CHEAT by Yeo Joon Han and Boris Kalaidjiev
One CHEAT's biggest achievements is the directors’ ability to show this sad period of the life of the main character with an ironic and elegant point of view. The story is very well written, with an outstanding performance of the actor and producer of the short film Guo Mingxiang.
Guo Mingxiang is a famous actor in China. He has acted in many popular films and TV plays. His other career is as a performance and line teacher at Beijing Film Academy. He is committed to supporting and investing in art films. This short film is the fourth one he invested independently.
Even is the production is independent the short film doesn’t show usual limits you can find in limited budget short film. Every aspect of the film is very refined: cinematography, set design, sound design, music and also cast selection and direction of them.
The use of woman’s voice-over and the story she tell us helped the audience not only feel and understand what's on the characters' minds, but also to realize the important message of the film: “someone of us will never be successful in this life…not everyone will realize her full potential…
But no matter how little the happiness assigned to us, no matter how unfair it feels, there is no way we can cheat our way to more.” And the main character will react to this sentence doing an active choise in stead of a passive one and this is the center of the film
Boris Kalaidjiev , is also the Photographer and is a young student from Bulgaria. This is his first film and his first time short film as a co director but is clear that is a natural storyteller and a talented director, so that in able to create a powerful cinematography for the all short film.
This short film won in the monthly competition as Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Actor and the “Immagina Audience Award” at Florence film Awards.
Congratulation to all the cast and crew.
Biographies of the Directors
Boris Kalaidjiev was born in Sofia and grew up in South Africa, Bulgaria and France, with a year in the U.S.A. “Cheat,” which he also photographed, is his co-directorial debut. Yeo Joon Han won the best short film award of the 63rd Venice Film Festival for his first short film "adult show" in 2006. In 2008, he won the 65th Venice Film Festival Youth Film Award for feature film "Sell out”.
Constant Treason by Ruvin Orbach
CONSTANT TREASON is a beautiful Thriller short film.
During 16 minutes and 39 seconds of this little movie, audience can never take a rest.
It tells the story of a genomic scientist who creates a bioengineering program for soldiers and decides to destroy it but the problem is that he falls in love with a CIA agent who tries to stop him.
Direction, all along the movie, is elegant and clever, audience, step by step, is surprised by the choices of the director. Never banal or predictable.
The actors, Pedro Isaac chaired and Mela Green, who played the main characters are very well selected and their performances are very intense and always believable.
Cinematography is full of shadows and coherent with the whole mood of the film. The music in the end, “I’have got you under my skin” by Cole Porter, makes a great and effective contrast with the previous part of the film, pointing out the final switch of the story.
All this aspects together built a very precious short film about the theme of devotion to one’s country versus the love of an individual started to surface in the writing and also the theme of the love of a person versus their own personal integrity developed, showing all the talent of the director.
Ruvin Orbach, the director, directed also the film LUCKY MAN. The story is about a seminary student who does a favor for the mafia in order to save his brother from gambling debts. The film was well received– Buzznet wrote “It’s a pretty brilliant exercise in style by writer-director Ruvin Orbach” and Spike DVD review said. “LUCKY MAN paved with richly drawn offbeat personalities and finely crafted storytelling.” Montreal Gazette wrote, "This drama of obsession and redemption is a killer.” Brian de Palma and Oliver Stone saw the film and praised the director’s work.
Ruvin has worked as a writer in Hollywood on various “work for hire” assignments. He did rewrites for DARK STREETS, THE KILLING OF RONI LEVI and HOW TO CATCH A GANGSTER. His writing tends to focus on crime-thrillers, however, he has also written large-scale action and comedy as well.
More information about Ruvin's work can be found at Ruvinorbach.com, and LUCKY MAN can be on bought on Amazon.
Ruvin also is the creative Executive Producer of CONSTANT TREASON.
CONSTANT TREASON won in the Monthly Competition as Best Short Film and and Best Director short film in the Annual Competition at Florence film Awards.
