The Heartland Film Festival has expanded. This summer they are launching their new Indy Shorts International Film Festival: July 26 – 29, 2018. The narrative and documentary categories are Academy Award®-qualifying! This festival is making room for a larger number of short films to screen than was possible during Heartland Film Festival’s fall programming. Curious to learn about the creative process behind the making of some of the short films included in the new festival #DirectedbyWomen invited a number of women directors to respond to this question…
Here’s what Erin Brown Thomas, Hannah Ayers, Hannah West, Ilana Lapid, Inès Eshun, Isabelle Levent, Joey Chu, Julia Elihu, Laura Moss, Livia Alcalde, Margaret Bialis, Mari Mantela, Séverine De Streyker, Sylvia Le Fanu, Tassie Notar, and Zhanna Bekmambetova had to say about their filmmaking processes.
New Mexico State University associate professor Ilana Lapid’s short film is being screened at EnviroFest-Tunisia this month, along with award-winning documentaries “A Plastic Ocean,” “Catching the Sun” and “Before the Flood,” Leonardo DiCaprio’s film about climate change.
“Yochi” is among seven films – five feature documentaries and two shorts - chosen to be part of EnviroFest-Tunisia, which took place May 3-5th. After the festival, the films will go on a social-impact road show to surrounding cities.
The film’s cinematographer Robert Dugan, a 2016 graduate of CMI and one of Lapid’s former students, is representing the film at the Tunisian festival and road show in Tunisia through May 14. Dugan is a director, editor and cinematographer based in Albuquerque. He will speak on several filmmaker panels, including one at the City of Culture of Culture in Tunis, about using cinematography to tell stories for social impact, from a drama and documentary perspective.
Yochi, the boy who is the titular character in a beautiful short film by New Mexico State University professor Ilana Lapid, finds that he must protect the chicks not only from natural threats but also from threats of the human kind.
Yochi has become selectively mute due to two connected traumas – the departure of his older brother to the big city and the ensuing death of his grandfather. Despite the encouragement of his grandmother, who has even gone so far as to bring in a shaman to cure the boy, Yochi has stopped speaking. There is an underlying irony in this situation since the yellow headed parrots are considered among the best loros hablandos, or talking parrots. It is this ability that has made them so sought after and valuable in the exotic bird trade. So, a non-speaking boy watches over two parrot chicks who are prized for their ability to “talk.”
Lapid is a world-travelling filmmaker. She became interested in film while on a Fulbright scholarship to work with Gypsy children in Transylvania. A Bachelor of Arts degree at Yale and that trip to Eastern Europe led her to the University of Southern California, where she earned a Master of Fine Arts in film.
“My family had moved to Las Cruces when I was twelve,” Lapid said. “So between all these chapters of my life, I always considered Las Cruces my home. I was very excited when the Creative Media Institute was created, and I came here to teach in 2011.”
She also led students on a trip to Ireland this past summer after making her film in Belize. This recent experience was not her first in the Central American country. She took students there in 2013 for a field school in documentary filmmaking and became interested in returning to make a narrative film. She was invited in March of 2016 to direct a feature documentary film about the yellow headed parrots, and while she chose not to make that film, she had the idea for “Yochi.” Lapid wrote the script in April and then left in early May to start filming. She had about ten days of pre-production in Belize and nine shooting days on the twenty-five-minute film.
According to Lapid, “Yochi” was never intended to be a message film about the plight of parrots in Belize; it is a story of two brothers and the loss of trust between them. That the film works to bring this conservation issue to the attention of audiences is a welcome side effect, however. Tim Wright, a biology professor at NMSU who specializes in the vocalization of parrots, has written a letter of introduction to the World Parrot Trust encouraging them to get behind the film “because it could really change minds.”
For more information about “Yochi,” go to the film’s website www.YochiFilm.com or Yochi Film on Facebook.
“Yochi,” winner of Best Short Film at the 2016 Belize
Int’l Film Festival, now selected for an Oscar-qualifying theatrical run.
California, U.S.A.- “Yochi,”
a short film written and directed by award-winning New Mexico filmmaker, Ilana
Lapid, is one of ten films selected for “SHORT FILMS FROM AROUND THE WORLD,” a
week-long Oscar-qualifying theatrical run presented by ShortsTV. After this
theatrical run, “Yochi” will be qualified to submit to The Academy of Motion
Picture Arts and Sciences, in consideration (alongside approximately 135 other
films from around the world) for a 2018 nomination in the Live Action Short
“This will make “Yochi” the first Belizean short-film
qualified to submit for consideration for an Academy Award,” said “Yochi” producer
and Belizean filmmaker, Daniel Velazquez.
producers, actors, media professionals and investors gathered with members of
the Belizean Diaspora last weekend to network and build bridges between the two
countries at the 3rd Annual Belize Film Commission
Luncheon. Hosted by Belizean Americans Dr. Yvonne Goff and her husband,
attorney David Fairweather at their well-appointed home in Pacific Palisades,
attendees enjoyed good food, stimulating conversation and most important,
exchanged strategies aimed toward building relationships and expanding the film
industry of this beautiful Afrocentric country, with its vibrant Caribbean
Among those in attendance were
Belize’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Youth, Sports and
Culture, Hon. Patrick Faber; the Consul General of Belize in Los Angeles,
Roland Yorke; Director of the Belize International Film Festival, Suzette
Zayden; and ABC World Morning News Anchor, Kendis Gibson. Gibson, who was born
in Belize, is a former reporter and part of the launch team for San Diego’s FOX
local newscast and has pledged his commitment to promoting ways to connect the
Hollywood and Belize film industries.
Highlights of the afternoon
included a virtual reality experience by Ryan Moore, CEO, Experience 360° using
VR headsets, a screening of “Yochi,” the winning short film at the 2016 Belize
International Film Festival, as well as an unveiling of a painting of the
Deputy Prime Minster of Belize by artist John Barge III.
From Director of Photography, Robert Dugan:
"This just happened -- Roland Joffe, the director of The Mission, with Robert DeNiro and Jeremy Irons (one of the best shot films of the '80s, in my opinion), just retweeted the Yochi Kickstarter and complimented my cinematography. I'm elated. This film and Ilana Lapid keep getting me into the most unexpected scenarios. So excited!"
Go to: http://lascrucesbulletin.nm.newsmemory.com and navigate to Editions: Sept 2, pages A52-53
"In her latest short film, “Yochi,” New Mexico State University Creative Media Institute (CMI) Assistant Professor Ilana Lapid brings together her interest in making socially relevant films with the beauty of the Belize jungle and pine savannah."
"Lapid said she hopes that, in addition to entertaining, "Yochi" will be screened for educational purposes and will encourage dialogue about pressing conservation issues and the illegal wildlife trade."
"Their performances are so natural and fit so well, at times I felt like this is a real window into, not only life, but it has this really classical feel to it. While it’s set certainly in a very specific place and time, it’s also a very universal story and really resonated with me and drew me back to some children’s classics and coming of age stories from the 40s and 50s."
"This is one of the most beautiful films I think people will see this summer. It's just not only a beautiful film, but a beautifully shot film. [...] It has such has such a beautiful rhythm to it."