Two Columbia Films Screen at Austin Film Festival 2020
BY Felix van Kann, October 15, 2020
The 27th edition of the Austin Film Festival is coming up with two films by Columbia filmmakers included in the virtual line up. The Catch, a feature film written and directed by alumnus Matthew Ya-Hsiung Balzer '15, co-produced by alumnus Christopher Laszlo '13 and with alumnus JP Wakayama Carey '14 serving as DP, alumna Keola Racela '15 as Additional Editor and alumnus Andy Fortenbacher '15 as Assistant Editor, will screen as part of the Feature Film competition. Home, a short film written and directed by student Adewale Olukayode and produced by alumnus Jungyoon Kim '20, alumna Najah Diop '20 and student Henry Arroyo, will also screen at the festival that runs from October 22 - 29.
The Catch was awarded Faculty Honors at the 2015 Columbia University Film Festival. In the film, a troubled woman returns to her estranged family in coastal Maine. With her lobsterman father caught up in a turf war at sea, she and an ex-boyfriend make plans to hijack local drug runners. Conceived as a "western on the water," Balzer based his story on personal experiences, and regional reporting of territory disputes among lobstermen. The film will stream virtually starting on October 22nd and Balzer is also set to appear as a panelist in the session From Competition to Career.
Olukayode’s Home is about Femi, a Nigerian immigrant who works as a manager at a grocery store in Brooklyn. One night, he is informed by a fellow manager that his older brother, Adeola, has stolen a large sum of cash during his shift as a cashier. The short has been on a successful festival run, recently winning the Grand Prize for Best Narrative Film at the March On Washington Film Festival and screening at the Woodstock Film Festival. Olukayode also received a DGA student film award for Home.
Writer and director Matthew Ya-Hsiung Balzer began writing screenplays while working in a bakery after dropping out of college. The pursuit of a hands-on filmmaking education took him to Los Angeles, where he took every job he could get on a film or TV set. His feature script for The Catch received recognition at numerous film festival competitions. Balzer lives in Brooklyn with his partner and their son.
Adewale Olukayode is a writer, director, educator and comedian from New York and Nigeria. His films address themes of justice, transformation and healing, and are influenced by African cinema, which he spoke passionately about at the College de France as a guest lecturer. His directing work has been nominated for two 2014 NY Emmy Awards, including We are One, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival at their Youth Initiative. He is working on his first feature, East New York, which won the Princess Grace Award.