Congratulations to all the cast and crew!
I Resign by Jay Mohan
I RESIGN is a very deep and powerful short film about racism. The point of view of the director is very realist and respectful.
This story was inspired by a conversation of an engineer friend of the director and him. This person had to jump jobs due to discrimination. “There was no solution for the mental agony he faced at that time, which I felt warranted that the world should know. The question that I wanted to explore: What if this happened to a naive, introvert? This is the exploration of a human mind that has seldom been explored.” Said the director Jay Mohan.
Through 6 minutes and 30 seconds of beautiful images, intense music and a strong and well performed voice over and a very intense script the director show us this inconvenient question about racism, it’s up to us to find or propose answers.
Music and sound are created by Ashwin Ramachandran, the voice of Pattabiraman is performed by Monoj Balraj, and the main character, Pattabiraman, is Manoj Pillai who gives us a very, very strong vision of this man.
Also the cinematography, always by the director Jay Mohan, is very saturated and strong on emotional impact.
Moreover “I Resign” is the first public short film about Institutional Racism that received over 100,000 views on Youtube within 7 days.
The short film and its makers have gained a wide follower base of over 35,000 people and we want to help this production to find more and more people interest on this important issue.
Director Biography - Jay Mohan
Jay Mohan is a filmmaker based out of Dallas, Texas. As a new comer to the Dallas movie making arena, he started making films only from 2018. Within a short span of time he has made three short films covering multiple aspects of human life that has received worldwide recognition. As a computer engineer and software business owner by profession, he started down the path of filmmaking due to sheer passion. His enthusiasm to create stories covering wide variety of human emotions while his characters are faced with common diabolical yet heart wrenching hurdles make him stand out. As a story writer, director and cinematographer, he dreams of painting frames that will touch human emotions.
I RESIGN won in the monthly competition best picture and Honorable Mention for Original Score both in Monthly and Annual Competition at Florence film Awards.
Many congratulations to all cast and crew!
BETWEEN PAIN AND AMEN by Toma Enache
BETWEEN PAIN AND AMEN is an historical and very intense drama. It deals with historical facts and emotional status of the persons involved with a very realistic and detailed point of view.
The film it’s about the story of a young composer and double bass virtuoso, who returns to Romania after studying in Vienna. He is arrested by the political police soon after getting engaged and taken to the Pitesti prison, where a brainwashing and torture-based experiment is under way. The horrible communist experiment, copied after the Soviet model, is headed by the much-feared Ciumau. The composer survives unimaginable torture due to his strong religious belief and composes Ode to God. His music will eventually save his fiancee, Lia.
Music is a very important character of the film and underlines all the steps of the story. The film is independent and inspired by true events but during the whole story you can never feel limits due to a limited budget production.
Every aspects is refined and powerful from the point of view of the cinematic language.
Cinematography is full of shadows and contrasts like the story told. Actors are very well chosen and directed. All the performances of the actors are believable and strong.
Direction is very elegant and clever, always searching for the better frame to tell this cruel story.
All these qualities let the audience to feel like to be inside the prison as the main characters all during the film.
The talented director of BETWEEN PAIN AND AMEN (2019) is Toma Enache and this film is his second feature. Always directed by Toma Enache you can find “ARMÂNII, from the famous Manakia to I’m not famous…” (documentary, 2015), and “I’m Not Famous but I’m Aromanian”, his first feature film in Aromanian, released in 2013.
About this film he said: “BETWEEN PAIN AND AMEN brings before the audience a heart-breaking story that took place in a Romanian prison during the communist regime, the venue for a horrible experiment of the re-education through torture.
The film is independent and inspired by true events that had a very strong impact on me when I learned about them, whether they happened in the Sighet Prison, the Pitesti Prison or somewhere else in the country. I had the privilege to speak directly to some of the few survivors of the the horrible experiment, which helped me better understand how things had happened.
