The Washington, D.C. Independent Film Festival (DCIFF) opens up a new opportunity for local, national and international independent filmmakers to compete in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, February 26, 2005



The DC Film Seminars are a program held throughout the course of the DC Independent Film Festival (DCIFF) and are under DCIFF jurisdiction. Any requests for information, comments or if you are a potential/current panelist with questions, all correspondence should be directed to Schedule with Descriptions and Prices available from
To purchase advanced tickets for the seminar series, please click here.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Piece by Piece - ACCEPTED to 2005 DCIFF

Piece by Piece

Piece by Piece

Piece by Piece

Piece by Piece

Piece by Piece

Piece by Piece

Piece by Piece

Piece by Piece

South Baghdad - ACCEPTED to 2005 DCIFF

Official Selection of:
San Antonio Underground Film Festival, San Antonio, Texas, June 2004
Philadelphia Video Festival, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 2004
Brainwash Movie Festival, Oakland, California, July 2004
Fucking Fabulous Film Festival, Seattle, Washington, August 2004
Portland Indy Animation Festival, Portland,Oregon, August 2004
Tulsa Overground International Film Festival, Tulsa, Oklahoma, August 2004
1 Reel Film Festival, Seattle, Washington, September 2004
Toronto Online Film Festival, Toronto, Canada, September 2004
Leeds Anime Horror Music Film Festival, Leeds, United Kingdom, October 2004
America's Funniest White House Videos, Seattle, Washington, October 2004
Projections Film Festival, Bellingham, Washington, November 2004
Portland Underground Film Festival, Portland, Oregon, December 2004
International Panorama of Paris tout court, Paris, France, December 2004

Tagline:A Baghdad family becomes collateral damage when George W. Bush invades Iraq.

Synopsis:The film presents the true story of Little Orphan Ali, a 12-year old who lost his family, and his arms, in the "shock and awe" air attacks on Baghdad during the invasion of Iraq.
The film opens with a recap of the fraudulent claims used to justify the invasion, followed by a sample of the sanitized-for-Americans media coverage of the invasion, then zooms in to focus on the horrific carnage inflicted on a single Baghdad family by an errant American bomb.
The film then takes an absurdist turn when a flightsuit-costumed George W. Bush drops in on the sole survivor, a mangled Ali, regales him with a crotch-grabbing performance of the "Iraq Rap," and leaves him with an inspiring memento of their meeting.

Director's statement:
This film is a distillation of many emotions I felt during the American invasion of Iraq. Rage, at the cynical lies used to justify the invasion as preemptive self-defence; Shame, at the terror inflicted in my name; Fear, as my country became a paranoid monster - and exulted in its monstrosity; Horror, at the mutilation and pain inflicted on innocent men, women, and children; Disgust, at the craven ideologues willing to slaughter thousands to further their agenda.
There are raw, bloody, horrifying images in this film. These images were commonplace in Iraq during the invasion, and were broadcast throughout most of the world during the war. In America, the country that launched the invasion, such images were considered "unsuitable" for viewing by its citizens. Those images are embedded in this film to act as a bloody rebuke to those Americans who have remained blissfully ignorant of the destruction wreaked on their behalf.

Everest - ACCEPTED to 2005 DCIFF

A derelict teenager (Quinn Sherrill), approaching the eve of her high school graduation,
lives through her abandon-father's favorite drink. She becomes enticed by Everest's
freedom and falls away from family and friends. Her high school principal gives her the
ultimatum to seek school counseling or suffer expulsion.
Starring: Quinn Sherrill, Ken Butler, Helene McCardle, Frank Lopera, and David Jensvold

Run Time of Film: 27 Min
Release Date: November 2003
Production Company: Parshall Productions
Produced by: Michael Lee Gavlak, Sam Parshall
Directed by: Sam Parshall

* For a complete electronic pdf. press kit of Everest, click here !

Hunter's Quandary - ACCEPTED to 2005 DCIFF


Sometimes, your destiny calls for you in the strangest of places. Hunter's Quandary is one man's search for answers.

Lindsay Hough stars as Nick, a college student twenty four hours away from his graduation. He has completed a hard week of final exams, but four years of college have yielded no answers. So Nick accepts his friend Mike's offer to go on a deer hunt. During the hunt, Nick witnesses something unsettling.

Later that evening, Nick discovers something that leads to a profound change in his life.

Production notes

Hunter's Quandary was shot on DV, in color, and has an approximate running time of 11 minutes. The film was shot in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia's majestic Blue Ridge mountains.

VIEW The FILM below

Large ( 34 MB )Small ( 16 MB )

Green Tea-r - ACCEPTED to 2005 DCIFF


The story is based on my mother's memory of surviving the bombing of Hiroshima 1945.
In the film, as a wartime precaution,

Yukiko evacuates her parent's home in Tokyo to the seclusion of Hiroshima,
where she lives with her grandfather, the mayor, and her beautiful Aunt.
On August 6, the bomb drops. Yukiko and her grandfather are unharmed as the house
is far from ground zero; her aunt is pulled from the ruins downtown,
and returned to Yukiko's care.

Now the real battle in Hiroshima begins.
The surviving citizens of Hiroshima cannot accept the surrender; the grandfather,
as he plans his daughter's burial, must decide if he can "drink the tear"
(yield, swallow an insult), and abide the demands of the occupying American Army.

I believe this is the spirit so desperately needed in the world right now.

Green Tea-r

Director of Photography........ Shigeaki Kimura

Light ........ Daisuke Watanabe
Assistant of Camera .......Yu Eguchi,Naoaki Kanda
Editor ........Yuki Kawarai, Toshiyuki Saito
Sound mixer ........ Kinya Kato
SFX ........ Hiroshi Shiokawa, Yasushi Fujimoto,Osamu Akiyama
Score .........Hiroto Morikawa

Ending Theme Petal ........Mari Iijima

Wood Project 2004 Production ........Woody Project 2004

Cinema Dash Team Yokohama Alpha Image
Cinema Dash Team Yokohama

Special thanks for........Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum Imperial Villa Numazu
Yokohama Sankei-en Park
Tokaku-ji temple

Green Tea-r

Woody was a voice actor of Japanimations while a student at Univ.
After graduation, he worked at the Japanese Mega-Trading company,
handling several international joint venture
(including the investment of 2 major Japanese movies,
He then moved to Los Angeles to pursue his dream, making movies.

From 1998 to 2000, while studying animation,
he developed a short script, "White Shadow",
which was eventually produced by Adrienne Gruben
(Producer, Treasure Island, Jury Award, Sundance Film Festival 99).
Upon completion of proncipal photography, Woody returned to Japan,
to resume work with his own trading company, Sanyo Seiko. Co.
Green Tea-r is Woody's 2nd film as director, and 1st film in Japan

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Green Tea-r

Woody was a voice actor of Japanimations while a student at Univ.
After graduation, he worked at the Japanese Mega-Trading company,
handling several international joint venture
(including the investment of 2 major Japanese movies,
He then moved to Los Angeles to pursue his dream, making movies.

From 1998 to 2000, while studying animation,
he developed a short script, "White Shadow",
which was eventually produced by Adrienne Gruben
(Producer, Treasure Island, Jury Award, Sundance Film Festival 99).
Upon completion of proncipal photography, Woody returned to Japan,
to resume work with his own trading company, Sanyo Seiko. Co.
Green Tea-r is Woody's 2nd film as director, and 1st film in Japan.

