” I would love for humanity to feel how interconnected we all are to all of life on this planet.” (EXCLUSIVE) Interview with Ami Vitale

-Who is Ami Vitale?

Photographer and filmmaker Ami Vitale has been creating unique stories that amplify the work of communities on the front lines of conservation. She has traveled to more than 100 countries, documenting the heartbreaking realities of war to witnessing the inspiring power of individuals making a difference. Her award-winning work illuminates the unsung heroes and communities working to protect wildlife and finding harmony in our natural world. 

Ami is the 2022 Conservation International Innovators Fellow. In 2022, she was awarded with prestigious prizes from both the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service and the Lucie Humanitarian Award. Instyle magazine named Ami one of fifty Badass Women, a series celebrating women who show up, speak up and get things done. Ami has been named Magazine photographer of the year in the International Photographer of the Year prize, received the Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding Reporting and is a six-time recipient of World Press Photos.  Ami is also the founder and Executive Director of the women-led non-profit Vital Impacts, which supports humanitarian and conservation efforts around the world.


-What inspired you to become a filmmaker?

I believe there is a universal language between visual imagery and empathy; when we see something, it helps us to connect our brains and hearts. While Science and research is critical to understanding the planet and all the life we coexist with, filmmaking can often reach people in other profound ways. As visual storytellers we have a huge opportunity to inform and influence change.

-Do you think the cinema can bring a change in the society?

I think we could do a better job of explaining why educating the next generation of environmental storytellers and journalists is so important.  The environmental movement has always been too cerebral in my experience, getting caught up in either abstract scientific arguments, focusing on forecasts of catastrophe and so on.  I believe photography inspires wonder, connection and seeing ourselves as part of nature.  

-What would you change in the world?

I would love for humanity to feel how interconnected we all are to all of life on this planet. When we see that these giants are part of a complex world created over millions of years, we see that their survival is intertwined with our own. Without rhinos and elephants and other wildlife, we suffer a loss of imagination, a loss of wonder, a loss of beautiful possibilities. When we see ourselves as part of nature, we understand that saving nature is really about saving ourselves.

Where do you see the film industry going in the next 100 years? 

Great question! I do not know but my hope it that we will have a complete revival and go back to our beginnings and rethink the past to guide us forward. 

“I climbed trees and looked at the sea from there, or under the water, imagining worlds with my eyes open or closed.” (EXCLUSIVE) Interview with Karen Sotolongo Menéndez

-Who is Karen Sotolongo Menéndez?

Professional Cuban Film Director, Editor, Art Director, Executive Producer and Actress graduated from the Metrópolis Education Center, the Barcelona’s International Film School (ECIB) and the PLató de Cinema Academy in Spain. Member of the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Arts and Industry (ICAIC), the National Union of Writers and Artists in Cuba (UNEAC) and The Barcelona Documentary Club in Spain; she has worked in more than twenty films such as ¨In her hands¨ produced by Netflix, Moon Dogs Films, Chelsea and Hillary Clinton with the Oscar nominated director Marcel Mettelsiefen and Tamana Ayazi, ¨Moto GP Unlimited¨ streaming serie co produced by MediaPro Studios and Amazon Prime Video and her own films, achieving recognition for her work in and outside her native country; as well as the 8 & Halfilm Award,  Austin International Art Festival, Hollywood International Golden Age Festival, San Francisco and London Independent Festival and the most recently award for Best European Film Director at the Sweet Democracy Film Awards. She currently works as a freelance artist in New York advocating mainly for pacifist and humanitarian causes.

-What inspired you to become a filmmaker?

Dreams. Since I was a child, I climbed trees and looked at the sea from there, or under the water, imagining worlds with my eyes open or closed. Expressing this fiction of my mind and helping with it became my battleground as soon as I learned to fly.

-Do you think the cinema can bring a change in the society?

Of course. The cinema is constantly changing and helps to move societies and their taboos, although it is a very dangerous double-edged tool, if it is done from love and intelligence it can manage to sensitize millions of souls in a few minutes.

-What would you change in the world?

