Film of the Week

Desperate measures are taken to escape a violent world concealed within an isolated cottage. 

Ellie screened at NFFTY 2016 in the Edge of Your Seat category. 


Morgana McKenzie is an award-winning filmmaker, creating her own short films and working as a cinematographer and colorist for other filmmakers. Morgana’s films have screened internationally at over 100 festivals and won over 30 awards. Morgana’s latest short film “Ellie” screened at over 25 festivals and won 14 awards including the Gerturde Löwengren Award for Best Fiction film from TIFF Next Wave Jump Cuts. Morgana was awarded Best Director Under 25 at the 2015 Ottawa Independent Video Awards, and Best Emerging Female Filmmaker award at NFFTY 2014 in Seattle.

Morgana's film "GIFTS" screened at NFFTY 2014, and was awarded NFFTY's first Best Emerging Female Filmmaker award, and a scholarship to The Prodigy Camp. Her narrative music video "We All Go the Same" screened at NFFTY 2015.

 Morgana shooting test footage for an upcoming film. 

Morgana shooting test footage for an upcoming film. 

A Brief Interview with Morgana:

Why did you decide to make this film?

After receiving a scholarship from NFFTY in 2014 to attend The Prodigy Camp, I wrote Ellie as my camp film. Camp was an awesome experience, but ultimately shooting Ellie ended up being too complex to complete within the camp’s three hour shooting window. That incomplete 2014 version of Ellie was a learning experience, and I put the project on hold. Nearly a year later I was able to revisit the idea of making Ellie again, but back in Canada. I funded through Kickstarter and raised more than my target, worked with a professional casting director to hire union actors, and found a great location in Quebec to rent. The fact that I had to put the film on hold for a year ended up working to my advantage. With Ellie I wanted to create something in the style of a classic suspense film, where violence happens off camera and information isn’t immediately clear. Putting the film on hold allowed me time to stay true to these goals, and develop Ellie the way I saw best.

What was your favorite part about making it?

The most memorable moments for me came from the shoot days. Ellie was shot over one week in a cabin, with crew and actors staying on location. This made for a very intimate working environment where everyone became close quick. It made for better shoots, but it also gave me lasting friendships that I didn’t anticipate making. I was able to fly out my friend and fellow filmmaker Max Retik to work on lighting. We met at NFFTY and became friends, but being able to work together during that week was really wonderful. With Max and the rest of the cast and crew, the shoot became very relaxed and smooth, and one of the best I’ve had so far.

What are you working on now?

I am in the final stages of post production on a music video for the song “Atlas World” by London group Liu Bei. It is a narrative music video that follows a young child through a beautifully nightmarish journey, as the song itself is a contrast of beauty, wonder, and darkness. To achieve the look I wanted, I managed to get permits to shoot in some unique local heritage sites including caves, ruins, and bogs. But that meant long and challenging shoots, in tight spaces or outdoors in the rain, often in thigh-high water for hours at a time. The upside is I have some really interesting visuals that I’m excited to share when the music video is released in a month or two!

Find Morgana Online: 

Website: http://morganamckenzie.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/morganafilms/
Instagram: @MorganaFilms -- https://www.instagram.com/morganafilms/
Twitter: @MorganaFilms -- https://twitter.com/MorganaFilms


Bird In Cage

An intense visual experience; a dance phrase repeats three times in a skylit room with variations on shot composition, film editing, and frame rate.

Bird in Cage screened at NFFTY 2016 in the Experimental Visions category. It also played at the American Dance Festival, 40 North Dance Film Festival, and the Sans Souci Festival of Dance Cinema.

Bird in Cage | Dance from Martin Barshai on Vimeo.

About the Director:


After college (NYU) and a year in hell-hole Los Angeles, Martin Barshai moved to Long Beach. He makes videos of things that inspire him like great stories or skilled dancers. He once did a low-paid freelance video for Vogue Magazine. He thought making that video would bring him a lot more work than it has. His film BIRD IN CAGE has screened all over the USA: Seattle, Durham, New York City, Boulder, and San Diego. A shoestring budget 5 Episode web series called NARANJA was also crafted over the course of his first year in L.A. He likes showing the final episode to his friends. Martin’s DIY work ethic and ability to convince old college friends to make movies with him is a guarantee he will one day direct multi-million dollar projects. For now, he is focused on developing a style unlike anything that’s come before it. Toodaloo!

A brief interview with Martin:

Why did you decide to make this film?

There was an enormous urgency to escape New York City while I was living there. It’s an interesting city that sucks you in and tries to keep you there and sometimes you feel like you just want to break out. So the idea I was trying to express was this longing for freedom– from the monotonous repetition of living in NYC, the high stress and fast pace. I wanted to make a video that had more edits per second than anything I’ve seen before. I also love Phil Glass.

What was your favorite part about making it?

The editing process. It was supposed to be a slow paced video cut to “Music for Airports” by Brian Eno. Leslie, the dancer, actually choreographed the piece to that song. In the editing room (which was just my old college desk in my apartment), I realized that I could take that choreography and make it something completely different because it had such slow and methodical movement.

What are you working on now?

I’ve co-written and directed what I hope will be a viral video framed as a product unpacking Vlog titled “Snapchat Spectacles Winter Haul 2016 — Oops I broke them! ;)” If you’ve seen it, I guess it worked. If not, then it exists among the realm of the majority– wandering in the abyss of obscurity.

Find Martin Online:

Website: www.martinbarshai.com

Instagram: @mbarshai


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