The biographies of the main characters include terrible experiences, lived by thousands of political prisoners during the communist dictatorship, but also the essence of some unique and extremely strong people, of outstanding moral character.
My intention is to show that there is another world beyond this concrete world, an over-sensitive world with transcendental values (love, God, kindness), that there is a value superior to life, whose effect is precisely the triumph of the latter, when everything seems lost.
I believe it is time for the brutal reality of the Pitesti Phenomenon, a taboo subject in Romania for tens of years, which caused unimaginable suffering to an impressive number of people, to be finally be spoken out loud, in a film.”
We can also add that the film is based on the Pitesti Experiment, also know as the Pitesti Phenomenon, the largest and most aggressive brainwashing experiment in modern history, conducted by the Romanian communist authorities between 1949–1952 and aimed at reeducating the elites by erasing their identity and replacing it with a new, Bolshevik one.
During this period, around 600 students aged 18 to 27, were systematically and brutally tortured in Pitesti Prison and forced to torture each other thus becoming the aggressors of their own colleagues and friends. The atheistic and anti-Christian communist regime wanted to strip them of their human dignity, force them to compromise their principles, deny their faith and their values. Around 200 people were tortured to death in Pitesti Prison alone and hundreds were crippled. Most of the people who got out alive confessed they only resisted due to their strong faith in God.
From Pitesti, the experiment extended to other Romanian prisons such as Gherla, Targu Ocna, Ocnele Mari, Targsor, Baia Sprie and Aiud, to name but a few.
The number of prisoners passed through the experiment is estimated at 1,000 to 5,000. The exact number is not known and little has been done ever since to find it out. The people responsible for these atrocities were never punished. Most former prisons have been left in ruins or demolished and the deaths have never been investigated.
Moreover BETWEEN PAIN AND AMEN is the only feature film on this topic made in Romania since the fall of communism, in 1989. No public funds have been allocated to it, this being an entirely independent production.
The director and scriptwriters had the privilege to speak directly to some of the survivors. Three of them are still alive today. They say they have forgiven their torturers.
BETWEEN PAIN AND AMEN won the monthly competition at Florence film Award as Best Direction feature film, Best Production designer (also in the Annual Competition) and Honorable Mention for Make Up and Hairstyling.
Many congratulations to all cast and crew!
ISHTAR SPEAKS by Dena Ryane
Ishtar Speaks is a very inspiring experimental short film.
It deals with the moment when a woman meets the ancient Babylonian goddess, Ishtar, in her dream and she embarks upon a journey to complete a lethal mission.
The short film opens with a clarifying and important quotation of Jung that works as a prologue to the following visual trip: “The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens into that primeval cosmic night that was soul long before there was a conscious ego and will be soul far beyond what a conscious ego could ever reach.” (Jung, The meaning od Psychology for Modern Man. 1934).
This sentence introduces us to the dreamlike world built by the director Dena Ryane. This short film is the first job as a director of this young Iranian-American filmmaker. She is also the writer and the producer with Charles Biderman. They had a limited budget production but the visual result doesn’t suffer because of this aspect.
It’s interesting to see in this short film how the director lets mythology meet the world of cinema through a “dream”.
Cinematografy, by Renick Turley, lets us to have the constant feeling to be in a dream, the visual impact is “impressionist” and very effective in painting the world of dreams and of the unconscious.
Set design is also very refined and helps the story of myth to be always believable in this representation.
Voice over is smooth and ancient and helps us to feel constantly the inner trip of the main character. Also music, sound design, editing and visual effects are coherent and refined. The original score is by Travis Shook.
The cast of the short film is composed by Charles Biderman who plays the main character and the director Dena Ryane who also plays an important lead role in the film.
Because of all this qualities and the courage of the director to deal with this dreamlike world Ishtar Speaks won Honorable Mention the monthly competition at Florence film Awards in the category Fantasy Short Film.
Many congratulations to all cast and crew!
