FILM FUTURA ’21 COHORT 

Ajay Ram

Brooklyn, NYC

Filmmaker, Programmer & Musician

Ajay Ram is a non binary filmmaker and musician from The Bronx, NY. They’re also the co-founder and lead programmer of Upside Film Festival, a nomadic microcinema based in Harlem. As a kid, Ajay’s dreamed of being a theme park designer, and chaotic imagination is what they’ve carried into their art. Inspired by Kathleen Collins, John Carpenter, Missy Elliott, and Jack Kirby, Ajay aspires to create cinema that explores both the gooey textures of the unknown and the tender interiority of Blackness. Film as a quantum gumbo. Storytelling as a vessel for their aunties’ memoirs.

FILM FUTURA FINAL PROJECT:

‘curation as care.’ is a discussion I had with my mom, on her relationship with cinema as both a child of Harlem in the 1950s, and a public school teacher of the South Bronx in the 1970s

Àngel

Bowie, MD

Visionary Wordsmith & Revolutionary

Àngel is a visionary wordsmith and revolutionary. Their artistic mediums of writing and film aid in reifying their stories, dreams and imagination.

Àngel believes that art is a form of communication, as it is entertainment and propaganda. As a self-proclaimed D.I.T. (Do It Together) artist; they believe in the power of communal care and collaboration. Both are crucial in the foundations of building new, accessible, inclusive and sustainable structures, as current ones rooted in oppression begin to crumble.

Most renowned for their 2018 three-part visual zine series: “Vent About: Heartbreak”, this unconventional poetry zine illustrates their ability to merge different forms of art (visual, sonic, and poetry) to convey vulnerability, grief, and honesty. It also defies the status quo of grieving in silence.

Àngel’s work has been featured in collaborations with Homie House Press and P0STB1NARY. Their most recent visual poem, “Desire” was screened in “Filming From Elsewhere” at The Corner D.C. in May 2021. Àngel continues to use and experiment with various art forms aid in materializing their concepts.

FILM FUTURA FINAL PROJECT:

S P A C E” is an ongoing research audio-visual essay about the cultural and historical impacts of Black folks having access to spaces created just for them to safely exist in. This project also examines how crucial these spaces are to their survival.

Anna Maguire

London, England

Filmmaker, Actor, Educator & many other things

Anna’s directorial work has screened at festivals including TIFF, Palm Springs, PÖFF Black Nights and BFI London Film Festival where Your Mother and I was nominated for Best Short Film (2016). ‘Constellations’ screened internationally and ‘It’s Nothing’ premiered at TIFF (2019). As an actress, Anna plays a lead in ‘Violation’, which screened at TIFF (2020) and Sundance (2021).

She is currently writing her first feature ‘An Empty Space’ supported by BFI NETWORK and LIM run by Le Groupe Ouest, and was chosen as one of six projects at Sundance 2021’s inaugural Collective Kitchen. She is an Associate Screenwriting Lecturer at Birkbeck University, London.

FILM FUTURA FINAL PROJECT:

We believe art can change the world. Based on a sharing economy structure, ARTHOUSE aims to democratise space by connecting owners of second homes with early career artists.

ARTHOUSE allows artists space to dream, imagine and create. Alongside Sarah Maguire and Thomas Weißschnur, we are currently putting together the first iteration for 2022.

If you are an organisation or individual who might want to hear more and get involved, or you have access to a space you want to share with us, we would love to hear from you at [email protected]

Ària

glitch image with a black and white image of a person with gray skintone, curly black hair and rotated

ariella tai

Queens, NYC

Experimental Filmmaker & Video Editor

ariella tai (b. 1987 queens, nyc) is an experimental filmmaker, artist, video editor and independent programmer currently based in Portland, OR. tai is one half of “the first and the last,” a fellowship, workshop and screening series supporting and celebrating the work of black women and femmes in film, video and new media art.

