A recent NewFilmmakers event in Los Angeles celebrated documentary filmmaking through stories about empowering a culture, forced isolation in a world begging to be explored, and trans women educating a younger generation. .
The NFMLA has presented international feature films and short documentaries in six programs. The screenings started with Wild honey, a feature that offers an intimate look at ethnic groups across Russia and the music that unites them. The festival continued with the world premiere of I’m not a wind-up doll, director Air Moniri’s take on girls empowerment in Iran.
A selection of stimulating short documentaries meditating on the contrast between containment and expansion, and The labyrinth of moons told the stories of three Argentinian trans women working to educate and inspire a younger generation. The program continued with Ape man, a strange journey into the strange world of those who live isolated in the Brazilian jungle.
The evening concluded with documentary works that use animation, mixed media and experimental mediums, defying form and emphasizing creative documentary storytelling.
NFMLA presents films by filmmakers from all walks of life throughout the year in addition to its special InFocus programming that celebrates diversity, inclusion and region. All filmmakers are welcome and encouraged to submit their projects which will be considered for all future NFMLA festivals.
Here are the interviews of the directors.
“Closed Up”, directed by Julia Gorbach and Nathan Philips
About Julia: Julia Gorbach is a filmmaker, designer and strategist. Her work blends creative strategy, emerging technologies and human stories for brands, manufacturers and herself. She is currently Director of Originals at That.
About Nathan: Nathan is co-founder of That, award-winning writer, best-selling author and award-winning creative director for brands including Google, Intel, Chevy, JC Penney, Under Armor and Kraft, as well as Obama 2012 and the AFL-CIO. He has built robots, created virtual reality experiences, developed products and designed entire campaigns.
About “Closed”: Twenty artists and pundits try to connect as their hyperreal conference call is infected with a virus and takes control of their cameras, leaving us all wondering, “What happens next?” “
Watch the NFMLA interview with Julia Gorbach and Nathan Philips, directors of “Closed Up”:
“Grandmother / ObÄchan”, directed by Cora Hasegawa
About Cora: Growing up, Cora always had a love for the visual arts, but it wasn’t until after a high school documentary film class that she developed a passion for film production. She graduated in 2019 from Oberlin College, where she majored in Film Studies with a double minor in East Asian Studies and Art History. It is through her lessons that she discovered a love for paper animation and its ability to transmit personal stories.
About “Grandmother / ObÄchan”: âAll my life, I have always wondered who my grandmothers really were,â Hasegawa says. âThrough conversations with my parents, I explore the lives of my grandmothers and the losses that affected my family and shaped my personal and cultural identity.. “
Watch the NFMLA interview with Cora Hasegawa, director of “Grandma / ObÄchan”:
“The biggest night” directed by JLee MacKenzie
About JLee: JLee MacKenzie is a filmmaker completing her Masters of Fine Arts at USC Cinematic Arts on a George Lucas Fellowship. His films have been screened at film festivals across the United States, including the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, the Cleveland International Film Festival, and on PBS. In 2018 he received the Vermont Symphony Orchestra Award and completed his film, “The Greatest Night”, which toured with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, which performed the score live for their audiences.
About “The Greatest Night”: A collaboration between composer Matthew Evan Taylor and the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, this hybrid short film tells the story of a young man from film projectionist from prison to filmmaker.
Watch the NFMLA interview with JLee MacKenzie, director of “The Greatest Night”:
“Rain pot”, directed by Gordon Moore
About Gordon: Gordon Moore grew up fishing, hunting and surfing in Martha’s Vineyard. Her work focuses on the artist’s relationship with the enduring cycles of nature. The son of a realistic painter and pyromaniac potter, Gordon was inspired by family, local landscapes and his studies in art history at Brown and animation at RISD.
About “Rain Pot”: Life in motion.
Watch the NFMLA interview with Gordon Moore, director of “Rain Pot”:
Instagram: @ gordonmoore97
Wild honey directed by Ava Porter and Farhad Akhmetov
About Ava and Farhad: Ava Porter is a multidisciplinary filmmaker, photographer and installation artist. Farhad Akhmetov is an interdisciplinary digital media artist who works primarily in film, video, design and interactive media. Akhmetov and Porter have been collaborating since 2012 and formed Fifth Corner Collective in 2018. They have exhibited their work nationally and internationally, and have received the Fulbright Documentary Fellowship, the Bruce Gellar Memorial WORD Artist Prize, and the University of California Institute for Fellowship in Arts.
On Wild honey: A rare sight of ethnic groups from five regions across Russia: the Bashkirs of the Urals, the Cossacks of the Caucasus, the Molokans of the southern steppe, the Ashkenazi and Krymchaks of the Black Sea, and the Altaians of Siberia central. Although on the surface these groups appear different, varying in location, religion and language, they are united by their connection to music.
Watch the NFMLA interview with Ava Porter and Farhad Akhmetov, directors of Wild honey:
The man with the monkey, directed by David Romberg
About David: David Romberg grew up in Brazil and Israel, and is currently based in Philadelphia and is an assistant professor at Muhlenberg College. It was supported by the Heineken VOCES grant from the Latin American Fund for Media Arts of the Tribeca Film Institute and the grant from the Princess Grace Foundation, and was selected to participate in the 2014 IFP Documentary Labs program.
On The man with the monkey: Intrigued by the story of a strange man living in isolation with a chimpanzee, filmmaker David Romberg travels to his childhood home in Ilha Grande, Brazil, to find him, to discover that history is nothing compared to what he finds out.
Watch the NFMLA interview with David Romberg, Director of The man with the monkey:
“Say you want”, directed by Mariel Sosa
About Mariel: Mariel Sosa is a Peruvian director and photographer. She received a BA in Film Production and Art History from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. Her experience as a woman in industry has allowed her to deepen the description of stories that encircle marginalized and underrepresented communities. âSay You Willâ (2020) is his latest short film shot in California.
About “Say You Will”: After his release from the juvenile ward at age fourteen, Jeovany “Jeo” Salgado discovers he is under a gang injunction – a secret law enforcement tool that will follow him for the rest of his life.
Watch the NFMLA interview with Mariel Sosa, director of “Say You Will”:
Twitter: @ marielsosa96
“Driven”, directed by Cody Wilson and produced by Tiffany Gist
About Cody: Born and raised on a ranch in Oklahoma, Cody spent seven years working on several feature films. While teaching and participating in taekwondo competitions, Cody had the opportunity to work as a documentary maker for Team USA at the 2016 Olympics, where he fell in love with telling personal stories.
About Tiffany: Tiffany Gist is a seasoned artistic scholar and gifted storyteller in front of and behind the camera. She has traveled the world serving creative academic and professional communities everywhere, from Russia to West Africa. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theater Arts from Alabama State University and a Master of Fine Arts in Performance and a Graduate Certificate in African-American Theater from the University of Louisville.
About “Conduit”: In a world of adrenaline and speed, a quadriplegic racing driver strives to fulfill his dream of racing.
Watch the NFMLA interview with Cody Wilson and Tiffany Gist, director and producer of “Driven”:
Instagram: @ Cody.c.wilson
Main picture: Mariel Sosa, director of “Say You Will”