Director Biography – Monika Ivonne (OMA)

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Born to a Latvian mother and Polish father who worked for an airline, Monika Ivonne found herself jumping from country to country throughout her childhood. Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, Monika and her family moved from Lithuania, to Russia (St. Petersburg & Moscow), to Latvia, and France. She completed her undergraduate studies at an American University in Rome, Italy. Upon her graduation, Monika moved to Los Angeles to attend UCLA Film School where she obtained an MFA degree in film directing. She currently resides between Los Angeles and Riga.

Director Statement

As a Latvian who moved to America, my short film “Oma” depicts one of my greatest fears: loss of culture. Latvia is a small and frequently unheard of country, with an increase in the number of locals who move abroad. With an international background, I’ve come to learn about various cultural tradition, food, and history all over the world. For me, it’s important to portray these aspects in film, whether it’s through a language, a recipe, an actor, or anything else.

Director Biography – Ashley Williams (SUPER SPECIAL)

Director Statement

Kia ora!

I’m Ash, I’m from Wellywood (Wellington, NZ).

My films are gritty, real, soulful and show hope. My work is contemporary and focusing on the ‘coming of age’ genre/YA films, often a mix of drama, fantasy and in-between. They bend genre, and I aim to leave my audience with something to think about. To take away. My purpose being; to make films with meaning.

I use strong female leads and where authentic- under represented cultures in my work. I feel passionate about using film as a medium to speak about important issues or events or unheard voices. I believe film is able to capture our Zeitgeist- or mirror our time, as well as offering a future Zeitgeist. Now isn’t that exciting! I believe that future world is a world that needs love, compassion and hope.

Director Biography – Emily DeBackere (LAUNDRY)

Emily DeBackere is going into her fourth year film at Ryerson University in Toronto, ON. Laundry is Emily’s directing debut project made outside of school.

Director Statement

I wrote this film in hopes to visually express the issues tackled in sexual assault. Drawing from a past experience of mine, there is a constant need to push away these certain events and feelings. Laundry is the manifestation of what I can imagine can be most people’s encounters. We all try to distract ourselves but in the end we can never truly escape from what has happened to us.

Director Biography – PAULA C. FRIAS (CHICKEN)

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PAULA C. FRIAS is a Spanish filmmaker from Madrid who has been living in London for 11 years.
After studying courses in film schools such as ECAM (Madrid) or NYFA (Harvard University Campus) she settled in London and became an Assistant Director to films such as “Kingsman”, “Wonder Woman”, “Jason Bourne”, “Alice Through the Looking Glass”, etc.
In between jobs she likes to write and film her own projects.

PAULA C. FRIAS es una cineasta de Madrid que reside en Londres desde hace 11 años.
Tras estudiar en diferentes escuelas de cine como la ECAM (Madrid) o la NYFA (Campus de la Universidad de Harvard), se asienta en Londres y se convierte en Ayudante de Dirección de películas como “Kingsman”, “Wonder Woman”, “Jason Bourne”, “Alicia A través del Espejo “, etc.
Entre trabajos le gusta escribir y dirigir sus propios proyectos.

Director Biography – Claudia Ruiz (AILIN ON THE MOON)

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Directora de “El Molinete Animaciones”, productora especializada en stop motion de la región litoral, Argentina. Dirección la series Dr Cocicienzo, la ciencia de la cocina 2012, Dirección de Stop Motion serie ¨La liga de las cinco plumas¨, Dirección y Animación Stop Motion ¨El Viaje de Gaia¨, Animación fragmento Your Face Global JAM Bill Plymton, Dirección videoclips animados FELISA y Tres minutos Grupo Rio.Dirección ¨Niñas y niños cuentan¨(Unicef), Animación ¨Un pobre Dios” de Rodolfo Pastor. Dirección, Guión y Animación ¨Hablando de Cosas serias¨, Premio Incaa. Ganadora Historias Breves 2017: ¨11.40¨; “Ailìn en la Luna”, stop motion, Premio Espacio santafesino 2017. “El despertar de la iguana” Guiòn ganador Espacio Santafesino 2018

Director of “El Molinete Animaciones”, specialized stop motion production company from the coastal region, Argentina. Direction of the Dr Cocicienzo series, the science of cooking 2012, Direction of Stop Motion series “The League of the five pens”, Direction and Animation Stop Motion “The Journey of Gaia”, Animation fragment Your Face Global JAM Bill Plymton, Direction videoclips FELISA and Tres minutos Grupo Rio.Dirección ¨Niñas y niños cuenta¨ (Unicef), Animation ¨Un pobre Dios¨ by Rodolfo Pastor. Direction, Script and Animation ¨Having of serious things¨, Inca Award. Winner Short Stories 2017: ¨11.40¨; “Ailìn en la Luna”, stop motion, winner Espacio santafesino 2017. “the awakening of the iguana” script winner Espacio Santafesino 2018.

Director Biography – Asis Sethi (A BLOODY MESS)

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Asis Sethi is an award-winning Canadian director, producer, scriptwriter and TV personality who is known for her docu-series “Darshan Dekh Jeeva” and her documentary “A Colourful Crown” which premiered on Canadian National Television and ran for 5 years.

Asis has worked with renowned entertainers like Mike Myers (Austin Powers, Shrek), Nelly Furtado (Singer-Songwriter) and Mike Holmes (Holmes on Homes, Corner Gas). She has also worked with Eva Birthistle (The Last Kingdom), Tim Dutton (Genius, The Infiltrator), David Alpay (Suits, Proven Innocent), Jessica Alba (Fantastic Four, Sin City) and Romany Malco (A Million Little Things).

