Films We're Excited To See At The 2022 WMM International Film Festival

film festival Aug 02, 2022

The past two years have had WMMINTL offering the ubiquitous hybrid festival, a mix of virtual screenings and Q&A sessions, with a few in-person screenings and special events sprinkled in. We delivered cinematic excellence despite the restrictions of the pandemic, but for our 4th annual We Make Movies International Film Festival we’re rolling out the red (well, blue) carpet from October 6th through the 9th with another stellar lineup of films from around the world, a few illustrious panels, and of course, an opening and closing ceremony. 

This year’s slate underscores some highly original and impactful features, shorts, documentaries, pilot episodes, music videos, experimental film, and everything (have we left anything out?) in between. From the intellectual and philosophical to the witty and absurdist to the unpredictable, personal, and political, our Festival Director Eric Michael Kochmer, Programming Director Whit Spurgeon, and Assistant Director Tehana Weeks give us the films they think you should keep your eyes and ears peeled for. 

We have the scoop on their picks below. Check it all out and grab your tickets early!

THE SHORT FILMS:
 

Taffeta (11 min)
Directed by Lovell Holder

As a toxic phone sex relationship spirals out of control, the titular Taffeta must confront whether they will be able to break out of the destructive habits and crippling loneliness that have haunted their life. Based on their play "Lavender Men," playwright-performer Roger Q. Mason explores questions of identity and vicious cycles of addiction in their short film "Taffeta." 

WMM: What compelled you to make this film? What was the impetus?

Taffeta first exploded into our own lives when Roger began writing their play, "Lavender Men." Roger was eager to investigate the queer history of Abraham Lincoln, and they decided to do so by providing a contemporary surrogate onstage who was everything Lincoln was not. And Taffeta was born. Roger soon invited Lovell into the development process as a director, together discovering how crucial Roger’s own personal experiences were to the conversations Taffeta was fighting to provoke. The play went on to have a public reading on Broadway at Circle in the Square as part of the Circle Reading development series in 2019, and the world premiere of the play was scheduled for... April 2020. One week into rehearsals for the play’s debut, the coronavirus pandemic brought a halt to Taffeta’s journey. But Taffeta is not one to go silently into the night... As the pandemic raged on, the play was featured and spotlighted in the Los Angeles Times, Playbill, and BroadwayWorld as one of the new works stalled by the coronavirus, and in July 2020, the play was named to the theater world’s prestigious Kilroy List of the year’s most promising unproduced new plays. And without fail Taffeta was the center of every conversation about this show. We knew we had to bring her to audiences sooner rather than later, some way, somehow. We could not wait.

WMM: What was the process of making this film?

In the fall of 2020, we gathered a skeleton crew to bring a small slice of Taffeta’s world to life through this short film, which we filmed in Roger’s childhood home about a month before the property was sold. We then spent several months in remote post-production, scattered across the country. Now, rather than greeting audiences onstage, Taffeta has come instead to invade their screens. And she is ready to start a fire. She wants to inspire a discussion about loneliness, body image, and the alienation and abuse of BIPOC people within the LGBT community. She has so much she wants to say. And we hope you’ll give her the chance to show you a window into her world.

WMM: What was the most challenging aspect of making this film?

The most nerve-wracking element was certainly working to guarantee that no one contracted Covid during our filming. Since we shot the film before the vaccine was released, the entire shoot was conceived to limit exposure and minimize the essential personnel on set.

WMM: If you could make this film all over again, what would you do differently?

So many things went correctly with the film, so it’s hard to pinpoint anything that one might want to change. If only to expedite time, it would have been wonderful for our edit not to be remote (since it is always a treat to be in the same room as the great Samantha Soule, our editor), but because of where we fell during the arc of Covid that was unavoidable.

WMM: What are your aspirations for the film? Do you have a marketing and/or distribution plan?

We’ve already been so overwhelmed with gratitude by the festivals we’ve had the privilege to play, including BFI Flare, Outfest, Bentonville, HollyShorts, and SCAD Savannah, where we were honored to win a Jury Prize.  It’s a thrill to now be a part of We Make Movies, and we also are so happy to announce that the original play on which the short is based will at last make its world premiere in Los Angeles in 2022. We remain so grateful to be a part of We Make Movies this year, and we extend congratulations to all our fellow filmmakers. It’s a delight to be in their company.

WMM: What is the audience for this film and who will love it?

Taffeta as a character and Roger as a writer/performer represent so many communities, though we would never presume to speak for all of them. Nonetheless, for anyone who has ever wanted to see a spotlight shown on a Black, Filipinx, gender-nonconforming, queer, plus-size person, then our hope is that they will appreciate our film.  

WMM: If you could, how would you improve the film industry?

I think we are of the belief that any meaningful effort to democratize the film industry and increase access to underserved voices and communities is a necessity and long overdue.

