WOCF Film Lab
Summer Film Challenge
The WOCF Film Lab was designed to stimulate cinematic film development through mentorship and various classes and workshops.
Each of the participants had to write a short film based on their interpretation of the word Nirvana. They were then mentored through script development, pre-production, production, and post-production by industry professionals. All the films created in the WOCF Film Lab screened at the WOCF Summer Film Challenge.
Congratulations filmmakers!!! All of your films were excellent and we can't wait to see how your careers continue to flourish!!!
The Line Up
These shorts show that Nirvana can be found in the most unlikely places when you slow down and give yourself a little grace.
Cynthia Garcia Williams is a California native born to immigrant parents from Matanzas, Cuba and Guadalajara, Mexico. Her stories empower by celebrating humankind, how heritage, ancestral faith, resilience, and a little magic weave into our fiber.
In 2020 she founded CYNRG Entertainment a production company focused on telling stories that empower by celebrating humankind. CYNRG recently produced Tormenta, which Cynthia co-wrote with @alica and @edward. CYNRG is currently in pre-production on Caminos and in post-production on Aguanile . Most recently, Cynthia wrote a very personal script, Dukkha, for her participation in @woc lab. Dukkha marks Cynthia’s directorial debut.
Cyndi – DUKKHA
Charlita Gaston is an American writer-director whose work has been recognized by Emerging Screenwriters, The Cynosure Screenwriting Awards, The Nostos Screenwriting Retreat (Official Selection 2021) and more. Ms. Gaston is a graduate of the University of Tampa and received her MFA in screenwriting at Bond University in Queensland, Australia. She is a world builder, map maker, writer and optimistic observer of life. Her articles span a variety of topics and have appeared online in USA Today, Huffington Post, and the popular online dating service Match. A wide-eyed, willful wanderer, she’s set fires on four continents and lived to tell the world that she’s a proud member of the "30 Countries Before 30" club. When she’s not traversing strange lands in search of Kombucha, she’s demystifying the workings of being broken wide-open in transformational writing workshops that empower women to share their stories.
Charlita – The party
Drew Jackson is a first-time filmmaker, writer, and director. Her love for film and storytelling began when she was young. In college, she helped friends with their film projects that received awards and learned she enjoyed working on films. Upon graduating, she worked on the feature film Fast and Furious 8 as a production assistant.
She currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she continues to enjoy storytelling as a publicity writer, photographer, and videographer for a diverse school district with over 28 spoken languages. With her creativity and passion, she hopes to create cinematic films with powerful imagery, dialogue, and visuals.
Drew – Size Up
Saadiqa K. Muhammad is an actress, writer, producer and now director living in Los Angeles, California. After graduating with her B.F.A. in Theatre from Illinois State University she received her first lead role in the critically acclaimed award winning film ̈One Week ̈. She has gone on to appear in several plays, commercials, TV and film roles. She has also written , produced and starred in her award winning comedy web series ̈MOMS ̈ which is currently on youtube. She is very excited to have been a part of this years WOCF Directors Film Lab and is honored that she can now add ̈Director” to her list of titles. This program not only challenged her as a creative but also gave her the opportunity to be among some extremely talented and dynamic female filmmakers as well!! She believes when we as women support and lift each other up in our gifts and talents we all Shine!!!
Saadiqa – The Case of Ana V. Rin
Through love, aliens, psychic abilities and free spirits, this collection of shorts displays what happens when Nirvana takes you beyond ordinary limits.
Alyscia Cunningham is an entrepreneur, author, filmmaker, and photographer who has contributed to the Smithsonian, National Geographic, Discovery Channel and AOL. After the success of her first book, Feminine Transitions, a photography book encompassed with portraits of raw feminine beauty, Cunningham published her second photography book documentary film, I Am More Than My Hair. It includes interviews and of females who've experienced hair loss due to a health-related condition and their journey of self-empowerment to see beauty beyond the media’s standards.
Alyscia also co-organized Reel Moms, a supportive community for working Moms and Caregivers in the film and TV industry, in partnership with Women in Film and Video. Her goal is to continuing producing documentary films and photo books. With the completion and direction provided through the Horror/Psychological Thriller workshop with Sundance Institute, Alyscia also plans to write and direct Horror films.
Alyscia - Annexation
Kelsey Williams is a Certified Salesforce Administrator that loves spreadsheets, productivity, and creativity. Fourteen years ago, she co-created a podcast titled “Sistah Speak” that discussed biases and stereotypes for POCs in the entertainment industry, connecting to listeners through fandom and commentary of television shows and movies. About seven yeats ago, Kelsey had the opportunity to work on her first film set as a production assistant and fell in love with set life. Since then, she has worked on over a dozen projects in various roles: wardrobe assistant, production secretary, executive producer, assistant director. Now, with the help of the @WomenofColorFilmmakers film lab, she can add co-screenwriter and director to that list.
