Stories of bees, a heartbroken farmer and a creature seeking to understand its past were among the films at New Filmmakers Los Angeles’ recent InFocus: Canadian Cinema program.
NewFilmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA) hosts the annual program in partnership with Telefilm Canada. The program spotlights independent Canadian storytellers, and spanned 13 short films. It including alumni of the Palm Springs Shortfest, Toronto International Film Festival, ReelWorld and imagineNATIVE, as well as Summer Shorts, a collection of highlights from NFMLA’s ongoing selection.
The day’s programming began with InFocus: Canadian Cinema Shorts I, a selection of shorts by independent Canadian filmmakers, exploring a range of genres, journeys and emotions. It continued with InFocus: Canadian Cinema Shorts II, a collection that explores grief, disentangling faith and identity, good intentions gone awry, searching for moments of joy and levity amid hardship, taking life into one’s own hands in the face of oppression, and the horror of gentrification. The evening concluded with Summer Shorts, a mix of films covering topics including dating, discrimination, existentialism, mental illness, homelessness, connecting with those we’ve lost, and breaking cycles of toxic masculinity.
NFMLA showcases films by filmmakers of all backgrounds throughout the year, across both our general and InFocus programming. All filmmakers are welcome and encouraged to submit their projects for consideration for upcoming NFMLA Festivals, regardless of the schedule for InFocus programming, which celebrates diversity, inclusion and region by spotlighting communities of filmmakers within our filmmaking community as part of our monthly program. This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.
“Diaspora” directed by Tyler Mckenzie Evans
About Tyler: Tyler is a director and screenwriter based in Toronto, Ontario. During his childhood, to escape the mundanity of the suburbs, he would go to the theaters weekly, which is where he discovered his love for storytelling. Tyler has made several short films, his latest, “Diaspora” is a social thriller film about gentrification that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2022 . Tyler’s main goal is to create original stories centered around Black people and people of color. He is currently developing a feature adaptation of “Diaspora.”
About “Diaspora”: A woman begins to wonder whether the disappearance of the Black families who have long occupied her suburban neighborhood may be caused by something more sinister than gentrification.
Watch the NFMLA interview with Malachi Ellis Producer of “Diaspora”:
“Fish Boy” directed by Christopher Yip
About Christopher: Christopher Yip (he/him) is a Chinese Canadian writer and director born in Edmonton and now based in Toronto. His works examine love, family, and sexuality through a distinct diasporic lens. Christopher’s latest film “Fish Boy ” began its festival run at the BFI Flare London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival. His series Streams Flow From a River will have its International Premiere at the Cannes International Series Festival, and is airing on Super Channel, Amazon Prime Video, and Apple TV in Canada. Christopher is represented by Jennifer Irons at META Talent Agency.
About Fish Boy: “Fish Boy” is a lyrical meditation on faith, love, and polyamory through the eyes of an Asian American teenager. When Patrick (played by Ian Chen, Fresh Off the Boat) questions his love for God, his self-discovery manifests in his skin.
Watch the NFMLA interview with Christopher Yip director of “Fish Boy”:
“The Chase” directed by Gurjeet Kaur Bassi
About Gurjeet: Gurjeet Kaur Bassi is a Panjabi-Canadian producer-director born, raised and based in Toronto, Canada. She is a graduate of the American Film Institute in Los Angeles with an MFA in Producing. Her directorial debut, “The Chase,” a recipient of the IFFSA Talent Fund in 2022, made its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2022. She was also the recipient of the Harold Greenberg Shorts to Feature Grant in 2018 for the short film Unidentified Woman which she produced. “I Beat Up My Rapist,” another short film she produced in 2017, won best short film at the DGC awards in 2019. Gurjeet is currently in development on two feature films, as well as an original scripted series.
About “The Chase”: Frustrated with their current circumstances, a young couple faces the difficult choice of either seeking justice or helping those who wronged them.
Watch the NFMLA interview with Gurjeet Kaur Bassi director of “The Chase”:
“Saturday Fuego Diablo” directed by Anita Abbasi
About Anita: Anita Abbasi is a writer-director based in Montreal. Hailing from two disparate immigrant communities — Pakistan & El Salvador — she creates work that explores diasporic identity, our desire to be loved and Western popular culture. Previous works include: “The Talent Scout” (2015), “French Poutine” (2016), “Mariah Qué Baile” (2017) and “Sinvergüenzilla in First Kiss” (2021). Her latest, “Saturday Fuego Diablo” (2022), continues a tradition of stories about how children of immigrants often serve as interpreters for their parents.
About “Saturday Fuego Diablo”: Montreal, 1981. To distract themselves from the war back home, four Salvadoran siblings hit their first Montreal night club, but do not get in. Refusing to end the night at that, the siblings look for another way in and bump into another group of friends, who had the same idea…
Watch the NFMLA interview with Anita Abbasi director of “Saturday Fuego Diablo”:
“Cheap Hugs” directed by Sarah Baskin
About Sarah: Sarah Baskin is a New York City-based filmmaker and actor originally from Montreal. As an actor, Sarah has worked on stage (off-Broadway, internationally, regionally, NYC downtown theater) and screen (HBO, Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, CBS, several independent films). Sarah’s award-winning directorial debut, “Les Câlins Cheaps (Cheap Hugs),” is a bilingual short film currently in its festival run. Sarah has several projects currently in development. Next up is a short dramedy loosely inspired by “Three Sisters.” She is a company member of The Actors Center and an MFA in Acting from American Repertory Theatre / Moscow Art Theatre School at Harvard University. For more: sarahbaskin.com.