They have shown work at Anthology Film Archives, Portland Institute For Contemporary Art, Northwest Film Center, Wa Na Wari, the Black Femme Supremacy Film Festival, MOCA and Smack Mellon, amongst others.

portrait of a person wearing a white t-shirt against a sandy brick wall

Carlos Mario

Aguadilla, Puerto Rico

Filmmaker & Editor

Carlos Mario is a Puerto Rican filmmaker and audiovisual artist who focuses on experimental film, documentary and video, often navigating the intersections of memory, fragmentation, and intimacy as agents of sense, future, and social change.

His award-winning short documentary, “Aquí” (2020), an intimate & affective exploration of Puerto Rican political protests, has screened at various film festivals across the Americas. He is currently working on post-production for his next short film, as well as editor on several Puerto Rican film productions.

ig: @carlosmarioooo

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Desirée de Jesús

Toronto, Canada

Video Essayist, Moving Images Curator & Assistant Professor

Desirée de Jesus is a video essayist and moving images curator whose digital projects concentrate on girls, women, and folks of color. Her previous curatorial work supported the Toronto International Film Festival and the Visual Collections Repository.

She is also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication and Media Studies at York University. Her teaching and research interests include the intersections of race, gender, and aesthetics in film and media through traditional, community-based, and curatorial methodologies.

Current projects include using experimental animation to reimagine Black girls’ resistance and participatory filmmaking to creatively interrogate racialized girls’ experiences of COVID-19 inequalities.

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Etima Ette-Umoh

Lagos, Nigeria

Writer & Filmmaker

She’s a dreamer <3

@etttma on instagram & twitter

hang

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Hankyeol Song

Chicago, IL / Korea

han-heung 한흥恨興 film & media collective – group of film and media makers who meet to study radical histories and theories of media and culture. Dedicated to developing a revolutionary politic that is corrosive to auteur-, Euro-, and male-centric notions of media. The collective offers a space to craft tools and language for oppositional praxis.

ZERO (a film, or series)- a nihilistic and self-absorbed young woman stumbles into an elaborate heist-revenge scheme organized by an underground militant feminist group. This is a story of female sociality, loss, and revolutionary struggle amidst the apocalypse.

Jeny Amaya

Jess Shakesprere

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JT Trinidad

Laguna, Phillipines

Filmmaker & Film Critic

JT Trinidad is a filmmaker and film critic. In 2020, he was mentored by acclaimed screenwriter Ricky Lee. His first documentary short as if nothing happened was screened in Marseille and Karlovac, winning 2nd Best Film, Best Screenplay, and Best Editing at the Gawad Sining Film Festival Philippines in 2020 and Best Cinematography at the FUSE Film Festival in Croatia in 2021.

It was also included in CNN Life Philippines’ list of Best Filipino Films of 2020. His other works have won the top prize in CineKabalen 2021 and finalists in Nespresso Talents and C1Minute Student Film Competition.

FILM FUTURA FINAL PROJECT:

Manila Baby: In the Philippines’s bustling dystopian capital, three individuals, each dealing with the loss of their loved ones, find their longing momentarily filled by Baby, a trans woman working as a replacement for other people.

As they all deal with their sadness through her, Baby starts grappling with her own yearning when she finds in her fourth client what she longs for: a nurturing father figure.

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Jawni Han

Korea

Filmmaker

Jawni Han was born in Seoul, and currently lives and works in Brooklyn. She received her BA in philosophy, and makes films to explore and communicate her philosophical interests.

Her films deal with various forms of specters from history that live among us, the destabilization of identity, and the possibility of non-linear experience of time through cinema.

Jawni’s formal approach, which combines experimental and narrative traditions, is one way she makes sense of her queer identity and works through the contradictions she encounters in her experience as a transfem.

Justin Nguyen

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Kanisha Williams

Occupied Tsalaguwetiyi Land / Alabama

Program Coordinator & Writer

Kanisha Williams (she/they) is the Program Coordinator for the Chicago Humanities Festival. She graduated from the University of Chicago, completing a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology.

