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International Acclaim for Durban Produced Film

A 20 minute short film is currently taking the international film festival circuit by storm. LUCKY is written and directed by Briton Avie Luthra and produced by Durban based Junaid Ahmed.

The film tells the story of an Aids orphan desperate to leave his rural Zulu village for the bright lights of Durban. He is full of excitement and hope but Lucky has to learn about life the hard way, not through school or education� but through an unlikely bond with a racist Indian neighbour.

Junaid Ahmed, the producer of LUCKY, says that it is remarkable that this film was made at all. “We had limited resources, hardly any money and all the actors in LUCKY were either non-professional or semi-professional. The crew, comprising a small band of professionals and mostly trainees, agreed to work for nothing- as did the cast. For most of them this was their first film and so the training component of this production was very high.”

Ahmed recently attended the 15th Aspen Shortsfest, held in Aspen, Colorado. He is especially pleased that LUCKY screened at this particular festival. “Aspen Shortfest is now regarded as the most prestigious short film festival in the world. This year, the international competition included 50 short films from 15 countries and finalists were selected from a worldwide offering of almost 2,000 works. The competition was therefore very tough!”

Aspen Shortfest International Competition is an Oscar Academy Award-qualifying competition and the jury included acclaimed cinematographer John Bailey (The Producers, As Good As It Gets), director Patricia Cardoso (Real Women Have Curves), esteemed film critic Bob Denerstein and writer-director Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking).

Says Ahmed: “The screening of LUCKY received a resounding ovation and I was overwhelmed by the interest in the film, both by local Aspenites and the international filmmakers who attended the festival. They were emotionally drawn in by the story, astounded by the performances of non-professional film actors, excited by the craft of storytelling and for many of them, the film resonated with its freshness in style and content. I was therefore not surprised that LUCKY won two awards at the festival: the Youth Jury Prize and the Special Jury Recognition for Outstanding Performance by a Child which went to Joy Mwandla.”

Ahmed says that Aspen Shortfest was also exciting because it allowed him to interact and attend some amazing workshops and presentations. These included a Special Presentation by Bob Rafelson (Five Easy Pieces, Easy Rider, The Postman Always Rings Twice) Ahmed says that ” Rafelson ,whose topic for discussion was: Confessions of a Filmmaker, was illuminating as he engaged us with his experiences in making films. His reflections and observations about the craft that been his focus for over fifty years was inspiring to both aspiring and experienced filmmakers.” The Aspen Director Spotlight this year was on writer-director Jason Reitman who spoke about his work as director of short films and as a successful commercials director. He also screened his new feature, Thank You for Smoking. Screenwriter Frank Pierson shared an analysis of his timeless Dog Day Afternoon. MasterWorks offered a spirited Directors Panel with Oscar-winner Paul Haggis (Screenplay: Million Dollar Baby, Director: Crash), Mark Polish (Northfork), and Peter Segal (Anger Management, The Longest Yard).

Ahmed says that a major dilemma facing short film producers is trying to find an outlet for exhibition outside film festivals. An expert panel broadened his knowledge as to the proliferation of screening/distribution channels which included iTunes to cell phone, from cable and broad brand services, the internet and beyond. This panel comprised of Kim Adelman (short film columnist for indieWIRE, former short film producer for Fox Movie Channel and author of The Ultimate Filmmaker’s Guide to Short Films), Linda Olszewski (Head of N. and S. American Acquisitions, Development, Production for Shorts International), Megan O’Neill (Vice President of Acquisitions & Development for AtomFilms), and Romen Podzyhun (Chair & CEO of Channel Zero and corporate head of programming for Movieola – The Short Film Channel).

Ahmed concludes: “Aspen Shortfest 2006 was not only an affirmation that our films can compete with the best in the world but it also afforded me the opportunity to extend my knowledge in terms of marketing our films- including selling skills and ideas. It was also an incredible platform to network and build relationships with an international band of filmmakers from Palestine, Australia, England, Norway, USA and many other countries. It also focused my own work in terms of developing specific goals and the affirmation that we continue to tell our own unique stories in our visionary voices and that these do find resonances and critical acclaim in the rest of the world.”

“LUCKY”

  • A 20 minute short film written and directed by Avie Luthra
  • Produced by Junaid Ahmed (SA) and Bex Hopkins (UK)
  • For further information please contact:
  • Director: Avie Luthra | +44 7971 836904 | avieluthra@btinternet.com This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Producer: Junaid Ahmed | +27 31 2611154 / 0824446682 | junaid@fineline.co.za This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Producer: Bex Hopkins | +44 7968 772093 | bex.hopkins@btinternet.com This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Key Screenings of Lucky thus far:

Screened at over 40 festivals to date including the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2005, London Film Festival 2005, American Film Institute Festival Los Angeles 2005, Brief Encounters 2005, Clermont Ferrand 2006, The Berlin International Film Festival 2006, Cinequest SanJose 2006, Aspen Short Fest, San Francisco International Film Festival, Milan International Film Festival, Phoenix Film Festival, Nashville Film Festival, Newport Beach Film Festival, Beverley Hills International Film Festival, Malibu International Film Festival and many others.

LUCKY Awards To Date:

  • Nominated: BAFTA Best Short Film 2006
  • Winner Film Council Completion Fund 2005
  • Winner: Special Mention AFI Fest LA 2005
  • Winner Special Mention Clermont Ferrand 2006
  • Winner Best Narrative short Cinequest San Jose 2006
  • Winner Best Short Film Bradford International FFest 2006
  • Winner Best Short Film (Youth Jury) Milan African/Asian/Latin FFest 2006
  • Winner SENSIS award Honorable Mention Milan AAL FFest 2006
  • Winner ISMU Special Mention Milan AAL FFest 2006
  • Winner REMI award Houston WorldFest 2006
  • Winner Honorable Mention IndieProducer Awards, LA 2006
  • Winner Youth Jury Award Aspen Shortfest, Colorado 2006
  • Winner Special Jury Recognition for Outstanding Performance by a Child, Aspen Shortfest, Colorado 2006

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