Post-Partum - ACCEPTED to 2005 DCIFF


16 mm. film, color, 10 minutes

When I was two months old, my mother abandoned me to my grandmother. She could no longer bear the sound of my incessant crying. So many tears drive me to the water's edge. Towards water that I have always been so afraid of. In a thought, in a moment, I revisited my past, I revisited hers...

about the film
Somewhere in between dream and reality, this autobiographical film is inspired from the post-partum depression my mother suffered shortly after giving birth to me. When I was two months old, my mother abandoned me to my grandmother. She could no longer bear the sound of my incessant crying. I decided to make a film in order to revisit our past, with the women who were touched by this depression (my mother, my grandmother and myself). Symbolically, these women are universal because there is no face to post-partum depression.

By the means of a journey in The Gaspé, I returned with my mother to the place where I was born. We went to the village of Cap-Chat, where my grandmother lives. I revisited this house where I stayed in my youth to find trace memories of this bygone decade. An event erased in time, a disconcerting commemoration which haunts me. The images of this film have a joint bond: they are all drawn from the memories of my childhood: the waterfalls where I loved to take refuge; the schoolyard, in front of my grandmother’s house where I imagined my mother coming to find me. The images of this film are mainly wide shots, synonymous with the feeling of abandonment which has been affecting me for many years. The majority of landscapes are deprived of action, only the natural movement of the elements expressing loneliness and isolation.

The images also document the emotions which I now experience and those which my mother experienced at the time. It is an exchange between our memories in a hopeless quest to find ourselves. Highly metaphorical, this film takes from the universal symbols of maternity and the psychological pain associated with post-partum depression. Water is a significant symbol in the film and personifies various emotions. The sea, with it’s disarming vastness, brings us closer the amniotic liquid in which the fetus bathes. The bath, in which a baby is washed, is an environment which should be secure but which is troubling and tormented. All the images of this film are shot in slow-motion with the intention of provoking a reflective atmosphere.

This film symbolizes the break I gave myself to think about this event. It is a return to my roots and personal reflexion on my life. This film was born from the desire to share my mother’s experience with other women in hope to break our silence and to touch each new mother, ashamed and hurt by depression. In making this film I discovered that I was bringing together all the women who give birth, the pregnancy and maternity, a history of woman between women. This film is a personal point of view of my family. To give the most beautiful of gifts: unconditional love. post-partum is a look at three generations of women, more specifically on the isolation of one of them affected by depression. The film is a meditation on the abandonment and loneliness of the new mothers in our society.


Marie Josée Saint Pierre


21st Kassel Dokumentarfilm und Videofest, Kassel, Germany
24th Atlantic Film Festival, Halifax, Canada
28th World Film Festival, Montreal, Canada

12th San Francisco Art Institute International Film Festival, California, U.S.A.
11th Bradford Film Festival, National Museum of Photopgraphy, Film & Television, England
18th Singapore International Film Festival, Singapore, Asia
2nd Syracuse International Film & Video Festival, N.Y., U.S.A.
6th DC Independent Film Festival, Washington, U.S.A
47th Rochester International Film Ferstival, George Eastman House, N.Y., U.S.A.
23rd Rendez-vous du Cinéma Québécois, Montreal, Canada
3rd Berlinale Talent Campus, Berlin, Germany
11th Cucalorus Independent Film Festival, North Carolina, U.S.A.
9e Regard sur le Court-Métrage au Saguenay, Canada
8th Project(Y), Quebec Touring Film Festival, Canada

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The LIft - ACCEPTED to 2005 DCIFF

View the trailer

Otis is a live-in lift operator who has never set foot outside his elevator. He is secretly in love with K, a junior typist who is afraid of elevators and has never set foot in one.

Each morning, as K climbs the 20 flights of stairs to her typing pool, Otis does his best to parallel her ascent. He subtly influences the demands of his many passengers to catch glimpses of his beloved. K’s only pleasure is typing her dreams on her lunch breaks. Everyday they each go about their routines with quiet dedication. But this routine is about to change.

French character actor Dominique Pinon is one of the most sought-after actors working in film today. He first came to the film-going public’s attention as the cynical killer in Diva (1981). Known for his tour-de-force performances in Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Delicatessen (1991) and The City of Lost Children (1995), he again collaborated with Jeunet for Alien: Resurrection (1997). When interviewed about the darker nature of his early roles, Pinon responded: “As a whole, I am given rather tragic roles. People don’t know how much I dream of making them laugh.”

An opportunity to make them laugh came when Jeunet offered him a role in the surprise 2001 hit Amélie. It was on the heels of this success that Hugues Dalton and Jeff Garton approached Pinon with the lead role in their independent film Lift. Pinon eagerly accepted and delivered a tender performance as the quirky and romantic live-in elevator operator Otis. Pinon’s endearing interpretation of Otis is remarkable. Performed entirely without dialogue it showcases his trademark physicality and mastery of facial expression.

Since working on Lift, Pinon has played off Robert DeNiro and Harvey Keitel in The Bridge of San Louis Rey, and has just finished another production with his long-time collaborator Jean-Pierre Jeunet, A Very Long Engagement, due in theaters November 2004.


Filmthreat review ***** 2/21/05
Lift wins Best in Show at Fest 1/28/05
Inland Empire festival fills the air with young talent in "Smogdance '05" 1/20/05
Post Gazette Pgh -Pittsburgh-made short is long on reputation 11/20/04 11/20/04
Tribune Review -Award-winning 'Lift' makes its Pittsburgh premiere 11/18/04
Film - Savannah Film Festival awards Dandelion and Lift- 10/30/04
SavannahNOW Lift wins Best Short Film Savannah Film Festival - 10/30/2004
SavannahNOW Up'Lift'ing movie worth watching - 10/26/2004
Post Gazette Film Notes: Film series Lift - 1

A Reasonable Hypothesis - ACCEPTED to 2005 DCIFF

A Reasonable Hypothesis is a 20-minute film written and directed by Jack Ferry.
An official NYU production, it premiered in June 2004 in Los Angeles, check the screenings page for information.

The film is a dark satire about human cloning.
Test Subject: "Michael"

What if, through the use of cloning technology, scientists could transfer a person’s memories to an identical genetic copy? We would have, essentially, the ultimate life insurance policy - a second body; a back-up, just in case. In short... we could cure death. With the recent acceleration of genetic technology, the stuff of science fiction is becoming the stuff of science fact. In the not-so-distant future, we may see such an experiment. A Reasonable Hypothesis is a suppositious account of the first human guinea pig. Or, if you prefer, sheep.

But as we race down this ethically questionable path, questions of human identity signpost the way. Does the clone of a man have the soul of a man? More specifically, to use the example, does this "second body," with the identical mind and genetic makeup, effectively share the donor’s soul? Is it possible to transfer consciousness from one body to another?
Well that would be, A Reasonable Hypothesis.

A Reasonable Hypothesis

Doctor's note:

Imagine having a second body on hold for your entire life until that time comes when you, Bltt!, kick the ol’ bucket, and it picks up right where you left off!
Michael has just woken into his nightmare.

