Director Biography – Jaan AlBalushi (JILBAB)

Jaan AlBalushi Bahraini Artist, director and photographer, who specializes in filming short movies and commercials, began his career in photography almost 10 years ago, then opened his own studio (Jaan Click Media) for imaging Profile and photographing weddings and makeup advertisements, commercial and Art Videos and concerts. Jaan recently moved to photograph cars and aspires to be a photographer specialist for cars in addition to taking out short movies and videoclips. He took part in the exhibition through the public institution for youth and sport and many exhibitions outside Bahrain such as Oman Exhibition Gallery through Photography Association.

Jaan AlBalushi has won numerous awards, has won the several international awards for his short films and photography, recently his feature Award winning film “Zaraab” screened in Bahrain cinemas also in several international festivals and nominated for best feature film in PIFF and won the best film in Bahrain Cinema Club competition as it’s the first Balochi feature film screened in cinemas.

Director Biography – Chelses Venkadathu (EPHEMERA)

Chelses Venkadathu is an Emmy® nominated (midwest chapter) editor making his debut as a writer/director in this short film “Ephemera”. He also edited the Director’s Cut of “CA$H” starring Chris Hemsworth and Sean Bean. Chelses started his career as a 3D animator for clients such as United Airlines and Labatt Beer Company. Afterward, he produced community based TV shows and eventually worked his way into film.

Chelses Venkadathu was born in a small town along the southwest coast state of Kerala in India. He moved and lived with his family in north and west India as well. He also lived in Bahrain for two years until finally settling down in Chicago at the age of seven. His father was an engineer and mother was a nurse. Chelses received his AA in Electronic Design and B.A. in Computer Animation & Media Arts. Although his true intentions were to pursue a career in video games, that slowly transitioned in to a love for filmmaking.Director Statement

Ephemera has taken over 7 years to produce from inception to completion. I’ve been chipping away on this project since 2012. In the meantime I also got married, had 2 kids, and maintained a regular job. Just so we’re clear on why it took me 7 years. It was shot in the Chicagoland area over the course of 6 days on the Arri Alexa Mini. This adult drama with a running time of 20 minutes has a production cost of $50,000. Needless to say, we have taken our time to carefully craft this piece of cinema.

Short Film: EPHEMERA, 20min., USA, Drama

The story is about a young couple that have been married for ten years. They have a five year old daughter who bonds the family despite the mundanity of their marriage. But a new lifestyle that pushes boundaries might be the unexpected resolution to keep this family bound.

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Director Biography – Rayka Zehtabchi (OURS TO TELL)

Rayka Zehtabchi is a 25-year-old Oscar winning Iranian-American director based in Los Angeles. Her directorial debut, Madaran, is an Iranian language short that won Jury awards at top film festivals and qualified for the 89th Academy Awards in 2016.

Rayka’s Oscar winning short documentary, Period. End of Sentence. can be seen on Netflix worldwide, and is about a group of village women in Northern India who start a sanitary pad-making business in an effort to improve feminine hygiene and de-stigmatize menstruation. Along with the film’s release, Rayka helped co-found the non-profit “The Pad Project” to fight the stigma of menstruation and improve feminine hygiene worldwide.

Future projects include a short documentary on the Special Olympics, a narrative feature film based on her family’s experience immigrating from Iran to the United States in the 1990s, as well as a feature documentary further expanding on the topic of menstruation worldwide.

Rayka’s passion is telling human stories that bring awareness and action to little-known social causes. In both documentary and narrative, she brings a naturalistic approach to her storytelling, striving for honesty and intimacy on screen.

Short Film: OURS TO TELL, 17min., USA, Documentary

Without shame and without fear “Ours to Tell” depicts four people who share their stories and walk in their truth. By owning the lives they choose, what unfolds is an unfiltered and poetic demonstration of how the right to access abortion acts as a dynamic turning point in an individual’s journey to freedom and self love. Each with different perspectives and experiences, the film’s subjects — Brittany, Hannah, Nick and Ylonda — take us inside their worlds, their families, their souls and boldly illustrate the beauty and power of bodily autonomy. As we watch, listen and love each storyteller, we also bear witness to a chilling reality: The fundamental freedom to own our body and future has never been more uncertain than it is today.

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Director Biography: Carlos Douglas Jr. (KENYA’S SYMPHONY)

(Carlos Douglas Jr

Carlos Douglas Jr is an animator & director/producer of Kenya’s Symphony. He is a spring 2020 graduate of Columbia College Chicago under the Interactive Arts and Media program, earning his Bachelor of Arts in Traditional Animation. He acted as the president of the Columbia College Chicago Animation Association (CCCAA), a prominent student organization at the college intended to expand curriculum beyond the classroom experience, preparing and opening opportunities for animation students in the industry. In addition to directing and producing Kenya’s Symphony, he is the producer on the upcoming 2020 animated short, Buster and Jamson as part of the Animation Production Studio course at Columbia.

Born and raised in Chicagoland, Carlos began creating art at a very young age and continued his study of the arts into adulthood. Carlos studied for years under the teachings of Nikki Kutansky, a long-time arts instructor at the Center for Visual & Performing Arts in Munster, Indiana before enrolling at Columbia College Chicago. During his tenure in Nikki’s class, his interest in animation and motion picture arts was realized. Some of his past accolades include creating the character design of “Little Rocky” on musician Rocky Kramer’s music video, Rock Star, storyboarding for live-action films produced at Columbia College Chicago, and organizing the 2020 digital Storyreel Showcase at Columbia.

Kenya’s Symphony is a 2-D animated short produced and directed by Carlos, with music composed by Michael Van Bodegom Smith (“Beyond The Door”, “Me and Myself”, “Teacher of the Year”). This project was inspired by Carlos’ employment as an usher for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and his passion for film and orchestral music. This film was completed over the course of three semesters with no budget. His plan was to produce a film primarily driven by visuals and music. The score was recorded by a 60-piece orchestra and combined with a sound mix for a sonic experience without dialogue. Kenya’s Symphony had its premiere screening at the Big Teeth Small Shorts Festival in Chicago, Illinois, winning the “People’s Choice” Award in the Small Shorts category.

Carlos has a goal of producing and directing animated content with narrative. Television and film provide a great outlet for stories to be shared. Post-graduation, he plans to find his place among the animation community and continue to create animated content for the screen.
Director Statement

Kenya’s Symphony was completed with no budget, only with the resources that were available at my disposal, along with my collaborators. Kenya’s Symphony tells the story of a young girl coming to appreciate an art form less traveled by a modern generation. Diving even deeper, this is the story of a person being placed in an unfamiliar situation and being changed by the experience; this change happens not by force, but by chance. By giving the symphony a chance, she finds enchantment in the unfamiliar.

Despite everything and everyone looking different, Kenya becomes one of the insiders in this fantastic turn of events. I hope that this film can be viewed by people both young and old so that they can have some fun watching Kenya’s chaotic energy be transformed into something positive. I also hope that they take away this valuable piece of wisdom with them. Give things a try and experience a whole new side of yourself!