What I Learned About Female Hunters and Christian Egyptians at New Filmmakers LA

Saturday night, my friend María Eugenia León, who is a composer, managed to drag me out of my apartment (where I’d been holed up obsessing over script rewrites and business plans and where my life is going) to attend the New Filmmakers LA monthly shorts screening in downtown Los Angeles at the At&T center. We were supposed to get there at seven, but you know, time flies when you’re busy giving yourself a relentless stream of mini-panic attacks, so we made it just in time for the last series of shorts.

NewFilmmakersLA

NewFilmmakersLA

We saw four shorts: The Most Girl Part of You by Mark Cummins, Treibjagd by Christiane Hitzemann, Fardy (Odd) by Karmin Al-Shennawy, and Oblivion by Joe Wilka.

The Most Girl Part of You is about the relationship between childhood friends Jack and Kate, and how it is affected by the death of Jack’s mother and his subsequent behavior. It has a definite indie art-house feel and reminded me a bit of the Virgin Suicides, Garden State, Blue Valentine, and most recently Not Fade Away (particularly cinematographically for the latter).

The Most Girl Part of You, dir. Mark Cummins

The Most Girl Part of You, dir. Mark Cummins

 

Treibjagd is about a relationship between two hunters: a father and a daughter. It examines themes of power, control, and celebrity and is set against the backdrop of a pivotal hunt that serves as as rite of passage into the hunter’s circle for the daughter, naming her Hunting Queen. I didn’t even know that hunting such a rich culture and ranking hierarchy. (Being from Texas, maybe I should have, but I get the feeling hunting in Texas is more about shootin’ ’em down than particular prestige. Although, I could be wrong.) I had the pleasure of speaking with Christiane Hitzemann, the film’s writer and director, who expounded on the concept of a power struggle between the young new-comer and the seasoned pro and the challenges in exploring this schema within thirteen minutes. The fact that this power struggle occurs between a father and a daughter (whereas usually these struggles are portrayed between father-son or mother-daughter relationships) is particularly interesting to me, but I’ll talk about my thoughts regarding this in another post.

Treibjagd, dir. Christiane Hitzemann

Treibjagd, dir. Christiane Hitzemann

Fardy (Odd) is a situational comedy about a Adel, Christian Egyptian doctor, who, upon returning to his apartment building after a long day’s work, finds that the building managers have finally fixed the elevator – complete with a pre-recorded Islamic prayer that plays over and over and over. While his neighbors are delighted with this new acquisition, Adel is clearly perturbed and in such a state of anxiety that he wets himself. At first, I didn’t understand what was so funny or intense about a Christian having to listen to an Islamic prayer in an elevator. In this day and age, I just couldn’t imagine for the life of me anyone who is not a religious fanatic or extremist getting all bent out of shape over differences in religion. Of course, I am well aware that religious tensions and persecutions are a reality in many countries, and not least of all in predominantly Muslim countries, but I didn’t realize tensions were so high in Egypt.

Fardy, dir. Karim Al-Shennawy

Fardy, dir. Karim Al-Shennawy

As with anything that I don’t know enough about but am taken with, I decided to do a little research. Clearly, I’d been living under a rock. Egypt’s new political leadership under Mohammed Morsi is far more conservative and discriminatory against non-Muslims than I apparently had initially understood. This article from ecumenicalnews.com  provides an inside look into Christian-Muslim relations in Egypt today. What can I say, people are crazy and the world is going to hell in a handbasket.

Oblivion explored a hypothetical situation where a man with Dissociative Identity Disorder burglarizes his parents house and is caught by a woman claiming she is his sister. Director Wilka said he had wanted to play with the idea to see if it could be made into a feature, and I can certainly see that this concept would lend itself to a full-length action film.

Oblivion, dir. Joe Wilka

Oblivion, dir. Joe Wilka

All in all, New Filmmakers LA was a informative night out, and I’m very happy to have discovered this new Los Angeles gem! Yay new filmmakers! I must be honest and say that I initially had my reservations about attending when I realized it was in downtown Los Angeles (traffic! parking! I’d rather stay home and watch reruns of the Kardashians – you can read about my feelings on the Kardashians here – than deal with that), but to pleasant surprise it wasn’t bad at all.

Links to Photos:

Give Them One Of Yours

Vimeo

Moab Film Festival

New Filmmakers LA

Joe Wilka

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