Breech by Rebecca Lafon
BREECH is a very clever “dramedy” short film with a powerful style from the title to the last frame of the film.
It deals with the story of Frankie who is 16 years old and 6 months pregnant. She meets with her two closest friends to figure out how to ditch the gender-reveal party her mother is throwing. In denial of her pregnancy and convinced she remains the alpha of the team, her world starts to crumble as she realizes her teenage years are disappearing and the perception she has of the world is just fantasy.
The short film explores teen pregnancy, female friendships, and needing to grow up a little sooner than desired. Trying to reach this aim important it represents really very well the fragile balance of being pregnant in young age.
Moreover BREECH reveals the strong talent of its director Rebecca Lafon, who was at her first experience as a Filmmaker.
Rebecca is a French multimedia artist who graduated from Middlebury College (2019) with a double major in Political Science and Theatre. She falls in love with every character she has, whether it be when she creates, directs or inhabits them. She gave birth to BREECH and her main character Frankie in 2018 as part of an ongoing project focusing on pregnancy. Her other two other projects focusing on this theme (so far) have been her thesis performance of Lungs by Duncan Macmillan and a collection of interviews with women.
In this short film she is also script writer, co-producer, production designer and coeditor and the product reflects all her transversal talent.
Cinematography she choses and creates with the director of Photography Emma Hampsten is colorful, saturated and brilliant as young age is. The frame choses are always unexpected. The rhythm of the Editing is smart and funny.
Actors and actresses are really well directed, well chosen and always believable. The last monologue of the main
character is perfectly written and well performed, revealing a strong ability also in writing. Music underlines and sustains the ironic tone of the short film.
Set design and costumes are curated to the last details. All these aspects build a powerful painting of pregnancy in young age with all the energy and the contradictions of this period of life.
For all these reasons BREECH won as Best First time Director both in Monthly and Annual competition and Honorable Mention for the Screenplay in the Annual Competition Florence film Awards.
We are looking forward to see next films of this talented director!
Congratulations to all cast and crew!
Daisy Desire by Lea Sassi
Daisy Desire is a very funny comedy short film, full of irony and realism together.
It’s the story of 60-year-old literary editor, Daisy, who discovers that her husband Michael is spending his nights watching online pornography. Initially distressed and hurt, her journey surprisingly pulls her into a new world of seduction and self-acceptance. To overcome her insecurities, she will need the support of her two best friends and co-workers, Maribel and Nijma. With their encouragement, Daisy will find herself in the arms of David, a lovely midnight snack.
This comedy is sustained by a very simple but refined use of camera movements, excellent actresses really perfectly directed, a clever editing, and a smooth use of the music to lead the audience through the emotional states of the main character. Also set design is very elegant and refined.
Everything is realist and authentic at the same time and this qualities let the audience really empathize with the inner conflicts and need of Daisy. The relationship of a mature couple is very detailed represented and most of all the desire of a mature woman is told with courage and intelligence, never falling in easy stereotypes.
This capacity of telling about reality reveals the strong talent of the Director, Léa Sassi, who was in this case at her first experience as a filmmaker.
Léa Sassi is a French director and set designer currently based in New York City. After studying journalism at the European Institute of Journalism in Paris (France), she moved to New York City to pursue a master’s degree in Directing at School of Visual Arts. Combining her journalistic passion for truth and her keen sense of visual aesthetic, Lea aims to tell stories that are rooted in reality. Daisy Desire is Lea’s debut narrative short film, inspired by her own family and their experiences.
About this short film Léa Sassi said: “Daisy Desire is a film about women, made by women and dedicated to women. I made these choices, not because it’s trendy, but because women are my particular inspiration. I grew up surrounded by strong, complex, independent female figures. Women from different generations who had something to say or to defend, who had to overcome so many of life’s battles and did so with dignity and wisdom. My mother herself is the real inspiration behind this film. A wonderfully multi-faceted woman, she was always driven by a fierce thirst for justice and a desire to embrace sexual liberation and female empowerment. I know for a fact that she is the origin of the “feminist” in me today.