They enjoy filmmaking, digital archiving, photography, and literary fiction. They adore comedy and enjoy writing romcom pilots and stand up sets in their spare time. They’re currently working on a coming-of-age pilot about mind-reading and burnout and a digital family photo archive.

Twitter: @kanishakwill

Instagram: kanishawilliams

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Layla Muchnik-Benali

Columbus, OH

Curatorial Assistant & Friend

layla (she & they) lives with their cat named Tooth in columbus, ohio. they are always looking for ways to connect with other living beings in a culture that demands everyone look out for themselves. right now that way of connecting is happening through the collective act of making, watching, sharing, and discussing movies and other moving image media.

layla’s other interests include farming/gardening, skincare & hair care, mindfulness, re-learning history thru radical lenses, and finding the perfect sheets/blanket/pillowcase combo for her bed.

@lylmb (instagram)

FINAL PROJECT:

For my project, I wrote a guided meditation based on Film Futura’s overarching themes of PAST, PRESENT, and FUTURE. I have only written the PAST and FUTURE sections, but hope to write the PRESENT section again soon.

Loy

portrait of person laying down in grass smiling with their eye closed and hand on their chest holding a covid-19 mask

Madu

Inland Empire

Creative Facilitator

Madu is a Socal native harnessing collective power to dreamscape within and beyond the screen. Currently, that’s manifesting in his role as creative facilitator of community engaged & co-created digital media projects as an Imagining America Joy of Giving Something Fellow.

Extended Reality, dance/movement direction, film, education are his current chosen sites of creative activation. He is finishing up film school at USC.

FILM FUTURA FINAL PROJECT:

My project was an exploration of a reimagined filmmaking site. I wondered if the actual site of creation could feel radical – if it could feel restful, educational, renewing.

I started reading Geneva Gay’s Culturally Responsive Education and transposed the ideas onto filmmaking set practices. What manifested were radical notes scribbled in my notebook and a burgeoning interest at the intersection of media and education.

I have not had the chance to further grow or practice ideas as it relates to film sets – but my media projects, now have an educational praxis. Here’s a link to the projects I’m currently working on.

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Mariam Zaidi

Tkaronto/Toronto

Storyteller & Film Programmer

Mariam Zaidi is a filmmaker and film programmer based in Tkaronto/Toronto whose films touch on themes of migration, displacement, labor justice, and community organizing.

She currently holds the position of Associate Programmer at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, International Programmer at Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, and Executive Director of Breakthroughs Film Festival.

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Marian Fragoso

Tijuana, BC, Mexico

Filmmaking Student & Aspiring Director

Marian Fragoso (they/them) is a lesbian filmmaker. Now based in Brooklyn, NY, they were born and raised in Tijuana, Mexico. With admiration, Marian spent their free time watching films: studying them for hours after watching them, trying to learn the process of filmmaking by watching videos online of behind-the-scenes footage.

Noticing patterns of representation in film of people of color and Queer people over the years, they have made sure all of their stories center Queer people of color in all of their existence. As an emerging filmmaker, they want to show stories of their communities without the traumatic element film has attached to their identities.

Although still a film student, they have self-produced, written, directed, and edited over ten micro and short films- and they hope to keep producing colorful and visually stunning films for and by their communities.

FINAL PROJECT:

I chose to do this project because of what Film Futura meant to me. Being in film school, I have questioned the crowds and people’s ideas within the film community- I felt like there was not a space/audience to talk about criticizing the history of cinema because of the academic setting.

Film Futura helped me realize those spaces do exist and that there are people that are interested in that as well as an audience for non-conventional stories of BIPoC.

This is a thank you to No Evil Eye for creating that space and a thank you to everyone in the cohort for opening those doors.

