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.

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!

Director Biography – Brian Sutow, Jessie Mills (FALL TO FAME)

BRIAN SUTOW is an LA-based playwright, director, screenwriter, and a Helen Hayes Award winning producer. His first feature film, Vengeance, is currently being packaged by Myriad Pictures. He is a former Kennedy Center Playwright in Residence and O’Neill Visiting Playwriting Fellow. Selected plays include Between Us (co-written with Emmy Award winner Ashley Nicole Black of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee), Vengeance (GreenHouse National New Play Winner), and Peril on the Red Planet (commissioned by NASA). His work as a screenwriter includes dozens of commercials, the original comedy pilot A Bowl of Cherries (finalist in the 2006 Chicago Comedy TV Pilot Competition), the short film The SunnySide Singers (prod. First Team Productions), the commissioned pilot The Vamps (Cartoon Network/Adult Swim), the documentary series ReDiscovering Oklahoma! (Kenan Foundation), as well as many web-series.

JESSIE MILLS is a professor of theatre at Pomona College and a professional director. She directs, adapts, and devises theatre, opera and film throughout national and international venues, including the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina; The Lincoln Center & The Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York; The Goodman Theatre & The Grant Park Orchestra in Chicago; and The Sala Beckett Institute in Barcelona, Spain (co-directing with Neil LaBute). She holds graduate degrees in direction from Carnegie Mellon University and performance theory from Northwestern University. Beyond her work as a director, her scholarship and publications center around ensemble-theatre and comedy-as-community.

Director Biography – Josiah Holroyd (COLLAPSE)

Josiah Holroyd is a 19-year-old kid from a small town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He started doing film work in his sophomore year of high school and got his own camera towards the end of his junior year. Since then he’s been doing professional work for clients in his hometown. He recently started college at Columbia College Chicago to pursue his dreams of being a feature film director.

Director Statement

Hey guys! I’ve had this film idea for a while and I decided to do it as my final project for my pilot film classes. It was super fun to do and I appreciate the hard-working people who helped me pull it off! Please enjoy!

Director Biography – Dekel Berenson (ANNA)

Dekel Berenson is a writer, director, activist and graphic designer. Drawing inspiration from traveling to more than sixty countries, Dekel explores real-world social and humanitarian issues. His second short film, “Ashmina” won several prizes, including Best Short Film award at the 59th Krakow Film Festival and Best Live Action Short at the 36th Jerusalem Film Festival, qualifying the film for Academy Awards consideration. His third film, “Anna”, premiered as Official Selection in Competition at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival and won the Best British Short Film award at the 22nd BIFA awards.Director Statement

Director’s Statement

I first visited Ukraine in 2012, while traveling across Europe in a van. It was an important step for me personally as my grandmother was born in Khust, a small Ukrainian border town. She witnessed how Ukraine, like the rest of Eastern Europe became a part of the USSR, and then later gained its independence, which is now once again threatened. When I went, I was fascinated by the mixture of Eastern and Western traditions, by the people, and was heartbroken by Ukraine’s poverty and the rampant corruption that plagues its institutions.

In the nightclubs of Odessa, on a hot summer evening, I witnessed events similar to the ones depicted in Anna. These clubs are notorious for being hot spots for the type of men and women who seek others while harboring secret agendas. The men ogle women as if they were the pieces of meat hanging in Anna’s workplace. The women size up the men according to the perceived value of their shoes.

The men, hoping to take advantage of the women’s despair and desire to move abroad, try to seduce them with promises of a possible relationship. The women, pretending to be unaware of the obvious scheme, make promises of their own and scam free drinks, expensive dinners, and gifts from the men. The savviest and most determined women will, in turn, seduce naive men with promises of love and everlasting marriage, only to quickly divorce them once they set foot in their new home country. So, each side attempts to take advantage of the other and more often than not fails at it but then returns the next evening for more of the same. For underneath the cynicism and objectification there is the driving force of hope, that on one of these evenings an interaction will lead to something deeper and more meaningful – a real connection based on genuine feelings, a relationship that will lead to a better life.

After observing what went on at the nightclubs of Odessa I discovered the existence of the “love tours” that are depicted in Anna and found the subject compelling enough to return to Ukraine six years after my original visit, and capture it on film. In Anna the backdrop is wintry and cold, but regardless of a country’s regions everyone ultimately harbors dreams and aspirations. These international dating events, which have been organized since the fall of the Iron Curtain, continue to take place, with groups arriving in Ukraine many times a year. The mass parties in which men are usually outnumbered 1 to 10, now take place almost exclusively in East Ukraine, the industrial and more impoverished part of the country.

Ironically, Svetlana Barandich who portrays Anna, participated in such an event more than 20 years ago. And, an actress that we auditioned for the role of the translator told us that she was recently hired as a translator for one of these events. She said that, similarly to the corresponding scene in Anna, she would make up conversations and that “All men and women were always Leo,” for it was the only astrological sign for which she knew the English word.

This is an important story of hope and despair, one which I have attempted to capture as authentically as I could.

Sex + Ice Cream Short Film, Audience FEEDBACK from CHICAGO Festival Feb. 2020

SEX + ICE CREAM, 6min., USA, Documentary

Directed by Melissa Lane

A short documentary about a young woman finding her identity through art.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Saturday Short Film, Audience FEEDBACK from CHICAGO Festival Feb. 2020


SATURDAY, 9min., USA/Iran, Drama

Directed by Pegah Pasalar

As the viewer follows a joyful trip to the beach by a family with three young children, innocence and happiness give way to the unthinkable. While the day unfolds on-screen, the audience comes to realize, through subtle audiovisual cues, that a tragedy has occurred: one of the three children has drowned. Decisions are made in a state of shock, and the blurred lines between the rational and irrational interrupt and fragment the journey back home. The parents opt to bring their dead son back in the same car with the two other children pretending as if he is sleeping.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Let The Blonde Sing Short Film, Audience FEEDBACK from CHICAGO Festival Feb. 2020

LET THE BLONDE SING, 13min., USA Documentary

Directed by Rachel Knoll

An intimate look into a small community in Alaska through the eyes of Beverly Sue Waltz, the bartender of the only bar open all-year-round.

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Lacuna Short Film, Audience FEEDBACK from CHICAGO Festival Feb. 2020

LACUNA, 7min., USA, Drama

Directed by Ryan Matthew Jolly

A man finds himself in a strange world, in a strange form. He cant remember anything and must journey to find himself.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!