From the world we live in, I would change racism, wars, economic inequality, hunger, paid education and health, animal abuse, the undervaluation of women, child abuse, visas to cross borders, undocumented emigration and, above all, hypocrisy for deal with these issues.

-Where do you see the film industry going in the next 100 years?

I see the film industry in a century being more supportive of human beings, able to show new forms of both entertainment and science to eradicate the differences that distance us from the natural peace with which we come to this world. Inspiring new generations with advanced filming mechanisms, even more accessibles to those who are passionate about storytelling from the audiovisual.

“I would love to see more films made by children, their vision is necessary.” (EXCLUSIVE) Interview with Giovanna Gorassini

-Who is Giovanna Gorassini?

I grew up between Puglia in Italy and Paris. My mother was an antique dealer and my father was a director of photography for cinema in Rome before becoming a journalist. I was very close to my paternal aunt, Annie Gorassini. She had a beautiful career as an actress in Italy and worked with Fellini before devoting herself to her passion for cats. I have always been very sensitive to art in general, painting, classic Italian and French cinema, and aesthetic harmony and light. After studies unrelated to cinema and a few years of modeling that made me realize how much I loved staging, I started photography as a self-taught person. I worked a few years as a photographer and, more rarely, as a lighting assistant before becoming a film director. I worked on short formats and enjoyed the teamwork and I am currently developing my first feature film, a project close to my heart. My other passion is interior decorating. I also take care of a small hotel in Normandy.

-What inspired you to become a filmmaker?

My father has been showing me great movies since childhood, and many directors have always inspired me. I like authentic and humorous Italian comedies as much as other more sophisticated films or darker films. My favorite directors, if I have to name them, are Fellini, Antonioni, Pasolini, Rossellini, Tarkovskij, Alberto Sordi, Lina Wertmüller,  Alain Resnais, Louis Malle, Jacques Tati… I love many others.

The films that made the biggest impression on me are The Postman by Michael Radford, Le Feu Follet by Louis Malle, Paris Texas by Wim Wenders, Accattone by Pasolini, Playtime by Jacques Tati, Bagdad Café by Percy Adlon, 8½ by Federico Fellini…

I especially like bittersweet films that are at the same time melancholic and poetic, but my first source of inspiration to make films is my need to express my feelings through moving pictures.

-Do you think the cinema can bring a change in the society?

Yes, for sure. Some films play an awareness-raising role and propose real awareness. They influence society by conveying a message, values to be defended, or political positions in a sensory and federative way. Another style of cinema is also necessary that allows us to dream and hope. It’s also important to stimulate pleasure. Personally, I would love to see more films made by children, their vision is necessary.

-What would you change in the world?

What I am about to say is banal and obvious, but I am sincere. Injustice makes me sick and I admit to being rather misanthropic except when it is possible to share creativity. Peace is the absence of war. Facing the global threats that shake us, I believe that dialogue between people is the only solution to overcome conflicts in a sustainable way. I would love to see animals treated as sentient beings and their pain reduced under specific contexts; I would love to see an end to human rights violations and any form of injustice all over the world; I would love to see the birth of a government of hope, which is not reduced to an opposition between parties; in my opinion, democracy has not been achieved and remains an ideal to be reached where the strength of arguments, fraternity and common sense would reign.

According to the most optimistic studies, the human species could survive another billion years on our blue planet and I am reassured to see the new generations committed to a better future.

-Where do you see the film industry going in the next 100 years?

The health crisis has encouraged a change in consumption patterns favoring streaming platforms, but I remain optimistic. Fortunately, this sector cannot be reduced to financial aims, and I believe that movie theaters will not disappear. Television has no power to make them disappear, but it must adapt to the competition and people’s needs. AI technology will revolutionize the film industry. Despite my preference for the classical tradition, I think modernity can be fascinating when it is also inspired by the past to create timeless works. The important thing is to stimulate all types of films.