 

I'm At Home (13 min)
Directed by Philip Thompson

The host of a children's television show aimed for creativity starts experiencing burnout after needing to force that creativity every day. Phil is the host of a children’s television show who lives on a TV set and tells children to be creative every single day. However, this daily process leads to burnout and inner emotional turmoil, and the reality of the television program begins to suffer as well.

WMM: What compelled you to make this film? What was the impetus?

I’m At Home was my senior thesis project for Ithaca College. I originally had a different script prepared for the class, but then the COVID-19 pandemic began, leading me to spend six months in isolation. When classes began in the fall of 2020, I knew I had gone through a state of metamorphosis, and I couldn’t make films the way I was used to making them anymore. This led to me making a film that reflected my time in that isolation, where I was doing nothing but watching television and hopelessly trying to maintain productivity.

WMM: What was the process of making this film?

I was still a full time student and worked a couple part time jobs during production of the film, which meant that we had to spend primarily nights constructing and designing the set, rehearsing the blocking and camera movements, and fleshing out the film’s edit, music, and sound design. I needed to tap into an emotionally intense zone of creativity, which ultimately drove me to push the project to its completion.

WMM: What was the most challenging aspect of making this film?

The most challenging aspect was refining the cut. After wrapping production, editor Michael Friedman and I quickly realized we had countless directions we could take the film in. It took us a long time to find the right balance between maintaining an audience’s attention span while also staying true to the film’s gradual and continuous pace, and I think in the end we were able to find that sweet spot.

WMM: If you could make this film all over again, what would you do differently?

Spend more time rehearsing with myself! I have directed films before, and I’ve acted before, but I’ve never done both at the same time. It was extremely difficult to be living inside the head of the character, but also directing a crew full of people and maintaining a positive morale on set. I’m happy with the performance I gave, but had I given myself more time prior to rehearsing, I think certain crucial scenes could have been even stronger. But also, I don’t like to really think like that. I’ll just remember it for the next project.

WMM: What are your aspirations for the film? Do you have a marketing and/or distribution plan?

We want to finish off our domestic festival run, and then try to get programmed by an online short film curator of some sort. If not, then I would love to just make the film public so everyone could be able to see it without any restrictions!

WMM: What is the audience for this film and who will love it?

I think any sort of creative person would be able to easily understand the film’s underlying emotional themes, and particularly how a creative person feels in moments where they can’t be creative. This movie is definitely for those with broken brains like myself who need to make work to feel alive. Also anyone who appreciates 80s-90s analog video art!

WMM: If you could, how would you improve the film industry?

I’m just starting out in the industry, paying most of my rent working as a production assistant. I think the set lifestyle feels completely unsustainable as a career. I really admire and in awe of how people are able to work 16+ hour days on a film set for over twenty, thirty years. I would change that for good if I were able to, and would love to see crew members have livable and normal work hours, giving them the chance to see their families, and allowing them more time to work on their own creative projects. 

Bananas Girl (7 min)
Directed by Shayna Connelly

Seven-year-old Bananas Girl asserts her independence, perfects the art of the non-sequitur and navigates the boundaries between herself and her mom.

WMM: What compelled you to make this film? What was the impetus?

Most portrayals of modern girlhood are fiction. 

All children are creative with language and delight their parents with their insights, mispronunciations and cute phrasing. As the lone family extrovert, my daughter talked (and talks) non-stop, formulating her ideas in the process of speaking, often with bizarre results. There is no censorship of thought, no consideration of propriety, no inkling that her voice could be devalued for being female. Her utterances are surreal, beautiful and hilarious. She is an outspoken, direct and brutally honest human who is also caring and optimistic. 

Bananas Girl is aware of her audience and enjoys delighting them with non-sequiturs, absurd questions [“wait, is this my face?”] and visual metaphors. When she went to Kindergarten, I waited for her divergent thinking to fade and be replaced by the rule- and logic-oriented thinking instilled through our educational system. But at the end of grade school her creative world view persists. She has changed, certainly, but her poet’s heart hangs on. 

WMM: What was the process of making this film?

I asked my friend Justin Jones, a documentary filmmaker and cinematographer whose work I adore, if he would devote one day of filming to make this film. We improvised, let Ailsa experiment with make-up and generally hung out with her for the day. 

WMM: What was the most challenging aspect of making this film?

Ailsa was seven and needed several breaks from filming. The make-up scene was the incentive for her to be in much of the rest of the film. 

WMM: If you could make this film all over again, what would you do differently?

I don’t think I’d do anything differently. It was a singular moment for me and for Ailsa! 

WMM: What are your aspirations for the film? Do you have a marketing and/or distribution plan?

For all of my films I hope that an introduction to one leads to an interest in my work as a whole. Short film distribution is difficult to achieve and while some of my films have distribution, I hope that new possibilities arise. 

WMM: What is the audience for this film and who will love it?

Artists, parents, lovers of the wholesome kind of weird. 

WMM: If you could, how would you improve the film industry?

