Alpha Kings
A still from Alpha Kings courtesy of NFMLA

A Texas mansion home to a group of men pretending to be alpha-males on the internet, two gender identities living in the same 77-year-old’s body, and a filmmaker grappling with white privilege were among the highlight’s of NewFilmmakers Los Angeles’ November 2023 DocuSlate documentary program.

Spotlighting documentary filmmakers from around the world with a selection of feature-length and short documentaries across six programs, the day’s programming began with the Los Angeles premiere of Greener Pastures from Iranian-American filmmaker Samuel-Ali Mirpoorian that tells a sobering account of the erasure of farm work in the US through intimate portrayals of modern day small farmers facing the pressures of corporate greed and climate change. 

Other programming included Set Hernandez’s Unseen, Kevin Wong’s first feature Home is a Hotel and Jason Maxwell Cooper and Jay Armitage’s short documentary “The Unclaimed,” Rebecca Davis’s debut feature Join or Die, and Fia Sophia Perera’s Paul & Trisha: The Art of Fluidity.

The day ended with DocuSlate Shorts, a collection of short documentaries that grapple with themes including digital sex work, the abuse of female athletes in Iran, and family trauma.

Also Read: 1940s Noir, an Exploitative Acting Gig, and Bad Dinner Parties Highlight NFMLA’s In Focus: Indigenous Cinema Program

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.

NFMLA’s DocuSlate Program Highlights

Here is some information on the filmmakers and their films, as well as their video interviews with NFMLA Board Chair Danny De Lillo.

“Dear Uncle” directed by Marianne Amelickx-Labrador

About Marianne: A queer Venezuelan based in Los Angeles, Amelickx-Labrador is the director of “Salta,” a short film that won a Jury Mention at the Tribeca Film Festival and Best Short Film at the 20th Pink Apple Festival (LGBTQ+ Festival in Switzerland). Among her latest works is “Mustache Mondays,” a documentary episode for PBS SoCal. She was also co-director and co-writer of the short film “Blessed and Highly Favored,” an official selection of Outfest Los Angeles, New York Latino Film Festival, Hollyshorts, and NewFest LGBTQ+ New York Film Festival. She is developing her first feature film, La Barca de la Ilusión. Most recently, Marianne has been selected as a finalist in Shondaland’s Women Directing Mentorship Program 2023.

About “Dear Uncle”: A filmmaker explores what happens when our parents’ wishes exceed the limits of our identity in a letter to her recently passed uncle.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Marianne Amelickx-Labrador, director of “Dear Uncle”:

Unseen directed by Set Hernandez

About Set: Set Hernandez (they/she/he) is a filmmaker and community organizer whose roots come from Bicol, Philippines. As a queer, undocumented immigrant, they dedicate their filmmaking to expand the portrayal of their community on screen. Their feature documentary debut, Unseen, had its world premiere at Hot Docs 2023. Set’s past documentary work includes shorts like “COVER/AGE” (2019) and impact producing for “Call Her Ganda” (Tribeca, 2018). An alumnus of the Disruptors Fellowship, Set is also developing both a TV comedy pilot and a feature-length screenplay. Set’s work has been supported by the Sundance Institute, NBCUniversal, The Gotham Institute, and Field of Vision.

About Unseen: An aspiring social worker, Pedro must confront political restrictions as a blind, undocumented immigrant to get his college degree and support his family. But when attaining his dreams leads to new and unexpected challenges, what will Pedro do?

Watch the NFMLA interview with Set Hernandez director of Unseen:

“Alpha Kings” directed by Faye Tsakas and Enrique Pedraza Botero

About Faye: Faye is a Greek-American filmmaker from New York City. She was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Cinema in 2023. Her films have screened at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, AFI Fest, True/False Film Festival, and Camden Film Festival. Her work has been distributed and featured by The New Yorker, Vimeo Staff Picks, Paper Magazine, and Nowness. Faye is currently a Features Programmer at Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, and she previously served as VP Production for Passage Pictures as well as Director of Acquisitions & Production for FilmRise. She received her BA in American Studies from Cornell University and her MFA in Documentary Film & Video at Stanford University.

