HIGHLIGHTS & VIDEOS: January 2022 SHORT Film Festival

Showcase of the best SHORT FILMS in the world today.

AUDIENCE AWARD WINNERS:
Best Film: COMPEL
Best Performances: EXILE
Best Cinematography: DAMASCENE
Best Sound & Music: VELCRO: A STUDY IN POLYVAGAL EQUINE
Best Direction: HOME VIDEO
Twist Film of the Year: GREENHORN

Theme of night: Life

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Videos:

EXILE, 15min., USA, Drama


GREENHORN, 11min., USA, Drama


COMPEL, 17min., USA, Drama


HOME VIDEO, 15min., Drama


VELCRO: A STUDY IN POLYVAGAL EQUINE, 6min., USA, Documentary


DAMASCENE, 15min., Syrian Arab Republic, Drama/War


SHORT FILM TRAILER: The Mirror, 13min., Animation, Documentary

Directed by
Mimi Chakarova

Listen to podcast interview with Mimi: https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/wildsound-the-film-podcast/id1406973270?i=1000546683968

An honest, at times absurd, conversation about being a Black woman in America, “The Mirror” is a short animated film that weaves the personal stories, experiences and reflections of nine Black women talking about their interactions with white people. On the subject of swimming, “Black people have no buoyancy,” says one white woman with assurance. “Your people have an inability to master the proper use of the English language,” says another. “The Mirror” is a revealing and unapologetic take on what it is like to be a Black woman in America.

Director Bio: Diana Mustafa Jamal Kada (DAMASCENE)

DIANA KADAH is a Syrian actress and filmmaker from Damascus, who now lives in Berlin. Diana won the Citation Award prize in the Aleppo theatre festival- 2006 for her role of “Reya” in the “The Great Romulus” when she was just seventeen. Later, in Germany, she was awarded the FARBENBEKENNEN-Award 2018.

Since childhood, Diana had graphic ideas for her surroundings. These ideas were always vivid inspired a sense of urgency to realize or transmit them.
Many things inspired her, especially the stories, that found their way from the prisons of the Syrian regime to the public. The fact that the Syrian Government was built upon corruption, tyranny, and the people had to pay for their political opinions with their freedom, and, sometimes, even with their lives, led her to find a medium in which she could depict this influence and express herself artistically.

Over time it became clear to Diana that she wanted to be an author and director and study cinema, but because there was no film academy in Syria, due to the government control on the media industry, the Higher Institute of Dramatic Art (Damascus) was her only option. Between 2009 and 2011 Diana studied towards a bachelor’s degree in theatre acting. Unfortunately, she never got to finish her bachelor’s program, because of war, she had to flee Syria to temporarily stay in Lebanon. There, she studied film and television at the Institute of Fine Arts, but again she had to end her studies, because of the unstable situation in Lebanon and the xenophobia she was exposed to, as a Syrian.
In 2015, she managed to immigrate to Germany, to keep pursuing her movie-making aspirations. Now she graduating from Catalyst

Diana always thought of art as an alternative resistance and uses the camera as a weapon to exploit inequalities in society.
The focus of her work is the topics of Refugees, feminism, multi-cultural societies, families, psychology, sociology, politics, and human- and LGBTQ+ rights.
In conclusion, for the past 10 years, she has been working on various productions as a filmmaker, an actress, and a theatre artist- including short and feature films, TV series, theatre plays, music videos, and commercials.

Director Statement

I was inspired to do this movie by listening to a report of a murder that occurred during the civil conflict in Damascus-Syria. This report led me to investigate the suspects and the victim.
I found contradicting information on social media: one post advocated the innocence of the suspects, claiming a drug overdose had killed the victim; while posts on the victims’ page denied the allegations.
The victim had, however, been kidnapped prior to his death, the reason for the kidnapping is unclear. Was it done for monetary or personal reasons?
Sources claim the victim lived in an area that opposed the Al-Assad regime.
The “Damascene” film highlights the effects of war on the psyche of the younger generation, and the impact of the normalization of violence, inflicted by those with political interests.

What are the reasons behind the general mistrust within Syrian society after 2011?
Citizens are accusing each other of various crimes, whether innocent or not. Subsequent arrests follow… Creating a guilty-until-proven-innocent system.

The film location is the Funkhaus building, in Berlin, as it is quite similar to a war-torn building in Damascus.

As the writer, producer, and director, the coordination of untrained actors’, and designers’ work is vital to a fresh cinematic interpretation. However, all of the choices I had made, throughout the production process, were carried out by teamwork.

Working with a varied international crew was challenging, because of the different cultures, languages, and backgrounds. Regardless, everyone was really invested in a film about the Syrian war.
As I am a film production student, at Catalyst Institute For Technology And Art, I was able to acquire the equipment for two days’ shooting.