“The Wild Filmmaker production meeting in collaboration with the 8 & Halfilm Awards in Cannes.” (EXCLUSIVE)

The Wild Filmmaker production meeting in collaboration with the 8 & Halfilm Awards will occur in Cannes from the 16th of May till the 20th. With over 3000 registered projects from more than 40 countries, it promises to be one of the most significant events of the year dedicated to the independent cinema on a global scale

Among the projects selected by the 8 & Halfilm Awards: “Forty Winks” directed by William Atticus Parker with actress Academy Award-Winner Susan Sarandon and John Turturro;

Among other made-in-USA projects also: “Old Time Radio: Your Move” directed by the Academy Award-Winner Joel Harlow, make-up Artist for “Star Trek” and “Alice in Wonderland”;

“The Walk” directed by Daniel Adams, in the cast: Malcolm McDowell, the legendary protagonist of “A Clockwork Orange” directed by Stanley Kubrick;

 “She Dreamt Alone” directed by Nina McNeely, also choreographer (projects with Björk, Gaspar Noé, The Weeknd, Rihanna, Foo Fighters, Sam Smith, Alicia Keys…);

“Numb” directed by Ivan Mbakop, who starred in Netflix’s “Red Notice” and played Detective Caudle in Marvel’s “Hawkeye” mini-series;

Among the projects Made in the UK: “I wish for you’ with Academy Award-Winner Jeremy Irons, directed by Stuart Rideout;

and “Connie Lynn” directed by Lee Westwick, an experimental movie written by Elon Musk’s Artificial Intelligence. 

Among the Europeans, we remember “King Max” directed by French director Adèle Vincenti-Carson. 

For the East, we remember: “Vertigo” directed by the Japanese Haruo Inoue with special guest Jonas Mekas.

Wild Filmmaker is a Community detached from all the others existing film realities, and the film product’s free dissemination on the web is its own strength. In addition, the Wild Filmmaker series is currently in the works. “eleveN fiftY” is set in New York, directed by Darius Rubin

and produced by Michele Diomà.

The Wild Filmmaker project was born from the need to make cinema a free art form and aims to allow the Filmmakers to be the actual Deus ex Machina of a project.

“I think we’ll see great accomplishments through the use of AI then a great rebellion against it bringing us back to our roots.” (EXCLUSIVE) Interview with Nina McNeely

-Who is Nina McNeely?

Nina McNeely is a storyteller, provocateur, and a creator. She is a choreographer, visual artist, director, creative director, and animator. Nina is madly in love with people, and finds no greater pleasure than studying the human condition. In her experience, the human form in motion is both poignant and poetic, capable of expressing concepts and feelings that words simply cannot. She sees the connection and chemistry between people as an immeasurable force, containing pure electricity. Nina’s work is visceral, rebellious, rowdy – and at once introspective, delicate, and alluring. She strives to be an unknowing vessel that channels artistic expression, and a guide that may lead any willing artist towards their own truth. As an avid believer in Magick, Nina has a keen eye for those who contain it. She prides herself in her preparedness, attention to detail, and work ethic – she never shies from a challenge. Throughout her career, Nina has been fortunate to work with Björk, Gaspar Noé, The Weeknd, Rihanna, Foo Fighters, Sam Smith, Alicia Keys and black midi to name a few – all legends in their own right.

-What inspired you to become a filmmaker?

As a young dancer and choreographer I’d only expressed my visions through live performance, where the audience perspective was limited to looking at a stage.  I knew that I could break,  shift and twist that perspective through the art of film, so I started not only experimenting with it myself but immersing myself into films. I began watching the works of the masters and also researching those who broke all the rules. I’m still in that state of discovery and research and hope to remain there always. 

-Do you think the cinema can bring a change in the society?

Absolutely, but only the brave and the fearless can achieve that change by taking risks and by challenging society to look in the mirror.  

-What would you change in the world?

I want true freedom of expression for every human.  

-Where do you see the film industry going in the next 100 years?

I see the pendulum swinging back and forth over and over. For example,  I think we’ll see great accomplishments through the use of AI then a great rebellion against it bringing us back to our roots.

“If I could put all the people in the world in one place for a day and make them engage in civil dialogue with each other, I would.” (EXCLUSIVE) Interview with Kami Shefer

-Who is Kami Shefer?