About Enrique: Enrique is a filmmaker and media executive from Bogotá, Colombia. He was recently appointed to co-lead the Documentary Film Initiative at Harvard University. He served as Manager of Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program, running creative labs and international programs and was Director of Programming for Ambulante Documentary Film Festival. Enrique has served as consultant and Juror in at Sundance’s Documentary Fund, Proimagenes Colombia, IMCINE Mexico and John Hopkins’ Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund. Enrique holds a BFA from the New York Film Academy and an MFA in Documentary Film & Video from Stanford University. “Alpha Kings” premiered at IFFR in 2023 and was acquired for distribution by The New Yorker.

About “Alpha Kings”: From a rented mansion in suburban Texas, a group of young men sell a hyperbolic, alpha-male version of themselves on the internet. 

Watch the NFMLA interview with Faye Tsakas director of “Alpha Kings”:

Paul & Trisha: The Art of Fluidity directed by Fia Perera

About Fia: Fia Perera is a writer and filmmaker. She has written 15 solo plays that have been performed off-Broadway in NYC, written and directed several film and TV projects that have gone to over 60 film festivals. Her short film, “Mermaid” was sold to Apple TV and Amazon as part of The Edge of Her Mind anthology. Her current feature-length documentary film, Paul & Trisha – The Art of Fluidity celebrates gender-fluid artist Paul Whitehead and his alter ego Trisha van Cleef as they navigate their gender and artistic fluidity as two artists in one body. The doc features an original song by Peter Gabriel.

About Paul & Trisha: The Art of Fluidity: A colorful documentary exploring the lives of two 77-year-old British artists who exist in one gender-fluid body.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Fia Perera, director of Paul & Trisha: The Art of Fluidity:

Home is a Hotel directed by Kevin Duncan Wong

About Kevin: Home Is a Hotel is Kevin’s feature debut and was supported by Sundance, SFFilm, and CAAM. It premiered at SFFilm 2023. The short which inspired the film won the Loni Ding award for social justice documentary and Best Short Documentary at Cinequest. His non-fiction films have played at festivals across the country including Big Sky, SFFilm and Cinequest, and been featured on PBS and The Washington Post.

About Home is a Hotel: From within the walls of their 80 square foot SRO hotel rooms, a diverse group of San Franciscans strive against systemic forces and a housing crisis, with hope and humor, in their search for a place to call home.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Kevin Duncan director, and producer, Kar Yin Tham of Home is a Hotel:

“Whiteness at Work” directed by Peter Nelson

About Peter: Peter Bonde Becker Nelson (he/him) is an interdisciplinary artist who works in animation, video, performance, photography, and installation. Drawing from the personal narratives of friends and family, his work critically examines the nuances of race, gender roles, relationships, memory, aging, and loss. Nelson teaches digital, time-based, and performance art at St. Olaf College.

About “Whiteness at Work”: “Whiteness at Work” follows a dough-faced character — an animated proxy for the filmmaker — as he uncovers critical moments that have shaped his limited understanding of race.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Peter Nelson director of “Whiteness at Work”:

“Woman. Life. Freedom. Athlete Abuse.” directed by Poppy Farsijani

About Poppy: Poppy Farsijani is an investigative journalist and the former national news anchor in Iran’s state run media. After many challenges as a female journalist, she eventually returned to the U.S. She has worked in the broadcast media industry as a reporter, evening news anchor, producer, and talk show host for various news channels including CBS and Radio BBC. Her book “Shaming My Red Lips” shares her experience as a teenager and news anchor in Iran. Her first documentary supports the Women. Life. Freedom. movement in Iran zooming in on the regime’s athlete abuse. 

About “Woman. Life. Freedom. Athlete Abuse.”: A look inside how the Islamic Regime tortures its own Olympic athletes. 

Watch the NFMLA interview with Poppy Farsijani, director of “Woman. Life. Freedom. Athlete Abuse.”:

Main Image: A still from “Alpha Kings” courtesy of NFMLA


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