Fusion Finalists Spotlight: Docs-in-the-Works

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By Editorial Co-Heads Rachel Lambert & Siena Richardson.

Many incredible artists will be featured in this year’s Fusion Film Festival screening and competition. We reached out to the finalists from all 12 categories to get to know more about who they are, what inspires them, and how they feel about being a part of Fusion.


Serena Dykman
Major in Film & Television, Minor in Business of Entertainment – Tisch School of the Arts
Class of May 2015
Hometowns: Paris, France and Brussels, Belgium
Film: NANA

Erin Sayder
Major in Documentary Film, Photography, and Psychoanalysis – Gallatin School of Individualized Study
Class of May 2016
Hometown: London, England
Film: Lex

Giselle Bonilla
Major in Film & Television – Tisch School of the Arts
Class of 2017
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Film: Dulce


How did you decide to become a writer/filmmaker/animator/etc.?

Serena: I had been very involved with theatre my entire life, acting on stage. And I had always been curious about the film world. I took a class in London called “from story to screen in 8 weeks” where each student had to write and direct a short film. I took it to understand what it was like, as an actor, to direct. But as soon as I actually had to direct, make these decisions, and share my vision with my cast and crew, I realized that that’s really how I wanted to tell my stories, from behind the lens.

Erin: I realized how much I loved making documentary films when I watched one of the first interviews I ever shot. The subject was so engaging that the footage was even more powerful than when I was in the studio with him. We called it “The Golden Interview,” and it still gives me chills to watch.

Giselle: I have worked professionally as an actress since the age of 12, but I felt my background as a Mexican-American limited my opportunities as an artist. I grew increasingly frustrated over playing the same cholas, immigrants, and illiterate teenagers Hollywood kept regurgitating from an outsider’s perspective. This frustration became a motivating factor for me to pursue a career in writing and directing in order to broaden the narrow perspective Hollywood has on the vibrant beautiful culture Latinos share.

What inspires you?

Serena: New York has been a great source of inspiration for my past shorts. It is an endless well of stories. But in a more general sense, I would say traveling and getting to know other people and ways of life is always an inspiration for me.

Erin: Diane Arbus, Martin Parr, and Lex.

Why did you submit to Fusion?

Serena: I think it’s amazing and very important to make a festival centered around women filmmakers. And what was particularly appealing on top of the female filmmakers and high quality of events, attendees, and panels, was the opportunity to pitch my feature documentary NANA to HBO, VICE, and Chicken & Egg amongst others.

Erin: I submitted to the Fusion Film Festival because it is FABULOUS! Naturally, I love the fact that it celebrates women in the industry.

Giselle: I felt Fusion was the perfect platform to express my suppressed desire to be an artist that doesn’t allow my ethnicity or gender to define me but to inspire me.

Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you?

Serena: I have a passion for elephants and South East Asia. And I think that there is something magical in filmmaking in the sense that not everything can be explained or theorized.

The screening of Fusion Film Festival finalists and the awards ceremony will take place at 6:30pm at Cantor Film Center on Saturday, March 5th.