For eighteen years, Michael has been plagued with psychotic visions of unthinkable medical experiments being performed on him. As his only escape, Michael attempts suicide. Revived, he finds himself trapped in the medical institute of his nightmares, drugged, on a respirator, and tied to a bed with wires, which seem to be charging his muscles like batteries. Once he regains his strength, he attempts an escape only to find another patient in the hospital, brain dead and on life support. To his horror, the other boy appears to be his identical copy, down to the last bodily scar. Michael’s escape is thwarted by the doctor and nurse from his dreams.

In a drug induced sleep, Michael recalls his childhood interaction with a Catholic priest. His religious beliefs find themselves in conflict with his unnatural conception in a fertility clinic. If his hallucinations were the visions of a damned soul, then he must have awakened in Hell.

When he wakes, the doctor explains that he is in the body of a clone who has been implanted with a radio wire, designed to stream his memories into him – Michael’s back-up body. The doctor offers Michael a chance to leave, but only if he signs a document giving him the permission to terminate life support of his original body – the mysterious patient – thus making the experiment legal.

Fearing the loss of the connection to his original self, the connection to the closest thing he believes to be his soul, Michael must now choose: A new life, but a soulless existence. Or... brain death. Michael holds out hope that he may just awaken from this terrible dream...



"The first part scares you, and quite effectively, while the second half makes you think. From the inside out, this is a remarkably effective bit of work. What's most impressive, though, are the ideas the film makes you confront, and the fact that the possibilities you mull over in your mind might be more horrifying than the bogeymen on the screen. **** [4 Stars]."
--Joshua Grover-David Patterson, FILM THREAT
Read the full review at Film Threat

"Not to be taken lightly, this 20-minute journey into the thought-provoking world of human cloning might not be far off from what reality has in store for us in the near future... An exceptional piece of work by a true talent... Surely to become a festival hit."
--Todd Luoto, "KODAK"
Read the full article on Kodak's site.

"...With 'A Reasonable Hypothesis,' Jack Ferry gives us a brutishly beautiful expressive, disquieting meditation on the way of all flesh that combines high-tech terrors and classically-paced chills. Playing like an unsettling hybrid of dark, disquieting Davids Cronenberg and Fincher, 'A Reasonable Hypothesis' takes claustrophobia and paranoia to the outermost limits: We're trapped in our flesh... And worse, it isn't even really ours."
--James Rocchi, NETFLIX

"'A Reasonable Hypothesis' is a great example of the advantages of short form. At a 20 minute running time, this film raises the thought-provoking questions elegantly and holds your attention well... Jack Ferry's entertainingly macabre film is good at raising the question but leaves the audience to ponder the answer... Intriguing. *** [3 Stars]."
Read the full review at


In this animated film, an innocent greeting between two people is quickly transformed into a tangled struggle, illustrating the twists and turns of a full-fledged relationship.

Patrick Smith wanted to be a professional skateboarder, but hurt himself and became an animator. His films have been featured on MTV, several Spike and Mikes Collections, and over a hundred other international film festivals. He's also the creator of the Zoloft Dot character, in which he conceived under the influence of alcohol, a known depressant.

Director Comments:
Handshake was a fun film to draw. I consider myself an expert on relationships, and it was great to illustrate the emotions and experiences i've had. The film can be abstract at times, just like real relationships can be. I was fortunate enough to have the film scored and orchestrated live, which really hammers in the romantic/abstract nature of the story. - Patrick Smith


HANDSHAKEa film by Patrick Smith (2004)
Preview Movie (9 megs)


Animators A great review by Chad Chmielewski.

Official Selection of:
Cleveland International Film Festival, March 10, 2005.
Philadelphia Film Festival April 7-20, 2005.
First Glance Philadelphia May 11-15, 2005.
Maryland Film Festival. May 5-8, 2005.
Tehran International Animation Festival Tehran IRAN, April 6 2005.
Bare Bones Film Festival. Muskogee, OK April 18 2005.
Golden Film Festival. Golden, CO, Feb. 25, 2005
Washington DC International Film Festival. Washington DC, March 3, 2005
East Lansing Film Festival. East Lansing, MI, March 30, 2005
Durango Film Festival. Durango, CO, March 4, 2005.
Dam Short Film Festival Short Film Festival, Feb. 4, 2005.
Taste of Art Gallery, Tribeca, New York City. December 30, 2004.
Northampton International Film Festival, Northampton, MA. October 27-03, 2004.
ION International Short Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA. October 29-31, 2004.
Cincinnati International Film Festival, Cincinati, OH. October 20-23, 2004.


20 minutes

Since 1990, tens of thousands of Americans have made pilgrimages every November to the gates of Ft. Benning, Georgia, to protest the Pentagon's School of the Americas (SOA), now renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, and call for its closing.
Convictions: Prisoners of Conscience, released in October 2004, focuses on some of the 200 SOA protesters who collectively have served more than 80 years in prison for their non-violent civil disobedience -- some receiving sentences as long as 18 months and fines up to $10,000.

They give up their freedom in the hope that doing time in federal prison will call attention in their home communities -- and in Congress -- to the grassroots campaign to shut the school.
Briefly profiled are Father Joe Mulligan of Detroit; seminary student Sarah Jobe of Durham, NC; teacher Shirley Way of upstate NY; and Leisa Barnes, a mother of five sons, of Sacramento, CA.

Independent Documentary Producer

Robert Richter's documentaries have been shown theatrically, telecast and received major awards throughout the world. His work has been seen in national prime time on PBS, CBS, NBC, ABC, TBS, Discovery and on many major European and other international television outlets. Three of his films won DuPont Columbia Broadcast Journalism awards (the Pulitzer Prize of television journalism), and two others were Academy Award nominees for best documentary short. He is the last member of the famed Edward R. Murrow-Fred Friendly CBS Reports unit still actively producing documentaries.

A New York City native, Richter attended a Telluride Association junior college in California and received his B.A. from Oregon's Reed College. As an M.F.A. candidate at the University of Iowa Writers Workshop, he began his professional career under the aegis of Richard Maibaum, later screenwriter of the James Bond thrillers. Richter joined Oregon public television, initially as a producer and reporter, then as Director of Public Affairs programs. He also was Pacific Northwest reporter for The New York Times. He received an M.A. in Public Law and Government while on a CBS News Fellowship at Columbia University.
Recent Productions

In The New Patriots five U.S. military veterans, including a Medal of Honor winner, speak out on terrorism, patriotism and their transformation from warriors to peace activists. Five Days to Change the World, an independent one-hour documentary narrated by Martin Sheen, follows a youth rebellion at the world’s largest peace conference, in The Hague. The Money Lenders: Update 2000 takes a critical look at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Guns and Greed, a 22-minute short, links sweatshops and World Bank/IMF policies to the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA).

Other films on the SOA include Crossing the Line, narrated by Susan Sarandon, a 17-minute documentary about the grassroots civil disobedience movement aimed at closing the school. Father Roy: Inside the School of Assassins, also narrated by Susan Sarandon, has been telecast on more than 140 public stations across the U.S. and Europe. It is a significantly updated and extended one-hour version of the 17-minute School of Assassins, an Academy Award nominee for best documentary short.

Other recent productions are Ben Spock - Baby Doctor, narrated by Jane Alexander and telecast on the PBS Nova science series; Banking on Life and Debt, a Maryknoll film narrated by Martin Sheen-a 30-minute version of The Money Lenders; Outer Space: Can We Afford to Go? with Walter Cronkite, a Discovery Channel telecast; and Backlash in the Wild, a "World of Audubon" TBS telecast about the U.S. anti-environmental movement. Do Not Enter: The Visa War Against Ideas examines freedom of speech and a law barring certain foreigners invited to the U.S.: Nobel Laureates Dario Fo and Gabriel García Márquez, for example; it was awarded first prize by the International Association of Journalists.