In short, the purpose of this film is to show the audience how the political situation has been a source of anxiety, dread, and hopelessness. The reason that drove generations to take drugs, as a method of escapism from the brutal reality of dealing with violence, and the destruction of friendships.

Short Film: DAMASCENE, 15min., Syrian Arab Republic, Drama/War

During an airstrike, in a Civil war-ravaged, Syria,
three teenage boys desperately seek refuge in an abandoned, run-down building.
Samir receives a call from his frantic mother, urging him to be safe and return home, once the airstrike is over.

Although he is desperate to return to his mother, he is persuaded by Shihab to partake in drugs.

The mood intensifies, as the conversation turns to Alia and Alaa, the “heroic” friends of Shihab, who were apprehended by the regime’s Secret Service, for aiding wounded rebels.

An interrogation ensues, with Shihab questioning Samir’s involvement in the apprehension of Alia and Alaa.

Samir’s mood turns even more somber and he requests more pills. Shihab blatantly accuses Samir of being the traitor, questioning his loyalty to his loved ones. As troops enter the building, the boys are once again forced to flee, with the narcotics taking an overwhelming effect on Samir.

Outside, they run into Husam, a cousin of Alia and Alaa.

When Alia and Alaa’s apprehension is once again brought up, and Samir is revealed as the traitor, Husam physically assaults Samir.

Through ragged breath, Samir relays the desperate events that led to his betrayal. Samir loses consciousness and becomes unresponsive, having overdosed on the drugs.

As the boys desperately try to revive Samir, it is brought to light that the narcotics were part of a ploy to trick Samir into confessing.

As army troops emerge from the building, the trio flees, abandoning Samir. This act forces a transition of childhood innocence into the brutality of adulthood.

Director Bio: Ted Thomas (VELCRO: A STUDY IN POLYVAGAL EQUINE)

While brand new to filmmaking, Ted Thomas is no stranger to expressing his creative vision. With over twenty-five years experience as a professional photographer, he has seen and done it all. From high fashion, tech, travel, products and food, Ted has spent his life exploring the world and those within it.

Director Statement

I had the opportunity to take a session with Velcro, and without hyperbole, it was life changing, and forced me to look within myself in ways I never considered. I wanted to explore the connection between human and horse, and the people I met along the way were truly amazing. I hope this brief glimpse into Velcro’s world will give you the curiosity to explore this connection further.

Director Bio:  Patrick Coleman Duncan (COMPEL)

As a filmmaker and actor Patrick has made three consecutive Award Winning short films, JES AND LORA, LIFE’S A PITCH, and COMPEL.
Patrick began his filmmaking career producing, writing, and starring in SO, WHAT’S IN JERICHO? in 1998. JERICHO was an early example of digital filmmaking and raising money by a primitive form of crowdfunding (he asked family and friends for money and promised perks without use of the internet).
Moving to LA in 2000, he wrote, produced and directed the short films HOLLYWOOD, THE HARD WAY, THE SHABBOS BIGFOOT, and A MOCK TIME: A ‘STAR TREK’ WEDDING, as well as several industrial films for UCLA Medical.
He joined We Make Movies, the Hollywood Film Collective, in 2012, wrote and acted in the WMM Challenge winning sketch MISERY DATE as well as acting and editing multiple films for members. For five years he coordinated We Make Movies’ monthly Test Screening Series, a forum to get projects ready for festivals and distribution.
As an editor, he worked on the award winning features, CARBON NATION and ASSISTING VENUS (starring Julian Sands).
As an actor he’s appeared on GUIDING LIGHT, DAYS OF OUR LIVES, and PARKS AND RECREATION. He is a member of SAG-AFTRA and the Television Academy.
He is currently taking his latest project, the Award Winning short Thriller COMPEL to festivals around the world.

Director Statement
“Compel” is a film about the impulses we have for sex, love, hatred and revenge that we think we can control but, if we’re not careful, may end up controlling us.
Winner of Best Thriller Short at the 2021 Marina del Rey Film Festival and Best Psychological Drama and Best Director of a Psychological Drama at 2021 LA Live Film Festival.

Short Film: COMPEL, 17min., USA, Drama

“You better be careful. You don’t want it to carry you away.”
Jessica is recently separated and looking for some sexual intrigue. She brings home Dan, a stranger who may have gotten more than he bargained for when her soon-to-be-ex husband Jeff pays her a surprise visit. The couple airs their grievances as Dan remains on, a captive witness to a scene of pending domestic violence.
A one night stand gone horribly wrong – or does it?

Project Links