NFMLA Fights Ageism With Moving Stories of Time Lost and Found

NewFilmmakers Los Angeles celebrated counter-ageism cinema with stories of time lost and found, including films about a lonely grocery clerk who befriends an aging former actress, a newly divorced woman in Los Angeles, and civil rights leader Frances Pratt, a fighter for racial equality, voting rights and education.

The program started with InFocus: Counter-Ageism Shorts, a collection of films that tell stories of the joys, wisdoms and challenges of aging both in front of and behind the camera. The program continued with the Los Angeles premiere of writer-director Matthew Wade’s second feature film, A Black Rift Begins to Yawn, a surreal reality-blurring story of two scientists. The night concluded with Winter Shorts, a selection of vibrant narrative films which each explore the complexities, challenges and beauty of connecting with others.

NFMLA showcases films by filmmakers of all backgrounds throughout the year in addition to its special InFocus programming, which celebrates diversity, inclusion, and region. All filmmakers are welcome and encouraged to submit their projects which will be considered for all upcoming NFMLA Festivals, regardless of the InFocus programming.

 Here is some information on the filmmakers and their films, as well as their video interviews with NFMLA Board Chair Danny De Lillo (Twitter/Instagram: @dannydelillo).

“A Poem by Alba,” directed by Yoo Lee

About Yoo: Yoo is a writer/ director specializing in stop-motion animation. She had been a visual designer all of her adult life and has had some success as a fashion designer in NYC. Becoming a mother made her grow a big heart and resulted in her switching over to the animation industry. As a Film Independent Project Involve Fellow and a recipient of the Laika animation grant, she just completed directing her third animated short, “7LBS 8OZ.” She is a second-year MFA animation student at USC.

About “A Poem by Alba”: A story about loneliness, love and independence.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Yoo Lee, director of “A Poem by Alba”: 

“Of Hearts and Castles,” directed by RubEn Navarro

About RubEn: Born in Málaga, Spain, Rubén Navarro is a film director based in Los Angeles. His short film “Of Hearts and Castles” has been awarded a total of eight times and been an official selection 55 times around the world, including at Outfest LGBTQ Los Angeles, BFI Flare London and Palm Springs Shortfest. He is also a highly experienced editor. Ruben is currently editing the feature film Marco Polo. Ruben has two short films coming up: He just finished writing his new feature film, “Me, After You,” and currently he is developing a feature film based on this short. He is a 2018 Film Independent Project Involve Fellow.

About “Of Hearts and Castles”: A man deep in the throes of a breakup meets another man for a night in Los Angeles that will forever keep them connected.

Watch the NFMLA interview with RubEn Navarro, director of “Of Hearts and Castles”:

“The Pratt in the Hat,” directed by Susan Hillary

About Susan: Susan recently returned to filmmaking after a 20-year hiatus. She was the archival cinematographer on Studio 54, which opened at Sundance in 2019. In 1990, her first film, Ginger Ale Afternoon, opened at Sundance, and its soundtrack by Wille Dixon was nominated for a Grammy. At the 1995 Cannes Film Festival, Susan directed Cannes Man starring Seymour Cassel and featuring Johnny Depp, John Malkovich, and Treat Williams. In 2007, she co-directed Being Rapanui, a documentary funded by National Geographic. For 20+ years Susan produced and directed feature films, music videos and commercials independently and as head of production for Cineville International.

About “The Pratt in the Hat”: Beneath brims of hundreds of colorful hats, civil rights leader Frances Pratt is a woman of wisdom, humor and grace, whose pithy expressions punctuate her lifelong fight for racial equality, voting rights and education.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Susan Hillary, director of “The Pratt in the Hat”:

“Last Weekend,” directed by Mandy Fabian

About Mandy: Mandy directed The Young Hillary Diaries, Lifetime’s first digital series, and co-created the Amazon series Dropping the Soap, which won Jane Lynch an Emmy for Best Actress in a Short Form Original. She was chosen for the Sony Television Directing Program, named “Best New Filmmaker of the Year” by NewFilmmakers LA, and more recently, was selected as one of six directors to lead all-female crews for the Women’s Weekend Film Challenge. Currently, she’s in post on her first feature, Jess Plus None. Mandy lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Patrick Fabian, and their two daughters. For more info, visit

About “Last Weekend”: A distraught father fights for any shred of hope that his wife will stay with their family for one last weekend.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Mandy Fabian, director of “Last Weekend”:

A Black Rift Begins to Yawn, directed by Matthew Wade

About Matthew: Matthew Wade is an American writer, director, artist, composer, and animator based in the Pacific Northwest. His short films have all premiered in Oscar-qualifying competition and screened in festivals, from international to regional, throughout the world. Matthew studied Classical Animation before cutting his teeth as a freelance animator and illustrator in Los Angeles. Matthew and his wife/producing partner, Sara Lynch, moved back to the northwest to launch their production company, Sky Melt Film, in 2014 as they completed work on their first feature film, How the Sky Will Melt. This is their second feature film.

