As the largest academic film and media program in Georgia, the School of Film, Media & Theatre at Georgia State challenges its students with ambitious college-to-career experiences. One such project is “I Am Here” film short, a first-time international collaboration with the Canadian Consulate and Canadian institutions Sheridan College in Oakville and Seneca College in Toronto, along with Clayton State University in Atlanta.
A poignant 22-minute film, “I Am Here” tells the story of a young Syrian sister and brother who, separated by the civil war, undergo their own journeys to be reunited years later through the power of poetry, persistence and friendship. “Rarely do students get to work on a professional project like this while they are in school,” said Phil Lewis, a Georgia State professor of film and co-executive producer. “To cross borders and work with four different schools and executive producers from two countries is a unique advantage. Our students really got a chance to do some great work of great importance.”
Two years in the making, the film project required a solid year of detailed planning and scheduling to shoot on-location in both Atlanta and Ontario. Faculty leaders from both sides of the border formed counterpart U.S. and Canadian teams of writers, directors and producers, creating mirror-image crews to execute the project. These crews, made up of undergraduate and graduate students, alumni and professional industry volunteers, mindfully prioritized diversity and inclusion among their ranks. “This isn’t something that happens,” said student producer Katie Leaman of the 60/40 ratio of women to men and other represented communities on set. “This is something that we planned. Georgia State is one of the most diverse campuses in the United States, and we wanted to represent what that looks like.”
“I Am Here” stars Alex Mousavi, Shadia Shunnara and Faly Mevamanana and was directed by Matt Long and Amalia Williamson, written by Paul Daniel Torres and Catrina Dygert and produced by Donovan Stanley, Cameron Thorpe, Logan Wagner and Katie Leaman.
The fruits of these efforts are beginning to take shape for cast and crew alike. This November, “I Am Here” will appear publicly for the first time at the Rome International Film Festival in the Narrative Short category, part of an ongoing film festival campaign not only to win audiences globally but also to showcase the Georgia State film program’s real-world opportunities. “I Am Here” will also hold private screenings both in Atlanta and Toronto. For updates, please follow the film’s social page on Facebook.