Opening up grant, exhibition and distribution opportunities, particularly for films and filmmakers who push the boundaries of form.

The Lizard Laughed (21 min)
Directed by Allen Cordell

Allen Cordell's narrative debut The Lizard Laughed enjoyed its world premiere at the Oscar-qualifying Florida Film Festival back in April and has been hailed as "a breathtaking love letter to New Mexico’s backcountry." The film tells the tale of an awkward, confrontational reunion when Harvey gets an unexpected visit from Nathan, his son he hasn’t seen since abandoning him years ago. A comedy about feeling disconnected from the people who should be most important to us in life, the film is based on Noah Van Sciver's acclaimed indie comic of the same name. 

The film stars cult comedy gem Sky Elobar (Greasy StranglerTropical Cop TalesUnder the SilverlakeDon Verdean and Lady Dynamite) as Harvey, and longtime WMM member and award winning actor Jared Boghosian (The ChannelThe Witch FilesJane the Virgin, SWAT) as Nathan. Cordell's previous projects includes music videos for Beach House, Dan Deacon, Girl Talk, Future Islands and more, as well as irreverent content for the internet-obsessed at Super Deluxe, where he created the horror-comedy art-instruction show Drawing with Skinner.

We had a chance to catch up with the auteur-in-the-making to hear the backstory behind how this film got made and find out a little more about what makes Cordell himself tick. Check out the full piece here.

 

Selected Milk (Added from Reconstituted Milk Powder Whole Pasteurized Homogenized) (20 min)
Directed by Jose Luis Ducid

Not everyone qualifies as a supermarket packaged milk salesperson. Selected Milk (Added from Reconstituted Milk Powder Whole Pasteurized Homogenized), is in the form of a manual for sellers of milk cartons in supermarkets. Meanwhile, the scenes reflect the flashes of life of a potential seller who does not meet the conditions of a milk carton salesman.

WMM: What compelled you to make this film? What was the impetus?

To not die of reality. To not become insane.

As with milk, in cinema we pack the newness. But everything is so unique as imperfect. Stop making poses.

WMM: What was the process of making this film?

I saw a photo of Maria Meseguer that reminded me of a book of poems that I wrote when I was young (30 years ago). I thought: “This photo is a poem that I wrote”. I dared to choose some of the photos of Maria and mount them with the read texts. When a friend of mine, Alfonso Camarero heard the texts, he composed all the music for them. It was a process in which I didn’t take part at all, that’s why this “film” is signed by three authors.

WMM: What was the most challenging aspect of making this film?

To finish it.

WMM: If you could make this film all over again, what would you do differently?

I would improve the graphics. 

WMM: What are your aspirations for the film? Do you have a marketing and/or distribution plan?

Yes, to recover some of the money spent in the festival's career! Looking for REAL distribution.

WMM: What is the audience for this film and who will love it?

People sick of S.W.A.T. 

WMM: If you could, how would you improve the film industry?

Canceling those films that contains this three methods of resolving situations: A: With a phone call  B: Getting a gun from the desk  C: With a countdown

Dick Control (15 min)
Directed by Shequeta Smith 

Richard Tye “Trigga” Simmons, a rich, promiscuous, jet-setting rapper, has a one-night stand with a beautiful groupie who happens to be a witch. When Tye disrespects her, she places a "penis curse" that cock blocks him until he learns how to respect women. 

WMM: What compelled you to make this film? What was the impetus?

My reason for making this film was that I wanted to make a statement and start a conversation on how social media and hip-hop music elevates misogynoir. Rappers like Future, Da Baby, Tori Lanez, and even Drake often make music that is disrespectful towards black women. This disrespectful attitude often plays out on social media with weekly scandals on blogs like "The Shade Room." I wanted to make a film that addresses this behavior in an entertaining but nuanced way.

WMM: What was the process of making this film?

My process in making this film was quick. I decided in November that I was going to shoot it. I knew that I wanted Curtis Hamilton (Insecure) to star and when my producer friend offered to introduce us in December, I knew that the timing was right. We did pre-production over Christmas and shot the film in one-day in late January.  

WMM: What was the most challenging aspect of making this film?

The most challenging and nerve wrecking aspect of getting this film together was the fact that we shot the movie in the middle of a COVID surge. The week of shooting, waiting for test results to come back for 30 people was the most nervous I was for the entire project. Once we got over that obstacle, we had no choice but to make an amazing film. 

WMM: If you could make this film all over again, what would you do differently?

If I could make this film all over again I would probably re-cut the love scene. I would probably do a few extra takes and make that scene a bit tighter. 

WMM: What are your aspirations for the film? Do you have a marketing and/or distribution plan?

I would like to make this short film into a feature film. I believe that there's a way to bring comedy together with a message and I feel like a film with this subject is relevant for what's happening today. Our marketing plan consists of a festival run that will hopefully end at Sundance. We're hoping to get the support that we need to make this short into a feature film. 

