Dear Mama:
Winner of the Deutsche Bank Frieze Los Angeles Film Award Announced

The annual Deutsche Bank Frieze Los Angeles Film Award has been presented for the second time. As in the previous year, after an open call ten young filmmakers from Los Angeles were selected for a four-month coaching program by the renowned Ghetto Film School. Their task: to make a short film about five minutes long, inspired by the cultural and social landscape of Los Angeles. The $10,000 prize, awarded by Deutsche Bank in cooperation with Frieze Los Angeles and the nonprofit organization Ghetto Film School, honors aspiring filmmakers between the ages of 18 and 34. In addition, viewers were able to vote online for an audience award endowed with $2,500.

This year, the prompt was “Ocean.” Oceans can be symbols of connection and separation, places of danger and refuge at the same time. Although they seem to be outside of the human sphere, the oceans are affected by our behavior, and the future of the oceans is inextricably linked to our own. The ocean theme was meant to provide an associative framework for thinking about the complex contemporary situation of the coastal city of Los Angeles.

The ten filmmakers nominated for the shortlist were Tayo Amos, Alyse Arteaga, Giselle Bonilla, Jeremy Burkett, Jane Chow, Ashley Chrisman, David Liu, Ciara Zoe, John Rizkallah, and Andrés Vázquez. The themes of the contributions ranged from mental illness to spirituality, from survival in the so-called gig economy to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. All of the films are available at Frieze.com.

The winners were chosen by a jury from the art and film industries, including Thelma Golden (director of the Studio Museum in Harlem), Alana Mayo (president of Orion Pictures), actress Naomi Scott, Amanda Sharp (cofounder of Frieze), and, last but not least, Claudio de Sanctis (Head of International Private Bank, Deutsche Bank).

The award recipients have now been honored in a virtual ceremony. The winner of the Deutsche Bank Frieze Los Angeles Film Awards 2021 is Dear Mama by John Rizkallah. In this touching short film, a young woman from the Middle East roams through Los Angeles and tells her mother at home about her first encounter with the metropolis.

John Rizkallah is a first-generation Palestinian-American writer and director from Southern California. His film Mallory, Los Angeles won the Grand Jury Prize at the Riverside International Film Festival and won him Best Director at the Biola Film Festival. His films have selected at the Newport Beach Film Festival, Arab Film Festival, LA Shorts Festival, among others. Rizkallah has also been doing standup comedy for over seven years.

The audience award went to Jane Chow's moving short film, Sorry for the Inconvenience. In Los Angeles’ Chinatown, a lonely teenager tries to help her parents keep their seafood restaurant afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jane Chow is a writer-director from Hong Kong. Her films and web series have been recognized at numerous film festivals, including the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival and Geena Davis’ Bentonville Film Festival. She has directed music videos and branded content for major clients such as TikTok, Tinder, and the Biden/Harris election campaign.