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NFMLA Celebrates International Cinema and People with Disabilities

NFMLA Celebrates International Cinema and People with Disabilities



New Filmmakers Los Angeles focused on inspiring animators and filmmakers from around the world for a medley of virtual screenings that range from extraterrestrial misgivings to familial trauma to the discovery of eternal life — through ancient golfing techniques.

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.

In August, the festival featured animated films for InFocus: International Animation and a collection of films narrating the lives of people with disabilities for InFocus: Disabilities followed by a series of shorts featuring up and coming Californian and LA-based filmmakers.

InFocus: International Animation included a slate of animated films from France, Hungary, Germany, Czech Republic, Estonia, Iran, and Brazil. All of the films present a range of animation styles that envision themes of loss, suspense, humiliation, and sincerity. The festival continued with a celebration of the finalists of this year’s Easterseals Disability Film Challenge: Home Edition, a collection of films telling unique stores and showcasing disability in its many forms, as part of InFocus: Disabilities.

Here are interviews with the filmmakers.

“Zorg II” directed by Auden Lincoln-Vogel

About Auden: Auden Lincoln-Vogel is an American animator and experimental filmmaker who employs diverse techniques such as claymation, cutouts, drawn animation, paint-on-glass, cameraless animation, and found images to develop his stories. 

About “Zorg II”: An alien comes to earth in hopes of starring in a sci-fi blockbuster.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Auden Lincoln-Vogel, director of “Zorg II”: 

“Bunkers” directed by Ollie Anderson

About Ollie: Ollie is a patent-pending inventor of the first gamified golf-fitting system in the golf industry and acquiring a cult following on Instagram for his innovative storytelling and extreme toy photography. 

About “Bunkers”: The worst golfer of the year discovers an ancient golf course in the jungles of San Francisco and must learn the rules of golf to gain eternal life during the Covid-19 global pandemic.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Ollie Anderson, director of “Bunkers”:


Social Handles: 

“Riga’s Lilac” directed by Lizete Upite

About Lizete: Lizete Upite is an animation film director from Latvia that has studied audiovisual media and animation around the globe: the Baltic Film and Media School in Estonia and School of Directing Animation at La Poudrière in France, to list a couple.

About “Riga’s Lilac”: In Riga’s public transport, you can call the police if someone smells bad and disturbs your ride, but should you call?

Watch the NFMLA interview with Lizete Upite, director of “Riga’s Lilac”: 


“Fantasmia” directed by Luise Fiedler

About Luise: Luise studied fine arts in Hamburg and is now working as a freelance filmmaker and a teacher at the academy of fine arts of Dresden.

About “Fantasmia”: Spasms and cries that echo through the night announce the presence of a new being, or really a masterpiece.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Luise Fiedler, director of “Fantasmia”: 


“Before” directed by Jonathan Hammond

About Jonathan: Jonathan is widely recognized for his contribution in film directing and writing, and he has an Emmy nomination, the NEA Grant, the Joan Kroc Perform Peace Grant, and has amassed half a dozen writing awards to show for it.

About “Before”: Dinner party attendees begin to cancel on their friend one-by-one, each in a manner that comically reflects the realities of the impending global Covid-19 Pandemic, in this humorous and bittersweet short.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Jonathan Hammond, director of “Before”:


“Sweatbox” directed by Nate O’Mahoney

About Nate: Nate is a Los Angeles-based writer and director that began working as a set PA at age eighteen and has since written and directed four short films, one season of a web-series, and two commercials. 

About “Sweatbox”: In a lethal heatwave, a man with an injured wife attempts to talk his way into the home of two children who are struggling to keep their parents alive. 

Watch the NFMLA interview with Nate O’Mahoney, director of “Sweatbox”:

“One Thousand Stories: The Making of a Mural” directed by Tasha Van Zandt

About Tasha: Tasha is a film director, cinematographer, and Emmy-nominated producer who is largely recognized for her documentary work, becoming a 2019 Film Independent Documentary Lab Fellow, and has traveled on assignment around the globe across all seven continents.

