Swollen Feet was created as Jonah Stern's Visual Studies senior thesis project at the University of Pennsylvania. The film, which is 75 minutes long, is silent in that it has no spoken dialogue. With the help of his Cinema Studies adviser, Meta Mazaj, Jonah researched movies from the Silent Film Era and the methods they used to communicate narratives visually. He also explored the use of sound, both abstract and literal, in those early movies as well as in later movies that utilized sound creatively outside of audible speaking.
Then, with the help of his Fine Arts adviser, filmmaker Ellen Reynolds, a budget of around $1000, and feedback from his fellow majors and major advisers, Jonah applied the principles, ideas, techniques, and philosophies to a new movie; which was conceived, constructed, and created with every accessible innovation in filmmaking and filmmaking technology in mind or in use.
Swollen Feet premiered at the 2014 New York City International Film Festival, where it was nominated for Best USA Narrative Feature Film. It was later screened at the International Movie Awards in Jakarta, Indonesia, where it was given a Gold Award for Best Newcomer. The movie also earned an Award of Merit for Best Newcomer at the World Film Awards, also in Indonesia.
As Jake dies from a gunshot wound to the heart, he reflects on the events that led to his demise. Every one of Jake’s choices and actions seems to have pushed him towards death. From losing his job to losing the love of his life, Jake questions whether he could have ever escaped from his tragic fate. His memories—warped by biases, emotions, and preconceptions—create a world of contradictions and inconsistencies that seem to defy logic until everything is revealed in his last moments alive.
Written, directed, shot, and edited by Jonah Stern