|Posted by email@example.com on May 10, 2017 at 10:05 AM|
"MWAH" Keeps the Hugs & Kisses Coming!
2017 Rochester International Film Festival Follow Up
By Christine G. Adamo
ABOVE: Iranian Filmmaker Sara Soheili at the Rochester Int'l. Film Festival (NY) and at the WorldFest in Houston (TX).
It's no wonder it's the longest-running, continually-held, short film festival ... in the world!
Over a long weekend, the 59th Annual Rochester International Film Festival enthralled throngs of eager movie goers from Rochester and beyond. Held April 20-22, 2017, at George Eastman Museum’s famed Dryden Theatre, it boasted near-capacity crowds at four distinct screenings and extended-stay visits from filmmakers and crew members representing cities or towns across the U.S., Canada, China, Iran, Israel and Spain.
One particular highlight was the bittersweet short film “MWAH” (12 min.).
Written and directed by Sara Soheili, who hails from Tehran, “MWAH” tackles the topic of untimely pregnancy with wit, wisdom and compassion. This was her first film venture as a Director and, she says, RIFF was the first U.S. festival to screen it. Maybe that’s why, since leaving Rochester on Sun., April 23, Soheili has kept in touch with area fans via Facebook, SnapChat and email—shooting off emoji hugs and kisses with regularity.
In the time since, she has visited L.A. and gone on to accept a 2017 Platinum Level Remi Award at WorldFest Houston. That’s a feat in itself, given that roughly 15% of all films selected into that festival receive juried awards like that one. She’ll once again find an audience for “MWAH” next Fri., May 19, when the film screens as part of the D.C. Asian Pacific American Film Festival lineup being shown in our nation’s capital.
ABOVE: "MWAH" tackles the topic of untimely pregnancy with wit, wisdom and compassion. (image: Sara Soheili).
Yesterday, I asked Sara what she liked most about our local festival.
“What I liked most about the Rochester International Film Festival,” she told me, “is how wonderful the hosts (and organizing members) are. They arrange lots of great events, screen the winning films in a lovely theatre and give filmmakers time to talk about their films with audience members who are also very artistic.”
Soheili has shared her film at several festivals since arriving stateside.
Still, she insists, “MWAH” had its U.S. Premier in Rochester—often referred to as the birthplace of film, with its connections to George Eastman and Eastman Kodak Co. That got me wondering: How did it feel to see it up on the big screen under those conditions? And how did our audience’s reaction to the film affect her?
“The audience was large and offered the best reaction to my film so far,” she explained. “In Rochester, it was clear that people had feelings about my film. They truly connected with it. They also sometimes laughed during the screening. I liked that! It proved that I can make a dramatic film that uses comedy (successfully).”
“I hope to see you (all) again soon.” xo
ABOVE: Sara Soheili, of Tehran, breaks for dinner at Blu Wolf Bistro prior to her U.S. Premier. (photo by cga)
The feeling’s mutual, Sara. xo Same goes for the rest of this year's amazing talent!
Filmmakers who traveled from abroad to attend the Rochester International Film Festival included: David Sanz (“La Parada/The Stop,” Spain, 18 min.), Yaniv Segalovich (“An Average Story,” Israel, 18 min.), Tian Xie (“Promise,” China, 16 min.) and Jake Kovnat (“On Days Like These We Must Surf,” Canada, 8 min.)—a Rochester native who now lives and, yes, surfs in the Toronto area.
U.S.-based filmmakers who made the trek to Rochester to participate in the fest included: Kai Carlson-Wee (“Riding the Highline,” 16 min.), Alvaro Cognosto (“The Suitor,” 12 min.), Chris Fiorentini (“Generation Gap,” 11 min.), Ben Hartley (“Early Mourning,” 14 min.), Ivo Huahua (“Stutter,” 14 min.), Steve O’Reilly/Andy Ferguson (“Going Public,” 16 min.) and Conor Chandler Simpson (“Pounce,” 13 min.).
Want to interview a RIFF filmmaker? Contact us for a hook up!
SARA SOHEILI was born in Mashhad, Iran, and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from Islamic Azad University at Tehran. While completing her studies, she attended various Assoc. of Young Filmmakers workshops—honing her skills as an Actor, Cinematographer and Makeup Artist since the age of 19. She made “MWAH” in 2016, adding Film Production and Directing to her list of movie-based credentials.