About “One Thousand Stories”: A short documentary film that follows renowned French artist JR in the making of his first-ever video mural project, The Chronicles of San Francisco, which brought over 1,200 people together to help create one work of art.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Tasha Van Zandt, director of “One Thousand Stories: The Making of a Mural”:

Social Handles:

“Anna and Sloane Go to the Beach” directed by Willa Rydall and produced by Kayla Borkovec

About Willa: Willa has a passion for the environment, activism, storytelling, music, and art with a mission to direct honest, emotion-provoking films that cast light on both the laughable and difficult parts of the shared human experience.

About Kayla: Kayla has produced several projects, ranging from music videos, scripted short films, to documentaries and has a passion for developing and producing which led her to intern at several companies including The Gotham Group, The Producers Guild of America, Atlas Entertainment, and Bron Studios.

About “Anna and Sloane Go to the Beach”: The summer is almost over for thirteen-year-olds Anna and Sloane, so they plan a cross-county scooter trip to the beach that unintentionally reveals their very different impressions of what it means to grow up.

Watch the NFMLA interview with director Willa Rydall and producer Kayla of “Anna and Sloane Go to the Beach”:

“Parachute” directed by Katherine Tolentino

About Katherine: Katherine aims to make films that break down reductive stereotypes and spotlight the things we all have in common, which inspired her to form BorderWoman Pictures, a production company focused on narrative storytelling from underrepresented voices.

About “Parachute”: After three years of living in America on her own, Chinese teenager Wendy Zhang is struggling to connect with those around her…  until Mei-Ling arrives.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Katherine Tolentino, director of “Parachute”: 


“Remmy Blackwell – Daddy’s On The Sands” directed by Uriah Herr

About Uriah: Years of experience as an art director translate Uriah directly to the screen through color, composition, and tone, allowing him to create national and local commercials, music videos, television shows, web/new media campaigns, as well as narrative short films.

About “Remmy Blackwell – Daddy’s On The Sands”: Remmy Blackwell finds himself alone, lost in the desert with a blurred sense of reality and illusion, with only one goal to encourage him to move forward: find the woman that left him.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Uriah Herr, director of “Remmy Blackwell – Daddy’s On The Sands”:

Social Handles:

“The Disease” directed by Joan Paüls and Dara Safvatnia

About Joan: Joan is a young and established film director with more than ten years of directing experience and has co-founded his own production company, opening his scope to the world of music videos and commercials.

About Dara: Beginning his film career at the age of sixteen by making short films, Dara was soon exposed to a broad range of film experiences in directing, cinematography, editing, and writing when he started working for acclaimed video production companies before finally making his directorial debuts in filmmaking. 

About “The Disease”: A brother and sister discuss their careers in Hollywood and the fleeting nature of ambition with the great generational dilemma: Is having a dream a virtue or a disease?

Watch the NFMLA interview with Joan Paüls, director of “The Disease”: 

Social Handles:

“Vonavi – Regrow” directed by Andrew Litten

About Andrew: Andrew has used his unique life experiences to shape a perspective that is equal parts documentarian and surrealist, aiming to challenge reality as we know it. 

About “Vonavi – Regrow”: Written for Ukrainian solo artist, Vonavi, and his new single of the same name, this short ponders over the lifelong effects of childhood trauma in which the character aims to understand their stress symptoms as they become more vivid.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Andrew Litten, director of “Vonavi – Regrow”: 

Social Handles:

“Weep Not” directed by Lenore Thomas Douglas

About Lenore: A graduate of Boston University, Lenore Thomas Douglas makes her directorial debut with the short film, “Weep Not”, which is loosely based on her 2018, 2X NAACP theater-nominated show Journey This.

About “Weep Not”: A tale of one woman’s will to heal from an early childhood trauma after the passing of her best friend and confidant, her grandmother, that requires her to make one critical life-altering choice, but can she decide before it’s too late?