WMM: What is the audience for this film and who will love it?

The types of people most likely to watch my movie are hip-hop fans, feminists, cinephiles, and millennials.  

WMM: If you could, how would you improve the film industry?

I would do away with nepotism and make it so everything was judged on talent. 

The Blue Cape (5 min) 
Directed by Alejandra López

In hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, medicine can be hard to come by. A little boy has to grow beyond his limits if he is to help his grandfather.

WMM: What compelled you to make this film? What was the impetus?

On September 20th 2017, Hurricane Maria landed on the shores of Puerto Rico. Destroying everything that crossed its path. Doctors cared for the sick. Chefs cooked for the homeless. How can I, as a storyteller, help my island?

A study led by researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health puts Puerto Rico's death toll in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria at 4,565. As a Puerto Rican filmmaker, it is my duty to tell these stories. And with the existence of “The Blue Cape”, I am at peace. Only 4,564 stories to go. 

WMM: What was the process of making this film?

I drove to the southeastern part of the island to do community service. As I left the city, houses covered with blue tarps drowned my sight. Four, twelve, forty - I lost count. My subconscious brought up an image of my brother when he was ten years old. Wearing his “Spiderman” costume. Every time a hurricane hit Puerto Rico when I was kid, leaving us without power and water, our imagination flew. I imagined what children now-a-days were going through with Maria, one of the strongest hurricanes recorded in modern history. The image of a young boy and a blue tarp merged in my conscience: “The Blue Cape” was born.

The blue cape represents the government for me, both Federal and local. They gave out blue tarps to those in need, made us feel like heroes for surviving such a disaster. As a colony of the United States of America, we felt blessed to have the support of the motherland. But as time went by, weeks, months, a year later, that was all that was given to us. Water remained scarce. Power still out. People kept dying. We didn’t feel special anymore. The blue cape has lost it’s power. The tarps have become useful only to bury the dead. Both governments had failed us. More than putting a temporary roof over our heads, it’s the families that live under these tarps where the attention should’ve gone in the first place. Man, the thousands of lives we could have saved.

WMM: What was the most challenging aspect of making this film?

The locations. I shot this short in April 2018 and Puerto Ricans were still living like this. Nonetheless, the government was working hard to rebuild the damaged infrastructure so I will scout a location one week and the next one it will be completely demolished or under construction. Some parts of the island didn't have power either, so I had to rent a generator just for the camera's battery to charge. 

WMM: If you could make this film all over again, what would you do differently?

Absolutely nothing. The cast and crew were a dream to work with. It was all, and will always be, a learning experience. 

WMM: What are your aspirations for the film? Do you have a marketing and/or distribution plan?

For people around the world to experience what Puerto Ricans did. To know the truth of what really happened down there. 

WMM: What is the audience for this film and who will love it?

I don't spoon-feed my audience so they have to be cinephiles and smart! 

WMM: If you could, how would you improve the film industry?

Adding more women, in front and behind the cameras, and Latino stories.

Mauthaus (10 min)
Directed by Betty Kaplan

A poetic trip to afterlife.

When mental illness manifests itself in physical pain, a young woman's death wish comes true. Wandering in the pre-death anti-chamber, her soul encounters another dead one who already knows the rules of this toll house (from old German "Maut"). By activating echoes of physical senses they find her "skin sack" but the abandoned body is not ready to give up.

WMM: What compelled you to make this film? What was the impetus?

What drove me to make this film is as simple as this: overwhelming sire to create with people I like. Truths, morales, meaningful references, attempts to communicate with my intended audience through words and visuals, reflections of the way I see the world are always at the core of my film projects, but I will hold them into any form and put them through suggested or random lenses in order to do those projects with the best people. My favorite DP has a taste and talent for long takes combined with otherworldly style of a live and active camera movement. My favorite actress told me a personal story of healing. So, very simply, I wrote it for them. 

WMM: What was the process of making this film?

The process of making this film involved mostly sneaking into abandoned places to find a perfect location for the “Euro-style afterlife.” The script came together in a day and folded itself into rhymed dialogue the next day. Lockdown times forced us into quick collaborative decision-making mode, so all challenges were conquered smoothly. The input of our cinematographer was the most valuable since in such a tiny crew, it was the DP who took one too many roles - gaffing, designing shots, even driving, and, surely, directing when the director is being the lead actress.  

WMM: What was the most challenging aspect of making this film?

The most challenging aspect of the whole process was probably shooting on the coldest day of the year in an abandoned chemical factory making sure we get a good location sound.

WMM: If you could make this film all over again, what would you do differently?

If I could make this film all over again, I would do the same film, it’s good as is; but maybe I’d tell the same story with additional visual elements that would signal a non-place. A place of transience. 

WMM: What are your aspirations for the film? Do you have a marketing and/or distribution plan?

