Columbia Filmmakers Head to the Austin Film Festival
BY Felix van Kann, October 30, 2019
A number of films by Columbia filmmakers are screening at this year’s Austin Film Festival. The festival started last week and will run through October 31.
Chosen, a pilot directed by alumnus Daniel Pfeffer '18, written and produced by alumnus Michael Goitanich '18, and produced by alumna Ewing Luo '18, will screen in the Scripted Digital Series Competition. It recently won the awards for Best Actress and Best Cinematography at the Catalyst Content Festival in Minnesota. Chosen tells the story of a young Hasidic woman living in Brooklyn who discovers a dark family secret after the disappearance of her father and the return of her estranged uncle.
Daniel Pfeffer is an award winning Mexican-American screenwriter, director, and producer from Ithaca, New York. He holds an MFA in Screenwriting and Directing. Michael Goitanich is an award-winning writer, producer and graduate of Columbia University’s MFA film program in screenwriting and producing, where he produced six short films, one feature film, and wrote and produced Chosen. Ewing Luo is a producer and actress whose long-term goal is to bridge the gap between Asia and America in business and the arts. She was an International Emmy Award winner for the “Women Peacemaker” category of the year 2017 and was named a "30 Under 30" by Forbes China, recognized as one of the most influential young professionals under the age of 30 in the entertainment category.
Still from Turtle, written and directed by alumnus Matt Kenchington '13
Turtle, written and directed by alumnus Matt Kenchington '13, had its premiere as part of Family Programming: Shorts For All Ages last Sunday and will show again on Tuesday, October 29. In Turtle, Bruno’s only goals were to avoid his chores and stay cool while awaiting the sweet jingle of the ice cream truck.
Still from Nowhere to Nun, directed by current student Austin Hsieh and co-written by alumna Leticia Akel '18
Nowhere to Nun, directed by current student Austin Hsieh and co-written by alumna Leticia Akel '18, also screened at the festival in the Shorts Program 3: To Freedom! Premiering last Friday, the film tells the story of two nuns who go on the run when they discover they are about to be sent to a retirement home.
Originally from Boston, Austin Hsieh is a writer and director who got his start in filmmaking in the camera and music departments. Most recently, he wrote and directed When the Sun Bleeds, a U.S.-Iceland co-production, and Nowhere to Nun, a Boston-NYC production. Leticia Akel Escárate is a Chilean screenwriter and producer.
Bye Bye Body, written and directed by current student Charlotte Benbeniste and produced by current student Barbara Twist, screened on Monday, October 28 also in the Shorts Program 3: To Freedom! category. The film follows Nina who, when failing to meet her goal at weight loss camp, makes a deal with the devil, only to discover a new understanding of her body.
Charlotte Benbeniste is a writer and director from Los Angeles. Her first film, June, starred Lola Kirke, and her short documentary Take You Down To about the Cowgirls of Color premiered on Nowness in 2017. Barbara Twist is a filmmaker based in New York City. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Creative Producing at Columbia University. Her most recent film, Articulate, screened as part of the University of Michigan’s 3C-Screens Bicentennial Celebration.
According to the festival’s website, “Austin Film Festival furthers the art and craft of filmmaking by inspiring and championing the work of screenwriters, filmmakers and all artists who use the language of film to tell a story. Known as the ‘Writers Festival,’ AFF recognizes the writer as the core of the creative process in filmmaking since 1993.”