Given the events it depicts, Daisy Desire clearly could have veered to a much heavier, dramatic style of storytelling. However, I consciously choose to tell this story in a light-hearted, quirky tone in order to make the film’s topics more accessible. Making this film has been my favorite creative venture and I hope audiences will delight in it as much as I do.”
We can confirm we did at all, indeed Daisy Desire won as Best Comedy in Monthly Competition at Florence film Awards.
We are looking forward to see next films of this talented director!
Congratulations to all cast and crew!
Shutter by Andres Ramirez
Shutter it’s a Drama and Thriller short film.
This short film is produced, written and directed by Jose Andres Ramirez Ortiz who is Mexican independent filmmaker known as Andres Ramirez.
While growing in the world of cinema and literature, Andres started writing short stories. Later on in his life he moved on to Monterrey, Mexico where writing and filmmaking became more important on his life. Later on while he was studying in Prepa Tec ITESM he started his filmmaking career as he started doing short films and music videos. Graduated from Pre College Program at CCA and from Vancouver Film School, where he directed and produced his first short film in film school "Why? (2016). He is currently working on distributing his successful short film "Frame", which was presented at the Cannes Short Film Corner in 2018. He has then completed this short film Shutter and he is currently attending film school at New York University.
Even if this short film was born as a student project and produced in a low budget condition, we cannot infer the film is suffering because of these limits.
The short film tells about Mark, a recently promoted Police Detective, who finds himself interrogating Charley, a brilliant deceptive photographer, about the disappearances of young models, as the photographer was the last person to see them alive.
The story is a very interesting reflection on the “world of photography” and its obsessions and it focus on that issue with a very elegant point of view introducing also on the themes of beauty and perfection. The choice of frames is elegant and refined, the predominant colors of the cinematography is blue and gray to underline the tone of drama and thriller in the tale.
Moreover there are an involving rhythm of the editing, a precise choice of the main characters (JT Harper and Justin Hernandez are always believable and intense) with a very clear direction and a refined attention to music and sound design. This last quality create a strong feeling of tension in the audience and keep its the attention from the beginning to the end of these very good 10 minutes of cinema.
For all these reasons Shutter won Best Director, Best Editing and Honorable Mention for Sound Design in the Monthly Competition of Florence Film Awards.
Looking forward to see your next films…
Congratulations to all cast and crew!
Lost in Berlin by Rodney S. Martel
Lost in Berlin is a very intense and necessary documentary dealing with Second world war told from the point of view of the family of the director.
In this documentary in fact "A son races against time to understand his family's complicated past before his mother's fading memory threatens to close the door forever.”
We can see that in her small apartment in the city of Minneapolis, the centenarian, Gerda Martel Freund sits in her comfortable recliner watching an endless loop of “I Love Lucy” reruns. Much like the brutal temperature extremes of the city in which she has landed, her life mirrors the cataclysmic events of the past century. Gerda is the daughter of Oscar® winning Director/Cinematographer Karl Freund, whose life takes us on an incredible life journey spanning the globe from NAZI Germany, to the Canary Islands and eventually back to Minnesota. Her son, Director Rod Martel, takes the viewer along on his desperate quest to discover his family’s fascinating past before his mother’s rapidly fading memory closes the door forever.
With a combination of old photos, videos from the family archives, historical videos, archival footage, artist sketches and modern footage the director tells us a very long and cruel story which deals has relevance for each of us.
There is a very important quotation in the first part of the film which reveals the importance and the scope of this huge project and we thank the director for that:
“That is my major preoccupation…memory…The Kingdom of memory. I want to protect and enrich the kingdom, glorify the kingdom and serve it.”
We need to remember to not repeat same historical errors.
Moreover this film has the great value to deal with these issues with a very respectful and delicate look.