Globalization and the Poor
Richter has produced several ground-breaking independent documentaries on globalization policies and practices affecting people in developing countries. For Export Only: Pesticides and For Export Only: Pharmaceuticals document the human and environmental impacts of marketing banned and restricted products. Hungry for Profit reveals how the agribusiness system impoverishes people. Can Tropical Rainforests Be Saved? is the first global look at this issue and its economic and social realities. Increase and Multiply? focuses on family planning worldwide. For his broad range of environmental productions, Richter received a Global 500 Award from the United Nations Environment Programme-the only independent producer in the world so honored.

The first American filmmaker in postwar Vietnam, Richter's seven-week visit resulted in his feature-length independent documentary Vietnam: An American Journey, shown internationally on television, at the Kennedy Center, in theaters and universities. In Our Hands, about the largest peace demonstration in history, was also shown theatrically in the United States and overseas.

Investigating U.S. Issues
When first telecast in the Nova series, Who Shot President Kennedy?, narrated by Walter Cronkite, had the largest audience of any PBS program that year. It was re-broadcast each of the following six years. Other Nova documentaries include: Linus Pauling, Crusading Scientist, a biography of the Nobel Chemistry and Peace Laureate; A Plague on Our Children, about toxic chemicals and public health issues, and Incident at Browns Ferry, about nuclear power and safety.

While on a CBS Foundation News Fellowship at Columbia University, Richter joined the famous Edward R. Murrow-Fred Friendly documentary unit. There he produced CBS Reports: Bulldozed America, with correspondent Charles Kuralt; major segments of a documentary about Robert Kennedy's race for the U.S. Senate, with correspondent Eric Sevareid; segments of CBS Reports on abortion and the law, and about race and housing; major segments of a series on the assassination of President Kennedy, with correspondents Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather. He produced a documentary about the Vietnam war splitting American politics into hawks and doves, with correspondent Roger Mudd; and was anchor producer for the 26-hour continuous coverage of Robert Kennedy's assassination. At CBS he also produced news features with Walter Cronkite, Mike Wallace and other correspondents, and was National Political Editor.

Soon after establishing his own production company Richter produced HHH: What Manner of Man, the biographical documentary of Hubert Humphrey for his 1968 campaign against Richard Nixon for President of the United States. In the best seller, The Selling of the President, the production is described as "a work of genius." In other published accounts it is credited as the single most important part of the Humphrey campaign and significantly responsible for the candidate's moving up in the polls to one of the narrowest losses of a candidate in a Presidential election in the 20th century.

Working for Documentaries
Richter was President of the nationwide 5,000-member Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers for 14 years and its Treasurer for the next six years. He also was a New York representative of the International Documentary Association board. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Writers Guild, National Television Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Societies of Professional and Environmental Journalists. Richter has been a jury member at U.S. and foreign film festivals, a delegate to the Leningrad International Documentary Film Festival, a USIA lecturer in former Yugoslavia and West Germany, and at more than 50 American colleges and universities.

First Breath - ACCEPTED to 2005 DCIFF


Directed by: Jimmy Georgiades
Produced by: Jimmy Georgiades, Eric Lane
Written by: Eric Lane (Story by Jimmy Georgiades, Eric Lane)

A high school girl prepares for her prom, when her life unexpectedly crosses with a garbage man who discovers a baby in the trash by her home. Their surprising journey together subtly explores the purpose we are born with – starting with an infant’s first breath. Shot in 35mm, First Breath marks the film directing debut of Jimmy Georgiades and is written by Eric Lane (Cater-Waiter). It stars Victor Williams (King of Queens), Kelly Karbacz (Broadway’s Rent) and Melissa Leo, who received rave reviews for her performance opposite Benecio Del Toro in 21 Grams.

Kelly Karbacz
Melissa Leo
Gregor Manns
Victor Williams

- Long Island International Film Expo - Best Short Film
- Sao Paulo International Short Film Festival - Best of the Festival Tour
- London International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival - Best of the Festival U.K. Tour

- British Film Institute
- Irish Film Institute, Dublin
- NewFest (NYC)
- Lower Eastside Girl's Club (NYC)
- Sao Paulo International Short Film Festival
- Philadelphia International Gay Film Festival
- Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival
- Highlights of the LLGFF Tour
- Filmhouse, Edinburgh
- MAC, Birmingham
- Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge
- Stoke Film Theatre
- Phoenix Arts, Leicester
- Pictureville, Bradford
- Hyde Park Picturehouse, Leeds
- Chapter, Cardiff
- Curzon Soho, London
- Filmhouse, Edinburgh
- Glasgow Film Theatre
- UCI Filmworks, Manchester
- Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling

Learn Self Defense - ACCEPTED to 2005 DCIFF

Learn Self Defense is a basic how-to guide for anyone interested in personal safety and/or world domination.

WATCH as a cocksure narrator guides an ordinary citizen through five strangely familiar lessons of self-defense!

MARVEL as he is turned loose in the streets to wreak bloody havoc!

Learn Self Defense


After being brutally attacked in an alley, George decides he must learn to protect himself. A cocksure narrator walks him through five practical lessons of self-defense for the citizen on the go-- or nation-state on the rampage!

Tuesday's Women - ACCEPTED to 2005 DCIFF

20min, 16mm,
Hebrew with English subtitles

Tuesday's Women adapts a short story by Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami about a man already in turmoil who finds himself further mystified by a number of women
he meets one Tuesday.

click here to Learn all about the innovative MicroDolly device

The Elephant's Egg - ACCEPTED to 2005 DCIFF

The Elephant's Egg is an 18 minute Live-Action/Animated short film created at the University of Southern California.


Joe has a Zippo lighter engraved by Salvador Dali. It was given to him by his recent ex-gal, Leyla. One night, after Joe has a drunken heart-to-heart with his dog, Ptolemy, he discovers that he still loves Leyla and that he wishes to have her back. Coincidentally, he also discovers that the lighter contains a Hippopotamus Genie who is willing to grant his wish. The Genie tells him that in order to get the girl, he must enter a Dali painting and break the Elephant’s Egg at the Sparkling Sea.

The Olive Harvest - ACCEPTED to 2005 DCIFF

Writer and director Hanna Elias tells a complex love story in his first feature film, The Olive Harvest, amidst the backdrop of intoxicating landscapes in Palestine.

Upon his release from an Israeli prison, older brother Mazen ( Mazen Saade ) develops romantic feelings for his childhood friend, Raeda ( Raeda Adun ). However, Raeda is already engaged to Mazen's younger brother Taher ( Taher Najeeb ), their love kept a secret because of the tradition for the eldest brother to wed first.

The two brothers become estranged soon after reuniting as they struggle to win over Raeda's heart. Mazen, with his romantic poetry and simple love for the olive groves that provide his community and family with their livelihood, shares in Raeda's dreams to remain in the village and harvest the olives. Taher, on the other hand, prefers to live in the city and ambitiously seeks to contain the growing Jewish settlement of the territories as a member of the Palestinian Legislative Counsel. Although his love for Raeda is strong, Taher's devotion toward this cause leads him to neglect his commitment to her.