About “Cheap Hugs”: The film follows two women reeling from the loss of their mutual friend by suicide. One woman’s openness to the pain counters the other’s avoidance, ultimately leading them toward an unexpected connection that stirs something more hopeful in both of their hearts. The story is set in Montréal, its distinctive bilingual culture acting as a gesture of separation at the beginning of the story, and connection at the end. “Les Câlins Cheaps” speaks to the importance of mental health awareness, suicide prevention and the growing need for connection in this increasingly disconnected world.
Watch the NFMLA interview with Sarah Baskin, director of “Cheap Hugs”:
“Soul Food” directed by Emily Teerasuphaset
About Emily: Emily Teera is a Thai-Chinese writer-director born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand. She is currently based in Los Angeles, where she graduated from LMU in 2019. Earlier this year, Emily wrapped production on her short film, “Soul Food,” a Thai language film about loss and reconciliation starring Praya Lundberg. Most recently, Emily graduated from Hillman Grad’s writing mentorship lab, led by Lena Waithe, as a drama writer. As a self-identified third-culture kid, Emily’s drawn to telling stories about identity and miscommunication between generations and cultures.
About “Soul Food”: “Soul Food” is a magical realist short that follows a mother and daughter as they try to reconcile the love and pain in their imperfect relationship before time runs out.
Watch the NFMLA interview with Emily Teerasuphaset director of “Soul Food”:
“Corners” directed by James Brylowski
About James: Since 2003, James Brylowski has written, produced and directed commercials, documentaries and a TV series for Canadian broadcaster YTV. Brylowski’s short films have won awards and screened at film festivals around the world. He is currently directing his first feature length documentary. He is also an alumnus of Humber College’s Comedy Writing & Performing program.
About “Corners”: The government has implemented mandatory corner inspections for all public buildings. Rory, a dedicated and passionate Corner Inspector, must decide if he will stay true to himself and his values, or keep his job.
Watch the NFMLA interview with James Brylowski director of “Corners”:
“Farmers Dating” directed by Alexandra Hsu
About Alexandra: Alexandra Hsu is a director-producer, born and raised in Orange County, CA.
Alexandra has directed short films in Asia, Europe, and the United States. Her short film, “Sophie” screened at 20 film festivals worldwide, including several Oscar-qualifying festivals. She is currently in the festival run for “Rencontres Paysannes/Farmers Dating,” and is submitting her short film “Pop!” Alexandra received her BA from Scripps College, double majoring in Media Studies and Asian Studies. She received her MFA in Filmmaking from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
About “Farmers Dating”: In rural France, a young farmer’s heart is broken. Her name is Victoire. Struggling to understand the new world of dating via technology, she’s not sure her tomatoes are ripe for anyone.
Watch the NFMLA interview with Alexandra Hsu director of “Farmers Dating”:
“Benevolent” directed by Jared Marino
About Jared: Jared Marino (he/him) is a cinematographer, colorist and director based in Toronto, Canada. He is a student member of the Canadian Society of Cinematographers who is passionate about creating a visual style for each project. Jared has earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Film & Television as well as a Certificate in Creative Problem Solving at Sheridan College. His work ranges in narrative, documentary, music video, commercial, and drone cinematography.
About “Benevolent”: When two post-grad best-friends reunite, bitter truths emerge threatening to tear their friendship apart.
Watch the NFMLA interview with Jared Marino director of “Benevolent”:
“Creature Comfort” directed by Ryan Oligmueller
About Ryan: Ryan Oligmueller is an accomplished filmmaker based in Los Angeles. He holds a BFA in Film Production & Film Studies from the University of Colorado Boulder, where he won the prestigious Virgil Grillo Award for Best Filmmaker for three consecutive years. His undergraduate thesis film, “Creature Comfort,” was a semi-finalist at the 2022 Student Academy Awards. In addition to his creative work, he is the creator of his film-centric video series, Late Fee Cinema.
About “Creature Comfort”: A creature wanders the woods looking for clues about their past life, only to find the answers within the shadows of its mind.
Watch the NFMLA interview with Ryan Oligmueller, director of “Creature Comfort”:
“There Are Bees In The House” directed by Morgan Saelens
About Morgan: Morgan Saelens is a non-binary filmmaker and writer. Their style of storytelling focuses on the creation of worlds and relationships beyond the normative gaze.
About “There Are Bees In The House”: Asa returns home to a distant and difficult mother, and suddenly begins hearing bees buzzing in the walls of their home.
Watch the NFMLA interview with Emma Cooke producer of “There Are Bees In The House”:
Main image: “Diaspora”