New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alumni Premiere Films at LA Shorts Fest

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What do New York Film Academy (NYFA) alumni Assem Yedgey, Dina Naji, and Zixian (Season) Ouyang have in common?  They all have thesis films premiering at the Los Angeles International Shorts Film Festival (LA Shorts Fest) July 25 – August 2!

We sat down with the filmmakers right before the festival and asked them to tell us about their experiences.  

Escala by Assem Yedgey

NYFA: Tell us about your film.

Assem Yedgey: Escala is about a young girl who must win a music competition in order to ease the financial burden on her single father, but her instructor’s obsession with her turns this dream into a dangerous game of cat and mouse. The film takes place in Los Angeles. 

NYFA: What is the most important thing you learned in making this film? Good or bad?

AY: I learned that there is nothing that cannot be achieved and that you should always follow your heart. I decided that I wanted to have a 100% female crew to create opportunities for women. Throughout my pre-production almost everyone I know was telling me that it was a bad idea and that I wouldn’t be able to handle it, that I was severely limiting my choices in terms of crew.

All I can say is that I have never before worked in a better environment. I am very grateful that I had an amazing producer by my side – Yulia Safonova. She supported me immensely, and when I was about to give up on my idea of having an all-female crew, she would say, “We can do this.” And we did it. Our crew were united and all of us wanted the best for Escala. I learnt that the most important thing is to listen what people are suggesting, but not always follow, instead to rather feel what is the best for the film. 

NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at LA Shorts Fest?

AY: I haven’t premiered my movie anywhere. LA Shorts Fest will be the official premiere, so this is an exciting new experience for me. I am thrilled to watch it with an audience and observe them and explore their reactions. This is my first festival and it is one of the most prestigious festivals; it is like a dream came true. I’m so grateful that I will be able to share my story with so many people and hopefully they will get something out of it. 

NYFA: Anything else you would like us to know?

AY: I want to say that without collaboration and the hard work of my cast and crew, Escala wouldn’t have been made. A huge thank you to everybody involved.

Escala screens Saturday, July 28, at 9:55 pm at the Noho Laemmle Playhouse.

assem

Hind’s Case by Dina Naji

NYFA: Tell us about your film.

Dina Naji: My film Hind’s Case was inspired by true events. I wanted to shine a light on one case in particular that happened in 2015 in a woman’s housing shelter in Saudi Arabia. The story follows Hind (20), who at a young age witnessed her father kill and bury her mother, then went on to suffer years of abuse at his hands. When Hind escapes from her abusive home, she gets sent to live in a housing shelter. While there, Hind makes the first friends she’s ever had, and enjoys the freedom away from her father. However, when the manager of the housing shelter informs Hind that her father has requested to take her home, Hind decides to take matters into her own hands and gets sent to the solitary confinement room in order to join her mother in heaven, as she can’t stand the thought of living with her father again.

NYFA: What is the most important thing you learned in making this film? Good or bad?

DN: The process of making Hind’s Case with a fantastic cast and crew was amazing. As a director, I learned that if you want to make a film, you should have a cast and crew that are passionate about the story you want to tell and want to bring a story alive. 

NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at LA Shorts Fest?

DN: I am very thrilled to have my film screen for the first time in LA Shorts Fest, and it is a huge opportunity to show my film to many people who are coming from different backgrounds and cultures. It’s a dream come true. 

NYFA: Anything else you would like us to know?

DN: I would like to thank all the crew, cast, and my teachers, especially Scott Hartmann and Tamera Daugherty-Martin, for all the support. And I want to thank the New York Film Academy for this opportunity. 

Hind’s Case screens Friday, July 27, at 5:30 pm at the Noho Laemmle Playhouse.HInd's Case

 

Love in Canton by Zixian (Season) Ouyang

NYFA: Tell us about your film.

Season Ouyang: The movie is about an old woman accepting her husband’s death on her way to his funeral in Canton.

NYFA: What is the most important thing you learned in making this film? Good or bad?

SO: I think I improved my directing skills, and it gave me more good ideas about how to direct a good musical film.

NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at LA Shorts Fest?

SO: I am looking forward to more audiences seeing and enjoying my movie in this screening. I want people to know me! 

NYFA: Anything else you would like us to know?

SO: I want you guys to know my dream is to make Cantonese film be great again in the world! 

Love in Canton is an official selection of the festival’s New Wave Chinese Filmmakers opening night program. It screens Wednesday, July 25, 2018 at 4 pm downtown at Regal LA Live.Love in Canton

Congratulations to Assem, Dina, and Season! For more information on the LA Shorts Fest, and to purchase tickets, please visit http://lashortsfest.com/

 

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