IMMANUEL PORTUS WRITES- Purple and scarlet lights illuminated Stage 4’s facade at Sunset Las Palmas Studios during the event of New Filmmakers Los Angeles on October 6th, a film festival that aims to celebrate LA’s heritage and identity. Emerging creative voices such as LA filmmakers Rona Par and Mengfang Yang drew lines of excited guests, while legendary artists such as actor Steven Weber and singer Dylan Dunlap also helped fill the streets with an air of anticipation.
The event launched its screenings to a cheering crowd, stocked up on great company and cocktails, with 300 pairs of hands applauding in unison as the first film made its debut, heralding a night of uplifting messages of love and diversity in family, friendships, and life.
26 notable films were shown, including the following: Bedtime Story, by Rona Par; TV Head Guy, by Dan Dowding; Wednesday Night You’re Leaving on an Airplane, by director Mengfang Yang; and Lifted, by Julian Buchan.
Bedtime Story is told in the form of a mother’s bedtime story for her daughter about how their family moved to Los Angeles in search of greener pastures. Clever frame-by-frame animation helps to achieve the story’s dreamlike-quality. For example, palm trees are reimagined into pineapples, and Griffith Observatory is presented as a medieval castle. This artistically fine rendition of familial aspirations tugs at the hearts of all families in search of their dreams.
Wednesday Night You’re Leaving on an Airplane
Mengfang Yang’s short film, Wednesday Night You’re Leaving on an Airplane, features a young Chinese woman in Los Angeles who had just graduated from college and is now in a taxi headed to LAX to return to her native country. The story unfolds through her halting conversation with the driver in the car and through her phone call with her parents. The latter is persuading her that returning will secure her success as a banker in her family’s firm rather than staying to pursue her dreams as a creative artist in LA —thereby turning her back on the “H1B lottery”—and her dreams.
Lifted stars two characters, a jovial Asian driver and his impatient passenger, embroiled in an absurd argument on what makes driving more efficient. This clash, which takes place in the context of an ordinary event—a taxi ride— provides both comic relief and a realistic view of LA’s diverse cultural identities.
TV Head Guy
TV Head Guy ingeniously captures the sights and spirit of Los Angeles through the juxtaposition of several famous spots—including the ubiquitous Hollywood sign. The film creates a retrospective atmosphere through its 1970’s color grading and the iconic music video style of the times. Dan Dowding’s film further paints a panoramic view with montages that display LA beaches, skylines, monuments, and social functions. This gets to the heart of LA itself: Angelenos celebrating myriads of colorful traditions, backgrounds, and identities. It is no wonder it went home as the winner of the ‘Five-Minute Short’ category.
The New Filmmakers LA festival does more than showcase new talent in the creative visual arts— it promotes equality, diversity, and unity.