Makayla Dessivia was born in West Texas and moved to the DFW Metroplex to pursue film. She has worked on numerous films as a script supervisor, has dabbled into directing and most recently moved into Cinematography. Makayla has always had a love for film, but her love is not exactly like most filmmakers. She admires what it looks like behind the film, what it takes to make the film, the multiple personalities, and extended families you meet when working with a group of people on a film set. The finished product of a beautifully told story is just the icing on the cake.
kelsey & makayla – Kafi
Rae Lashea is a Brooklyn-born author who is best known for her publications Black Geisha, You Are a Star, and 52 Weeks of MIRACLES. With childhood dreams of becoming a writer and teacher, she obtained her bachelor’s in sociology and master’s in education. After teaching special needs for twelve years in New York, Atlanta, and Los Angeles, she left the field of education and began a career in editing and ghostwriting. Filly is the first film that she wrote, directed, and produced, making a debut acting appearance, as well. As a global citizen, Rae travels extensively and collects postcards from all over the world. She has been to more than 30 countries and currently resides in Las Vegas, NV.
Rae Lashea – Filly
Chanté Marlena Lewis is a writer, director, producer, and actor. Chanté's work is a tapestry of her own experiences, observations, and hopes. "The pulse of what I create begins with me: my memories, dreams, hurt, desires, hopes. My perspective on life tends to go against the grain - it's dense, sometimes offbeat, most times so on point it can seem scary. Filmmaking is my way of painting a picture - because a thousand words aren't enough. Thankfully, somehow I find myself connecting the dots in a way others can feel at their core- at least, that's always the goal."
Chanté hopes to empower, elevate, and entertain through emotional honesty, grit, humor, and non-traditional storytelling. Chanté begins pre-production in August 2021 for her next project, Dare to Be About It Now: a micro-short film series.
Chanté – Samsara
Whether looking for a new love, connecting with an old love or just making a new friend these films will make you think twice about where you are seeking Nirvana.
Director and Producer Chandra Broadnax-Payne is a native of Brooklyn, NY but calls Richmond, VA home. Broadnax-Payne graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in Mass Communications & a Masters of Business Administration.
Just a few years ago Chandra made a very difficult decision to leave Corporate America and live out her passion of writing and directing. She now shares her inspiring story as a published writer and filmmaker, empowering people from all walks of life to live in their purpose.
Her first film “A Silent Enemy” is a feature-length documentary about Domestic Violence in the Black community that garnered the attention of ABC, CBS, and local radio in Virginia. Her second film “Desperately Seeking Desi” is a dramedy about an Indian American woman who goes online searching for love.
Irene Fanous is a first generation Egyptian-American poet and writer. She has published and edited for the National Institutes of Health, a Middle Eastern news agency, and various local and national nonprofits. She has also taught English as a Second Language. Irene has an extensive background managing clinical trials. In 2019, she left to cultivate and pursue creative writing as a second career. Her first feature screenplay advanced to the final round of Sundance Lab’s 2021 Development Track and is now being rewritten as a serialized TV period drama.
Irene has a BA in French Language & Literature from the University of Virginia and a BA in Biology from George Mason University. She studied poetry writing on a graduate level. An enthusiastic traveler, she lives in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. with her teenage son and perpetually confused hunting dog.
Chandra & Irene - Desperately seeking desi
Catherine Mwitta is a part time Journalist and Creative Writing Major at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. While she isn't studying for finals, she’s constantly posting on her blog theaquilla.com and volunteers at local Vancouver literary magazines. She has short stories published in Quarantine Reviews, Random Photo Journal, and Otis Nebula. She likewise has bylines at Stir Vancouver, RoyalTee Magazine, SAD Mag and Malahat Review.
Catherine - Homepage
Jill Narciso is a queer writer/director from Houston, Texas, who loves creating thriller/horror films with a twist.
Her short film, Stall, about a woman who gets trapped in a public bathroom by a ghost on crutches, has had a film circuit run in Los Angeles, North Carolina and Poland, and can now be streamed on Roku and Apple TV.
Friending, is based on her personal experience using friendship apps, combined with her fear of getting kidnapped by someone who isn’t who they appear to be in their online profile.
Jill has fond childhood memories watching Tales from the Crypt during sleepovers with her aunt and cousin. Jill also remembers sneaking out of bed to watch scary movies like Child’s Play, and she’s hated dolls ever since.
Besides being a mentee in the Women of Color Filmmakers Lab, Jill is a mentee for Women of Color Unite’s #Startwith8Hollywood, FilmNorth's Pilot Lab: Inclusive & Socially Conscious Filmmaking, and she is a featured filmmaker in the digital-media company Boyish Media.