The Fall 2018 NewFilmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA) slate continues with a presentation of InFocus: American Indian, Aboriginal & Inuit Cinema, which showcases films by indigenous filmmakers from America, Canada, and New Zealand, as well as documentaries about native subjects, in addition to a selection of local and international films.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE / PRURGENT
The first screening of the evening is feature film Sometimes Our Friends Come Over (and sometimes we're all alone), a brutally honest and startlingly timely look at the unraveling of a millennial relationship in the shadow of the Trump era, written and directed by visual and sound artist and CalArts Art/Technology MFA Daniel Watkins, who frames the film in a striking lo-fi aesthetic that places the audience in the middle of painfully realistic moments of awkwardness and confrontation.
The evening continues with shorts program InFocus: American Indian, Aboriginal & Inuit Cinema, which includes some of the strongest emerging voices in Native filmmaking today, including films which premiered at Sundance, Toronto International Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival and ImagiNative. Themes of familial struggle, exploration of identity, the meaning of home, and childhood hope and wonder run through the selection.
The night concludes with a shorts program that carves a narrative path from an absurd prep school interview to a comical look at a routine household chore, then to the personal effects of hatred, through a quinceañera, lingering in the loneliness of alienation in a digital age, on to the poetic exploration of addiction, and finally, into a moment of kindness that emerges from tragedy. The program tells these tales through animation, music videos, and live action.
Sometimes Our Friends Come Over (and sometimes we're all alone), Dir & Writ Daniel Watkins, USA
The story of a young couple represents an analog for a society coming to terms with the fact that the future will be much worse than the present. The couple alienate themselves, almost by default, from their friends and ultimately from each other – confronting their own cruelty in the process.
About the Director - Daniel Watkins is a visual/sound artist interested in crypto-geography, useless machines, LoFi technology, and noise. He has garnered acclaim both at home and abroad through showings with (including, but not limited to) the Milwaukee Underground, Haverhill Experimental, Kuala Lumpur Experimental, Montreal Underground, and Nonplussed Fest. Originally from Florida, he received his MFA in Art/Technology from CalArts and is now based in Los Angeles. He grew up in a home without running water or electricity, and while he has taken many steps in his life beyond that, the mentality of that experience is always with him. He also makes music in a band called Chestnut.
Shorts Program #1 – InFocus: American Indian, Aboriginal and Inuit Cinema
Mud (Hasht?’ishnii), Dir. & Writ. Shaandiin Tome, USA
On her last day, Ruby faces the inescapable remnants of alcoholism, family, and culture.
About the Director - Shaandiin Tome is a filmmaker from Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is a 2016 Sundance Full Circle Fellowship alumna, 2016 Sundance Programming Intern, and in May 2017, she was selected for the Sundance Native Filmmaker’s Lab Fellowship with her short film project. After making Mud (Hashtl’ishnii) it was selected to premiere in Competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. A recent graduate of the University of New Mexico with a BFA in Film and Digital Media Production, she graduated cum laude. She aims to bring resonating imagery in convergence with story, illustrating her perspective as a Diné woman.
I Like Girls, Dir. & Writ. Diane Obomsawin, Canada
First love is an intoxicating experience, but with it can come excruciating awkwardness, unrequited emotions, and confusing issues of identity. Charlotte, Mathilde, Marie, and Diane reveal the nitty-gritty about their first loves, sharing funny and intimate tales of one-sided infatuation, mutual attraction, erotic moments, and fumbling attempts at sexual expression.
About the Director - Diane Obomsawin is a cartoonist and animator of Abenaki descent who calls Montreal home. Born in 1959, she grew up mainly in France, where she began her career as a graphic artist. She returned to Montreal in the early 1980s and made the natural leap to comic books, illustration and painting. For the next two decades, she would be a mainstay of Quebec’s underground comic book scene, during which time she became better known under the pseudonym “Obom.” In 1992, she created her first animated short, and her first comic book was published in 1997. During this time, she also directed a number of films commissioned by the NFB: The Worm (2000), The Coat (2000) and Elbow Room (2002) proved her to be a gifted storyteller and honed her unique perspective on the world.