My aspirations for this film might need an inspiration. Instantly ready to shoot the next thing I am simply happy to connect with creatives and industry professionals with this short as my calling card.

WMM: What is the audience for this film and who will love it?

Hopefully quick-witted cinephiles will be my main audience - there are one too many references to books and tv shows in my text. 

WMM: If you could, how would you improve the film industry?

If I could I would make the film industry less secretive about its boring trade secrets and big words like “distribution plan” or “deliverables.” Therein problem of a beginning filmmaker is that we don’t know what questions to ask.

Mary Meet Grace (14 min)
Directed by Faryl  Amadeus

When a stranger appears in Grace's life with disturbing news about her long-lost birth mother, she must fight to untangle herself from a dangerous and sinister plan.

WMM: What compelled you to make this film? What was the impetus?

I was inspired by my personal yearning as an adoptee. I thought "How far might someone go to find out who and where they come from?" On a deeper level "Mary" represents to me a creative life and freedom, while "Dom" represents systems and people eager to keep a woman tame and functional.

WMM: What was the process of making this film?

I wrote Mary Meet Grace at the tippy top of lockdown, March 2020. I rewrote and rewrote and got down to the bones of the story. I fundraised in October and we shot in December. Clint and I rehearsed heavily, which helped fine tune the script even more. Knowing that I would be in front of the camera meant we had to 100% be ready to go and be dialed in. I also had to enlist a team I trusted, which we had in Nell Teare (Producer), Julia Swain (DP), and Elizabeth Mihelich (Producer). 

WMM: What was the most challenging aspect of making this film?

This was my first film, so the challenges were... everything? And nothing. We had the core crew go home halfway through our three day shoot, because of Covid. We lost our location around that same moment. There was a car accident... I mean I dunno, just regular film drama. But it was also a dream and we made a movie we are all very proud of. If you don't like the waves then don't be a surfer.

WMM: If you could make this film all over again, what would you do differently?

I wouldn't do a thing different. GASP.

WMM: What are your aspirations for the film? Do you have a marketing and/or distribution plan?

I love watching audiences absorb it. It's been exciting to see it play at film festivals. I hope Mary Meet Grace has a long life, popping up here and there. I've become such a lover of short films. The efficiency it takes to move people and engage audiences is a total thrill.

WMM: What is the audience for this film and who will love it?

Future collaborators.

WMM: If you could, how would you improve the film industry?

Burn down the bullshit. Let's let good work come to the front. Screw celebrity culture and dismantle it as a currency. I still youthfully cling to the value of authenticity. Let's make real things that mean something to us. That processes our traumas. That helps us relate to one another.

Copper & Wool (12 min)
Directed by Tyler Peterson

The week before her Orthodox Jewish wedding, Elisheva escapes to a rented room in the hills outside of Los Angeles to clear her head. While dodging calls from her mother and fiancé, Elisheva begins to form a life-changing bond with Meredith, the eccentric divorcee who owns the house she’s staying in. 

WMM: What compelled you to make this film? What was the impetus?

Copper & Wool is a film conceptualized and born by leaning into our filmmaking restrictions. After watching Alex Lehman and Mark Duplass’ Blue Jay (2016), Amanda Ferrarese and I were inspired to use her UFVF/Kodak Cinematography grant to put towards a 16mm short film that took place in one location with two wildly different characters and a skeleton crew. In the spirit of mumblecore, I decided to keep the film scriptless and cast two strong improvisation actors with writing backgrounds.

WMM: What was the process of making this film?

Amanda and I cooked up a basic story concept and then first approached longtime collaborator Molly Shayna Cohen. We asked her to play the lead role, and she then created the character of Elisheva plus a full backstory. After she sent me a written entry on who this character was, I opened a casting call to find an actress to play the woman who would own the house Eli stayed at. All I knew was that I wanted that character to be played by an improv actress who could be Eli’s foil in every sense. I offered Susan Louise O’Connor the part after Amanda and I pitched the project to her, and she created the character of Meredith just as Molly created Eli.

We shot over two and a half days about six weeks later. There was a proper shooting schedule and we worked from a short, high level treatment that I wrote for the film, but the dialogue was improvised on set. We would run a rehearsal or two of a scene for camera and blocking, and then dive right into shooting. To create more room in the edit, we’d also ‘film’ every scene twice, but with only audio rolling. I wanted different audio takes with new dialogue to play around with while editing, since we were so strapped for how much footage could be shot.

WMM: What was the most challenging aspect of making this film?

The most challenging aspect was shooting on 16mm. It was challenging in regards to being hyper vigilant over how much film we were using on any given scene, and not being able to have a proper monitor or playback. On top of that, using the Bolex H16 Rex-5 required every shot to be cut after thirty seconds so the camera could be powered again via hand-crack. Because of that, I pushed for every scene to not exceed one minute so they could be filmed in no more than two wind ups of the camera.

