But for a film Baer deems his "passion project," the distribution is far different. "Mozambique," by teenage African AIDS orphan Alcides Soares, will show in theaters, art centers and galleries worldwide as part of the 12th annual Manhattan Short Film Festival.
Beginning Sunday, the festival is showcasing 10 short films that will screen more than 500 times over an eight-day period in every U.S. state and a total of 173 cities worldwide.
Baer shepherded "Mozambique" from start to finish after meeting Soares, then 16, through Baer's work with a project to teach photography to African youngsters from AIDS-devastated families.
"I spoke to him for about half-an-hour and could see that he was a gifted storyteller," Baer recalled. "I asked him if he wanted to learn how to make a movie in order to tell his story and he leapt at the opportunity."
"Mozambique," a documentary chronicling the youngster's quest to find a new family, "gives voice not only to the plight of AIDS orphans, but also to one young man's dreams of overcoming this terrible pandemic," Baer said.
Soares' film is among the finalists that include U.S. entry "The Boundary" by Julius Onah, "Love Child" by Daniel Wirtberg of Sweden and "Parking" by Jose Molina of Spain. Each is 14 minutes or shorter.
Audiences can vote for their favorite, with the winner to be announced Sept. 29. Some past films have gone on to garner Academy Award nominations, Manhattan Short founding director Nicholas Mason said. One, 1998's "Bunny," by "Ice Age" filmmaker Chris Wedge, received the Oscar.
But the New York-based festival's chief goal is to bring fresh perspectives to a wide audience, Mason said.
"There is no better insight to what is happening in the world or how the world is feeling than through the eyes, ears and lenses of these short filmmakers," he said.
Soares, now 19, lives in Maputo, Mozambique, and attends a private high school with help from Baer. The two were brought together through a photography project, "The House Is Small but the Welcome Is Big," co-founded by Baer and the Los Angeles-based nonprofit Venice Arts to bring attention to Africa's AIDS crisis and promote action.