Unearthed, Dir. Zulfiya Hamzaki, Erin Semine Kökdil & Writ. Zulfiya Hamzaki, USA
“I was reading an article and it said that the Ohlone people were extinct. Do I look like I’m extinct? I’m an Ohlone!” declares 83-year old Ruth Orta. Three generations of Native Americans face an uncertain future amidst changing times and landscapes in a society that is failing to protect native burial grounds and recognize native voices.
About the Director - Zulfiya Hamzaki's films have explored women in sport, immigration in America, native American issues, identity and culture. Her short documentary Doori (distance) has screened at the San Diego Asian Film Festival, SF Frozen Film Festival, the Seattle Asian American Film Festival and the 14th IAWRT Asian Women’s Film Festival (New Delhi). Zulfiya is currently a Producer at Blue Chalk Media. Erin Semine Ko?kdil is a storyteller interested in building solidarity and inciting social change through the power of film. Her work deals with issues of trauma, marginalization, and migration and has screened at IDFA, Hot Docs, and Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. She holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in Latin American Studies and Spanish from Smith College.
Laundry, Dir. & Writ. Becs Arahanga, New Zealand
A funny, light-hearted, and cringingly relatable story about love life after marriage.
About the Director - Becs Arahanga (Kai Tahu/Ngati Raukawa) has been in and out of the film industry for 15 years in different roles; Laundry is her first work as director. She is a proud mother to five tamariki and grandmother to two mokopuna and is based in Auckland.
Waiting, Dir. Amberley Jo Aumua & Writ. Samuel Kamu, New Zealand
Starsky has never met his father. So when he receives a letter from him that he wants to talk, he skips school with his best friend Kenny to wait at the payphone outside the local shop.
About the Director - Amberley Jo Aumua is a writer/director of Samoan and Maori descent from Manurewa, New Zealand. Her first short film Waiting won Best Film at the New Zealand International Film Festival, Best Student Film at the Show Me Shorts International Film Festival, was in competition at the Toronto International Film Festival and selected to screen at BFI London Film Festival. She is currently in production as one of nine writer and directors for the vignette feature film Vai. She is also writing her feature film and working on other creative projects.
Cowboy, Dir. & Writ. Boise Esquerra, USA
A bitter lonely cowboy is set at ease after spending the night sharing words and comparing viewpoints with a neighbor in a volatile relationship.
About the Director - Boise Esquerra hails from Phoenix, AZ and is a Native American (Hopi)/Hispanic filmmaker enrolled in the Colorado River Indian Tribes in Parker,AZ. He is currently attending school at the New York Film Academy and is in his 7th year of filmmaking. He has great passion for the entire spectrum of filmmaking and every aspect that goes into it. Some of Boise's inspiration comes from much of his life's experiences and stories from real life events.
Nan Isht Akokpachi (The Gift), Dir. & Writ. Steven Judd, USA
After returning home from his grandfather’s funeral, a young Native American boy opens a mysterious gift bequeathed to him by his grandfather.
About the Director - Steven Paul Judd is a contemporary visual artist, writer and filmmaker born in Oklahoma of Kiowa and Choctaw roots. He set out on a path to make art that he couldn’t find anywhere else. His mash-ups of Native experiences and disposable American pop culture are sly and often downright funny. His creations include paintings, prints, poster art, photography, films and t-shirt designs.
Shorts Program #2
The Interview, Dir. & Writ. Stanislav Sambozhuk, Germany
A notoriously difficult interview process is meant to separate the best from the best. We side with Hendrik Geiger in a verbal duel against the admissions director, where just knowing the correct answer to a question is not always enough.
About the Director - Stanislav Sambozhuk studied Film TV and Digital Production at the London School of Film, Media and Performance in London and worked at Leo Burnette (an advertising company which Showtimes "Mad Men" was stylised after) creating commercials for Marlboro, Samsung and Fiat.
General Dupont in General Dupont Doing Laundry, Dir. & Writ. Thu Vu Kim Nguyen, USA
A caricature of wealth and domestic life: General Dupont, an 18th century aristocrat, doing a household chore - laundry, on a stage.
About the Director - Thu Vu Kim Nguyen is a creative, innovative young animator, director, and story artist. She believes creating a beautiful story can only be accomplished when the work is polished and seamless. She wants her stories to engage and captivate the audience whilst instilling valuable lessons.