I am a 26-year-old designer and filmmaker from Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Israel. In 2022, I finished my Bachelor’s degree in visual communication design at the Holon Institute of Technology. Over the last few years, I have been working in the field of animation, advertising and creative, while also trying to develop myself in the field of film and storytelling. Throughout my life, I have managed to travel to many different places around the world, and I feel that every new place I visit helps me enrich my aspirations and personal style. I believe that the best sources for our stories come from the small things that surround us in our everyday lives, as they have the strongest impact on our surroundings. Besides the film and design industries, I also love music, food, and the ocean, and I try to use them in my creations.

-What inspired you to become a filmmaker?

The field of cinema, and the animation field in particular, has always interested me. I am stunned every time by how, even in a few minutes of a movie, you can create a whole new world, reinvent the reality we are living in, and change the way we think. My father is an artist, and I grew up in a house surrounded by art and design. My love for animation comes from him; ever since I was a little girl, he used to sit me down to watch animation movies from festivals all over the world, and this is where I fell in love with the art of motion. Our ability to tell stories to the world and convey ideas and important messages through them is one of the biggest gifts we have. I grew up in a household that encouraged me to pursue my dreams and enrich my creativity and thinking in any way I can, and I hope to continue developing myself in these areas and use them to make the world a better place.

-Do you think the cinema can bring a change in the society?

The field of film is one of the best platforms to convey an idea and a story in the most touching and precise way. I believe that through films, we have an amazing ability to make people feel different emotions and learn about themselves and the world around them. This way, we can encourage a dialogue that can definitely change the way we look at things and open a platform that gives us the opportunity to relate to more difficult and sensitive things in our lives.

What would you change in the world?

If I could put all the people in the world in one place for a day and make them engage in civil dialogue with each other, I would. Especially with everything that’s going on in the political field of Israel right now, it feels like our ability to create a conversation and listen to one another is decreasing every day. It feels like the dialogue has turned into a game of who has more power and who can speak the loudest. I hope we will eventually gain the ability to live in this world peacefully and equally.

-Where do you see the film industry going in the next 100 years?

Honestly, I have no idea. The whole art world is changing so much right now because every day we have new possibilities for creation that arise. On the one hand, I feel like there is a trend of returning to the more classic world, but on the other hand, all the interactive and technology worlds are starting to seep into the film world. I imagine that the next phase would be to bring in the wonders of technology that are advancing as we speak into the film world to help increase the experience and connection to the creation in front of us.

“Brothers of Babylon” (EXCLUSIVE) Interview with Gabriel Womack

-Who is Gabriel Womack?

An actor & writer born and raised on a horse ranch near Missoula, Montana.  My father used to play for the Kansas City Chiefs, then was a preacher and high school history teacher for forty years, married to my amazing mother.  I grew up learning the true definition of hard work, hauling hay, chopping wood, the middle of two siblings.  Grounded in God, country, and a family integrated with a sense of humor that binds.  Growing up a cowboy on a ranch, my older sister wanted to do local plays, and I got dragged along landing my first lead as a child.  In high school I focused on excelling in sports like state champion Pole Vaulter, football, and academics.  But ended up shining most with acting scholarships, accepting one to New York School for Film and Television, two year full time, on camera, Meisner technique.  When I graduated, I booked my first audition for Law and Order SVU. After five years in NYC I ended up in Los Angeles on Days of Our Lives, and starring in Syfy Channel movies, getting to film in Bulgaria a couple times. In Los Angeles doing movies and guest spots on TV shows, I kept my acting coaching at Lesly Kahn’s for a few years, and have had the pleasure of working with many talented people along the way. Then I’m 2016 I became I’ll and injured. I have had to learn to walk again, and fight through chemo for a few years. 

-What inspired you to become a screenwriter and actor?