Things came to a head on the final shooting day when we had only two rolls of film left and two scenes yet to shoot (that’s only about six minutes of film). The dialogue-heavy portion we needed to shoot was when Eli pries further into Mere’s previous marriage while they’re getting drunk. A scene that was intended to be shot rather traditionally, I radically shifted gears just before rolling to accommodate our lack of film. We instead shot the scene as an improvised one-take with Amanda picking up compelling shots throughout the run, and then we ran the scene again with just the audio once film ran out. In the edit, this was brought together into the dizzying montage you see now, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

WMM: If you could make this film all over again, what would you do differently?

If there was somehow a way to have had more budget then that’s what I’d want! There’s not a lot I would have changed, but it would have been nice to have more rolls of film, more equipment, and a few more bodies on set. Alas, this was a film meant to be forged from our limitations, and we stuck to it.

WMM: What are your aspirations for the film? Do you have a marketing and/or distribution plan?

I’m hoping for a nice festival run over the course of 2022, which was kicked off by the world premiere at Davey Festival in Salt Lake City and a Los Angeles premiere at the Micheaux Film Festival. It would be amazing to play in some niche festivals about LGBTQ+ life, Jewish culture, or even in shot on film categories. However, I firmly think this film could belong in any festival, whether it hits a topic close to the film or not. There’s a universal theme here of a person that feels trapped in their own life, and afraid they’re about to make a decision that could negatively impact them forever just to appease those around them.

WMM: What is the audience for this film and who will love it?

While queer people and Jewish people are obvious choices for a perfect audience, I think that anyone who has ever felt “othered” or different than the culture around them could identify with this film. At its core, Copper & Wool is just very human.

WMM: If you could, how would you improve the film industry?

I’d like to see the film industry embrace the mid budget indie film again. Nowadays it feels like most films are either blockbusters or made for no money. Also, where it feels like so much emphasis is placed on diversity with characters and actors on screen, I want to see that energy continue on through with diversity for crew roles. I'm talking about diversity with not just the directors and screenwriters, but also the camera department, G&E, sound, etc.

 

Part Forever (12 min)
Directed by Alan Chung

A sudden change of funeral came with an astonishing secret.

In the dark hall, candles flickered faintly. A body lay in the middle of the hall. Huei and her husband Wen Hsiung came to say goodbye to Huei’s dearest sister. The seemingly calm and sad farewell ceremony seemed to hide an astonishing and dark secret...

WMM: What compelled you to make this film? What was the impetus?

When it comes to courtship behavior, animals behave differently to get their life partners. For example, male lobsters will pee on their rival in love. The alpacas, which looks kind and cute on the outside, will bite the rival’s testicles to beat the rivals and thus make their rivals have no descendants.

Nevertheless, human beings, which are on the top of the food chain, might be the same or more ruthless than any other animals in the nature when it comes to courtship competition.

I try to reveal human nature being about jealousy and cannibalism through this film. With my personal experience and observation, I’d like to talk about:

  1. The imbalance in one’s heart leads to tragedy.
  2. The reason for the imbalance is not from external disturbances, but oneself. Instead of changing others, it is better to change yourself.

WMM: What was the most challenging aspect of making this film?

Making a film on a low budget.

WMM: If you could make this film all over again, what would you do differently?

Rewrite the construction of the film

WMM: What are your aspirations for the film? Do you have a marketing and/or distribution plan?

To be nominated by Sitges Film Festival, Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival, and Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival.

WMM: What is the audience for this film and who will love it?

Horror fans.

Asunder (15 min)
Directed by Janet Marrett

Olivia, a trainee professional, finds herself opposing the government that is seeking to criminalize her mother. Asunder offers an intricate story about family, politics and justice.

WMM: What compelled you to make this film? What was the impetus?

I have been passionate about depicting a human angle to the Windrush Scandal since it broke in 2018. My parents and relatives are part of the Windrush generation and I’m appalled that ignorance and hostility like this was even permitted by the government. 

The main theme explored in Asunder is the threat of separation. I wanted to address the emotional trauma experienced by families unjustly separated by higher authorities and beyond their control.  

Asunder also acknowledges those and their families still sufferring long term physical, financial and mental strains as a result. Many survivors of this horrific scandal who are entitled to promised compensation by the UK Government have yet to receive it. The issues relating to what happened during the Windrush Scandal are still very much prevalent in UK society.

WMM: What was the process of making this film?

I was seeking a concise setting for a longer version of the film. While speaking with Windrush Scandal survivor Anthony Bryan, who was arrested and detained twice while being threatened with deportation, he mentioned the journeys to and from the detention center were particularly stressful for his family due to the long distance.

I decided to focus on this aspect of the whole experience.

WMM: What was the most challenging aspect of making this film?

A few of the additional challenges we faced were a result of shooting on a bus during Covid. I’m hopeful the whole process would be much simpler if we were to shoot it now.

WMM: If you could make this film all over again, what would you do differently?

