Monday, June 18, 2012

Toronto Premiere

After a year and a half on the festival circuit, To Rest in Peace will finally have its Toronto premiere!

Screening at the Toronto Beaches Film Festival, on Saturday June 30th at 11:30AM. We are screening before the feature documentary, If I Should Fall.

It's been a good run. We've screened all over the world, including Cannes, Kuwait, Dubai, London, New York and Los Angeles, and won awards for writing, directing, cinematography, editing, music, audience choice, and best short film.

But this screening holds a special significance. The seed for To Rest in Peace was planted in Toronto, in 2005. Producer Josh Clavir and I had just finished our second collaboration, Her Music Led, an adaptation of John Keats' La Belle Dame Sans Merci. We sat talking about the adventure of making that small film in the woods of Caledon in the dead of winter, hauling HMIs with a wheelbarrow down a slippery slope, and standing for twelve hours in a foot of snow with the water seeping in to our cold, cold toes. It was during this meeting that we started sharing stories that had inspired us, that we thought would make great films 'one day.'

I told Josh about my uncle Malek, and his heroics during the Occupation of Kuwait, including how he buried two dead strangers by the side of the road. Years later, while doing my masters in film production at USC, I wrote a script, and that script became a thesis film. Josh flew down from Toronto, and spent a semester with me in Los Angeles, getting the movie made.

That 'one day' had arrived, To Rest in Peace was finished, and now, as we travelled the festival circuit and worked on other projects, we talked about premiering the film in Toronto 'one day.' Now that new 'one day' has arrived. It's June 30th. We hope to see you there.

Award at PCFMF

To Rest in Peace won at the Park City Film Music Festival, placing third in the short film category. Congratulations to our composer, Leah Curtis, and the talented team she brought on board.

The picture above is Leah (on the right) with festival director Leslie Harlow.

You can listen to two pieces from To Rest in Peace below, including Salamun Salam, which won 'best world song' at the Hollywood Music in Media Awards in 2010.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Park City Film Music Festival

To Rest in Peace is screening at the Park City Film Music Festival, on Tuesday, May 29th at 12:15pm, and Saturday, June 2nd at 3:15pm. You can purchase tickets online on their Festival Genius page.

Congrats to Leah Curtis, and the artists who brought her score to life! You can listen to the To Rest in Peace soundtrack online.

Leah was also recently nominated for two categories at the Hollywood Music in Media Awards, for her Exitus Roma song, 'Animal Vagula,' with vocalist Lisbeth Scott. Their previous collaboration, 'Salamun Salam' from the To Rest in Peace soundtrack, won 'Best World Song' in 2010. The award ceremony will be held on November 15th.

SHIFT Kuwait & May Festivals

To Rest in Peace has continued its festival run, screening at four events since the DGA in April.

We're honoured to have screened at SHIFT, a charity event that seeks to shift your perspective on Kuwaiti cinema. I had a chance to see most of these films on the festival circuit, and to meet some of the filmmakers. From all accounts, it was a successful evening, and I wish I could have been there to celebrate.

We also screened with a showcase of USC films at the Newport Beach Film Festival, a few miles away from where we shot most of To Rest in Peace (at El Toro Airfield).

Our Italian premiere happened in Naples, with the Social World Film Festival. 

And we went back to the mountains for the Lake Arrowhead Film Festival in California.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Awards at the DGA

To Rest in Peace screened at the Directors Guild of America yesterday, with a showcase of USC films.

We took home the Fotokem bronze award, and the First Look audience award. Congrats to the cast and crew!

Congrats also to John Dion, our 1st A.D., whose thesis film Cupid won the faculty award for best screenwriting.

And thanks to everyone who came out and made it such a special night.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

First Look 2012

To Rest in Peace is going full circle back to the University of Southern California for the First Look Festival.

Our screening will be at 2PM on Saturday, April 14th. Admission is free, but you should RSVP to hold a spot.

Two other thesis films I worked on are also screening at First Look. John Dion's Cupid, a comedy I edited, is screening at 5PM on Saturday. And Cat Youell's The Mischievous Case of Cordelia Botkin, a historical drama I produced, is playing the following day, at 3:45PM on Sunday. (John was the 1st AD on To Rest in Peace, and Cat was one of the producers).

Looking forward to watching some films I've been wanting to watch for some time, and re-watching others I've seen and enjoyed. Should be a good First Look! See you there.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Interview at Mizna's Twin Cities Arab Film Festival

Here's an interview I did for Martha Low and Ismail Ouassaddine while at Mizna's Twin Cities Arab Film Festival.

Mizna's was one of the best experiences I had on the festival circuit. Lana Barkawi, Rami Azzazi, Marya Morstad, and their team played excellent hosts, and I met a lot of very talented filmmakers, including Tania Khalaf and David Hamilton, who have been supportive allies ever since.

I often get asked about festivals in terms of what possible deals you might get out of them. Sell your film, sell your feature, get an agent, etc. But though To Rest in Peace has been very fortunate, the best rewards you get are the people you meet along the way.

One such ally is Lisa Robertson, who I met at the Breckenridge Film Festival with her short film Commerce. Lisa made a big impact on Exitus Roma. She gave notes on an early draft, helped us find our leading lady, Teri Reeves, and gave notes on an early cut that led to a lot of positive changes. The best aspect of the festival circuit is the opportunity to do better work, by seeing other films, and meeting very talented filmmakers.

To Rest in Peace continues its festival run, on its own momentum. I've shifted focus onto Exitus Roma, and other projects on the horizon, but will continue to update the blog until my new, not project-specific blog is up and running.