Aaron Douglas Johnston


The 20th annual Someone to Watch Award recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.

DIRECTOR: Aaron Douglas Johnston


Big brother Silas, the involuntary man of the house, dreams of leaving his hometown and starting a new life for himself while his family prepares for his sister’s fifteenth birthday. My Sister’s Quinceañera shows how circumstances and family ties clash with American aspirations, irrevocably changing a family.


Born and raised in Iowa, AARON DOUGLAS JOHNSTON studied sociology at Oxford and Yale before finding his way into filmmaking in the Netherlands. Aaron’s films focus on insider/outsider themes and blur the boundary between documentary and fiction through his intensive collaboration with nonprofessional actors. In Amsterdam, Aaron studied directing at the Netherlands Film and Television Academy, where he made the Sundance selected short Today and Tomorrow, a Farsi-spoken drama made with and about political asylum seekers living in the Netherlands. Variety labeled Aaronʼs first feature, Bumblefuck, USA as ‘stealthily compellingʼ in its portrayal of self-discovery and gay life in small town USA. The film premiered at the prestigious Frameline and Outfest Film Festivals in 2011 and is currently being distributed in several countries.