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Maryamo Ali

Columbus, OH

Student & Writer

Hello! My name is Maryamo Ali, and at my core, I am a storyteller. Ever since I can remember, I have been intrigued by the intricacies of storytelling. What is it that makes a story so captivating, so resounding that it gets passed down from generation to generation?

Currently, I am a student, but when I’m not studying or working, I strive to learn more about how I can further develop my writing so that I can create stories that captivate people like the stories that grabbed my attention so long ago and made me who I am today.

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Melaine Ferdinand-King

Brick, NJ

Ph.D. Candidate, Thinker & Organizer

Melaine received her B.A. in Sociology from Spelman College and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Africana Studies at Brown University. She teaches and engages in discussions on issues of race, culture, art, ethics, gender, and sexuality and received a certificate in Collaborative Humanities from the Cogut Institute.

In addition to her graduate efforts, she works in curation, archiving, and project management to develop alternative practices and spaces for interpersonal communication.

Following her Film Futura experience, Melaine is furthering her film studies by sharpening her skills in film critique, while also working on her own audiovisual essays.

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Mengwen Cao

Hangzhou, China

Photographer, Artist & Educator

Mengwen Cao is a photographer, artist and educator. Born and raised in China, they are currently based in New York. As a queer immigrant, they use care and tenderness to explore spaces between race, gender, and cultural identity.

As a board member of Authority Collective, they are championing diverse narratives and perspectives in the media industry. Their projects have been featured in publications like Aperture, The New York Times, NPR.

They have participated in international exhibitions like Photoville and Jimei Arles. They were recognized by PDN 30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch in 2019 and World Press Photo 6×6 Asia Talent in 2020.

FINAL PROJECT:

Playground Radio is a self-preservation project that centers around vulnerability and play. In this multimedia diary started during COVID-19, I’m embedding my inner dialogues and cultural influences into self-portraits to unflatten layers of identity and reflect on what’s happening politically and in society. Mixing audio from friend’s voice memo and field recording from my neighborhood invites viewers to enter my mental space.

Turning the lens inward is my quiet resistance against violence and discrimination. I use image creation to cultivate a safe space where I place tender gaze at myself for the first time.

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Micah Torey Parker

Clermont, Florida

Creative Writer

Micah Torey Parker is a senior at the University of Central Florida majoring in Creative Writing. They are currently researching how visual and literary expressive formats conjugate, or shift black spirituality through cinematic expression. Looking to the black conscious in its movement from, out of, and through black creative expression of being and diaspora.

Twitter/IG: @micahtparker

FILM FUTURA FINAL PROJECT:

Love lost in the precarity of time, Heartache in Remission reflects on how dysfunctional carnal desires become when emotional productions in codependent relationships warrant unease. It’s the fungibility of labor, the dispossession of mutuality, and the upheaval of interest that creates a dialectic between the conscious self and the unimaginable. Where tenderness isn’t enough to fill a void that love can’t fix.

Heartache in Remission is a literary visual body of work that’s spiritually driven to embark the reproduction of self through grief and experience. Spiritually working to alleviate the psyche from traumatization that lives on in the afterlife of this book.

nala haileselassie

Toronto born and raised/Tigrayan

Filmmaker,Painter, Illustrator & Truthseeker

nala haileselassie (she/her) is an independent artist and filmmaker based in toronto, ontario. alternating between narrative and documentary formats, her work focuses on themes of memory, tigrayan identity and afrofuturism. She wishes to use her art as a tool for collaboration, discussion and liberation.

IG: @nalathalion

FILM FUTURA FINAL PROJECT:

WILL YOU REMEMBER US? ~to the lost daughters of ashenda. your song in our hearts forever. your dance guiding us to the light~ my personal response to the ongoing state-sponsored genocide against ethnic tigrayans in ethiopia. the ongoing crisis has taken the lives of thousands of tigrayan women and girls.

please follow these hashtags for more information: #justice4tigrayswomenandgirls #tigraygenocide + check out https://omnatigray.org/ for actions.

