Newport Beach, CA (April 1, 2014)- The 2014 Newport Beach film festival will host the world premiere of writer/director Ian Ebright’s debut film From the Sky, where it has been chosen as an official selection for the event entering its 15th year in Southern California. Ebright’s unique fictional story, exploring the challenges and consequences of living underneath drone strikes and drone surveillance, will screen with the feature documentary Behind the Blue Veil at Starlight Triangle Square Cinemas in Costa Mesa on April 30th. For ticketing and venue information visit http://www.newportbeachfilmfest.com.
From the Sky follows a humble father Hakeem and his troubled son Abbas, two poverty-stricken goat herders living as nomads in the Middle East in a region frequently targeted by drone strikes. Camp is set for the night; a pause in the middle of a journey to make a crucial sale. During their meal, Abbas struggles to manage his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, aggravated by the presence of drones overhead. Soon, two men visit the camp of Hakeem and Abbas, leading to a confrontation which forces the young man to make a choice between the way of peace modeled by his father, or the path of retaliation articulated by the charismatic man, Dhiya. From the Sky is a film about rites of passage, the roots of extremism, and the destructive cycle of revenge.
Since the early 2000s, reports estimate that drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia have claimed thousands of lives, a significant percentage of those belonging to civilians including women and children. In addition to the death toll and thousands of injuries, studies have revealed populations are being crippled by PTSD as a result of frequent drone surveillance.
For Ebright, the reporting provided a troubling and timely foundation from which he could build an original story, bolstered by the visceral impact only found in cinema. Ebright stated, “Other films are focusing on the drone pilots and the implications drone warfare has for those of us in the West, but I believe we can’t fully understand the significance of drones without walking in the shoes of people living under them.” For this reason, Ebright set the story entirely in the Middle East, conducted extensive research, hosted an ongoing dialogue with Middle Eastern advisers throughout the screenwriting phase, and cast actors who speak fluent Arabic. The film represents a powerful collaboration between the writer/director, cast, crew, advisers including Oscar-nominated producer John Sinno (Iraq in Fragments), and interpreters including Syrian actor Jay Abdo (Werner Herzog’s upcoming Queen of the Desert).
From the Sky stars Maz Siam (Argo, Scandal, The Mindy Project) and Mohamad Tamimi (who played a young Saddam Hussein in the award-winning short film Thief). The production team includes noteworthy talent such as editor Eric Frith. Frith cut director Megan Griffiths’ breakthrough independent feature Eden which won the audience awards at SXSW 2012 and Milan International Film Festival 2013, and also edited the prominent documentaries Finding Hillywood and A Lot Like You. From the Sky features internationally acclaimed ambient electronic artist loscil who composed an original score for the film, and the Emmy Award-winning post production audio team from Bad Animals in Seattle who worked closely with Ebright to create a haunting drone strike sequence.
Before focusing on writing and directing, Ebright blogged for five years on topics including human rights, and was a film critic and journalist for entertainment websites in New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle. He also studied directing, cinematography, and editing at the Seattle Film Institute.
In the end, Ebright believes the film and its themes are both topical and timeless. He added “From the Sky is a challenging story of humanity in the midst of horror, and if I’ve done my job well, it’s a film that will resonate and linger. I’m excited to share From the Sky with audiences and am hopeful that it will create productive reflection and dialogue.”
Screening Date: April 30, 2014
Screening Time: 5:15PM
Screening Location: Starlight Triangle Square Cinemas
This event is open to the public.