Outfest's 5 in Focus: New Directors Spotlight

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Outfest showcases exciting new talent with its 5 in Focus: New Directors Spotlight:

Cyrus Amini lived in Iran, Switzerland and Italy before settling in San Francisco in 1987 to attend art school. After graduation, he worked as a lighting technician, gaffer and cinematographer, directing his own black-and-white short, "Chicken Village," in 1995. His Outfest feature, "25 Cent Preview," which centers on the world of male prostitution and vice, marks Amini's full-length directorial debut.

Michelle Ehlen, moved to Los Angeles in 2000 to pursue a career in the film industry; two years later, she entered an intensive program at the Los Angeles Film School. Ehlen applied what she learned there, writing, directing and starring in 2003's short film "Half Laughing," which was featured at that year's Outfest and was included on the 2005 DVD compilation "The Ultimate Lesbian Short Film Festival." Now, her feature-length directorial debut, "Butch Jamie," will premiere at Outfest. "I would say Outfest is one of the best in terms of everything they do for filmmakers and bridging the gap between up-and-coming filmmakers and industry people."

Rosser Goodman has been writing and acting for as long as she can remember. "As a child, my parents, instead of saying 'You have to be a doctor,' they were like 'You should be a filmmaker.'" Since graduating from film school, Goodman has worked as a production assistant, actress, assistant director and cinematographer -- but it's as a director of her first feature, "Holding Trevor," that she will be attending Outfest. "I have never seen a film festival work harder to help filmmakers meet people -- gay or straight -- who are in positions to actually help someone who might be starting out or has their first feature, like me, to get more work going or find an agent," she says of the festival.

Jonah Markowitz studied film at Emerson College in Boston before coming out to Los Angeles in 1999. Since then he has worked as a production assistant and as an assistant art director on more than 14 films including 2003's "House of Sand and Fog" and 2004's "Meet the Fockers." But Markowitz also has spent time on his own projects -- writing and directing two short films, "Hung Up" and "I Left Me," which were screened at Outfest in 2003 and 2004, respectively, and penning the screenplay for his first full-length feature, "Shelter," which will serve as the dramatic centerpiece for this year's Outfest. "It is hard to get films -- especially with a gay theme -- made," Markowitz says. "I think that as soon as you have a gay film it tends to draw a different type of investor, it tends to make people a little bit nervous about being able to market it. So I feel really lucky."

Russel Marleau has been working as a screenwriter in Los Angeles for more than 10 years, even earning his first feature film producer credit on the 2004 thriller "Three Way," which he also penned. Now, Marleau makes his directorial debut with "The Curiosity of Chance," a comedy inspired by '80s icon John Hughes' movies like 1984's "Sixteen Candles." Marleau says that he "wanted to take the best of the genre and put a gay character in the center of it and use that to show something that we haven't seen before."



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