Watch the NFMLA interview with Lenore Thomas Douglas, director of “Weep Not”: 

Social Handles:

“Autism Ability” directed by Scott Michael Klumb

About Scott: Diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum at age 23, Scott honed his intense interest in film to create future documentaries on a variety of subjects related to autism with the hopes of creating greater awareness, acceptance, and inclusion of the autistic community.


About “Autism Ability”: A documentary that portrays the behind the scenes impact that autism has on Michael’s filming and how filmmaking shapes his own life.


Watch the NFMLA interview with Scott Klumb, director of “Autism Ability”:  


“How Much Am I Worth?” directed by Rachel Handler

About Rachel: Since joining the disabled community, Rachel’s found a passion for writing, producing, and directing in NYC; advocating for inclusion in every project she creates.

About “How Much Am I Worth?”: This stirring documentary explores the failings of the U.S. health system through the lens of four women with disabilities.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Rachel Handler, director of “How Much Am I Worth?”: 

Social Handles:

“Aine” directed by Alexandria Cree and Kristen Hilkert

About Alexandria: Alexandria was raised in an eclectic family of performing artists and large personalities that helped fuel her passion for art, ranging from experimental theatre performances to writing, directing, and producing film.

About Kristen: Currently, Kristen is developing a historical, music-driven drama series, a drama/sci-fi series for streaming, and a dramatic short. 

About “Aine”: This is the story of Aine: a magical, feisty young girl with Down Syndrome.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Alexandria Cree and Kristen Hilkert, co-directors of “Aine”:

“Don’t Leave Me Alone” directed by John FK Parenteau

About John: John’s career spans over thirty years during which he has worked in nearly every aspect of filmmaking, including cinematography, visual effects, writing, producing, and directing.

About “Don’t Leave Me Alone”: A singer looks to reconnect with a lost relationship.

Watch the NFMLA interview with John FK Parenteau, director of “Don’t Leave Me Alone”:


“Natalie’s Point of View” with lead actress Natalie Trevonee

About Natalie: Natalie is a talented dancer on two professional teams “Infinite Flow” and “The Blind Dance Company”; she’s also a vocalist and songwriter and expects to release her debut EP “Losing Focus” by the end of 2018.

About “Natalie’s Point of View”: Natalie Trevonne describes a day in her life, showcasing how her passion for dance has transitioned and adapted since she lost sight of her goals during her youth.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Natalie Trevonne, subject of “Natalie’s Point of View”: 


“Second Act” directed by Carl Hansen and Danny J. Gomez, edited by Matthew Placencia

About Carl: Carl is a disability advocate, award-winning filmmaker, and Emmy-winning producer who has been involved in various capacities with many successful, unscripted, and variety series. 

About Danny: Danny is now in full pursuit of continuing his acting career while working with various non-profits who help people with disabilities. 

About Matthew: Being an amateur editor for the last ten years, Matthew had begun freelance editing during college and has since worked on creative and promotional projects for HBO, UCLA, Cultural Dretritus Films, The Red Futon, and Exquisite Eye Studios.

About “Second Act”: A short documentary chronicling Danny J. Gomez’s journey from surviving Hurricane Katrina with a life-altering accident to becoming a professional actor.

Watch the NFMLA interview with co-directors Carl Hansen and Danny J. Gomez and editor Matthew Placencia for “Second Act”: 

Social Handles:

“Fish Don’t Care If It Rains” directed by Jennifer Msumba

About Jennifer: Creator of YouTube channel, “Rebranding Autism”, Jen hopes to inspire and motivate her viewers to have confidence, get out of their comfort zone and try new things by giving interviews and talking about what it’s like to be autistic and grow up with disabilities. 

About “Fish Don’t Care If It Rains”: With humor and heart, autistic artist Jen Msumba demonstrates what the simple life of a fish can teach us about accepting our circumstances.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Jennifer Msumba, director of “Fish Don’t Care If It Rains”:

Social Handles:

“Hyper Active” directed by Cory Reeder

About Cory: Cory Reeder is a writer, director, producer and founder of Renaissance Man Productions who is devoted to writing and directing narrative stories that shed light on the lack of representation people with disabilities have in the media. 

