The Jury Award for Best Short goes to Heaven Is A Traffic Jam On The 405. We are presenting the award to this film for its incredibly intimate access to a remarkable subject and for it’s ability to allow the viewer to profoundly enter her world. Complimenting this access with assured story telling and great visual style, the film introduces us to the gifted artist, Mindy

Alper, and her lifelong struggle with mental illness. The film shows how she confronts her demons and connects with the world. The jury came not only to love the subject but also to admire the films ability to creatively marry her story to her art.


HEAVEN IS A TRAFFIC JAM ON THE 405 is the one film that brings the NYJFF to a skidding halt. We have to sit back and take this one in, one sterling minute at a time.

Independent magazine

Earlier this year, Frank Stiefel’s unique documentary short HEAVEN IS A TRAFFIC JAM ON THE405 pulled off a unique two-fer: winning both the audience award and the jurors award at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. The film follows artist Mindy Alper who has spent her life creating remarkable works of art despite a lifelong struggle with depression and anxiety, a story that is warmly and expressively told through Stiefel’s compelling lens.


HEAVEN IS A TRAFFIC JAM ON THE405 paints a deeply moving portrait of an endearing woman who was born suffering. It is done with gentleness and humor. She is a noble and loving soul

non fiction

“She’s the most human of us humans,” observes Stiefel. She’s the only interview subject that completely answered every question without that governor we all have in our brains that wonders if we’re being smart and who’s concerned about how we look or sound.

Alper throws the praise back on Stiefel “Frank asks questions in a way that you have no choice but to tell him the truth she explains. Its some kind of diabolical gift he has.