Find of the Week: SEAM Sci-Fi Short Film

by Tom Nguyen

One of my guilty pleasures is searching YouTube for sci-fi shorts to watch in my spare time, and I did plenty of it this past week, while in bed with the flu. Most are pretty mediocre and familiar riffs on themes that have been done before; which is why I was pleasantly surprised when I randomly happened upon “Seam”, and was instantly pulled into its world for the next 20 minutes: “In the not-too-distant future, a tenuous peace between humans and remarkably human-like “machines”—some don’t even know they’re not real—is tested when synthetics begin spontaneously exploding. A military-led search for these unwitting suicide bombers begins, sending a terrified machine woman and her human partner on the run.”

It’s rare to see a sci-fi film with a good combination of an original and compelling story with amazing visual effects…even rarer still to see one by filmmakers of color (written and directed by brothers Rajeev and Elan Dassani), taking place in the Middle East (mostly shot in Jordan), and featuring protagonists speaking Arabic (Israeli actor Oded Fehr and Jordanian actor Rakeen Saad). The film puts a different twist on the meaning of ‘suicide bomber’ and at its heart, is a love story about a couple devoted to each other against all odds. I would love to see the Dassani brothers fulfill their vision of turning their short film into a feature length movie. Watch the film below and go to their site to support their efforts.

LA Film Fest 2015: 15 Films to Watch

15 Film Picks
by Tom Nguyen

The 21st Annual Los Angeles Film Festival (LAFF) opened last night at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live and runs through June 18. Looking at the list of films, I had to do a double take: there are a lot more documentaries and foreign cinema than ever before, my two favorite film genres! The LAFF site says they’ve made a new effort this year to include a “diverse selection of documentary films from around the world; and a smaller round-up of exceptional international films” and festival director Stephanie Allain made it a personal mission to make sure this was the most diverse festival yet: “About 40 percent of the films [at LAFF] are directed by women, and 35 percent by filmmakers of color,” Allain tells NBC News. “That doesn’t just happen…I so believe in this and the difference it makes in the lives of so many artists…We want to be the change we’re looking for. That is our mission.”

I recently attended a talk at CSULA Pan-African American Studies department featuring Selma director, Ava DuVernay, who said it’s absolutely vital to have more diverse perspectives in film-making and it’s heartening to see a big festival like LAFF setting a visible example showcasing films by women and people of color. After the preview are 15 films I want to see with summaries provided by LAFF. There are also free screenings at nearby FIGat7th and Metro Union Station and a free cultural event Guangzhou Traditional Arts Extravaganza hosted by Sister Cities of LA. Find a printable festival schedule here.

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