About “Hyper Active”: As he faces his recent adult ADHD diagnosis, Cory embarks on a quest to learn how several friends with disabilities continue to cope and how their journeys might impact his own.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Cory Reeder, director of “Hyper Active”: 

Social Handles:

“In Dependence” directed by Kimberlee Holland and starring Patrick Ivison

About Kimberlee: Kimberlee is a producer known for note-worthy works such as Guardians of the Glades (2019) and Bar Rescue (2011), and she has recently kick-started her acting career in various shorts and completed her first directorial debut, “In Dependence”. 

About Patrick: Alongside his work at a reality TV production company, Patrick has collaborated with his partner, Kimberlee Holland, to showcase life living with a disability and how he approaches adversity. 

About “In Dependence”: A peek into some of the ways Patrick Ivison and many others with disabilities must navigate the financial implications of living freely while needing physical care.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Kimberlee Holland and Patrick Ivison, director, and star of “In Dependence”:

Social Handles:

“Voices of the Invisible” directed by Miriam Revesz 

About Miriam: With experience as an entrepreneurial, forward-thinking, and ambitious business professional, Miriam has made her way to freelance documentaries, aiming to stop the stigma against mental health and bring education to new life-saving medical treatments.  

About “Voices of the Invisible”: A true story about a young woman who has gone through every treatment for her mental health issues, been misdiagnosed due to her illness being invisible, and presently is trying to ease her suffering at all costs. 

Watch the NFMLA interview with Miriam Revesz, director of “Voices of the Invisible”: 

“The Non-Crimes of Orange County” written by Shadia Sepehrnia

About Shadia: Shadia is a disabled Persian-American, Muslim writer, director, and producer that intends to challenge people’s perspective of diverse characters and shift their world view about representation on screen through the comedy genre. 

About “The Non-Crimes of Orange County”: Shahnaz Ferdosi is on her first news assignment as a field reporter in Orange County when she discovers she’s the diversity hire.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Shadia Sepehrnia, writer of “The Non-Crimes of Orange County”:


FSocial Handles:

“The Shabbos Goy” directed by Talia Osteen

About Talia: Talia is a multi-credited storyteller: as an actress, she starred in 5 national TV series; as a producer, she filled in as Head of Development and Production for Overnight Productions; and as a musician, she contributes to The Wellspring, & Composer. 

About “The Shabbos Goy”: Hannah is a devout Orthodox Jew that must abstain from electronics of almost any kind on the Sabbath, but when a certain device of hers won’t turn off, she sets out to find someone who can turn it off without violating her religion.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Talia Osteen, director of “The Shabbos Goy”: 

Social Handles:

“Black Moon” directed by Ryan Graff

About Ryan: Ryan brings a unique perspective to his films through a selective interest in thriller and horror with a background in theater acting and sound editing.

About “Black Moon”: When a second moon, known as a black moon, enters the night sky, supernatural occurrences begin to haunt a mother on her walk home. 

Watch the NFMLA interview with Ryan Graff, director of “Black Moon”:

Social Handles:

“Auxiliary Man” directed by Max Roux

About Max: Throughout his twenties, Max has written and directed ten short films, along with a 1- episode digital series, and his work has been featured in numerous festivals and film sites across the country.

About “Auxiliary Man”: An inept hitman has a chance to prove himself on the night of his first big hit, but nothing goes as planned.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Max Roux, director of “Auxiliary Man”:  


“Misdirection” directed by Carly Usdin

About Carly: Carly Usdin is an award-winning filmmaker and comic book artist based in Los Angeles that focuses her creative projects around LGBTQ+ lives and experiences. 

About “Misdirection”: A chance encounter with a street magician teaches Camila to channel her misguided energy into a new hobby, and to open her heart to new possibilities.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Carly Usdin, director of “Misdirection”:

Social Handles:


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