Unsure of her true feelings, the beautiful Raeda is forced into making a decision by the feuding brothers and by her authoritative father. Each of the three central characters find themselves painfully torn between conflicting choices in this tale of love and loyalty to family, to those that they love, and to the land that they are connected to.

More than a mere love story, The Olive Harvest explores the dynamics of human relationships - between brother and brother, woman and man, father and daughter, sister and sister, and person to land.

The Olive Harvest

By Brooke ComerNovember 11, 2003

Palestinian director Hanna Latif Elias has pulled off a feat that few world leaders, let alone filmmakers, could manage; he made his feature film debut, "The Olive Harvest," in Ramallah, Palestine's cultural center, with an Arab cast and an Israeli crew ... More...

A Jarmaq Films presentation. Produced by Kamran Elahian. Co-producers, Sharbel Elias, Kayo Hatta. Directed, screenplay by Hanna Elias.May 13, 2003, 5:04pm PT With: Raeda Adon, Maazen Saade, Taher Najeeb, Muhamad Bacri, Arren Umari, Samia Kazmuz.By DENNIS HARVEY

A sleeper hit at the S.F. Fest, Hanna Elias' "The Olive Harvest" effectively integrates a simple, involving tale of romantic love, tradition and family loyalty into the larger climate of unease in a Palestinian countryside vulnerable to aggressive Israeli settlers ... More...

Jerusalem slate fuels debateFest pushes political envelopeBy Melanie GoodfellowJuly 16, 2003

JERUSALEM -- Unfolding against the backdrop of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Jerusalem Film Festival has a tradition of screening politically controversial films that hit a raw nerve locally, and this year is no exception. Drawing criticism from both sides of the conflict is Palestinian Hanna Elias' "The Olive Harvest," a romance set in a Palestinian village surrounded by Israeli settlements that screened in fest's panorama section Sunday. Employing a Palestinian cast and Israeli crew and shot in the Palestinian Authority, pic revolves around a young woman who falls in love with two brothers... More...

Digits/Gambits & Gadgets in the World of TechnologyThe Credits Roll
By Nick WingfieldMay 1, 2003
Technology Journal
Within Silicon Valley, Kamran Elahian is one of the high-tech industry's best-known "serial entrepreneurs," who seem to create companies only a bit less frequently than some people buy shoes... Mr. Elahian, 48 years old, is the producer and primary financial backer for "The Olive Harvest," a first feature by Palestinian director Hanna Elias that had its premier last week at the San Francisco International Film Festival. Mr. Elahian agreed to back the film, a love story set against the backdrop of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, after meeting Mr. Elias, a former humanitarian worker, on a sojourn to the Middle East. The Iranian born Mr. Elahian said he funded the film in part, because it promised to show a perspective he believes is underrepresented in media coverage. "It is showing that Palestinians are people, too," he says... More...

The Olive HarvestJulie McCarthy ReportsJuly 22, 2003
Morning Edition
The Olive Harvest drew acclaim as the runner-up at the San Francisco Film Festival, and recently made its Middle East debut. Two brothers, one a former Palestinian political prisoner who sees no future in violence, and the other a low-level official who fights Israeli settlements, fall in love with the same woman. ... More...

Mixed Reception for Palestinian Film Nick WingfieldMay 1, 2003
The audience were quickly drawn into the film, the first full length feature for Elias. The cinema rang to the sounds of laughter as they connected with the characters and the struggles of love versus obligation and the conflict between young and old. "It was very, very beautiful," one women said afterwards. "We are human beings first and we must think about love, not just about the Israeli army and jails, that's why the film is so beautiful..." . More...

Captivating Raeda Adun stars in film made in PA
By Goel PintoJuly 15, 2003
Romance with olive harvest as backdrop to be screened today in Tel Aviv

Recently it seems as though there is no such thing as an Arabic language film - Israeli or Palestinian - without the presence of actress Raeda Adun.
During the past year, two films in which she starred came to Israeli screens -"Trumpet inthe Wadi" by Slava and Lena Chaplin, which a year-and-a-half ago took first prize at the Haifa Film Festival and the Israeli Academy Award for the best drama, and Ali Nasr's "In the Ninth Month," which last year won the Jury Prize at the Jerusalem Film Festival. OnSunday, there was the premiere Israeli screening of another film in which she stars: "The Olive Harvest," directed by Hanna Elias...Adun's presence in the film, as in all the films in which she participates, is captivating, in part because of her enchanting smile, the mysterious sexuality she radiates and her piercing eyes... Elias, a Palestinian director who has been living in California for the past several years, studied sociology at Jerusalem University and film at UCLA. He filmed the movie in the Palestinian Authority, during the olive harvest season, with the participation of scores of extras who live in the area. Very few films have been made in the PA, and this fact makes this film especially interesting...

Propaganda film or message of peace?
By: SHIRA SCHOENBERG. Jerusalem Post. Jerusalem Jul 16, 2003. pg. 08

... Filmed by an Israeli crew with Palestinian actors (there was even a brief fling between a Palestinian man and Israeli women during production, revealed Elias), Elahian called the final product a "message of peace." ... After the film, actor, Taher Najeeb, said "I wanted to make a Palestinian film about love without mentioning the [Israeli- Palestinian] conflict. In that, we failed, because it's impossible. If I have one request, it's to end the occupation because I want to make a film without having to mention occupation."Elahian said he produced the film because "The world needs to see the side of Palestine that I see. Americans see only images of suicide bombers. I see many of the most beautiful people, on both sides. Why they can't co-exist, I don't understand... " More...

The Cinematic Verses May 13, 2003
After seeing the world premiere of The Olive Harvest at the 46th San Francisco Int'l Film Festival, we had to speak with its creator, Hanna Elias. The film serves as one of the first narrative films written by a Palestinian, showing life in Palestine from their perspective. Since film in general has become, for better or for worse, one of the most influential ways that people learn about the rest of the world and its history, the importance of this film cannot be understated. The fact that it is also a passionate and compelling account of a family, written and performed in such a way that anyone can identify with the characters, just makes it that much more astonishing and enjoyable an experience. Once we sat down with Hanna, we realized that the passion infused into every line of dialogue in the film effervesces through his conversation in the real world too. Read on, for an illuminating look at filming a world you've likely only seen on the 11:00 o'clock news. More...

The Cinematic VersesMay 5, 2003
A man returns to his village in Palestine to a hero’s welcome, praised for being a political prisoner. Although Israeli settlers are encroaching on their olive groves, the main conflict of the film arises when he falls for the same girl his younger brother has secretly been courting. The story is a drama between two brothers, two sisters, a mother, a father, and an olive tree that takes care of the village. Although the film is set in the middle of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the story stays focused on the two brothers, and the younger sister Raeda (Raeda Adon). In doing so, the film makes its points gently and affectionately, in the context of family, tradition, and love — universal values that surreptitiously bind the audience to the main characters.
The film does show the dehumanizing experience of getting through checkpoints, and the squeezing pressure that Israeli settlements place on Palestinian farmlands, but these issues are just the background for the family struggle at the forefront of the picture. This delivery stands in stark contrast to the documentary method, or the confrontational style of other passionate filmmakers like Michael Moore or Oliver Stone. More ...

