that his mother is seriously ill, filmmaker Roy Seerden is driven into the night, away from daily life. The memory of his former neighbor Antoine crosses his mind. Driven by the mystery, Roy goes on a search for him.

Her Type / Masha Vlasova / US / 2017-2019 / 4:30Her Type opens with my mother loading a selfie of me into FaceApp—a smartphone application that generates realistic transformations of photographic portraits. She adds a “male” filter to the picture. With the “male” filter, my selfie resembles a portrait of my Russian father, now deceased, when he was my age.

Traces / Carleen Maur / US / 2019 / 4:06 – 16mm and hand processed film retracing movements between electric bills to coastal walks ending in almost more clarity than before.

Umbilical / Danski Tang / US & China / 2019 / 6:53 – An animated documentary exploring how my mother’s abusive relationship with my father shaped my own experiences in boarding school in China. Our shared desires for intimacy, safety and normalcy have been constantly at odds with the realities that surround us. Through a conversation as adults, my mother and I learn to understand and support one another.

Rodez / Stefano Miraglia / France / 2017 / 3:00 /Silent – An exploration of the Rodez Cathedral. A study on colour, repetition and flickering, composed of 292 photographs.

A Song About Love / Rikkí Wright / US / 202 / 14:39A Song About Love explores the complex relationship between sexuality and religion and my personal experience with finding myself within that paradigm. Navigating what redemptive love vs. real love is.


I Can’t / Lori Felker / US / 2020 / 5:00/ Silent – A roll of film is not a successful conduit for grief.

SIR BAILEY / Matthew Ripplinger / Canada / 2018 / 8:00 – A portrait of the filmmaker’s old friend. The film’s surgical cutting and state of decay symbolizes Bailey’s suffering of bone cancer, consisting of home made photographic emulsion, contact printing, and reticulation. Sir Bailey embarks on an existential journey through the shattering photo-chemical plane during his last day of life.

LIMEN / Kathryn Ramey / US / 2019 / 2:06 – Threshold. At the boundaries of perception. Between one state and another.

Ascensor / Adrian Garcia Gomez / US / 2019 / 8:02Ascensor is an exploration of grief, longing and mysticism through a queer lens. It documents a syncretic ritual that culls from the magical reverberations in Mexican culture to process the unexpected loss of a dear friend. The repetition of the ritual eventually leads to the transcendence of physical space, transforming unrelenting ache into shining resilience. Philip Horvitz 1960 – 2005

A Month of Single Frames / Lynne Sachs with and for Barbara Hammer / US / 2019 / 14:00 – In 1998, filmmaker Barbara Hammer had an artist residency in a shack without running water or electricity. While there, she shot film, recorded sounds and kept a journal. In 2018, Barbara began her own process of dying by revisiting her personal archive. She gave all of her images, sounds and writing from the residency to filmmaker Lynne Sachs and invited her to make a film with the material. Through her own filmmaking, Lynne explores Barbara’s experience of solitude. She places text on the screen as a confrontation with a somatic cinema that brings us all together in multiple spaces and times.

Pilgrim / Cauleen Smith US / 2016 / 11:00 – A live recording of an Alice Coltrane piano performance accompanied by a visual track that documents a pilgrimage across the USA taken by Cauleen Smith, tracing historic sites of creativity and generosity that were an inspiration to her: Alice Coltrane’s Sai Anantam Ashram; the Watts Towers; and the Watervliet Shaker Historic District.

Sylvia Schedelbauer’s films negotiate the space between broader historical narratives and personal, psychological realms mainly through poetic manipulations of found and archival footage. (Sponsored by Vertical Cinema)

Wishing Well / Germany / 2018 / 13:00 – Gushing colors. A time disjointed, yet synchronous. A transcendent turn, a quest for agency, a reunion with currents of the forest. “The very cave you are afraid to enter turns out to be the source of what you are looking for.” J. Campbell

Sea of Vapors / Germany / 2014 / 15:00 – A cascade of images cut frame by frame flow into an allegory of the lunar cycle.

Sounding Glass / Germany /2011 / 10:00 – A man in a forest is subject to a flood of impressions; rhythmic waves of images and sounds give form to his introspection.

