9th Annual Thesis Showcase Films

September 24, 2019
9th Annual Thesis Showcase Films
Celebrate the graduates of School of VISUAL ARTS MFA Social Documentary Film with the 9th Annual Thesis Showcase. We are proud to celebrate GROUP 9, the class of 2019! Here we share their work-in-progress thesis films, which inspire and amaze us!
Filmmakers will be present, and Q&As will follow each screening. All screenings are free & open to the public. RSVP here. Email mfasocdoc@sva.edu with questions, to request a print brochure, or to contact any of our filmmakers.

★Thesis Showcase Spotlight
Selected filmmakers have the opportunity to share their films with a group of documentary Industry Advisors who can potentially help further their projects – and careers. In addition, these filmmakers will receive career strategy consultations. Industry Advisors include: Dominic Davis, programmer, Rooftop Films
;  Michelle Hamada, Manager, Documentary & Scripted Programs, Tribeca Film Institute; Chris Hastings, executive producer, World Channel; Marcie Hume, senior executive producer, A&E
; and Mona Panchal, producer, (Losers, Netflix).

Thursday, Sept. 26
6:30pm - Her Brand of Humor
director: Yuting Lei
length: 30 minutes Everyone has dreams of what they want to be, or who they want to become. Some people want to be lawyers; others want to entertain. But why choose just one? Andrea Coleman's journey from lawyer to actor and comedian shows the path to one’s dream is not always so direct. And, what we experience along the way becomes fodder for the work, leading to the creation of things excitingly unique and unexpected.
7:30pm - Mom Yong Benjawan
director: Padcha Ithijarukul
length: 60 minutes A filmmaker’s poetic personal journey discovering the life of her mother, Benjawan Ithijarukul. After surviving Thailand's Thammasat University Massacre in in 1976, Benjawan’s radical ideals pushed her outside of mainstream life for a while. And upon her return to career and family, she worked to impart these values to others.
8:50pm - Lolita Anyways
director: Naijie Wang
length: 60 minutes Choose a life. Choose a job (that you like). Choose a career (that leads you to success). But first, choose an outfit that shows who you really are. Focusing on three women who refuse to dress like “normal people”, Lolita Anyways is a film not only about Lolita fashion (neo-Victorian edgy street wear originating in Harajuku, Japan), but also the growing pains of Millennials in China. Surviving school, starting a business, fighting against cyberbullying and body shaming, these sugar-coated female fighters are never afraid of being who they are.

Friday, Sept. 27

6:30pm - The Old Dragon Bay  ★Thesis Showcase Spotlight
director: Chenyu Kou
length: 34 minutes Longwan Village was built in China’s Stone Forest over 2200 years ago. Here, the Yellow River curves fiercely, so the locals named it “Old Dragon Bay”. Rui is the last craftsman making traditional sheepskin rafts, and ferrying passengers and out of this valley slung between impassible cliffs. Rui’s son-in-law wants to take on the family trade, but is it time to move on from this dangerous way to make a living?
7:30pm - Go Through The Dark  ★Thesis Showcase Spotlight
director: Yunhong Pu
length: 90 minutes Guanglin, an 11-year-old blind boy, has become an unexpected champion of the ancient strategy game Go. Guanglin’s talent was not only admired, but also coveted. As Guanglin pursues his ambition to become a professional Go player, he and his single father travel thousands of miles across China in search of those that will help; finding some allies, but also many difficulties including fraud, mistrust, and father-son conflicts.


Saturday, Sept. 28

3pm - Shadow Practice
director: Esfandiar Aban
length: 45 minutes Mohammad Rashnonezhad, a young Iranian judo phenomenon, starts a new life after defecting from the Iranian national team and seeking asylum in the Netherlands. At the dawn of an unfamiliar chapter in the judo champion’s life, he rebuilds his identity in a strange land. Through this rebirth, Rashnonezhad is alone, but the hope of championship in the new Refugee Olympic Team for judo in Tokyo 2020 is stronger than this loneliness.

4:15pm - If the Island Could Talk
director: Kate Fisher
length: 25minutes A mile off the coast of Boston Harbor lies tiny Peddocks Island. Its tight-knit, working-class community has passed down their humble cottages since the 1800s. Now, the state has claimed the island for parkland, and the current generation is the last to own their beloved retreats. This is a sentimental look at the islanders' efforts to maintain family traditions, while anticipating the inevitable end.
5pm - Before He Starts
director: Xin Fang
length: 23 minutes “Bison and Crane” is Zhang Hongtu's first painting in a while; his inspiration rediscovered exploring the Tallgrass Praries of Kansas, and rejuvenated by being a grandfather. Even after spending the last 30 years as an artist in the U.S., Hongtu’s early life in China and the push-pull of East and West continues to be an influence. Sensitive yet subtle, the film explores the relationship between nature and people, and Hongtu’s desire to stay curious.

short break
6pm – Dumas  ★Thesis Showcase Spotlight
director: Olivia Garzon
length: 38 minutes Dumas Mora, aging oral poet and cultural icon of Ecuador’s Manabí region, grows fatally ill. The slow death of this artist, whose words touched the hearts of an entire province, provokes a transformation not just in the people closest to him, but in the place itself. Now, the entire community confronts his death; and the loss of the mysticism and artistry which Dumas suffused into the world.
7pm - Runaway Mime  ★Thesis Showcase Spotlight
director: Yuxing Guo
length: 33 minutes Sunteck Yao’s passion for performance is palpable as he roams the streets. With white face paint and striped outfits, this unconventional mime from Taiwan creates a gregarious personality; his free-style performances engaging unwitting pedestrians. But, behind the make-up, he’s attempting to understand his past. Sunteck takes us through his creative development to his workshops educating a new generation about the art of mime. 
8pm - Made in Paradise  ★Thesis Showcase Spotlight
director: Yang Yang
length: 34 minutes As his idyllic homeland turns into an imagined paradise for outsiders, Balinese artist Made Bayak reveals the other side. Using plastic as a medium, Made's creative language and education activism bring us on a ride from the holy peaks, sacred waters and his religious family life, all the way to the luxurious resort zones - questioning the state of Balinese culture in Bali’s mass tourism development.
9-11pm - Filmmakers' Reception
Double Life
director: Tianyang Cong
There are a group of people who work at the terminal of human being’s life. In the crematorium, they witness sadness and death and they say farewell to those who passed away. When they get off of work and take off their uniforms, what kind of life are the they living? This is their double life.

Dance is My Dictionary
director: Kondwani Banda
Shanyah Watts, a budding dancer at Howard University is an ambitious young Black woman in America, attempting to define herself in the face of many complex constraints. As she pushes beyond setbacks Shanyah perseveres and eventually basks in the light of her talents. A powerful chronicle of contemporary Black life & culture, this film hopes to add to the growing understanding of what it means to be Black today.
Sherpa Ram
director: Hong Shanjia
A young Tibetan pursues his both dreams of joining the traditional dance troupe of his village, and the decidedly modern local hip hop culture. While on a pilgrimage, on skateboard, to the dragon of the lake, an injury puts things in a different perspective.