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Day 39

Day 39

Jesse Gustafson
2015, 15m, drama, thriller, war

Day 39 is the story of THE KID, a young American soldier on foot patrol in a remote region of Afghanistan. When an Afghan Grandmother, ZARMINA, requests help from his platoon for a medical emergency, the Kid is sent into a dark mud hut to assist DOC, a seasoned medic, with a young pregnant woman. Doc and the Kid must take extreme measures to try and save the mother and child, despite cultural obstacles inside the hut, and unseen yet ever-present dangers outside.

Produced by: Joshua Cohen
Cast: John Brodsky, Dion Mucciacito, Pooya Mohseni
The 3-week run for Day 39 ended on Feb 22nd, 2017. Thank you to all the fans that supported it!
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Jesse Gustafson

The Ten-Day Interview

5 questions with Day 39 director, Jesse Gustafson at the half-way mark.
Saturday, February 11th, 2017
  1. 1 Hey Jesse! Thanks for being a part of this festival. First, what inspired you to make Day 39?
    Thanks for having me in the festival. I wanted to make something that shows the complexity of war and shows the way war changes people outside of combat. I wanted a general audience to feel what it's like being a soldier on deployment and I wanted to veterans to feel like their stories were being accurately represented in film.
  2. 2 This film feels very authentic. Do you have any experience in the military? If not, what research did you do for this film?
    Authenticity was one of the main priorities of the film. I knew that if the audience didn’t believe in the world on the first frame the rest of film would be pointless. I was in the US Army and I wanted to make sure that the film felt real for veterans and civilians.

    Much of the credit goes to our two military advisers; Emil Daubon and Eric Nelson, both of whom served in Afghanistan and did very detailed prep work with the cast. They also acted in the film (the two soldiers on the radios). I also tried to get as much veteran involvement as possible; several of our crew and cast members were vets.

    I felt it was also important to accurately portray the Afghans in the film. The producers and I spent a great deal of time talking with the New York Afghan community, which is where we found one of our cast members.

    Credit also goes to DP Laurence Vannicelli and Production Designer David M. Barber for creating such a rich, detailed look and feel for the film.
  3. 3 This feels like it could be a part of a larger story. Do you have any plans on expanding this into a feature?
    There are plans for a feature that follows a similar character after he returns home.
  4. 4 I really love how it starts with the lead character calling himself, "a killer" but by the end, things are very different for him. War stories can go in so many different directions, why did you choose to tell this specific story?
    I wanted to show the humanity of war. It’s so much bigger and more complicated that you can ever imagine. I was trying to show that moment that war changes you. I also wanted to show soldiers fighting to save lives rather than taking them, and I wanted to show Afghans as people.
  5. 5 What's next?
    Just finished my first feature, Black Site Delta, which will premier on Netflix sometime in early 2017. I have several more feature projects in the works and I hope to be shooting another film this year.
  6. About the Interviewer: Ben Hicks
    Ben Hicks is a writer/director and co-founder of Fandependent Films. Ben is currently working on making Fandependent Films awesome and is finishing up his first feature film entitled Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time which was selected for the 2017 IFP Narrative Lab.
    Ben Hicks

The film with the most fans wins $1,000

For 2017 we are moving on from screening feature films and will be showcasing shorts. For our Winter 2017 Festival, we are giving away $2,000 in prizes to the top three films.

Fan Award


The film with the most fans.

Audience Award


The film with the most views.

Jury Award


Our favorite film.

Festival Partners

Hammer to Nail Film Pulse Film Fervor