NewFilmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA) celebrated emerging filmmakers and US military veterans last October with stories spanning a diverse array of genres that spotlighted the talent of veterans in front of and behind the camera.
The October day began with feature film The Sisters Karras, a family drama about two half-sisters meeting and grappling with the last wishes of their estranged father following his death. ‘The Sisters Karras’ was preceded with the world premiere of the short film “Friends Call Us Unlucky” by award-winning writer-director Alyssa Toledo.
Next, the afternoon continued with Adelante Lab inaugural directing fellow Nicole Mejia’s debut feature, “A Place in the Field,” which tells the story of an Afghanistan war veteran processing and mourning the death of his best friend. “A Place in the Field” was also preceded by the short film “Til It Blooms,” a beautiful meditation on grief from writer-director Wendy Xu. The evening then concluded with InFocus: Veteran Cinema Shorts, a program covering diverse stories and filmmaking styles in genres that span across sci-fi, drama, thriller, and experimental.
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 information on the filmmakers and their films, as well as their video interviews with NFMLA Board Chair Danny De Lillo (Twitter/Instagram: @dannydelillo).
“Relationship Killers” directed by Noah A. Waters III
About Noah: Noah is an award-winning filmmaker originally from North East Florida who has been all around the world. He served in the U.S. Army and as a mercenary for private military outfits. Noah is a thirty-second-degree Master FreeMason, a knighted member of the Knights Templar, and a knighted member of both York and Scottish Rites. He is a member of Veterans in Media & Entertainment, the Hollywood American Legion, and Film Independent. Noah studied writing and directing for screen and stage in college. Besides stand-up, writing and directing, Noah is a line producer and combat consultant for film and TV
About “Relationship Killers”: When a newlywed couple with a dark secret go to their first session of couples counseling, they find that trying to keep their secret a secret is difficult, which puts the therapist’s life in mortal danger.
Watch the NFMLA interview with Noah A. Waters III, director of “Relationship Killers”:
“The Sisters Karras” directed by Micah Stathis and produced by Clare Louise Frost
About Micah: Micah Stathis was born in the Midwest and raised in Greece, in Ano Glyfada just outside of Athens. Micah spent three years serving in the U.S. Army, deployed in combat in Ramadi, Iraq. He is a decorated veteran. Micah then received his Masters in Film Studies at NYU Tisch. He has written and directed many short films, music videos and short documentaries. Micah also has extensive experience as a television producer and technical director, working for years at Manhattan Neighborhood Network on community events, political and policy debates, variety shows, Urban Word poetry slam, educational programming and more. “The Sisters Karras” is Micah’s first feature film.
About “The Sisters Karras”: Two estranged half-sisters must form a complicated bond to claim their rare and precious inheritance.
Watch the NFMLA interview with Micah Stathis and Clare Louise Frost of “The Sisters Karras”:
“My Happy Place” written by Devin Scott and Laura Bohlin
About “My Happy Place”: In 1965, 7-year old Anna Boreman sets off on a six-week road trip across America with her estranged, traveling minister father in search of forgiveness and Autopia.
Watch the NFMLA interview with Laura Bohlin, co-writer of “My Happy Place”:
“Hermanita” directed by Hisonni Mustafa and produced by Lizette Hunter
About Hisonni: Hisonni Mustafa is a Guyanese-American filmmaker from the most segregated city in America, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Hisonni’s independent film ‘Take Out Girl’ (now on Hulu) has received awards from The Bentonville Film Festival, Dances With Films, Ashland Independent, Cinequest, and Indie Memphis. Recently, Hisonni became the first Nevada filmmaker to win the $175,000 Cordillera Film Festival pitch fest, win best Nevada film at Nevada Women’s Film Festival and Cordillera Film Festival, and received grants from the Nevada Arts Council and The National Black Arts Forward Artist Project.
About “Hermanita”: After recently being released from prison, Daniella learns that her little sister has been abused at the hands of her stepfather and has to decide if her duty to protect her sister is more important than freedom.
Watch the NFMLA interview with Hisonni Mustafa and Lizette Hunter of “Hermanita”:
Instagram: @hisonnij & @lizette__hunter
“A Place in the Field” directed by Nicole Mejia
About Nicole: Nicole Mejia is a Los Angeles-based director, writer and producer. She is the inaugural directing fellow for the Adelante Lab, a television shadowing fellowship with the Latinx House, Netflix, Sundance and Shondaland. Her first feature “A Place In The Field” has been acquired by Lionsgate and Grindstone for distribution. Nicole’s short film, ‘Mancha’ was awarded the LALIFF/Netflix Fellowship. Her AFI thesis film ‘My Life Stopped At 15,’ based on her personal story of healing from sexual abuse, won the ASC Heritage award. She has an MFA in Directing from the American Film Institute, class of 2021 where she was awarded the Audi Fellowship for Women.
About “A Place in the Field”: When Veteran Gio Scuderi receives a package and a letter from an old friend, he sets out on a journey across the American Southwest to fulfill a promise made long ago during deployment.
Watch the NFMLA interview with Nicole Mejia, director of “A Place in the Field”:
“Shell Shocked” directed by Paula Cajiao
About Paula: Paula Cajiao is a filmmaker born and raised in Cali, Colombia. She moved to the United States at the age of 16. After graduating high school, Paula joined the Army, serving four-and-a-half years of active duty. Paula’s desire for the arts led her to study acting and become a professional actress before finally deciding to become a director. Her latest Award-winning short film, “Shell Shocked,” stars Emmy-nominated actor Evan Hall (Orange Is the New Black) and actress Andrea Syglowski (The Good Wife). Her other short, “Rosie,” will screened in Amsterdam in the fall as part of queer.red. Apart from writing and directing her own films, she also directs commercials.
About “Shell Shocked”: After two years of unsuccessful treatment, a combat veteran suffering from “Battle induced stuttering” discovers a controversial drug banned since World War II that’s has the possibility to cure him.
Watch the NFMLA interview with Paula Cajiao, director of “Shell Shocked”:
Main image: “A Place in the Field,” directed by Nicole Mejia.