Omolola Ajao

Paige Wood

Detroit, MI

Producer, Screenwriter & Storyteller

Ajay Ram is a non binary filmmaker and musician from The Bronx, NY. They’re also the co-founder and lead programmer of Upside Film Festival, a nomadic microcinema based in Harlem. As a kid, Ajay’s dreamed of being a theme park designer, and chaotic imagination is what they’ve carried into their art. Inspired by Kathleen Collins, John Carpenter, Missy Elliott, and Jack Kirby, Ajay aspires to create cinema that explores both the gooey textures of the unknown and the tender interiority of Blackness. Film as a quantum gumbo. Storytelling as a vessel for their aunties’ memoirs.

FILM FUTURA FINAL PROJECT:

‘curation as care.’ is a discussion I had with my mom, on her relationship with cinema as both a child of Harlem in the 1950s, and a public school teacher of the South Bronx in the 1970s

Rama

Rhiana Chinapen

Tkaronto/Toronto, Canada

Filmmaker, Wanderer, Seeker & Dancer

Rhiana is a crossroads of peoples and places, currently settled in Tkaronto/Toronto. A filmmaker intrigued by systems of meaning, she practices playing with, understanding, and cultivating our stories. Topics of interest include intimacy, vulnerability, sexuality, movement, the body, the cosmos, and freedom. Her life’s work is truth and justice, partly pursued as a video consultant to the global movement of informally employed workers. She is an anxious traveler who has lived, breathed, and danced on five continents. Rhiana has a BA in International Relations and Political Science, a MA in Communication, and studied film via SAW Video.

FILM FUTURA FINAL PROJECT:

enGaze (2021) from Rhiana Riolama on Vimeo.

Dance and film have often woven together in my life. Gathering the Film Futura quotes that deeply resonated with me, I found an old truth waiting: like capoeira, like kizomba, like many things, film is a conversation. And we are endlessly conversing, with ourselves and each other, through space and time.

I chose “enGaze” as the title for this project-reflection to denote action and reciprocity – a desire to interact with the “gaze” as we might engage in conversation. Or invite a stranger to dance. The closing text can be read as a manifesto, outlining conflict and intent for our times.

Rosemary Vinod

Allentown, PA

Film Director, Writer & Producer

Currently, I am a film fellow collaborating on a feature documentary which details the haunting legacy of urban renewal in my hometown, Allentown. I attend Muhlenberg College and am pursuing a double major in Film and Business. After Film Futura, I am in the process of developing my debut feature screenplay.

@rd_venom

Sharon Rwakatungu

Kampala, Uganda

Screenwriter & Podcaster

Sharon Rwakatungu is a writer and podcaster based in Uganda. She is the founder and host of the @cinemaredpillUG podcast where she has in-depth discussions and critical analysis about classic and contemporary films from Africa and around the world. Sharon is also a contributing writer for the web publication @cinemaescapist where she writes about African cinema. Sharon is currently writing an experimental short film script titled ‘Do you have sleep’. She is also working on writing a video game!

FINAL PROJECT:

This is my favourite quote from the film futura class, a page from the guidebook I made as my final project.

Shukri

a library worker in a flyover state. a documentarian. an aries at war with the archive.

FINAL PROJECT:

Ma. Sophia Sibal

Quezon City, National Capital Region

Film Producer

Ma. Sophia Sibal is an independent filmmaker from the Philippines. As a founder of “Freecut Productions” and producer, she dedicates her time to support films and filmmakers with diverse backgrounds in the Philippines, choosing to champion LGBTQ+ filmmakers, female filmmakers, and regional filmmakers.

Since 2019, she has produced a few short films which have been featured and awarded in various local and international independent film festivals. This includes “Boom Tiyaya”, which garnered almost 2 Million views across various social media platforms, and “as if nothing happened”.

@miss_SOPHIA

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