About A Black Rift Begins to Yawn: Two women work on a mysterious project that distorts their memories of time, place, and identity.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Matthew Wade, director of A Black Rift Begins to Yawn:

“Crumbs,” directed by Maya Zaydman

About Maya: Maya studied film at Minshar TLV, and was a development manager and script producer for the drama department of Abot Hameiri (Fremantle Israel). She was also a script developer and producer for the HBO series Our Boys (2019), and her documentary thesis film Self Deception Artist (2014) has aired on Yes Docu.

About “Crumbs”: One night, Noa and Yoel’s relationship cracks, ending with the revelation of an untold secret.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Maya ZaydmanZara Dwinger, director of “Crumbs”:

Sophie in Hollywood (Episodes 1, 2 & 4),” directed by Marya Mazor

About Marya: Marya is an award-winning and critically acclaimed director of theater and film. Mazor’s February 2020 production of Fun Home won the Ovation Award for Best Production of a Musical. She also recently directed the web series Sophie in Hollywood (now on the Asian American Movies channel). Her productions have received Los Angeles Times Critic’s Pick designations, Ovation Award Nominations, and Stage Raw Award Nominations. Her AFI Directing Workshop for Women short film “The Winged Man” was lauded at festivals worldwide. She holds an MFA from the Yale School of Drama and has taught at USC, Pepperdine University, Fordham University and Chapman University.

About Noreen: After working in the industry for several years as an actor and being in a lot of films, Noreen wanted to write stories that are real, authentic and relevant. She noticed there aren’t enough stories about women 40 and over, especially those who are American-born Chinese. She wanted to write a story that doesn’t depict the stereotypical Chinese and deals with universal themes in life. “Sophie in Hollywood” is her writing debut and shows how we reinvent ourselves through seasons of life. Whilst it has humor, it addresses real issues such as the struggle of tradition and expectations through the relationship between the mother and daughter.  It’s a story of identity, propriety and empowerment.

About “Sophie in Hollywood (Episodes 1, 2 & 4)”: A newly divorced woman begins her life in L.A. pursuing her dream whilst navigating single life after 20 years of marriage and an unexpected visit from her mother.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Marya Mazor, director, and Noreen Lee, writer and producer of “Sophie in Hollywood (Episodes 1, 2 & 4)”: 

“A Bitter Fruit,” directed by Ryan Weatrowski

About Ryan: A Polish and Mexican writer and director of surreal horror and dark fantasy, currently based in New York City, from Southern California.

About “A Bitter Fruit”: Sisters Wren and Eileen are orphans, still living in the secluded vacation home where their parents killed each other.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Ryan Weatrowski, director of “A Bitter Fruit”:

“The Cocktail Party,” directed by Jessica Sanders

About Jessica: Jessica Sanders is an Oscar-nominated, Sundance and Cannes-Award winning filmmaker. Her work can be seen at

About “The Cocktail Party”: A cocktail party turns into an unexpected martial arts action film.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Jessica Sanders, director of “The Cocktail Party”: 

“Lost Time,” directed by Jack Chapman

About Jack: Jack Chapman is an emerging directorial talent in documentary, influenced by both poetic and verité styles, whose work encourages introspective reflection on the human condition. Jack is currently in production on his first feature documentary Honest Without Fear, which was awarded funding by the Hessen Film Commission with a budget of $300,000, produced by Germany’s 4ReelDocs. Jack is looking for representation.

About “Lost Time”: When his wife dies, a 92-year-old’s saving grace is the brotherhood of his local bowls club, which is forced to close during the pandemic.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Jack Chapman, director of “Lost Time”:

“Good Men and Unicorns,” directed by Jake Ebright

About Jake: Jake Ebright is an Indian-American SAG-AFTRA actor based in Los Angeles. Though he is an actor first, Jake has a great love for all aspects of the moviemaking process, and would love to produce and direct more films in the future under the banner of his production company, Frontier Film Company LLC. He consistently trains in scene study at the Beverly Hills Playhouse and enjoys visiting his family and friends back home in Maryland.

About “Good Men and Unicorns”: A lonely grocery clerk finds an unlikely friendship with an aging former actress.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Jake Ebright, director of “Good Men and Unicorns”:


“Serious Matters in the Middle of the Night,” directed by Josh Copeland

About Josh: Josh Copeland is a filmmaker from Nashville, residing in Los Angeles. He is the founder of DIY-production-collective Giantkiller. Copeland’s work as a writer/director has screened at numerous festivals in the U.S., UK and Canada, including Cucalorus, Nashville Film Festival, and Another Hole In The Head. He was a finalist in the 2021 StudioFest Film Festival.  His work as an editor has been featured on MTV, Noisey, and Vevo, as well as in both nationally broadcast commercials and skippable ads on Youtube.

About “Serious Matters in the Middle of the Night”: In the near future, a rideshare driver falls into a subculture of digitized empathy drugs.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Josh Copeland, director of “Serious Matters in the Middle of the Night”:

Main image: A still of Lost Time by Jack Chapman

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