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Synopsis: In her broken-down RV, ROAN (7) wakes from a dream about wolves. Her coughing GRAMMA (60s), cuts up juicy tomatoes. Ornery and hungry, Roan steals a tomato and runs outside to pee where we see the desolate, waterless world in which the pair live. Later, Gramma tries to teach Roan how to saddle a horse, but when she fails, Gramma rides away leaving Roan alone. Roan yells at Gramma, asking when she gets to go to “The Green Place.” Gramma responds, “When you learn to saddle a goddamn horse.”

After another nightmare about wolves, Roan wakes up as Gramma returns; she has wet the bed. Embarrassed and angry, Roan confronts Gramma and tells her that she knows Gramma is dying. They get into a fight and Roan falls, knocking over the jug of water Gramma just risked her life to retrieve. Determined to prove herself, Roan storms outside while Gramma sleeps. She finds her own creative way to saddle the horse, and she is successful. She rides the horse on her own, the jug stuffed proudly under her arm. An angry, terrified Gramma catches up to her, but Roan insists that she gets to go to The Green Place. After all, she did “saddle the goddamn horse.”

They arrive at The Green Place which is a small, green oasis blocked by a bullet-riddled sign that reads, “Government Property. Violators will be prosecuted.” They step over the rusted barbed wire fence and approach a small creek with more water than Roan has ever seen. Gramma wades into the water and beckons Roan in. After a moment of panic, Roan trusts Gramma and lets her carry her into the water. Finally connected, Roan rides back with Gramma to the RV, sharing a peaceful moment. However, that night, Gramma’s coughing becomes worse. Roan offers Gramma a glass of water, but she says “It’d be a waste, Kid.” They hold each other tightly until Gramma’s heart stops beating. Roan steps slowly and hesitantly outside and howls with the wolves she was once afraid of.



Run Time

16 minutes


Robyn Kennedy (Gramma)
Lindsey Melancoln (Roan)

Directed by

Aliza Brugger

Written by

Aliza Brugger

Produced by

Kari Ulfsson

Edited by

Joseph Krings


Harsha Thangirala

Production Designer

Carol Zacek


Andres Solorzano

Director's Statement

As a working-class, native Nebraskan who grew up with farmers as parents, I have seen and experienced the importance of our environment and the responsibility we have to care for it. However, I also have seen a blatant disregard for the damage we cause as the effects of climate change become deadlier and more tangible. In March, 2019, historic flooding hit Nebraska, forcing entire cities to evacuate, sweeping away millions of animals and even taking the lives of several Nebraskans. After seeing the impact these floods had on my home and family, I decided to tell a story that explores what could happen not only to our beautiful environment, but to the people who are fighting for it and who have minimal economical means of surviving in a world damaged by climate change.

“Ain’t No Mercy for Rabbits” is about 7-year-old Roan and Gramma who are fighting to survive in a nearly waterless world. Because of the timely, culturally significant story and the outstanding team that worked on the film, we strongly believe in “Ain’t No Mercy for Rabbits” and its ability to have a lasting impact on its audience.

Director's Bio

Aliza Brugger is an award winning, Los Angeles / New York City based director and screenwriter originally from Nebraska. She received her MFA in filmmaking from Columbia University and has since written, directed and edited features, TV pilots and award-winning short films that have screened in festivals all over the world. She has also worked on music videos, commercials and web content. Aliza enjoys exploring themes of sexuality, nature, family and social class. Her goal as a filmmaker is to create stories that connect viewers to the image and to each other.

Production Year


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