Fusion Winners’ Statements 2017

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We asked this year’s Fusion winners to tell us what Fusion Film Festival has meant to them, here is what some of these talented women had to say about Fusion:

This is my fourth year entering the Fusion Film festival. In the past four years, I’ve entered in the short film category, the pilot category, and now the feature category. Being able to go to the brunches and screenings that Fusion puts on, especially ones featuring director Reed Morano and producer Christine Vachon, has been a great tool to hear from these pioneers in the industry. Not only has Fusion been integral to learning from working women in the industry, but it’s also been great to see my peers’ work and partner with companies like Final Draft and the Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation, who sponsor the festival. Fusion has also been a great platform for me to show my parents the work that we do here at NYU.”- Jennifer Helen Coats (Undergrad Feature Screenplay)

Fusion is immensely significant. It is so important that we celebrate and applaud the women in our industry. Even though women should be applauded and recognized daily that is not the case…yet. So this festival at least gets people thinking about women in the industry. The majority of, my film, Ocean Song’s team are hardworking, extremely talented women and they should all be honored. I’m glad that there’s a festival that brings light to women especially during these times.” – Erica Lu (Animation)

It’s such an honor to be a part of the Fusion Film Festival this year! There is nothing more important right now than a festival like Fusion to represent new voices of incredibly diverse women.   I absolutely love watching the film presentations during the festival and as a writer there is nothing more exciting than seeing your name on the big screen as it’s presented in a category! I thank Fusion for recognizing my screenplay. I hope one day I can tell the story of how it all started at Fusion!” – Shamar S White (Grad Feature Screenplay)

I’m so honored to be part of the Fusion Film Festival for the second year in a row. Fusion has been such an integral part of my time here at NYU. It’s illuminating and thrilling to be part of a festival supporting women’s voices, especially in light of the current state of our country where our female voices need to be heard now more than ever.” – Jennifer A Rudin (Grad Half Hour Pilot)

I remember learning about fusion from a friend, early in the school year. I was expressing my annoyance when, looking at a credit list of my favorite movie, I came to realize that most of the names listed, were men. She told me she had joined fusion as a volunteer, and I immediately became interested in the group. Knowing that there was a group on campus of brilliant female minds and people empowering women like me in the entertainment field gave me confidence and drive. When I sat in lecture, I began to stop dwelling on the lack of females in film, but basking in the fact that we are present and growing in numbers. When I learned my piece was the winner at the fusion festival, I knew my voice, not as a female director, but a director, was being heard. Seeing the amazing works my fellow peers was an incredible experience, and extremely inspiring.” – Ewruakua Dawson-Amoah (Rising Star)

I feel honored to have had the opportunity to participate in Fusion this year. As a woman entering the film and TV industry, I have been getting apprehensive about the lack of space for women filmmakers and creators to tell their story. Hearing HBO’s Kelly Edwards speak and seeing the work of my peers screened at Fusion, I feel hopeful about the future of the industry.” – Leah Gross (Undergraduate Half-Hour Pilot)

I love the positive spirit of the festival.  The support, dedication and encouragement of the organizers are amazing.  This is my 2nd time winning and I’m eager to be back again with another project.“- Laima Alami (Web Series)

Fusion means so much to me. I’ve been attending the festival since my freshman year, and being able to finally participate has been such a great experience. To me, Fusion is a place to celebrate the work that women are doing in film, and more importantly to encourage more and more female artists to make their voices heard.” – Nyssa Shaw-Smith (Undergraduate Hour Pilot)

Fusion creates great opportunities for you, to show your work and to receive feedback from Faculty and Industry people. I feel very lucky, to be able to show the documentary film that I’m working on and receive feedback on it in the editing stage. More than a festival, I believe that Fusion has a huge respect and interest in the filmmaker and in their work what makes it a very special film festival.” – Giuliana Monteiro Pinheiro (Docs-in-The-Works)

Read more about the winners below!


“The Ages” by Joyce Sherri

Set it 1943, “The Ages” is a southern-gothic series that follows an interracial couple who fall victim to a hate crime and miraculously become immortal.

Jobless and without concrete living arrangements, Virginia native, Joyce Sherrí, stepped off a Greyhound bus at New York City’s Port Authority bus terminal on August 23, 2010. Armed with her passion for creative writing, Joyce hurled herself into the independent film capital of the world in pursuit of a career as a writer and director. In 2016 Joyce received her M.F.A in Filmmaking from the Tisch Graduate Film program and was selected by Spike Lee to receive one of the Spike Lee Fellowship Grants for her thesis film, “Forever” a proof-of-concept for her pilot script,“The Ages”.


“Tether” by Jennifer Helen Coats

When a U.S. soldier is taken hostage in Pakistan, a U.N. affiliate is called upon to negotiate his release, but she soon discovers that the soldier may be held by forces not from this world. 

Jennifer is a die-hard Orioles fan, who trekked from Maryland to New York to pursue screenwriting and minor in producing at Tisch School of the Arts’ Dramatic Writing program. Jennifer’s screenwriting has been recognized on the 2016 Bloodlist Fresh Selects. Recently, her pilot WASTELAND was awarded a grant from the Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation and from the Alfred P. Sloan Science Foundation. The pilot also was workshopped at Tribeca Film’s inaugural Tribeca Films x Sloan Series Workshop. In 2016, a short film that she produced, Red-Green (dir. Jade Small), was the winner of the Sight of Sound film festival and selected for the Long Beach International Film Festival. Jennifer looks forward to continuing her ventures into screenwriting in Los Angeles, while working as a Writers’ PA on the CBS show, ZOO.