I feel the film is unique because of the contributing factors surrounding the day it was shot. As such I wouldn’t change anything about making Asunder. I would, however, definitely look to implement lessons learnt into future productions.

WMM: What are your aspirations for the film? Do you have a marketing and/or distribution plan?

Asunder is currently touring the international festival circuit and has been awarded Winner Best Short film World Cinema Film Festival UK 2021, Winner Best Performance Women X 2021, Best Writing nomination Women X 2021.

Festival screenings include: Women X 2021, BAFTA-qualifying Aesthetica Short Film Festival 2021. CineOdyssey Film Festival 2021, World Cinema Film Festival 2021, Toronto Black Film Festival 2022, Halifax Black Film Festival 2022, Cinemagic's On The Pulse Short Film Festival 2022, Women of the Lens Film Festival 2022, Hairouna Film Festival 2022, Women of African Descent Film Festival 2022, International Black & Diversity Film Festival 2022, Accra Indie FilmFest 2022

WMM: What is the audience for this film and who will love it?

It’s difficult to say, I originally thought it would appeal to the communities affected by unfair deportation threats, but it has had wider appeal.

WMM: If you could, how would you improve the film industry?

I’d like to see more nuanced stories featuring people of color, made by people of color.

Her False Self (7 min)
Directed by Rachel Mason

While investigating an internet-based new age healer, a journalist realizes he has brought his editor into her line of destruction. She has been driving her female followers to commit suicide.

WMM: What compelled you to make this film? What was the impetus?

 In recent years, there has been a series of high profile stories came out describing various cults - which have charismatic leaders capable of employing the tricks of social media to devastating effect. The character of SwamiLinda came out of the new age integration of Ayurvedic traditions into Western approaches to self-help. 

 WMM: What was the process of making this film?

The film was shot remotely during the height of the pandemic with an extraordinarily limited budget. The aim of the film was to complete something within the strict confines of the stay-at-home orders, and so a social-media style film approach was employed. I decided to focus on this aspect of the whole experience.

WMM: What was the most challenging aspect of making this film?

The most difficult part was the actual filming process with actors having to be their own crew- and to work with technicians remotely. 

WMM: What are your aspirations for the film? Do you have a marketing and/or distribution plan?

I would like the film to become available on Vimeo after we do our festival run. 

WMM: What is the audience for this film and who will love it?

The film ideally resonates with people that have some understanding of social media.

WMM: If you could, how would you improve the film industry?

That’s such a massive question. It starts ultimately with our society in general. If we improve the many issues that face us in our culture, the film industry, which reflects that, will also change. 


THE FEATURES:

Bury Me Twice (93 min)
Directed by Steven  LaMorte

Los Angeles, 1954. When a washed up detective takes a case searching for a reporter’s missing sister, he discovers solving the mystery of her disappearance is the key uncovering the source of the zombie outbreak - and saving the city!

WMM: What compelled you to make this film? What was the impetus?

I've always loved genre mash up films, and this was an opportunity to take two of my favorite genres - film noir and zombie - and combine them in a thrilling action adventure spectacle! 

WMM: What was the process of making this film?

I started with an idea, then sketched out an outline which I handed off to the brilliant writers. Then I began drawing and animating test frames to establish the style of what the film would look like. Then we filmed the green screen footage, and I went to work animating all 2500 VFX shots by hand. For 5 years.

WMM: What was the most challenging aspect of making this film?

Definitely the animation! Our crew made production a dream, from the insanely talented cast to the art and production teams - but once we got to post, it was definitely a bit of a process to create every single shot needs to bring the feature to life. Now that it's done, I'm thrilled with the result and glad to have put in the effort to make something so unique! 

WMM helped me shape my film by hosting a wildly successful test screening. The film was close to completion, but we knew we had to share it with some people and get some honest feedback. In a warm but constructive environment I was able to get feedback on the things that needed to be revised - along tips on how to fix them - and all the things that worked, which really helped keep us going and get the film across the finish line. 

WMM: If you could make this film all over again, what would you do differently?

I would get more help in post production. Animating 2500 shots basically by yourself is a b*tch.

WMM: What are your aspirations for the film? Do you have a marketing and/or distribution plan?

The film needs to be seen by the world, and will be distributed later this year through our sales reps.

WMM: What is the audience for this film and who will love it?

Fans of Zombies, film noir, and popcorn blockbuster action adventure movies!

WMM: If you could, how would you improve the film industry?

Encourage people to take control of their art and make more movies. You have the tools at your disposal, stop making excuses and go make your film! It might not be perfect, but it will advance your career, and that's all that matters.

Black Daddy (83 min)
Directed by Damon Jamal Taylor

Any man can father a child, but it takes a real man to raise one. 

Black Daddy: The Movie is a beautiful and captivating display of storytelling by black men as they journey through deep dialogue around experiencing fatherhood in America as well as their own experiences with their fathers. It is a very sacred space for the culture that was curated with the hopes that these types of conversations will become contagious throughout our communities and that the film will become the start of a necessary work as black men and even black women take to the forefront in their own healing. 

