By Catherine Woo
Welcome to NYWIFT, Hyonok Kim!
Hyonok is an award-winning filmmaker and choreographer who creates innovative and experimental film. Hyonok was born in South Korea, then studied film and dance in Paris and New York. Rather than dialogue, her films use dance to express interactions, bringing the emotional experience to the viewer. She choreographed and directed 15 dance films including Weeping Water, For Sunrise, Dance with Horses, Ode on a Korean Urn, Isle of Waiting Souls, Passion & Rebirth, South Sea to Isang Yun and L’Heure de Coq. Her films were shown at international film festivals and broadcasted in France, Germany, Australia, China, Korea, the Netherlands, and the USA. Now, she lives and works in the Bronx.
Hyonok shares her inspirations in nature, as a choreographer and as a storyteller here!
Describe yourself. Give us your elevator pitch!
I am an award-winning filmmaker and choreographer. My goal is pushing boundaries while embracing and elevating the arts. Instead of using dialogue, I create a film with a new language, depending on the union of expressive movements, music, set, atmosphere. I am concerned with conveying profound emotion, to externalize inner experiences through circumstances in a way that could stir similar responses in the viewer.
What brings you to NYWIFT?
I would like to communicate with other filmmakers and collaborate together.
What is the best and worst advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice is to listen yourself. The worst is to eliminate what was already conceived in order to write script.
What attracted you to the role as a choreographer?
It attracts me to express deep inner feeling within a theme by human body.
How has your experience as a choreographer informed the way that you direct films?
Choreography means writing. It creates a language same as a film creates a language. It attracts me to use choreographic language in cinematic way in film to convey an emotion. Dance and film arts are both the art of time. In that sense, the choreography informs story to tell a story.
So many of your short films center nature and natural elements. How do you explore this theme through your choreography and direction?
I believe that nature has a spiritual power. I would like to capture the spiritual vision and bring [it] to the theatre. For me, location is important. Natural elements also become a set design which set the atmosphere desired for the film and play a role as secondary character. It also gives a challenge to movements.
What’s next for you? Are there any upcoming projects that you’re excited about?
I have an upcoming project which I plan to shoot in the Southwestern desert in America.
You can find Hyonok at her website, https://www.hyonokimdancearts.com/copy-of-b-i-o.
Welcome to NYWIFT, Melisa Ramos! Melisa is a filmmaker and professor from Puerto Rico, bringing 14 years of post-production and motion graphics experience to New York. Her first production, Puerto Rican Voices, a docu-series about the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Following Puerto Rican Voices, Melisa continued to share Puerto Rican and Latin American stories. In 2020, she directed and produced From Performers to Spectators, a doc-series showcasing New York City performers during lockdown. She is currently in production on Hoop Warrior, her first feature film. Read all about Melisa’s journey as an editor and artist here!READ MORE
Welcome to NYWIFT, Aisha Amin! Aisha is an NYC-based writer and director. As a director, her work expands across narrative, documentary, and experimental forms to tell authentic stories built from real experiences. Her past film projects have explored and highlighted overlooked communities particularly in New York City, including formerly incarcerated mothers and communities struggling with the presence of gentrification in their neighborhoods. Amongst her directing, Aisha is an emerging screenwriting and was selected to participate in Cine Qua Non’s 2022 Screenwriting Lab. She is a 2022 recipient of NYFA’s Tomorrowland Grant and a 2021 recipient of the NYFA Women's Fund grant. She was a recipient of the 2019-2020 Sally Burns Shenkman Woman Filmmaker Fellowship at the Jacob Burns Film Center where she directed two short documentaries. She is also a recipient of The Shed's Open Call Fellowship where she expanded her film practice to installation art. Aisha spoke to us about her favorite styles of storytelling, the intersection of narrative and documentary, and her latest projects.READ MORE
Welcome to NYWIFT, Lorena R. Valenica! Lorena R. Valencia is a Mexican writer-director based in New York. Her directorial debut and MFA thesis film, Cuanacaquilitl (Dandelion), received the 2022 National Board of Review Student Award and is an Official Selection in several international film festivals, including the Morelia International Film Festival, the Atlanta Film Festival, the New York Latino Film Festival, and the NewFilmmakers Los Angeles Film Festival. Lorena is passionate about both narrative and documentary storytelling and is interested in addressing issues such as reproductive rights, identity, and belonging. Currently, she is directing Mi Ranchito, a documentary short film that explores resilience and love for the land, while she is developing her debut feature film, Mayahuel. Lorena spoke to us about inspiring empathy through storytelling, the overlap of narrative and documentary filmmaking, and her latest projects.READ MORE
NYWIFT Member Emily Sheskin’s return to DOC NYC 2023 is particularly meaningful. In 2017, she attended the festival with her short film Girl Boxer, about a 10-year-old champion female boxer and her adoring father. Six years later, Sheskin returns with a feature-length film following the same family, now facing an entirely new set of challenges. In Jesszilla, New Jersey’s own Jesselyn Silva, a three-time national boxing champion, is on her way to superstardom, dominating the junior ranks at the age of 15. With her every step of the way is her father, Pedro, a single parent who helps her navigate coaches, training schedules, and the angst of teenage life. When a devastating diagnosis threatens the father-daughter tandem, the pair turn to each other to fight their greatest opponent yet: cancer. Director and Executive Producer Emily Sheskin spoke to us about her unique journey following this family.READ MORE