The first time I connected with being an actor was accidentally getting to watch Silence of the Lambs when I was 8 or 9. I remember watching Anthony Hopkins close up monologue towards the end, and feeling that connection. When I got older I felt theater was more performing, and that film was more acting. The fraction of the people on the planet that are able to achieve the goal of succeeding in making it on television or in movies, get to inspire the people they know to take chances.  Movies live on forever, and a good one can imprint on a person. After 15 years of acting I was diagnosed with a rare deadly form of Crohn’s disease, and found unresponsive in L.A.  I was taken home to Montana, having lost over 101 pounds, given two weeks to live. When I didn’t die, I was sent home, and shattered all five lower vertebrae when I fell trying to walk up my front porch.  Bedridden for three years on chemotherapy, Covid hit when I finally started to learn to walk again.  I started writing because I was desperate to be a part of movies again.  With enough school and work on professional sets, I knew how to make a movie, and how to write one. 14 months later I had written my first movie, a modern day western called “Brothers of Babylon.”

-Do you think the cinema can bring a change in the society?

I think cinema brings some change, both good and bad, by picking up on trends early on and enforcing it by 1000 fold, because of the amount of content we have now. Especially since cinema now is so integrated with the music industry, fashion industry,  and commercial industry.   The movie isn’t just a movie anymore. It’s a hit song, the new car, the new drink, the new phone, there is so much on the theater screen today. But real change doesn’t come from people abusing cinema to push an agenda, or try to make movies that just try to keep the freak show going with whatever the latest formula is.  Change comes from leaders in cinema who inspire greatness. I think there will always be times when there are films that make people dream, touch our hearts, or inspire a nation. 

What would you change in the world?

I would just like to see everyone treat each other the way they want to be treated, and start being better examples for our children.  Lots of people want to impose their beliefs on the rest of the world, thinking it will make it a better place, but in the process they become intolerant of the rest of those who don’t agree with them.  It feels like we have lost a sense of morality, and the world is numbing itself to a new normal of chaos. But we need a reset, just teach our children the golden rule, before we teach them to be activists.

-Where do you see the film industry going in the next 100 years?

The possibilities of 100 years is mind bending looking back at where we came from.  With A.I. on the horizon, and the amount of devices and content that’s out there, the industry can get so overloaded. But I think after we settle we will find our way with a better way to film, and we will find out that so much of what people are watching is just going in and out of their head. We will start going back to movies and shows that you watch over and over again. We used to make movies that you used to watch at least once a year, or shows that you would binge on every now and again. Now we are just throwing stuff out there to fill up time, but we are catching up and will adapt. I think Hollywood will always be the empire, but over the next hundred years the rest of the world will be participating a lot more than they have been. Camera technology, and special effects are going to take leaps and bounds, but the story and acting will never fool anyone. I bet in 100 years some of the top 100 films will still be on the top 100 list because of the basics. Come on, will The Godfather ever get knocked off the list?

“A Beautiful Woman Dies Twice.” (EXCLUSIVE) Interview with Marina Sasina

-Who is Marina Sasina?

I’d like to know that too… First of all, I’m a human… However, our topic is cinema, so I’ll focus on it. I am a professional screenwriter. More than 100 hours of feature films and television series have been shot according to my scripts. Some of these works are internationally recognized. In addition, I have two directorial works – the short films “Nobody, Nowhere, Never” and “A Beautiful Woman Dies Twice”. Both films received numerous festival awards.

-What inspired you to become a filmmaker?

I consider myself a storyteller. Directing is another way to tell a story.

-Do you think the cinema can bring a change in the society?

I think it’s a two way process. Movies are made by people who are influenced by social ideas and authorities. Moods and ideas are born in society. They are then picked up by filmmakers, consciously or unconsciously, and turned into films. But the “seed” falls into the already prepared soil. If the audience accepts “new” ideas, it means that certain social conditions have developed for this.

-What would you change in the world?

The world is big… I would advise people to be kinder to each other.

-Where do you see the film industry going in the next 100 years?

I think that new technologies will change the process of filmmaking. Perhaps beyond recognition. I hope that the producers will pay more attention to the plots of the films and their originality. I do not rule out that VR and holograms will try to take the place of cinema. Surely there will be new types of cinema in which the viewer will be directly involved. Something like a quest in a movie, where the choice of the viewer will depend on the next plot twist. There will be fewer professions in the film industry. Some professions will disappear or require the acquisition of other skills. For example, actors are already quite often replaced by graphic characters… Well, of course, there will be filmmakers for whom nothing will change. They will still shoot films on film and assume that this is the only real cinema.

