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"Now You See Us" In Florence, Italy!
- Friday, Nov. 12, 2021
Multi-Awarded Short Film “Now You See Us” Enjoyed A Fruitful Italian Premiere At The Florence Short Film Festival Last Wednesday, Nov 3rd, 2021, During A New Live Edition Of The Event Which Took Place At Firenze’s Cinema La Compagnia.
One of only eight official selections in the fiction category, the 11-minute “coming-of-a-certain-age story” went on to receive the Audience Choice Award for Best Film of 2021.
Now You See Us was directed and adapted for the screen by Award-Winning Director/Screenwriter and SHOOT NDS 2014 Honoree Romina Schwedler (The Visit, How a Man Gets Ready), and based on the short play Boom by Barbara Miluski who is also a producer and one of the stars of the film.
Back in New York after a fleeting trip to Florence to represent her film at FsFF, the Argentine-born director of Italian descent talks about her experience:
“I was truly overwhelmed by the extra-warm welcome Barbara and I got from the audience and from everyone in the FsFF team. So much care and hard work went into making this new live edition of the festival a safe and a memorable one. I'm grateful that so many people came out to celebrate and support independent film, especially at a time like this.”
Schwedler's film tackles a relevant and somewhat neglected issue in today’s society: Ageism, specifically on women. However, the subject is not addressed in the tone one would expect: Now You See Us is a hilarious tale about a serious topic! Women beginning to feel invisible to the world around them after reaching a certain age. The film also digs into the means by which older women are portrayed, patronized, misrepresented and underrepresented in mass media.
"There’s a clear double-standard in the entertainment industry when it comes to ageism and this is yet another form of sexism that we have somehow become accustomed to. Actresses in their late thirties being considered too old to play the love interest of a man in his fifties, roles for women ‘of a certain age’ being limited to dying grandmas or med commercials, etc, etc. Meanwhile, out in the real world, many women maintain that, after having gained financial freedom and after their kids have gone off to college, 60+ has become their boldest and most productive age yet! So we just wanted to shine our humble light on the subject. It is proven that treating people as frail and dependent can have a direct effect on their health both emotional and physical, and from the comments and reactions we’ve been getting from diverse audiences, we can confirm that this is unfortunately an issue that transcends the United States.”
The film was translated into Italian by Simona Castellani, who was in charge of subtitling all participating foreign films in the fiction and animation categories.
“Simona did a superb job maintaining the essence of the dialogue and working with us on a tight schedule. It was incredibly thoughtful of the festival to provide this service at no cost to the filmmakers. Every little detail was thought of and this showed not only during the flawless screenings but also throughout the magical closing evening at Cinema La Compagnia, which by the way is just steps away from the glorious Piazza del Duomo!”
The award ceremony took place Nov 4th, 2021 and was hosted by Journalist Fabrizio Borghini, Festival Director Dario Bracaloni and Artistic Director Lorenzo Borghini. Also in attendance were Film Programmer Daniele Castellani, FsFF Patron Maria Federica Giuliani, Jury President Ugo Pagliai and Jury members Simone Bartalesi, Stefano Socci, Luigi Nepi and Paola Gassmann, who shared their thoughts about the importance of film today, particularly in its short form. Schwedler and Miluski later joined the group onstage to receive the accolade, an experience Schwedler recaps through tears of joy:
“The level of each and every one of the shorts in the program was outstanding so it was already an honor to have been selected for the festival and to screen alongside such extraordinary films. The award on top of that was truly a gift, one that means the world not only to me but also to everyone who made this film possible, because the audience really is the ultimate judge of the work we do! I also felt blessed and humbled to be sharing the stage with such relevant figures of Italian cinema. That is a moment I will treasure forever.”
Like many Argentineans, Romina has an Italian Grandparent (or three!), providing her with a deep appreciation for Italian heritage and culture.
"I found myself in constant tears from the immensurable beauty anywhere I looked. I just couldn't help but feel the history all around me. We're talking about Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance! And we're talking about Italy, which, among other things, hosted some of the most important movements in film history like the Italian Neorealism; it raised legendary directors such as De Sica, Visconti, Antonioni and Fellini; gave us the magnificent Sophia Loren, Vittorio Gassman and Marcello Mastroianni; iconic films like Cabiria, I Compagni, Bicycle Thief and La Strada, and the incomparable music of Nino Rota and Ennio Morricone! List goes on, and on... I grew up watching Italian cinema and have enormous respect for it so this made my FsFF experience that much more special."
Schwedler's previous film The Visit, starring Oscar® Nominee June Squibb and Sean Maher, had also screened at the festival in 2017, but that year Romina could not attend due to previous commitments. The Visit also went on to win the Audience Award.
"I kept seeing great images and reviews of the festival during the screenings and was also in touch with the festival directors who made a true effort to make everyone feel like part of the family whether we were in attendance or not, so not being able to travel really upset me! Then, winning the Audience Award considering that we weren't even present made me appreciate the event even more. So when Now You See Us was selected I was over the moon, and even though the festival caught me in the middle of a major project, I made it a point to be there this time, even if for only 2 days. Of course, the last thing I thought was that we'd win the Audience Award again!"
Starring in the film are Barbara Miluski; Caroline Ryburn, who plays Barbara’s rival on an audition for a small role in a one-line commercial; Rochelle Slovin: a third actress arriving at the casting office, lost and confused about what she finds when she walks into the room sometime after Barb and Caroline have taken the bogus audition into their own hands; and Leema Mitchell: the “electrician”; a rather mystical character who is determined to repair a curious ongoing glitch with the lights in the miniscule waiting room the hopefuls inhabit; one of many metaphors used to help illustrate the protagonists' feeling of invisibility.
The film was shot in black and white, another tool Schwedler makes beautiful use of to depict the actresses' off-beat sentiment of being “all washed out” and having been “grayed-out” by the entertainment industry and society in general.
Worth noting are also the inspiring score by composer Itamar Ben Zimra, which —intentionally or not— appears to pay homage to classic Italian cinema during the final scene of the film; and the edgy cinematography by DP and Camera Operator Danna Kinsky. Kinsky’s handheld technique adds a dynamic and authentic feel to the cinematic experience, as does the use of those lights —controlled by Leema Mitchell’s character— which affords yet another layer to this brief yet intricate journey unfolding within the confinement of just one room located inside an eerie New York City building.
Now You See Us was brought to life by a 95% female-identifying cast and crew of diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, sexual orientations, religions and, of course: ages!
"Barbara (Miluski) made it a point to hire women on this production, not only because she wanted a female vision to take her play to the screen, but also because she saw this as an opportunity to help the ongoing effort to improve representation in the industry. Things are changing but we still have a long way to go! And crewing-up was certainly not as easy as it would have been had this not been part of her goal. Everyone knows female writers and directors but, even though they're out there, we're not as used to seeing a female grip, gaffer or sound mixer on set, so at times it was a bit of a challenge to sick to the plan, but we're so glad we did because we couldn't have asked for a more talented, more supportive or more professional crew."
An absolute must-see, Romina Schwedler’s entertaining while socially relevant film has screened at numerous festivals of note such as Oscar® Qualifying Cinequest, HollyShorts and St. Louis International Film Festival; AFMX, NY Women in Film & Television Shorts Festival, Vail Film Festival, Chelsea Film Festival, Orlando Film Festival and Seattle Film Summit among others; collecting multiple awards and nominations along the way, including Best Short Film, Best Comedy, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Original Score and Audience Awards.
Now You See Us can presently be seen as part of the SOHO International Film Festival where it is Nominated for Best US Showcase Short, screening virtually until midnight Nov 12th, with more festivals to be announced shortly.
FULL CAST | Barb - Barbara Miluski, Caroline - Caroline Ryburn, Electrician - Leema Mitchell, New Actress - Rochelle Slovin
DIRECTOR | Romina Schwedler
PRODUCERS | Executive Producers - Barbara Miluski, Jonathan Hazan, Producer/ Line Producer - Michelle Polanco, Co-Producers - Danna Kinsky, Romina Schwedler, Associate Producers - Alan J. Carmona, Bianka WidaKay, Susan Rafter
WRITERS | Play - Barbara Miluski, Adapted Screenplay - Romina Schwedler
ORIGINAL SCORE | Itamar Ben Zimra
FULL CREW | Cinematographer - Danna Kinsky, First Assistant Director - Maca Carrizosa, Sound Mixer - Ash Knowlton, Script Supervisor - Mavis Martin, Gaffer - Olivia Kimmel, First Camera Assistant - Diana Rodriguez, Grips & Electrics - Anna Vyaches, Rui Arichika, Production Assistant - Adalina Aladro, Sound Design - Cory Choy, Ash Knowlton, Luke Allen/ SILVER SOUND, Colorist - Jenny Montgomery/ COMPANY 3, VFX Artists - Eddie Lebron, Shaun Ryan, Additional Photography - Alan J. Carmona, BTS Photography - Adalina Aladro, BTS Video - Bianka WidaKay, Editor - Romina Schwedler, Makeup & Hair - Mollie Parks, Graphic Design - Rachel Freeman-Lev, Social Media - Rachel Freeman-Lev, Dora J. Friedman