Pagg, Dir. & Writ. Nardeep Khurmi, USA
When a hate crime clouds the 4th of July, Mandeep, a Sikh-American, attempts to celebrate the holiday with his family.
About the Director - Born in Switzerland and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Nardeep Khurmi is a Los Angeles based writer, director, and actor. He trained at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and the FAMU Institute in Prague, Czech Republic. His work has screened across the globe, and most recently he completed a YouTube Vlog style adaptation of the novel Flowers for Algernon which has accumulated over 250,000 views. He is also an acclaimed actor, having appeared in a variety of TV Shows, films, and theatrical stage productions. Nardeep produces a bevy of short-form content and is currently writing and prepping his first feature film.
Camisa Al Reves, Dir & Writ Andrew Vasquez, USA
A VHS tape, an early ‘90s quinceañera, a wrestling match and a Mexican Banda music video equal a lot of nostalgia.
About the Director - Andrew is an independent filmmaker from Los Angeles, CA. He is the youngest of seven children of Mexican immigrant parents. He received his MFA in Film Production from the School of Cinematic Arts (USC), with an emphasis in writing and directing. He is a co-founder of the Latinx production company BRACERO, developing and producing projects with Latinx artists such as Las Cafeteras, CONTRA TIEMPO, Quitapenas, and the Latino Theatre Company. He is currently working on a feature documentary about incarceration and the transformative power of the arts with writer Luis Rodriguez (Always Running) and Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural.
Warm Human Magic, Dir. & Writ. Madeline Zima, USA
An anti-romantic comedy about a girl's desperate attempt for human connection and her inability to extricate herself from the technology that keeps her isolated.
About the Director - Madeline Zima is a filmmaker and actress with over three decades of experience in the film and television industry. Her first short film, Warm Human Magic, earned a nomination for
best new filmmaker and best actress at the Madrid International Film Festival. As an actress, Madeline was recently hand-picked by David Lynch for Showtime's Twin Peaks reboot and was a series regular on Showtime’s Californication. Her favorite film role was starring in My Own Love Song alongside Renée Zellwegger and Forrest Whitaker in Oliver Dahan's follow up to his Oscar winning film La Vie En Rose.
Poison, Dir. Erica Eng & Writ. Horace Gold, USA
Horace Gold's poetic words personify his past unhealthy relationship with alcohol through a fictional relationship with a woman. An expression of addiction through repetition inspired by the surrealist film "Meshes Of The Afternoon."
About the Director - Erica Eng is an Oakland native who currently lives in Los Angeles where she works as a freelance Director. Most recently, Erica became one out of six fellows handpicked out of 400 applicants to be apart of the Commercial Directors Diversity Program - a fellowship created with the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) and the Directors Guild of America (DGA). She was also chosen for SHOOT Magazine's 16th Annual New Director's Showcase, where her film Poison was screened at the Directors Guild Theatre in New York.
When the Shadow Falls, Dir. Jeseung Woo & Writ. Marco Arizpe, Jeseung Woo, USA
After witnessing the suicide of a passing stranger, Jane becomes haunted by the horrible question: "Could I have done something?" When the stranger's widow comes calling, Jane must face her shadow to find the answer they both need.
About the Director - Jeseung Woo is the winner of Best Picture at the Human Rights Film Festival for his short The Beauty in the Dark. Jeseung graduated from American Film Institute Conservatory for his MFA in Directing, class of 2018. Jeseung took the inspiration for When The Shadow Falls comes from a very real event in his life where he witnessed the public suicide of a stranger in Seoul.
Additional event information is available at www.nfmla.org
Founded in 2007, NewFilmmakers Los Angeles is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. NFMLA’s programs annually serve approximately 25,000 patrons in the Greater Los Angeles area. NFMLA has screened over 2,500 films from 75+ countries, highlighting local and international talent. NFMLA is supported by Presenting Venue Sponsor South Park Center, Executive Sponsors FilmLA and HBO and Producers Circle Sponsors SAG-AFTRA, 21st Century Fox Global Inclusion, The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), The Los Angeles County Arts Commission and the Los Angeles City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA).