"Forty Years from Yesterday" was selected for showing at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland in mid-August.
"Locarno rarely screens more than one or two U.S. feature films, so this is amazing," said Cinematic Arts faculty member and Mill Valley Film Festival programmer Karen Davis. "Proud is an understatement!"
"Forty Years" is entered in the festival's Concorso Cineasti del Presente, a competition dedicated to emerging directors from all over the world. Sixteen feature films, from documentary to fiction, were selected for screening.
With its remote setting in the foothills of the Swiss Alps, the festival seems to be an unlikely spot for one of the world's most enduring film festivals, according to the Hollywood Reporter, yet it has been around since 1946.
Two CSUMB alumni have made their feature film directorial debut with a powerful examination of love and loss.
“Forty Years from Yesterday,” by Robert Machoian (TAT ’07) and Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck (TAT ’09), will have its world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June.
The film tells the story of Bruce, a widower who is struggling to deal with the death of his wife. In writing the script, Machoian imagined how his mother’s death would unfold for his own family, capturing what his siblings would feel in losing a parent and his father’s pain in facing the death of his partner.
Machoian’s family plays their real-life roles in the film. That includes his mother as Suzette, the wife and mother who dies in the film, and his father as Suzette’s husband.
“This film, through our exploration of how we might deal with such a tragedy ourselves, will bring the audience to reflect on the losses they have faced in the past and those they will have to face in the future,” Machoian told Indiewire.com.
In a recent interview with the Davis Enterprise, the filmmakers declined to reveal many plot details. “I think the end is actually very hopeful,” Ojeda-Beck said. “It focuses on the people who survive.”
The L.A. festival runs from June 13 through 23 and will show nearly 200 feature films, shorts and music videos from 40 countries. “Forty Years from Yesterday” will screen in the narrative competition, for films made by talented emerging filmmakers who will compete for the Filmmaker Award. A panel of jurors will select the winner from among the 12 entries in the category.
Machoian and Ojeda-Beck met at CSUMB. In 2010, they started their own company, 433 Pictures, as a way to share their work in narrative, documentary and experimental film. In the four years of their collaboration, they have produced more than 80 films.
Their short film, Charlie and the Rabbit, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010, and then played in more than 30 festivals. Three years later, Machoian returned to Sundance with two short films, part of a series shot on his iPhone that he calls Movies Made from Home.
After leaving CSUMB, both headed to graduate school. Ojeda-Beck earned a master of fine arts degree from UC Berkeley and is currently a lecturer in the Teledramatic Arts and Technology Department at CSUMB. Machoian earned a master’s at UC Davis.
Photo: Robert Machoian and Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck screen their short, Charlie and the Rabbit, on campus. At right is department chair Enid Blader.