NewFilmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA) celebrated a slate of acclaimed shorts made in California and specifically Los Angeles, with stories that included a girl bonding with a crow, a woman piecing together a rowdy New Year’s Eve celebration, and an artist seeking balance between creativity and self care. 

The August festival started with Made In California, a selection of films shot throughout the state and across genres. It continued with Made in Los Angeles, and concluded with Paradox Lost, writer-director Dennis Curlett’s feature debut: a time traveling romantic dramedy set in the world of improv.

NFMLA showcases films by filmmakers of all backgrounds throughout the year in addition to its special InFocus programming which celebrates diversity, inclusion and region. All filmmakers are welcome and encouraged to submit their projects which will be considered for all upcoming NFMLA Festivals, regardless of the InFocus programming.

Here is some info on the filmmakers and their films, as well as their video interviews with NFMLA Board Chair Danny De Lillo (Twitter/Instagram: @dannydelillo).

“Ikaw at Ako (You and I),” directed by Melanie Lim

About Melanie: Drawn to all things vibrant and lively, Melanie loves creating content that demands your attention. Melanie completed her masters at the USC School of Cinematic Arts graduate program with a focus on directing and editing.

About “Ikaw at Ako (You and I)”: Marco and Elisa meet for one night in Los Angeles after not seeing each other for over twenty years, sparking dormant feelings they never confronted in their youth.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Melanie Lim, director of “Ikaw at Ako (You and I)”:

“Angels Landing,” directed by David Liu

About David: David Liu is a writer/director from the San Gabriel Valley east of Los Angeles. He studied political economy at UC Berkeley and worked as a journalist before earning his MFA from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. David’s work has been recognized at festivals and competitions such as Palm Springs, Cinequest, Heartland, Final Draft’s Big Break, ScreenCraft, and the American Zoetrope Screenplay Competition. He is a recipient of the CAPE New Writers Fellowship, Visual Communications’s Armed with a Camera Fellowship, and the Frieze x Deutsche Bank Film Fellowship supported by Endeavor Content.

About “Angels Landing”: Two estranged brothers visit their childhood spot in downtown Los Angeles in an attempt to reconcile.

Watch the NFMLA interview with David Liu, director of “Angels Landing”:

“Our Place Together,” directed by Clay Marshall Pruitt

About Clay: Clay Pruitt began his career at the Sundance Institute and went on to program and produce for many organizations, including: the Palm Springs International Film Festival and ShortFest, AFM, Outfest, and Film Independent’s Global Media Makers program. Clay also spent two years at WME focusing on independent film. He was a writer/producer on the series I’m Fine, an Associate Producer on the HBO Feature Documentary United Skates, and a 2018 Film Independent Producing Lab Fellow with the narrative feature Bell. He also received the Sloan Producing Lab Grant. He is the head of programming at Seed&Spark.

About “Our Place Together”: Two young husbands retreat to their favorite camping spot to hash out some life-altering news and the ramifications it will have on their marriage and their future together.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Clay Marshall Pruitt, director of “Our Place Together”:

“Tumble,” directed by Antony Berrios

About Antony: Born in Downey, California, and raised in the DIY punk culture, Antony has been writing stories his whole life and making films for over a decade. His work focuses on people living everyday lives, whose stories often go untold, and captures their unique vision to weave deeply personal stories that absorb audiences.

About “Tumble”: Sam, a professional bank robber who’s working his last job, is hiding out with the money and waiting for his crew at a laundromat. Things take an unexpected turn when a past girlfriend turns up at the laundromat.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Antony Berrios, director of “Tumble”:

“Isolations,” directed by Talia Shea Levin

About Talia: Working at the intersection of many forms of media, Talia’s goal is to employ the unexpected to tell more human stories. She creates film, theater, and 360 VR video work that incorporate time travel, supernatural powers, women-powered community, simulated reality, unrequited love, road trips, and kinetic communication. Her dance and narrative short films have been featured in Short of the Week, HollyShorts Film Festival and more, and her short film NEXT TIME took home the Audience Award at the Nashville Film Festival.

About “Isolations”: The film is a 16mm dance project created in response to shelter-in-place orders in Los Angeles in March 2020. It’s an outlet for chaos and the enduring need to connect. Safer apart, alone together.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Talia Shea Levin, director of “Isolations”:

“April Kills The Vibe,” directed by Bonnie McKee

About Bonnie: Bonnie McKee made a name for herself as a pop songwriter, writing ten #1 hit songs for the chart-topping stars of the past decade, and for her own career as an indie pop artist. After years of packing big emotional stories into songs and creating her own colorful music videos, she is finally expanding into a new realm of storytelling. “April Kills The Vibe” is Bonnie’s screenwriting and directing debut.

About “April Kills The Vibe”: When party girl April wakes up after a rowdy New Year’s eve with a lot more than just a hangover, she calls her partner in crime, Lola, to try to fill in the blanks. But the truth is uglier than April bargained for, and she is forced to confront her demons.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Bonnie McKee, director of “April Kills The Vibe”:

Paradox Lost, directed by Dennis Curlett

About Dennis: Dennis Curlett is a Los Angeles-based writer, director, comedian originally from the mean streets of Chichester, Pennsylvania. His experimental sketch comedy team Funk Shuffle performs regularly at The UCB Theater in Los Angeles. He’s one of nine children and recently sold his spec rom-com JUST. ONE. KISS. to Netflix after winning the 2019 Launch Pad Feature Screenplay Competition.

About Paradox Lost: A genre-bending love story about time travel, the end of the world and long-form improvisational comedy.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Dennis Curlett, director of Paradox Lost:

“Abby and Emily Go To Palm Springs,” directed by Hellin Kay

About Hellin: Hellin Kay is a Russian- born writer, director, photographer and producer. Her films “Borscht,” “Barry Paul,” “Every Woman Was Once A Little Girl With Dreams” (selected by Miranda July for the first Miss Moviola Project) and “Was Once A Girl” have been screened and honored at multiple festivals. She wrote, directed and produced “Was Once A Girl” on location in Moscow, and it screened at IFFM New York and was written up as a “One To Watch” in the Village Voice and Filmmaker Magazine. It also won Best Short at the San Diego Film Festival.

About Nancy: Nancy was born and raised in the Bay Area. Her love for the arts began at an early age when she sang and played in bands and simultaneously went to a San Francisco acting conservatory after school during her high school years. Once graduated, she moved to Los Angeles and has been working in Los Angeles and New York since.

About “Abby and Emily Go To Palm Springs”: Two women try not to kill each other on their first vacation together — a.k.a. a modern queer love story.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Hellin Kay & Nancy Degnan, director & producer of “Abby and Emily Go To Palm Springs”:


“Big Touch,” directed by Christopher Tenzis

About Christopher: Christopher Tenzis studied at the British Film Institute, the London International Film School and the American Film Institute. He was a finalist for the American Cinema Editors Internship program. He was an editor at Will Vinton Studios on the animated series The PJs (Warner Bros.) and Gary & Mike (UPN) and is currently with Sony Pictures on the HBO MAX animated series, The Boondocks.

About “Big Touch”: An Afro-Surrealist story about a giant woman and a tiny man who, through the power of touch, experience an unexpected transformation.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Christopher Tenzis, director of “Big Touch”:


Main image: Bonnie McKee in “April Kills the Vibe”