San Francisco Film SocietyApril 2003
Palestinian Hanna Elias’s first feature snares its intimate cast of characters in a tightening web of emotional obligations—to family, self and country—with a classical economy of storytelling and an eye for dramatic conflict. Mazen has just been released from an Israeli prison for setting fire to an Israeli settlement site, which, if finished, would have demolished his village’s all-important olive groves. His younger brother Taher has fallen in love with the beautiful Raeda—a love kept secret because, by tradition, older brother Mazen must marry first.
And Raeda’s father Muhamad, the patriarch of the groves, is dying, and seeing in Mazen’s sacrifice to save the olives a protector for the groves once he’s gone, pushes Raeda to marry Mazen. Meanwhile, there’s Raeda, torn between these two worthy brothers, but only in love with one of them. How does one choose between passion, respect and obligation?
The Olive Harvest shows how, for Palestinians, even a love story is inseparable from the struggle over the land. The olive trees, nurtured by generations, are a literal statement that Palestinians have roots in Palestine. Israelis are seen as the destructive intruders. The Olive Harvest is an unparalleled opportunity to see an impassioned Palestinian point of view to which Americans are rarely exposed.
Steve Mockus

The Olive Harvest News

On March 23, 2004, Amnesty International hosted a screening of The Olive Harvest at the MGM Century City Theater in Hollywood, California. The event was emceed by famed actor Danny DeVito and sponsored by the William Morris Agency.

NPR - (Morning Edition audio)
The Olive Harvest drew acclaim as the runner-up at the San Francisco Film Festival, and recently made its Middle East debut. Two brothers, one a former Palestinian political prisoner who sees no future in violence, and the other a low-level official who fights Israeli settlements, fall in love with the same woman. NPR's Julie McCarthy reports. More...

The award winning film The Olive Harvest by California-based Palestinian film director Hanna Elias has received a mixed reception at a screening in the West Bank where the love story is set. The town of Ramallah may be best known for the ruined headquarters of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

There are places and people that we learn about only from the news. The case of the Palestinians, constantly followed by the press, proves with no doubt how and how much you can talk about people without almost never saying anything of how they actually live. It is like if beyond the conflict those people do not exist. And if films can be an effective way to show the other side of reality, it often happens that all the films about Palestinians leave the conflict at the centre of the scene and push on the side, in the shadow, the “rest”. This scheme has been overturned by Hanna Elias, a Palestinian film director, with his first film The Olive Harvest.

The strength of the fest remains its showcase of new foreign films, dramatic and documentary alike. Much of the program had the urgency of a human rights festival, with Palestinian activists leafleting inside the Kabuki Theater before the world premiere of The Olive Harvest. Hanna Elias' DV-shot debut sets up a melodramatic love triangle that threatens to uproot village traditions faster than the Israeli settlements closing in on its olive groves.

46th SF International Film Festival
Palestinian Hanna Elias’s first feature snares its intimate cast of characters in a tightening web of emotional obligations—to family, self and country—with a classical economy of storytelling and an eye for dramatic conflict. Mazen has just been released from


THE OLIVE HARVEST is a contemporary Palestinian drama exploring the complex love triangle between two brothers and their childhood friend. Upon his release from an Israeli prison, Mazen develops romantic feelings for his childhood friend, Raeda. However, Raeda is already engaged to Mazen's younger brother Taher, their love kept a secret... more...

Gomez is Dead - ACCEPTED to 2005 DCIFF


Cuco Gomez-Gomez had just been found in bed DEAD! And every single one of his meddling neighbors in the live-in hotel has a theory on whodunit and why…
Actor/writer-director FRANCISCO LORITE (Love The Hard Way) and an eclectic ensemble cast of up-and-coming Latin actors, including LOLA ANTHONY (“Between”), ENRIQUE ARCE (Showtime’s “Fidel”), OCTAVIO GOMEZ BERRIOS (“Fun with Dick and Jane”), MARLEME FORTE (“Real Women have Curves”), PATRICIA RAE (“Maria Full of Grace”), among others, bring you a stylized, off-kilter short film, part murder mystery, part mockumentary, and a whole lot of dark fun.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Feb 22 : Intro Party for the 2005 DC Independent Film Festival

Intro Party for the 2005 DC Independent Film Festival
on Tuesday February 22
at Indebleu from 7-9pm

707 G St. NW
DC 2001

INDeBleu Website >

Feb 22 : Intro Party for the 2005 DC Independent Film Festival

Intro Party for the 2005 DC Independent Film Festival
on Tuesday February 22
at Indebleu from 7-9pm

707 G St. NW
DC 2001

INDeBleu Website >

Feb 22: Intro Party for the 2005 DC Independent Film Festival

Intro Party for the 2005 DC Independent Film Festival
on Tuesday February 22
at Indebleu from 7-9pm

707 G St. NW
DC 2001

INDeBleu Website >

Monday, February 14, 2005

Feb 22 : Intro Party for the 2005 DC Independent Film Festival

INDeBleu Website >


Spread the word to one and all… we are will be having a

Intro Party for the 2005 DC Independent Film Festival
on Tuesday February 22
at Indebleu from 7-9pm

707 G St. NW
DC 2001

Friday, February 11, 2005

Zen Noir - ACCEPTED to 2005 DCIFF

Plot Outline: A nameless 'noir' detective, still mourning the loss of his wife, investigates a mysterious death in a Buddhist temple, but his logical, left-brained crime-solving skills are useless in the intuitive, non-linear world of Zen

A nameless "noir" detective, still mourning the loss of his wife, investigates a mysterious death in a Buddhist temple, but his logical, left-brained crime-solving skills are useless in the intuitive, non-linear world of Zen.

While attempting to question the inhabitants of the temple -- Ed, a monk with an attitude and secrets to hide; Jane, a beautiful, mysterious, bald femme fatale; and the Master, an infuriatingly obscure Zen teacher, who does a lot of strange things with oranges – the Detective’s logical mind is thwarted at every turn by his suspects' Zen thinking...
Detective: Where were you at the time of the murder?
Monk: What exactly do you mean by time?

Increasingly confused and unnerved, haunted by his dead wife’s ghost, and with his investigation going nowhere, the Detective finds himself drawn into a deeper, darker, more personal mystery, where he must confront terrifying questions about love and loss, which lead to a startling realization: the mystery he's there to solve isn't a murder at all, but the mystery of death itself.

ZEN NOIR began more than ten years ago, when I was meditating in a Buddhist temple at 5 a.m. Keenly aware of all the half-asleep people sitting in the room, I was suddenly struck with an odd thought: "what would happen if one of us just keeled over, dead?"
From that moment, the ideas slowly evolved: Western vs. Eastern views of death; Love vs. the inevitable fact that Everything Changes; and finally, Logic vs. Reality.
It was this last thought that brought me to the idea of Film Noir. In Film Noir, the detective often sets out to solve one mystery, but ends up finding another, deeper mystery, and having to confront dark, sometimes frightening truths.

The dictionary defines the word “mystery” as either “a conundrum that must be solved” or as “a work of fiction dealing with a puzzling crime, usually a murder.” But there is a third, older definition as well, and it was this definition that finally merged Zen and Noir in my mind. The original definition of the word “mystery” was something along the lines of: "a spiritual truth beyond rational understanding, that can only be experienced through direct revelation."
In Zen Buddhism, this type of mystery is often expressed as a koan. A koan is a teaching riddle the master poses to the student that cannot be solved with logic. The koan most Westerners are familiar with is: “what is the sound of one hand clapping?” On the surface, the question is absurd, because no amount of reason or logic will lead you to an answer. But there is an answer: the answer is who you become as you explore the question, what you discover about yourself, the universe, and all of existence.

