Prior to embarking on the Medicine Box Project — the documentary endeavor that would culminate in 2013’s American Heart — Chris Newberry worked in short format for nearly a decade and directed seven short films, including six narrative films and one documentary. Among them are Baby In My Drink (1997), 2o/2o Vision (1999), Sweet Caroline (2005) and a Song without a Name (2008). But the most successful of Newberry’s shorts was the eight-minute film Agora.
In 2001, Chris Newberry completed work on Agora, his third short film. Shot at the Minnesota State Fair the previous year, the film follows the adventures of an eight-year-old girl separated from her mother amidst the madness of a crowded place. The film was invited to premiere at the 2001 Melbourne International Film Festival in Australia, and was subsequently acquired by the Australian Centre for the Movie Image for their Exemplary Works Collection. All told, Agora enjoyed more than 50 film festival screenings worldwide and was awarded three “Best Short” festival prizes. The film went on to play on several film anthology series on local television stations, was picked up for distribution in Europe and North America, and celebrated a national broadcast on the Emmy-winning PBS series, Independent Lens in 2005.