WMM: What compelled you to make this film? What was the impetus?

I was tired of seeing the narrative of how black men are portrayed in mass media when often my experiences of black men never make it to the big screen. 

WMM: What was the process of making this film?

I had a dream. I took that dream to three friends and we just started filming black men framed from the question: What does it mean to be a black father in America?

WMM: What was the most challenging aspect of making this film?

Having a low budget. Trying to assemble the men based on their schedules. The editing was a lot also because we didn't have a story board. We pretty much felt the whole thing out.

WMM: If you could make this film all over again, what would you do differently?

Nothing because I learned a lot and it got my chops ready for the next one.

WMM: What are your aspirations for the film? Do you have a marketing and/or distribution plan?

I plan to take this film around the world under the platform "Black Daddy: The Experience" where we will give an interactive presentation featuring part film, part live performance and part open discussion exercises. I'm very excited to be a part of this festival.

WMM: What is the audience for this film and who will love it?

People of the African American Community and the diaspora including fathers, and anyone who has a story to tell or experience of a black father in America.

WMM: If you could, how would you improve the film industry?

By telling the truth. Putting out content that brings us closer to the creator, closer to our families and our communities. Encourage people to take control of their art and make more movies. You have the tools at your disposal, stop making excuses and go make your film! It might not be perfect, but it will advance your career, and that's all that matters.

Smile Or Hug (113 min)
Directed by Paul Sprangers

A young woman is given magical cassette tapes that could help her find her voice.   

After being dumped on her 30th birthday, Trish Santos works through her loneliness and anxiety with help from her online art students, her two best friends, and a box of homemade self-help tapes given to her by the mysterious “mind painter” Doc Garcia. Smile or Hug is a dramatic-comedy with fantastical elements, absurd humor, and a deep empathy for its flawed-yet-lovable characters in the vein of early John Hughes films. 

WMM: What compelled you to make this film? What was the impetus?

We were one of 5 films selected for the "Six Feet Apart Experiment" which is a grant awarded by Justin Baldoni's Wayfarer Studios. The goal was to make a small movie, safely, during the pandemic. We wrote our movie around Chelsea, our apartment, actors we knew, and any outdoor locations we had access to. 

WMM: What was the process of making this film?

We re-wrote the script in pre-production with our mentor, Jim Byrkit (Coherence). We wanted to make our movie as ambitious as possible, with story turns, colorful characters, and an emotional arc for Trish, her friends, Patches, Dr. Garcia, and even the students. We shot with a crew for 9 days, and then spent an additional 20 half-days doing pick-up shots with a skeleton crew (3 people). Production moved extremely fast so we could get all the setups Paul wanted. This required extensive storyboarding and using a simple camera rig that Paul designed to quickly jump between sticks and a gimbal. 

WMM: What was the most challenging aspect of making this film?

Getting big names was challenging. We didn't know Danny Trejo was going to be in our movie until a week into shooting! Finishing the VFX and sound was also a huge challenge. Paul had to sound mix and do ADR (dialogue replacement) himself, along with motion tracking effects, rotoscoping and simple animation. 

WMM: If you could make this film all over again, what would you do differently?

Paul: Eat one keto meal a day.

Chelsea: Hire a casting director. I did all the casting myself - it worked out in the end but I felt in over my head and could have benefitted immensely from the help of a professional casting person. 

WMM: What are your aspirations for the film? Do you have a marketing and/or distribution plan?

We just premiered at the Bentonville Film Festival and we've been invited to others. We're hoping to land on a top-tier streamer. We're excited to show our movie to other indie filmmakers and film lovers. Thanks for having us!

WMM: What is the audience for this film and who will love it?

Cinemaphiles, people with big hearts, rabbit owners, rabbits, film students, stoners, people on airplanes, people in the future wondering about the year 2021...

WMM: If you could, how would you improve the film industry?

I would develop a site that streams movies on a blockchain allowing instant settlement of funds between all contracted parties. No more studio accounting shenanigans. Digital smart contracts can instantly settle profit breakdowns leaving no room for error. 

 


Compiled by Sapna Gandhi

Sapna Gandhi is an actor, singer-songwriter, and content creator. In addition to TV credits such as Bosch, Shameless and Scandal, she has appeared in numerous shorts, features, and series, including festival darlings In Absentia (Raindance) and Thumper (Tribeca). Gandhi has produced several series and films under the umbrella of her production company Elegant Grotesque (most recently Scrap, starring Anthony Rapp and Vivian Kerr, and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds’ Stranded On The Earth, directed by Mike Bruce). She is also 1/2 of the musical duo, VATAVARAN, was born in England, raised all over the states, studied English and Women’s Studies, and trained at the American Conservatory Theatre in SF.

 

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