By Marivir R. Montebon
New York City – Yasmin Mistry’s America Heard: Refuge of Hope was the first in the twelve selections of the recently concluded 8th Annual International Short Film Festival of the Metropolitan College of New York in downtown Manhattan.
It is a five-minute documentary about the fear of a refugees who have found home in Syracuse in upstate NY upon the election of Pres. Donald Trump in November last year.
Mistry, an Emmy-nominated director and writer based in Brooklyn, presented in a crisp and gentle manner the anxieties of an uncertain future of a predominantly Muslim community through women leaders Habiba Boru from Ethiopia and Khadijo Abdulkadir of Somali.
The film’s message of fear is balanced by optimism by which they can have control of, and that is “to spread, peace, love, and unity in the midst of the negative messages,” according to Habiba. America Heard: Refuge of Hope comes across as utterly relevant, brave, and masterfully edited.
The MCNY film fest which had for its theme “Film Globally, Think Locally” was an exciting mix of narratives on politics, alcoholism, homosexuality, youth, family relationships, and being stuck in a haunted house. It was spearheaded by the MBA Media Management Program that garnered, aside from within the US, 15 international submissions – from the Middle East, the Caribbean, France, and Japan for its April 7 festival.
Kim Lodington’s Off Road/Off Line is a revelation of how four millennial teenagers can go crazy without WIFI. Filmed in Australia, it lightheartedly presents the youth as helpless when lost in the wilderness without an internet reception.
In the Paint by Ashton Pina of Los Angeles deals with NBA draftee Kollin who has to decide whether or not to continue with his gay relationship vis-a-vis his professional career.
Peter Halpin’s Narcan portrays the difficulties of an Irish paramedic in New York whose duty is to save lives that are in extreme peril in the city everyday while trying to manage and save his own family’s fractured relationship.
Program director Paula Landry said that the MBA department provides the practical tools to dreamers to see their creative projects come to life. “Making films, like all creative pursuits, requires planning, encouragement, and strategy in order to achieve success. And that is what we teach, demonstrate, and share with students as they are doing it.”
All the indie films presented at the 8th film fest had a strong grip of their key message and possess the ‘bragging rights’ of a pro, in terms of editing, cinematography, and musical score.
Submissions for 2017 are open to alumni of MCNY as well as the public at large. The college, founded by Audrey Cohen in 1964, believes that through films, “the world gets smaller when our stories expand our understanding of all that we share, no matter our differences.” (Featured photo Habiba Boru in the film America Heard: Refuge of Hope, directed by Yasmin Mistry)