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Fortune Cookie an AFI thesis film
With easing of global travel through the past century, immigration real life drama's are a common place. People wander around to seek their dreams and fortunes. But some times, a story has the capacity to shock you, compelling enough to get you into doing a cross-sectional analysis of human society and behaviour. This story is one such.
"In October 2013, a brutal butchering took place in Brooklyn New York and shocked the city. Having illegally slipped into the U.S. at the age of 16, 25-year-old Chen Mindong stabbed his cousin’s wife and their 4 children to death. 3 years later, He was given a 125 years life sentence."
This short film is based on a research article by a New York based Journalist who spent an year researching this case and its history. Subsequently, the director, Rhyme Lu visited the convicted in the New York prison to try and understand him in first hand. The conversation is a fascinating tale of human psychology. The screenplay is based on this interview and the research article.
Film Synopsis | Adaptation of the true story
A 25 years old Chinese, Yuzhong Chen has taken a debt of $70,000 to be smuggled into united States of America. He makes a life threatening journey over 3 months on an old boat along with 400 other immigrants. He looses his father on their way trespassing into the U.S. As he struggles to make a living in Chinese kitchens, he seeks legal identity through political asylum. He willingly bends down his head and works as a modern slave in the hope that one day he would have a real life: To run his own restaurant, marry a woman, start a family. The key to this life is a legal identity. After spending 8 years in various parts of the states, one day, he gets a phone call from his lawyer saying that he missed his immigration court hearing and has been issued a deportation note. Where would the tide of destiny take him?
As a highly acclaimed Iranian film director says: The law only sees the crime and passes judgement. The fabric of a crime is far more complex and as a director, one must investigate all those layers.
Shooting: May & July 2017
Super 16mm Kodak film | Arri 416 plus | Ultra16 lenses
This unique format was picked after extensive testing to retain the grittiness and absolute rawness of the story. Kodak was happy to extend its support for the film. All the above pictures are shot with the kodak 5219 motion picture stock.
About the filmmakers
Shiyu Rhyme Lu | ???
Rhyme Lu is a directing fellow at American Film Institute. He graduated from Brown University in 2013 with a BS in Applied Math and Economics. However, he has been preparing for a filmmaking career since sophomore year. In the last two years after graduation, Rhyme has worked on four Chinese feature films as assistant director. He was fortunate enough to have collaborated with and learned from great Chinese directors such as Ho-cheung Pang, Jeffrey Lau and Stanley Kwan. Feature productions honed his execution and communication skills. Rhyme also directed many commercial videos, enhancing his directing and creative skills.
Danwen Lei | ???
Danwen Lei is a producing fellow at American Film Institute. She received a Fine Art degree from Beijing Film Academy in China, accomplished more than 10 student films in different positions including editor, VFX producer, producer and director. She also worked on the 3D feature film THE MONKEY KING as VFX supervisor assistant. As a producer assistant at Top Production Pictures, she did pre-production for 3D large-format film MYSTERIES OF ANCIENT CHINA and THE YELLOW RIVER. Her graduation project WHERE THE DREAM BEGINS was a finalist for Outstanding VFX in a Student Project at the 12th Annual Visual Effects Society Awards.
Ashish Dawar is a cinematography fellow at American Film Institute. Originally from India, He has shot and produced a variety of content in India for 6 years till 2015. Earlier, He had graduated with MBA from the illustrious Sri Sathya Sai University in 2005. He subsequently followed his dream to tell stories & create imagery at the Maine Media Workshops, Maine in 2008. The first narrative feature he shot in 2011, UNDER THE SAME SUN, had a world premier at the Mill Valley Film Festival 2015 in San Francisco (won the Silver Audience Choice Award). Recently, it won the Best foreign film at the 2017 Sedona International Film Festival. Subsequently, He shot a language feature - KANDATHAI SOLLUGIREN (2015) for National Award winning director, B.Lenin. He also shot a documentary feature called JHATKA (2014) for Mr. Lenin.
Matt Allen is a editing fellow at American Film Institute. He is a graduate of Pepperdine University with a BA in Media Production. He served as office intern at CBS Films and provided support on the films THE DUFF, WHAT IF and PRIDE. While studying in London, Matt attended courses at the VET Post Production Facility in East London and received his Avid Media Composer User Certification. He interned with the Weinstein Company at the 2014 and 2015 Cannes Film Festivals. Matt edited the independent feature film MY FRIEND VIOLET that will be released next year.
Matthew Pancer is a screenwritting fellow at American Film Institute. He is a recent graduate of Toronto's York University, with a BFA in Film Production. His short film WAVELENGTHS competed at the Cannes Film Festival, and his short film BILLY THE KID was a finalist at the Austin and Oaxaca Film Festival. Matthew has won several awards, including Best Upper Year Project for his multidisciplinary research project, "The Certainty Paradox." He has written scripts for AFI alumni Eleanor Lindo and has been mentored by AWAY FROM HER cinematographer Luc Montpellier. Matthew's favorite film is Elem Klimov's COME AND SEE, and his favorite director is Andrei Tarkovsky.
At the world-renowned AFI Conservatory, a dedicated group of working professionals from the film and television communities serve as mentors in nurturing the talents of tomorrow's storytellers. The Conservatory is consistently recognised as one of the world’s top film schools. Established in 1969, the two-year Master of Fine Arts program provides training in six filmmaking disciplines: Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design and Screenwriting. Admission to AFI Conservatory is highly selective, with a maximum of only 140 graduates per year.
NOTABLE AFI ALUMNI
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