It was with this single idea that whole project came together for me: I would make a murder mystery in which the murder is a koan. And the film itself will be a koan for the audience.
A decade later, all of these ideas, along with a few 800-year-old Chinese jokes, have somehow come together as ZEN NOIR.

Enjoy the Mystery.

-Marc Rosenbush

In April of 2001, I put in a call to David Mamet. David and I had worked together briefly when I was running a theatre company in Boston, and a few years later I directed the Chicago premiere of his play Bobby Gould in Hell.

After a successful career as a theatre director, I was about to move to L.A. in order to make the transition into film, and as David had made the same transition several years earlier, I figured he might have some good advice for me as I prepared to break in to the industry. He did.
“Don’t even try to break in to this business,” he said. “Don’t waste your time with agents and studios and trying to sell your stuff to the industry. So many people in Hollywood, people with talent, waste years of their lives trying to break in that way, and for most of them, it’s never gonna happen.”

This was demoralizing, to say the least. So I asked him what I should do.
“If you’re serious about being a filmmaker, then make a film. Con someone out of $75,000, get some actors together, and just make a movie.”

So I did. And I didn’t even need to con anyone.—Marc Rosenbush
©2004 Zenmovie, LLC - all rights reserved

Zen Noir - ACCEPTED to 2005 DCIFF

Tagline: Sometimes the mystery is bigger than you think

Plot Outline: A nameless 'noir' detective, still mourning the loss of his wife, investigates a mysterious death in a Buddhist temple, but his logical, left-brained crime-solving skills are useless in the intuitive, non-linear world of Zen. (view trailer)

Duane Sharp
Kim Chan
Debra Miller
Ezra Buzzington
Jennifer Siebel
Howard Fong

Tahara - ACCEPTED to 2005 DCIFF

A Short Film by Sara Rashad

Discover the controversy, horror, and cultural struggle surrounding female genital mutilation in the 35mm dramatic narrative film, TAHARA. With an approximate running time of 17 minutes and 30 seconds, this powerful story offers a candid look at the reality of this problem, and empowers women in practicing cultures to understand an important choice in their life.

The Story
TAHARA is the story of Amina, an Egyptian housewife living in Los Angeles, who must decide if she will follow tradition and circumcise her daughter, Suha, or if she will abandon this age old practice and save Suha from circumcision. Despite it's illegality, Amina feels strongly that she must continue this tradition because of pressure she receives from her mother, Zeinab, when her husband is away on a business trip.

Amina solicits the services of a surgeon who informs her of the serious health consequences of the procedure. He refuses. When Amina returns home Zeinab argues with her and insists they will take Suha to the local daya (an illegal circumciser). Amina tosses and turns all night.

The next day at the daya's house Amina sits amongst the women with Suha beside her. As Amina takes Suha through the customary rites-of-passage, she recalls the rich, colorful pageantry of her own circumcision, which provides her with strength. However, Amina is also assaulted by repressed memories of her own brutal operation. She is confronted with the horrendous pain she endured and the abandonment she felt by her mother.

Will Amina find the necessary courage to confront her mother, Zeinab, to defy tradition and save her daughter from the brutal psychological and physical effects of circumcision? Or, will she submit Suha to the same horrifying fate?

Amina's dilemma represents the dilemma of many women who live in denial of their own oppression and cultural abuse. They will see Amina's struggles as their own. The film will hopefully encourage them to find the courage to embrace truth in order to heal from their cultural wounds. TAHARA represents the voices of women and girls who are suffering silently. TAHARA breaks the silence. Women must know they are not suffering alone.

TAHARA is a universal story that will appeal to a broad audience. It's an archetypal story about generational conflict and the immense power mothers and daughters, fathers and sons exert on each other. It's a story of a family struggling to stay connected to their roots. It's a story about growing multiculturalism and what it means in the United States and abroad. It's a story about the tyranny of culture and family. TAHARA takes creative risks on issues not usually seen and will connect with a worldwide audience.

Contact us today for a listing of showings in your area, or for more information
on opening further dialogue about this explosive issue.
(310) 458-3298

Making of Tahara

I returned to Egypt ready to shoot only to find that this woman had past away in my absence. The person who took charge of the censorship bureau was conservative and believed that the film would attract an international mass audience so he did not support the project. Other Egyptian filmmakers were approved to discuss the subject previously because he did not believe those films would be seen internationally. For this reason alone, he stopped all my previous efforts and did not support my project at all. Egypt is a very difficult place for film production and many Hollywood directors opt to shoot in other locations such as Morocco or Tunisia instead of dealing with Egypt's censorship rules and bureaucracy. I had to solve this problem. How would I finish my film?

I met a Producer who owns a studio in Egypt called Studio Masr. He would use his influence to get me my permissions. At this point, the issue became time and money as I had already invested all my money and spent many years of my life on this film. It was time to move on but how could I solve this problem. The Producer at Studio Masr gave me access to all his facilities and I started to re-edit the film. My first film at USC was also about circumcision and I happened to save all the outtakes. I received permission from USC to use this old footage to complete the film. I edited the film at the Studio and found that the black and white footage would solve my story problems and I would not risk any loss of emotional involvement. I decided to finish the film this way.

My next film will be an independent film shot in Cairo, Egypt. I am thrilled as it will be the first of it's kind. My initial interest in shooting in Egypt was because I had always dreamed of making films there. I have achieved both my dreams as a result of TAHARA. I feel that I've made a film regarding female circumcision which will appeal to a mass audience in order to broaden the base of knowledge regarding the issue but it also speaks to the women themselves who come from practicing cultures. I am excited to get TAHARA into the festivals, as I am certain it will do quite well. Second, I will shoot my first feature entirely on location in Egypt. All in all, TAHARA has helped me achieve some of my filmmaking objectives.

Tahara - Sara Rashad directorial DEBUT as a Writer/Director/Producer

I was patient and never once compromised my vision. In the end the Egyptians came to me in Los Angeles. I also had the support of many Hollywood organizations and mentors, which gave me the encouragement I needed during the dark times. The flashback sequences of the film were much more problematic. For the flashback sequences of the film I intended to collaborate with Egyptian NGO's to produce the film on location in Egypt. However, I had to get official permissions from the Egyptian censorship board before anyone would assist me. In 1991 CNN shot a real circumcision operation but they did not have legal permission. This three-minute clip played internationally and forced the Egyptian government to open dialogue on the issue. However, several Egyptians who were involved in shooting this clip went to jail. This controversial clip did initiate a debate. A few years latter female circumcision became illegal because of international pressure from many international organizations.

This is what I was up against. No one would help me with my film without the official Egyptian censorship board approving my story. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. In Egypt you cannot shoot anything without official government permissions, every script must be approved and stamped by the censor and if you do not get your approvals and you shoot you can get into big trouble as the CNN people did years before. This did not stop me. I met a wonderful woman who was the head of the censorship bureau and she promised to give me my permissions if I made the script changes she required. She said there were some things missing and she wanted me to research by talking to these women in the villages. She encouraged me to travel from Lower to Upper Egypt where I interviewed hundreds of women on their beliefs regarding circumcision. I read my script to them with the help of a translator, as many of these women cannot read or write. I got their feedback. All these women said the script was completely authentic and they loved it. They heard the story and decided not to circumcise their own daughters.