“Ocean Song” by Erica Lu

Inspired by a true story, a whale is outcast by his own kind, ventures out to find a friend who can share his unique song.

Erica Liu, artist, filmmaker and Mythbusters Connoisseur, is a recent graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Erica studied Film and TV with a concentration in Animation and a minor in Game Design. She was raised in Somers, New York. She has written and directed various films such as Ocean Song and Bristles that have both received multiple awards. Currently, Erica is continuing to study animation with stylized 3D character modeling for film and television as well as sculpture. She enjoys smiling at dogs, cooking and pork buns.


“Summer Kaos” by Shamar S. White

Four teenage girls from Chicago have their lives turned upside down when they secretly buy a car and drive it to the biggest college party of the summer, finding love and conflict along the way.

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Shamar S. White is Los Angeles based Playwright, Television Writer, and Screenwriter, hailing from Chicago, Illinois.  In 2016, Shamar earned her MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she received the 2016 Outstanding Writing for Half- Hour Television award. Her Ten-Minute Play Detained received it’s world premier at the Obie award winning The Fire this Time Festival in New York City. Shamar is a decorated Combat Veteran and a proud member of the Dramatist Guild.


“Lucy in the Sky” by Jennifer A Rudin

A teen girl with autism has her past and present unravel when she and her twin sister become part of a genetic study that could forever change Lucy.

Jennifer Rudin is an award-winning writer and casting director who began her thirty-year career in show business as a child actor at age eight. She is the author of Confessions of a Casting Director: Help Actors Land any Role with Secrets from Inside the Audition Room (HarperCollins) and pens a monthly column for Backstage on voice over casting. Rudin’s original pilot “Starring Chloe Fisher” won the 2016 Fusion Film Festival best graduate half-hour pilot category and received a 2016 Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation award. She is committed to continuing writing strong female characters in all my future scripts as I move forward and complete my MFA in Dramatic Writing this May. Her full-length plays include My Goddamn Bat Mitzvah and Beautiful Pasadena. She is an MFA Candidate in Dramatic Writing at NYU, expected graduation May 2017. For more info, visitwww.purpleglassesproductions.com and www.jenrudin.com.


Ewruakua Dawson-Amoah

Ewurakua Dawson-Amoah is currently a freshman in Film/TV and the director of the audio short, “In Seconds”. Currently, she’s working on an experimental film following the evolution of offense language into common jargon in the black community and its effects on people today.


“Nikki and Nikki” by Leah E Gross

Whip-smart, super hot Hollywood drug dealer Nikki gets blindsided by a daunting new mission: taking care of her eight-year-old nephew.

Leah is an undergraduate student in the Department of Dramatic Writing, studying Writing for Television. Her previous work includes a short film about the intersection of love and technology called The Matchmaker. Currently, she is working on an as-yet untitled feature-length script about adolescent life in small-town Minnesota.


“The People Of…” by Laima Alami

People of…are intimate, diverse and colorful portraits of people who heal the world via their passion.

Laima is an award winning writer director from Switzerland/Morocco. She has international experience in many sectors of media production ranging from corporate to independent work.She is currently promoting the pilot of the docu-series “People Of … ” which she co-created with her producing partner Widad Hafda in 2014. They co-wrote it and polished it together for 3 years and produced the pilot in France in 2016/17.The show now reflects their vision: Expose the positive side of people from all backgrounds, ethnicity, genders, ages, lifestyles, etc. in their diverse environment. “People of …” portrays intimate, diverse and colorful portraits of people who heal the world via their passion.


“Beast of Prey” by Nyssa Shaw-Smith

In 1950 New York City, a Holocaust survivor hunts the Nazi doctor who tortured her during the war, discovering a vast conspiracy in the process.

Nyssa Shaw-Smith Gendelman is a senior studying Screenwriting in the Goldberg Dramatic Writing Department at Tisch School of the Arts. She has recently completed three feature length screenplays and is currently working on a fourth, as well as a historical fiction pilot, Beast of Prey. In addition to her writing, Nyssa is also a special effects makeup artist, and has done makeup and effects work on the sets of two student films.


“Bento” by Giuliana Monteiro Pinheiro

A man-made accident can’t bury the desire of a community to stay together in their land.

Giuliana Monteiro is a writer and director born in São Paulo, Brazil. She started working in the audiovisual industry in 2003 as a producer for documentaries and television shows. Giuliana  moved to New York in 2011 to pursue a Master degree in filmmaking at the New York University, Tisch School of the Arts. She is currently a graduate thesis student in the MFA program where she is the recipient of the BAFTA Fellowship and the AAUW International fellowship. Giuliana wrote and directed 5 short films in the program, “Root” (fiction), “Margarete 6422” (documentary), “Stay” (2012, fiction), “Happiness” (fiction) and “I Don’t Say Goodbye, I Say See You Soon” (2014, fiction). Going from a more experimental language to fiction she found herself in a hybrid language between documentary and fiction. Her most recent short film, “I Don’t Say Goodbye, I Say See You Soon” premiered at the 64th Berlinale and traveled to more than 30 International film festivals, winning best short film at the Viña del Mar International Film Festival and best screenplay at the First Run Film Festival. She is currently working on her first documentary feature film untitled “Bento”.