LOGLINE: A half-Jewish teen in Catholic High School almost goes nuts dealing with ignorant bullies, but ultimately comes out of her shell.

SYNOPSIS: This short film follows the unique perspective of a young half-Jewish woman battling more than just her own identity. In addition to the regular trials and tribulations of her all-girls, Catholic high school, Hannah, our protagonist, deals with antisemitism and bigotry on a daily basis. From ignorant classmates to know-it-all bullies, Hannah feels attacked from all sides. Through the help of an unlikely mentor, Hannah learns the beauty of self-activism.

  • Allie O'Brien
  • Allie O'Brien
  • Allie O'Brien
  • Mike Galeotti
  • Rebecca Silverstone
    Key Cast
  • Jill Jackson
    Key Cast
  • Amanda Shy
    Key Cast
    "Sister Ruth"
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Genres:
    Comedy, Coming of Age, Dramedy
  • Runtime:
    11 minutes 38 seconds
  • Production Budget:
    2,800 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    4K Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Sacred Heart University
Director Biography - Allie O'Brien

Allie O’Brien is a Connecticut-born Jewish woman who was raised in a multicultural household. Ever since she was a little girl, she always was glued to the TV and knew she wanted to be a part of it somehow when she grew up.

In high school, Allie attended an all-girls Catholic high school where she began to dabble in her love for the media arts. Signing up for every media-based elective and joining the Morning Announcements Club was Allie’s happy place during those grueling high school years.

After a tumultuous freshman year at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont, Allie decided to return home to attend Southern Connecticut State University where she had the intention of studying advertising and promotions via the Communication department. However, when she was analyzing the infamous continuous take in the Copacabana scene of Martin Scorcese’s Goodfellas, she was instantly hooked. That day, she emailed her advisor to change her concentration to Film, Television, and Digital Production.

Once she discovered her love for this discipline, Allie wanted to learn as much as she could about it. This thirst for knowledge led her to a two-year tenure at Sacred Heart University where she earned her Master’s of Fine Arts degree in Film and TV & Production in 2020. During her time here, Allie either directed or produced 10+ films, many of which have received film festival recognition.

Following Allie’s love for knowledge and education, she now resides in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where she is close to her alma mater, FTMA @ Sacred Heart University. She currently sits as Program Coordinator for the FTMA program, and is a regular guest panelist and lecturer there, providing her insight on the production and storytelling tidbits she has learned to the current cohort. Additionally, Allie is currently an acting adjunct faculty at her undergraduate alma mater, Southern CT State University. She is passionately teaching the Introduction to Visual Media class, the same course where she discovered her passion for the film industry.

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Director Statement

I was extremely fortunate to grow up in a loving family with two parents who loved each other very much. During the beginning of their time together, my Dad, an Irish Catholic, and my mom, a reformed Jewish woman raised by a conservative Jewish family, faced many adversities regarding their inter-faith relationship. How will your future kids be raised? Will there be a priest at the wedding? Will you be married under a Chuppah? Will you be excommunicated? These were some of the many questions my parents had to address. They also made sure to teach my sisters and me the lesson and importance of embracing who we are and where we come from, embracing new cultures, and fighting for those you love.

From these important themes in my childhood, my dad adopted the term “cashew” after reading an editorial about it in a parenting magazine at the time. It’s defined as a person who was born in an interfaith marriage of a Catholic and a Jewish person. When you smoosh the words Catholic and Jewish together they sound like “Cashew” and thus, a nutty, new identity is born. My parents always encouraged my sisters and me to be proud of who we are, of the history behind us, and most importantly of all, to be accepting of all people. Period.

Unfortunately, not all people follow the same philosophy as my parents. In my lily-white, suburban town where I grew up, diversity of any kind didn’t exist. Children of color were bussed in from neighboring cities to provide a small sense of diversity to its students. I was one of three kids in my 400-student grade who was Jewish. But with a last name like O’Brien, kids often forgot that I was Jewish as they’d make highly antisemitic and derogatory comments towards people of the Jewish religion right in front of me. Sometimes, there would be no remorse and comments would be made directly to my face.

The bullying was so bad that I decided to go to a private high school and a Catholic high school at that. Even though I have always identified as a Jewish woman, my family and I felt that at a Catholic school, at least the students would have some sense of morality. One of the life lessons I learned during high school is that bullies exist everywhere, there’s no escaping that. But how you react to it, changes everything.

In a nutshell, Cashew is an ode to my own religious and personal self-discovery. It is a tribute to the tough lessons that many of us have had to learn in our formative years. It is proof to the next generation that they aren’t alone, and that they too are worthy of standing up for themselves.