I had achieved one of my objectives, to touch the women who come from practicing cultures. Now, I knew my story resonated with them. I gave my script to the head of censorship and she too loved it and promised me she would have my approvals ready when I returned to Egypt. I needed a rest so I returned to Los Angeles to edit my Los Angeles footage and pre-conceive the flashback sequences so I didn't have to spend the rest of my life savings. At this time I won the Caucus Foundation Award and received the much-needed encouragement I needed from the industry after a trying few months

TAHARA is my directorial debut as a writer/director/producer and fulfilled my graduate requirements at the University of Southern California. TAHARA was a recipient of a Caucus Foundation Student Grant Award in 2002. TAHARA has also won the following awards to date during the script writing and pre-production phases: The American Association of University Women community action grant for projects promoting equity and education for women and girls worldwide; The Entertainment Industry Foundation Grant for projects that promote health education and awareness for women and girls; The Paul Robeson Pre-Production Grant for films which promote aggressive social change through media activism; and The Roy W. Dean Film Grant for film projects which are unique and benefit society. TAHARA will now make it's way through the festival circuit and will hopefully win numerous prizes and awards.

When an audience watches a film, especially a film like TAHARA, they never know the back-story of the making of the film. As industry professionals we can appreciate how these extremely difficult projects start from one person's vision then evolve into a final film despite the difficulties the production team may have encountered. Ultimately, the film must speak to our audience no matter what trials and tribulations the production team went through. I knew from the beginning that TAHARA would be an extremely difficult project because of the controversial nature of the subject matter. However, because of supportive foundations such as the Caucus Foundation I was encouraged to continue my work despite all the obstacles I encountered along the way.

The present day portion of the film takes place in Los Angeles and was shot entirely in Los Angeles. During casting I could not find any Egyptian actors who were suitable for the roles. There are few Middle Eastern actors in the community. I was not sure how I would cast the main role of Amina. I cast the film on several occasions with actors of different Middle Eastern ethnicities but they were not "Egyptians". I was not comfortable shooting as I was not getting the authenticity I required for the film's success. It is only by chance that Caroleen Khalil was visiting Los Angeles on a Full Bright acting scholarship. She is quite famous in her own country of origin, Egypt, and has won many awards for her work. However, she had never been involved in a US based project. Through word of mouth I learned she was in town and met with her for coffee. I cast her immediately. At this point, I had to re-cast the entire film around my leading actress. She was authentic and I now had to find the real deal, several Egyptians to match up with her. Where would I find them all? By chance again, I met Yousria, the older woman who plays the role of the grandmother who was also visiting from Egypt to baby-sit her granddaughter. Yousria never stood in front of a camera in her life. I auditioned her by doing a few improvisations only to discover that she was a natural and she was cast.

 Posted by Hello

Brass Tacks - ACCEPTED to 2005 DCIFF

Brass Tracks

Download the BRASS TACKS EPK

"BRASS TACKS" is a 35mm feature length, narrative drama. Shot entirely on location in Atlanta, GA, the film tells the story of a group of young, hungry, and talented musicians who are struggling to find the Promised Land of a record deal. Grueling days of blue-collar construction work fund their nocturnal pursuit of becoming full-time musicians. Confronted with the reality that Jazz has limited commercial appeal, the band’s leader, Nick (Rob Mallard), battles with slick music industry executives and other band members to find respect and recognition in the music world without "selling out." Read the full Synopsis >>

The Music
The film's main band, Positive Propaganda, was formed exclusively for "BRASS TACKS" and is comprised of six internationally accomplished musicians from the United States and Britain.
All of the actors who play musicians in the film are professional artists in real life.
The most unique aspect of "BRASS TACKS" is the live musical performances in a narrative setting. With three cameras rolling and each instrument and voice captured separately with top-flight recording technology, the film audience is hearing and seeing the music as it was actually played live by the performers/actors.

"BRASS TACKS" showcases a wide range of amazing music including: Jazz, Latin, Hip-Hop, New Orleans Brass, and Gospel.


Bonus Track CHAPIN WILSON-The Imaginary Substitute
AGUA DULCE-Canciones
PH BALANCE-Flora Avenue
REBIRTH BRASS BAND-Leave That Pipe Alone
B-SIDE PLAYERS-Puro Feeling*(Live)

Blackmail Boy (USA: festival title) - ACCEPTED to 2005 DCIFF

In the small, closed community of a provincial town, Magda tries to maintain a balance within a family facing many serious problems. The families apparently normal, bourgeois, every-day life will crack open, bringing to the surface hatred and passions of the kind that lie well-hidden in the mists of the nearby lake. An intense plot and a totally unexpected ending make up this film, which features characters who are vulnerable, innocent and ordinary, but who become ruthless and callous, worrying only about protecting their financial resources. The offences are disproportionately serious compared to the financial benefits they try to secure.

Oxygono (2003) ... aka Blackmail Boy (USA: festival title) ... aka Oxygen

Directed byThanasis Papathanasiou Michalis Reppas

In a small country town in Greece, the exploration of a plot of land triggers off a chain of blackmail that draws the main characters in this drama into a cynical game of mutual extermination. Ultimately the game ends in murder.100 mins. / Greek with English subtitles

“A delirious Greek soap opera about a family pitted against each other in a bid for power and money. A young stud, involved in a sexual relationship with an older man, becomes a blackmail pawn in the family’s scheming.”- Raymond Murray, PHILADELPHIA INT'L GLFF

2004 New Festival New York City GLFF Philadelphia International GLFF 2004 Chicago GLFF 2004 Boston GLFF Outfest Los Angeles GLFF


DOWN DOG is both a satire and celebration of the recent explosion of Los Angeles “yoga culture” and the proliferation of ersatz “gurus” capitalizing on the zeitgeist of the times – the West’s current fascination with the methods, philosophies and cultures of the East.

Essentially “Shampoo” in a yoga studio, DOWN DOG transports us to the yoga world of Guru Dave, a charismatic “yogi-to-the-stars” at the peak of his Angeleno notoriety. A legend in his own mind, Dave has a talent for espousing “spiritual truths” before a rapt cult following of beautiful women, but he misuses his ethereal charisma to philander his female tutelage and maximize his ego, wealth and fame in the City of Lights. Indeed, the World is his oyster. Then again, he just can’t commit.

His biggest problem? Dave talks the talk, but can’t walk the walk. Dave’s perfect Harem Universe of asana, women and song is rocked with the introduction of Grace, a truly enlightened African American woman with the face and stature of Buddha. Our “Bodhisattva” sets out to help Dave achieve the next level in his spiritual development. She confronts Dave with his duplicity and provides him with the challenge of his lifetime. Should he fail, his fiefdom will collapse.

Is Dave up to the task? Only Grace’s guru, the Great Ascended Master Sri Guru Babajiji Yogananda knows the truth.

DOWN DOG hilariously pulls the covers on our duplicitous false prophet while artfully celebrating the allure of the ancient ways of the East that currently captivate the ethos of our modern age.

DOWN DOG - Co-Writer & Executive Producer Julie Piatt

Co-Writer & Executive Producer Julie Piatt (1 day before giving birth to daughter Mathis) and her husband Rich Roll on set.

photo By Stacie Isabella Turk