Photos by Andrey Sasin, Anna Zelenina and Polina Dudina

“Cinema has the power to send messages into society and tell real stories of the times we live.” (EXCLUSIVE) Interview with Emma Balnaves

Who is Emma Balnaves?

Emma Balnaves is an internationally respected teacher of Shadow Yoga, one of the traditional forms and philosophies of Hatha Yoga. She has been teaching since 1998 and is the co-founder of Shadow Yoga. Emma was introduced to yoga in her early teens when she became intrigued by the mystery of the practices and the feelings they evoked inside her. After graduating in visual communication, majoring in photography at the University of Adelaide and working in the creative arts in Sydney, New York, and London, Emma committed herself to a life of teaching yoga. Decades of in-depth study followed with research in yoga, Ayurveda and other internal arts. Emma began incorporating the full spectrum of the yogic process in her teaching. Since 1998 Emma began extensive travel – teaching and training internationally with her husband, Sundernath. In 2019, Emma completed her first film Agniyogana, a documentary inspired by a desire to present a better understanding of all aspects of the practice.

-What inspired you to become a filmmaker?

Since I was young I loved the imagery, taking photos, filming and making theatre with friends to tell a story. I wished to inspire others on the path of life to recognise themselves and from the personal experience of being touched through visual story telling.

-Do you think the cinema can bring a change in the society?

Yes, through story telling on a creative and inspiration level. it is through our eyes we see form, hear form and are touched deeply through the power of visual story telling. Cinema has the power to send messages into society and tell real stories of the times we live.

-What would you change in the world?

As the world changes, we need to learn how to adapt, this is how we grow as individuals.

Where do you see the film industry going in the next 100 years?

Beyond the screen and the space of one’s dwelling.

“Cinema has already transcended society in ways we only once dreamt of.” (EXCLUSIVE) Interview with Ivan Mbakop

-Who is Ivan Mbakop?

I am actually an electrical engineer turned software developer turned actor with a passion for storytelling. However, Google thinks I am a director and producer as well. While I tend to excel in all these seemingly differing fields, the common thread that provides a home for me is the creative outlet they all offer in their unique ways. Let’s see where this boat goes right?

-What inspired you to become a filmmaker?

Filmmaking is a step further from acting. It offers an incredible freedom into expressing thoughts and feelings in a way that is totally subjective and inimitable, in a way also that can be cathartic because of its opportunity for honesty. It is the only medium that harnesses the power of picture and music all in one, and making of the audiences’ minds and thoughts what it wants for 5, 15, 30 or 90 minutes.

-Do you think the cinema can bring a change in the society?

Cinema has already transcended society in ways we only once dreamt of. Many instances can be referenced, but I’d simply surface as an example, the early films exploring deep space, including the Startrek saga. This has inspired our minds to think and push in a specific direction, and today companies such as SpaceX have all but trivialized space exploration. At least, they have democratized and modernized the process. While today’s space travels is like the early 80s computer chip, tomorrow’s StarWars like lifestyle will be like today’s AI exploits. In the end, it was all fueled by the human race’s collective imagination, only expressed through cinema!

-What would you change in the world?

I’d make more mirrors. There is an inherent desire to see equity in all that we observe, but its a fallacious idea, because equity and fairness only apply when we perceive ourselves to be victims or to be shortchanged in any way. Given the upper hand, we are generally fine with the world inequalities and inadequacies. I would focus more on reflecting what imperfections society inflicts on itself, and allowing people to live with that discomforting thought long enough to either make a change or dive further off the deep end. At least they wouldn’t pretend not to know that they’ve either made an effort towards reason or completely smitten and slayed their conscience into monsterhood.

-Where do you see the film industry going in the next 100 years?

There is unfortunately no half full or half empty glass; it’s both together. The depravity of man’s imagination will continue to permeate through all forms of expression, including the most powerful one ever invented, cinema. However, the next 100 years will also see the rise of emotionally intelligent and ethically responsible filmmakers that will not just be willing but be compelled to hold the mirror up to society’s virtues and offer hope for a brighter tomorrow.