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Interview with Andre Yatsounski

An Old Friend – A Harry Potter Short Film

Tell us about yourself?

My name is Andre Yatsounski, I am a self-taught computer graphics and visual effects artist. I am currently studying film production in college. I am heavily influenced by fantasy, sci-fi and Historical films and novels. I am a creative writer and a YouTube content creator.

Tell us about your movie?

The film is inspired by the Harry Potter franchise. It is about two wizards who face each other off in an epic battle. The film portrays a simple good vs. evil plot, though the film’s title might bring a little more depth to it in a more conceptual manner.

What influenced you to do the movie?

I was asked for a simple short film by my instructor as a final project for a course in college, I was quite excited because I was allowed to create whatever I wanted. I also had a great actor who was enthusiastic to help me out with my schemes. And finally the idea was given to me by a friend of mine who asked me if I was capable of creating the harry potter effects.
What is the message behind your movie?

The message behind our film is: believing in yourself in tough moments.

Why people have to watch you movie?
We took into consideration that there is a huge audience for the Harry Potter franchise, so we know that if we manage to pull off a good fan-made film, the audience will surely find it appealing to watch.

What do you say to your fellow filmmakers?
Remind yourself why you started, so that you remain on the right rail.

An Old Friend – A Harry Potter Short Film Trailer

Interview with Sabine Bou Jaoude


Tell us about yourself?
My name is Sabine Bou Jaoude. I was born and raised in Lebanon. I am a painter, cinematographer and filmmaker. I attended college at the Lebanese American University from which I received a BFA in Communication Arts. After graduation, I worked in the entertainment field as a freelancer. In 2015, I moved to the U.S. where I currently reside. I’ve recently just obtained my MFA in Film and Visual Arts from Emerson College in Boston.

Tell us about your movie?
I wrote Sandcastles in Graduate school as my thesis film when I felt compelled to write a story that takes place back home. The protagonist, Samar, is a young woman that lives with her parents on the outskirts of Beirut. She works to help them pay the bills and pay for her college tuition. She has growing feelings of dissatisfaction with many aspects of her life. After experiencing a traumatic event one night, she’s finally fed up and decides to leave Lebanon. But will she get to at the end?
Sandcastles is a very subtle film but I believe that in its subtlety it relates to the everyday life, and hopefully it makes it so the audience also relates to the story and the characters.

Sandcastles trailer

What influenced you to do the movie?
Within the recent years, I have noticed quite a strong shift in the political climate in regards to immigration. As a non citizen myself, in a country where its president takes a very stern stand on this subject, it was very jarring and very discomforting witnessing this shift. It struck a major chord with me. I never before got political nor did I feel the will to, but I couldn’t help it this time. I felt the need to address the subject in this film, coming from a country of constant youth migration. What would make someone leave their home in the first place? It is most likely to find refuge from war or prosecution, maybe to find better means to support themselves and their loved ones. So why are these people feared? Immigrants are the ones who are experiencing fear, leaving their families, friends and belongings behind. It is a traumatic event having to move to an unfamiliar place and start over. I have been fortunate enough to make that move by choice, but thinking about all the ones that have to do it by necessity was distressing.
The other topic I felt needed to be addressed for me is the one of rape and sexual assault in Lebanon and how it’s perceived in our society. Just a few years ago, the horrid Article 522 of the penal code was repealed after women’s rights demonstrations. Under this article, a rapist could be exempt from punishment if he married his victim. The very thought of that made my blood boil. I couldn’t even picture these victims feeling the pressure to share the rest of their lives with someone who had done something so horrific to them. The truth is, these victims are shamed and scrutinised in our society
instead of being given comfort, support and help. So often instead of seeking justice, they stay quiet. And a rapist or a sexual predator continues to roam free.That is not okay. We need to do better, we need to break the stigma that surrounds the victims. Women should have better rights and should be heard without judgement.

What is the message behind your movie?
I guess the message behind the film is one of tolerance and understanding. This fear of the other, the hatred of immigrants, the misogynistic acts against women are often acts that stem from either ignorance, an irrational fear or an unexplained hatred. This is not limited to intolerance of immigrants, but it could be applied to any kind of intolerance or irrational fear: racism, homophobia, sexism, Anthropophobia, etc…
If we make an effort to get to know that person or that thing that we fear so much, we would have a better understanding of its existence and the walls we put up would crumble down.

Why people have to watch you movie?
I cannot force anyone to watch this movie but I could invite them to watch it and keep an open mind about what this film is trying to say in its subtlety. If it helps a member of the audience rethink how they view certain issues or give them a different perspective on a situation or a person, then I have done my job.

What do you say to your fellow filmmakers?
To my fellow filmmakers, I would like to say never be afraid to talk about a subject that is dear to your heart. Find your passion project and make it, your work will speak loudly. Even if you’re faced with criticism or discouragement, you will not be able to please every single person out there, so speak about what you believe is right and what is important to you.