Remote Intimacy / Germany / 2007-08 / 14:30 – Stream of consciousness with fictitious and found stories and a personal reference.

Memories / Germany / 2004 / 19:00 – A woman grows up during the bubble economy in Japan. Why did her parents never speak about the past? Using a box full of photos found in her family archive, the filmmaker tries to construct one version of a family history.

COMPETITIVE PROGRAM #7 – Under the Paving Stones @ 6PM CST

Sojourner / Cauleen Smith / US / 2018 / 22:00 – Set in Noah Purifoy’s Outdoor Desert Art Museum, artist Cauleen Smith re-imagines this unique space as a radical feminist utopia.

In Film/On Video / Ignacio Tamarit / Argentina / 2018 / 3:30 – Can film and video coexist in the same film? Here, 16 mm film and VHS video tapes need each other in order to exist. Thanks to the transparent clear leader of 16 mm acetate film, we can visualize in movement the materiality of the analog video support, glued on top of the film, serving as skeleton and structure of the vhs tapes intervened. A film? A video? Both and none at the same time …

Hrvoji, Look at You From the Tower / Ryan Ferko / Canada, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia / 2019 / 17:00 – How to resurrect a past that was never one’s own to being with? The possibilities of reincarnation through satanic ritual or synthetic biology offer faint options against a landscape seemingly indifferent to the questions asked of it. Hrvoji, Look at You From the Tower materializes in disparate parts of former-Yugoslavia, connected at its ends by an abandoned family farm now only accessible by illegally crossing the border of the European Union. Upon crossing, the film spirals from the  perspective of a tower, down into the earth of pre-history and past lives. Through encounters with 1970’s stadium rock, teenage idleness, and amateur archeology opens a hallucinatory state of memory between generations and morphing nations, searching to locate some trace of identity in an increasingly fractured present.

Black Bus Stop / Kevin Jerome Everson, Claudrena N. Harold / US / 2019 / 9:25 – Students reclaim a popular gathering spot on the campus of the University of Virginia.

The Lilac Game / Emma Piper-Burket / US / 2019 / 4:15 / SilentThe Lilac Game is a celebration of springtime and a game that audiences can play. Volume I of Films for a Future, a series of handmade and hand processed 16mm nature films, intended for future viewers living in a time when the natural world no longer exist as it does today.

Garden City Beautiful / Ben Balcom / US / 2019 / 11:00 – One sunny afternoon in the middle west, suspended in a time between, two commuters daydream of a life lived otherwise.




Christopher Harris

Michael Wawzenek

Kalmia Strong

Hongji Chu, Adrian Enzastiga, Hannah Olsson, Sierra Moreno, Logan Schroeder

Tanner DesPlanque, Emma Gray, Nathan Kouri, Marissa Sill,
Emily Stagman

Logan Bean, Paxton Loquist, Milan Matijevic, Nick Orth, Wesley Woods

Molly Bagnall, Hannah Bonner, Carole Cassier, Trevon Coleman, Scott Collins, Justin Cox, Alex Denison, Ben Dulavitch, John Engelbrecht, Mike Gibisser, Sal Goedken, Jacob Harrison Jones, Traci Hercher, Jack Howard, Hajar Hussaini, Tristen Ives, DJ Kime, Nellie Kluz, Auden Lincoln-Vogel, Ben Palmer, Alyssa Perry, Philip Rabalais, Aly Shamburg, Maddie Silverstein, Stephen Wardell, Harry Westergaard

Jacquie Albrecht, Erin Allen, Molly Bagnall, Andrea Ferguson, Mike Gibisser, Jeff Loquist, Kera MacKenzie, Andrew Mausert-Mooney, Hope Miller,
Jenny Ritchie, Shaina Spencer

 Kim Kerbis & Clark Bender





Iowa City International Documentary Film Festival (ICDOCS)
c/o Christopher Harris, Festival Director
Department of Cinematic Arts, University of Iowa
105 Becker Communication Studies Building
Iowa City, IA 52242

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, contact the University of Iowa’s Department of Cinematic Arts at 319-335-0330.

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