Director Statement

Every month when I get my period, I am never able to freely speak about it whether at the workplace or at a party with extended family and friends. I slowly began to notice that my friends who came from both conservative and liberal families while living outside of India, have always been restricted in what they cannot say or do while on their periods. Most of my female friends to this day are not allowed to enter the kitchen when they’re menstruating because they are considered “filthy”. There were many incidents happening around me and that made me realize how important it was to bring this story to life.

‘A Bloody Mess’ is a call to the South Asian community and society that we must engage in open dialogue with males and females alike when it comes to the reproductive process, and specifically, menstruation. The need to ensure that myths and stereotypes are not attached to menstruation is important as the day-to-day functioning of a family can be inexplicably disturbed when one resorts to the negative connotations that surrounds the coming and going of a period.

‘A Bloody Mess’ is our attempt to “normalize” the process of menstruation in order to ensure that shame is no longer attached to a biological function that female bodies have no control over. It is our attempt to push the community to celebrate or at least accept that menstruation is an important part of life, and one that should not hinder any functioning on any one person’s part.

Young women often find out about their periods when they first get their periods, or from school. Parents often do not have a meaningful conversation with their children about menstruation, the importance of the cycle, and the side effects. Young South Asians often feel uncomfortable talking about their periods in a social setting or a familial setting. They are often shut down by other female figures in the family, who find it embarrassing to talk about periods. Some regard the period as an impurity that the body is cleansing itself of, so much so that restrictions are placed on participation in religious and cultural settings. They cannot enter temples. They cannot indulge in “prasad”.

One of the intentional aspects of the film are the longer one take shots of conflict scenes, in order to capture a natural flow and reactions between my actors. For example, the scene before the climax shows three characters in a conflict in a fluid setting which has 12 extras who are constantly moving and so is the camera; this entire uncut shot in the film is one minute and twenty seconds long. The colours for the film I chose were red and blue. When we delve into Varsha’s world, we see the colour red in dominance. When we enter Aarti’s (mother) world, we see more blues.

During the shooting process, it was interesting how important this conversation became even amongst my co-actors. While some completely understood the barriers South Asian women face, others found that being unable to speak about your period unnatural and bizarre. However, while on set, interestingly, four of our key crew members including myself got our periods on the first day of shooting, and for the first time, we said it out loud and then laughed. It was liberating even for the crew of the film.

I hope that “A Bloody Mess” will start a conversation and will bring a change in the way in which periods are perceived within families

Director Biography – Lisa Kannakko (GLAD YOU’RE HERE)

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Autobiographical filmmaker Lisa Kannakko is an emerging talent, recently graduated from the Documentary Media Program at Ryerson University. This is her first film.

Director Statement

I poured through 19 years of footage from my personal archive to uncover the answer of why my life fell apart. I never intended to tell this story to the public, filmmaking has become an essential tool to my recovery.

Director Biography – Xinwen Zhang (NEW YEAR’S EVE DINNER)

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Bachelor of Arts, graduated from the Bachelor of Film Department of Beijing Film Academy.
Director’s work: “Just Meet You”, “Men and Men”, “New Year’s Eve”, “Vientiane Spring”, “Unmarried Mother”, “Singer”, “Planting Love”, “Making Dish for Love”, “Unconsciously Love You” . Filmed the first domestic 260-episode networked drama “Goddess’ Office”. Cantonese and Mandarin were broadcast on Guangxi TV, Hong Kong TV and PPTV.
The venture capital project of the 9th Beijing International Film Festival in “First Love Begins at 40”. The short film “New Year’s Eve” was screened at the 21st Barcelona International Short Film Festival Science Fiction Film, the first banana project, and the second Silk Road Light and Shadow International Micro Video Film Exhibition Excellence Award. “Men Men” Global 48 Hour Film Festival Project.
Member of the 4th Young Master Screenwriter of China Film Foundation Wu Tianming Youth Film Special Fund.
Novel: “Potential”


Director Biography – Léa Sassi (DAISY DESIRE)

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Léa Sassi is a French director and set designer currently based in New York City. After studying journalism at the European Institute of Journalism in Paris (France), she moved to New York City to pursue a master’s degree in Directing at School of Visual Arts. Combining her journalistic passion for truth and her keen sense of visual aesthetic, Lea aims to tell stories that are rooted in reality. Daisy Desire is Lea’s debut narrative short film, inspired by her own family and their experiences.

Director Statement

Daisy Desire is a film about women, made by women and dedicated to women. I made these choices, not because it’s trendy, but because women are my particular inspiration. I grew up surrounded by strong, complex, independent female figures. Women from different generations who had something to say or to defend, who had to overcome so many of life’s battles and did so with dignity and wisdom.

My mother herself is the real inspiration behind this film. A wonderfully multi-faceted woman, she was always driven by a fierce thirst for justice and a desire to embrace sexual liberation and female empowerment. I know for a fact that she is the origin of the “feminist” in me today.
Given the events it depicts, Daisy Desire clearly could have veered to a much heavier, dramatic style of storytelling. However, I consciously choose to tell this story in a light-hearted, quirky tone in order to make the film’s topics more accessible. Making this film has been my favorite creative venture and I hope audiences will delight in it as much as I do.

Director Biography – Naomi Evans (THE FERRYMAN)

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Our film was created by all of us (three women from Scotland, England, and America), with no one role or individual given more weight than the other. As women, our creative process was open, kind, collaborative, professional, intense and fair. For efficiency, we divided the work within the roles of production, writing and directing. In working this way we committed some of our deepest and rawest emotions to film. We hope it brings something to all those we share it with.

Director Statement

The Ferryman is a short film about what happens in the moments leading up to death. Usually portrayed as a time we are desperate to forget. We look at life before death and beyond it but rarely at it, but in those final moments beauty can be found. In The Ferryman, we acknowledge the importance of these seminal moments – the moments of transition from life to death.