CHICAGO Festival Winning SHORT Screenplay: An Evening With Illness, by Donald Just

On the day of receiving a bad medical diagnosis, a man used to many drunken nights at a local bar awakens in an unfamiliar place for an evening he will never forget.

Narrator: Steve Rizzo
Jack: Sean Ballantyne
Bartender/Waiter: Allan Michael Brunet

Lilith: Julie Sheppard

Director Biography – Dylan Mask (CRUEL WORLD)

Dylan is from small town Welland, Ontario. In 2014 he moved to Toronto to pursue his career as an Actor. Working on various projects such as TV shows, Feature Films, Commercials, and Print ads Dylan soaked up as much behind the scenes work as he could to help him develop his own projects. He wrote the comedic YouTube series ‘Out to Lunch’ in 2016 which gained quite a bit of traction in Ontario, Canada. After choosing his initial cast and filming episode one
for ‘Out to Lunch’ there was an awful audio issue and the project had to be scrapped. It was over a year before Dylan settled on a new cast, and crew. Once he did, the project came to life and the rest was history! Although that was Dylan’s directing debut he received strong praise from both the actors on set as well as the established crew he brought on. He used his connections and the lessons learned from ‘Out to Lunch’ to create his most recent drama/thriller ‘Cruel World’. All of the projects Dylan has created have been released and self funded under his own production company ‘behindDAmask Productions’. With all of the projects thus far being written, produced, directed and starred in by Dylan himself. He currently has been assisting up and coming creators in the industry with advice on how to create your own projects on a limited budget. He aims to have an animated comedy series released by 2022.

Director Statement

“If you can make one stranger laugh/cry/feel from something you’ve created. Then all of the hard work and dedication was worth it. Anything more is simply a bonus” -Dylan Mask

Short Film: CRUEL WORLD, 16min, Canada, Thriller/Drama

As he drives down an old dirt road John has one thing on his mind: “Reunite with the woman he loves”.

The journey is prolonged when his SUV runs out of gas in the middle of nowhere. Luckily a mysterious old man intervenes and points him in the right direction.

He arrives at a campground in search of gas and is introduced to the fiery and sarcastic store clerk Taylor, who is less than impressed by his blatant rudeness.

When two drunken customers arrive and start trouble John is forced by something beyond his control to intervene.

It seems fate has different plans for John today.

News & Reviews


Ralph was born in Poznan, Poland. At the age of 10 he immigrated to Italy and then moved to Unites States two years later.

Ralph’s entrance into filmmaking was rather unorthodox. About around 2010, as a musician, he was in need of a musical video. Although several people with a film background helped him get the project started, much of the work fell upon his shoulders. In order to complete the project, Ralph was forced to learn and perform many of the filmmaking tasks. Since that initial project, he has fallen in love with the entire process of filmmaking. He has now produced a number of music videos along with 3 short films up to date. In addition, he started his own film/ video production company and produces commercial work. Ralph is a self-taught filmmaker, and such background gives him a perspective and creative approach free of traditional filmmaking paradigms.

Ralph is inspired by directors like David Fincher, Danny Boyle, Darren Aronofsky and Denis Villeneuve. As mentioned, Ralph did not study film at a traditional film school. Instead, he has a degree in psychology. Being a student of psychology, Ralph is interested in exploring deeper, and potentially darker, layers of his characters. He is always seeking a thorough understanding of what motivates and moves his character to behave.

In addition to directing his own films, Ralph has worked as a DOP and an editor for other filmmakers. He strongly believes in building a community of filmmakers and related artists. He looks forward to projects that challenge him and push him to grow as a filmmaker.

Short Film: THE ARTIFACT, 24min., USA, Thriller/Action

Two men use digital technology to record virtual experiences. They discover that their recordings are potentially hacked and are then hunted by a woman-like artifact. Soon lines of reality and recorded experiences are blurred and in the end only one character lives.

Project Links

HIGHLIGHTS & VIDEOS: January 2021 DRAMA & COMEDY Film Festival

Best Cinematography: MISS BOUNDLESS
Best Sound & Music: PLACE DU TROCADERO

Theme of night: Need to act.

NOTE: Festival took place during the COVID-19 virus lockdown so all screenings were held in private.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Videos:

festival posterPLACE DU TROCADERO, 7min., France, Drama
festival posterBREAKING THE SILENCE, 27min., USA, Drama/History
festival posterMISS BOUNDLESS, 15min., USA, Drama/Family
festival posterSIDECAR, 14min, UK, Drama
festival posterSTARFISH, 19min,. USA, Drama
festival posterFARGATE, 18min., UK, Comedy
festival posterPROCRASTINATORS UNITE!!!…TOMORROW, 3min. India, Animation/Comedy
festival poster100 CANDLES, 7min., Australia, Comedy
festival posterMARRIAGEFIT, 13min,. USA, Comedy
festival posterTRUTH HERTZ, 3min., USA, Comedy

The beginning of a (temporary) new era.

See you at the festivals. Whenever that happens!

– Matthew Toffolo

Director Biography – Qiyu Zhou (MISS BOUNDLESS)

Qiyu Zhou is a Chinese film director, writer, and producer based in Los Angeles. She believes filmmaking is the most soulful language as it touches the tenderest part of the audience’s heart. Her films are marked by a fascination with redemption and the recurring themes of grief, self-forgiveness, and its aftermath. They never shy away from using explicit story exposition and daring tones to create their worlds. Qiyu is a tough cookie as she takes hard approaches to soul-purifying pieces with great entertaining values.
After graduating from Beijing Film Academy in 2010, Qiyu began her creative life as a photographer, with her work exhibited in Minneapolis and published in magazines. Now she holds two master-degrees of film directing from the prestigious American Film Institute and College of Motion Picture Arts at FSU. Qiyu was awarded as the best female director by Independent Shorts Awards. Her film, “The Koi”, was screened in more than 20 festivals including Oscar Qualified Burbank International Film Festival.

Director Statement

When grandma was at the end of her bout with leukemia, I was barely 5. She held my hands and said, “Look at those hands, they are boy’s hands.” The powerful satisfaction in her eyes was strong and genuine enough to make me believe that I should have been born a boy. 

My father was required to move to Zhengzhou for his promotion which seemed like an almost out-of-reach blessing to our small-town family. My relatives tried hard persuading my mom to leave me in the village, so my parents could start fresh in a bigger city and not lose the chance to have a boy in the future due to the one-child policy at the time. 

My mind changed that day about what I wanted to be seen as when I grew up-no less than a boy. I’d never wear dresses again and I’d always play the boy’s role during the kids’ games. I didn’t believe in gender. I would prefer to claim that I don’t have one if I could. Writing Miss Boundless was a release and an answer to my coming-of-age struggle of never being seen as “enough”. The protagonist is forced to confront her inner desire of being enough. In the end, as the character reclaims her identity, embraces who she is, I started to feel my voice.