The voice over of the director that accompanies images and explains events allows the audience to immediately empathize with the story and be personally involved in it. Then the fact that the director is directly involved in this story lets the audience feel strongly the truth of the cruelties related to the Second World War in a very authentic way.
Besides telling about the mother of the director during that period, the film has the additional value of talking about the war from the point of view of women with a very clever point of view.
The music that underlines all the passages of the story is suggestive and delicate. Finally there is a huge and smart work of editing by Randall E. Johnson and his assistants Jaisa Blegen, Noah Barron-Cohen, Eric Touminen and Mitch Granholm.
The Director of this great documentary is Rodney S. Martel.
Rod Martel is the grandson of German born cinematographer/director Karl Freund (Metropolis, The Mummy). He came to filmmaking late, with his first film: Susette’s Story completed in 2013 at the age of 63. His second film, Lost in Berlin, is the result of 7 years work and a dedicated production team, many of whom volunteered their time or worked for a “stipend” to complete the project. Rod is happily married to Colleen, together, having raised 7 children in a blended family. He continues his private practice as a Licensed Psychologist in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
He said about this film:
“My mother, Gerda was traumatically removed from the arms of her mother and her home in Weimar Berlin, and into the world of her successful, but uncaring father. To make matters worse, Gerda married without love, raising three children while trying to cobble together a middle-class lifestyle that would prove to be a mismatch.
For me, reconstructing the past is more like what memoirist Rigoberto Gonzalez describes as digging “through the rubble of memory,” and as a child, even though I was unable to put words to occurrences, I sensed my mother’s frustration indirectly. I can’t recall my father being affectionate with my mom, but I had an evolving awareness that my father was different from other fathers, that my parents feared my grandfather, Karl, and my mother’s loss of her mother tortured her until dementia finally softened the blow.
As a memoirist and filmmaker, I walk the fine line between betrayal and portrayal. I have striven to do this with respect to my family and their intimate details...at times, without their express permission. It’s a sacred responsibility, and I hope I have succeeded. I also hope the film conveys Gerda’s reality with the fidelity of a son who loved her very much.”
We can confirm that Rodney S. Martel really achieves this aim.
Thanks to all cast and crew for this necessary film.
Lost in Berlin is Finalist for the monthly competition at Florence Film Awards.
In this Johnny Vonneumann’s short film you have the story of an American being seduced, inspired, dazzled, and challenged, and eventually falls madly in love with the vibrant history of Europe. Johann Strauss' The Blue Danube Waltz is the narrative spine of the romance. The story is told through an American visitor, exposing America's beliefs, culture, dance, elegance, grit, ethics, joy and art as he embraces, Europe’s complex culture and vast history.Which became the bedrock for the American dream.
About the biography of Mr. Vonneumann we know that lives in Los Angeles and has two daughters. He is the producer, write and director of “An America in Europe”.
All during America in Europe you can watch to an involving dance of images.
Actually you feel to dance with shots which dance with fluid cross fades. The director shot in six different countries: Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Switzerland. Thank to this choice you feel to dance through all Europe in only nine minutes of this colorful documentary, passing in front of the most popular pieces of art and places of each nation.
Moreover you feel to live this long trip through the eyes of popolar American actors whose eyes are alternate to other images.
“Each frame of the film is a composition in itself. A layering of 4–9 images using dissolves, fades and intricate use of opacity and color.”, said the director. In this huge editing of footage you can see also contemporary footage, historical footage, historical traditions of each country and art videos.
“Footage was taken on a 5-week trip through multiple countries in Europe in 2017.” This artistic and emotional trip trough these countries is “danced” on the involving music of “The Blue Danube Waltz” performed by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
Never more than in this period of covid-19 emergency we need to see the beauty we were able to create and we hope we will have the opportunity to see again in a while, in the meantime we can watch at this vivid documentary.
Thank so much for this project! The short experimental documentary America in Europe is Finalist for the monthly competition Avril 2020 of Florence Film Awards. Congratulations to all cast and crew!