Two budding filmmakers turned identity into success at this year’s FusionFest, earning big prizes for their documentary portraits of some local cultural luminaries who hail from other lands. Omar Young and Carlos Rocha scored major wins from the panel of expert judges at the annual multicultural festival, with Young also the recipient of an audience award that had been handed out earlier in the year.
At FusionFest, Young was awarded the $1,000 grand prize for his film, The Art of Patrick Noze, a documentary short about the titular fine artist and gallery owner. In the film, Noze displays introspection and some wry humor as he retraces his fraught but ultimately rewarding life’s path from Haiti to New York to Central Florida.
Like all of the 23 shorts in FusionFest 2019’s “MYgration” film contest, Young’s effort had to be brainstormed and assembled over the course of a hectic 48 hours. It was a challenge the Peruvian-born filmmaker, who came to Orlando 11 years ago, approached with great relish.
“My experience was fantastic!” he says. “I enlisted the help of my friend and extremely talented director of photography, Kevin Garcia, and went about planning how to write, shoot and edit a documentary in a matter of just two days.”
The finished product, along with the other 22 entries in the MYgration contest, was previewed for the public last September, as part of a special screening during the Global Peace Film Festival. There, Young’s film was declared best in the contest by a vote of the assembled audience members.
For that success, Young gives significant credit to his subject, Noze: “His energy and passion were inspiring! I believe this much shows in the film, which is why I am beyond happy that it won both the Audience and Grand Jury Awards. Patrick’s art and story deserve to be celebrated, and the Global Peace Film Festival and FusionFest felt like the perfect place for this to happen.”
Also at FusionFest, Full Sail University student Carlos Rocha was awarded a $250 membership to Maitland’s Enzian Theater for “Peace Through Dance,” his portrait of Irish-born dancer and choreographer Sarah Costello. The film gives Costello a platform to describe her upbringing in the turbulent environment of Northern Ireland, along with personal losses she weathered while becoming an international touring dancer and ultimately an Orlando-based business owner. (Costello’s company, Central Florida Irish Dance, won the entertainment grand prize at 2018’s inaugural FusionFest.)
For the South American-born Rocha, who only arrived in Orlando last June (after a time spent living in California), the opportunity to celebrate other immigrants was deeply appreciated.
“I was able to speak with/interview others who have lived in other parts of the world and now call Orlando home,” he says. “I thoroughly enjoyed highlighting the connection we all have as citizens of this planet through film. Everyone has a story, and every story is uniquely amazing.”
The second annual FusionFest drew approximately 15,000 people to downtown Orlando November 30 and December 1 for two days of music, dance, food, fashion and other cultural displays keyed to more than 100 local heritage communities. The festival will return to the Seneff Arts Plaza at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and the Orlando City Hall Commons Plaza for its third edition, scheduled for November 28 and 29, 2020. For more information, visit: fusionfest.org
For more on Young’s work, see: