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  • Writer's pictureAlex Matthews

'Dirt City,' 'Pitbull Exodus,' and 'Honey Cycle' Films All Showcase Talented Academy Alums

"Dirt City," a feature film directed by Mark Martinez, had its official premiere last week. The film takes place in an unforgiving city, following a washed-up boxer trying to settle some of his gambling debts. After he gets tangled up with a girl and a gangster, his life turns upside down. The neo-noir indie film stars recent graduates Damian Alonso (Class of 2020) as well as Dasha Gorodenska (Class of 2020.)

We got to talk with Damian Alonso about his experience working on the film:

"I play Angel, the character the film centers around. Working with Mark Martinez, though, I never felt like just an actor and more of a co-collaborator. Which I, and probably Mark himself, prefer to work in that way."

We continued the interview by discussing the largest takeaways from working on the project:

"I learned a lot. One of the things Mark and I love about the filmmaking process is problem-solving, and being this is Mark’s first feature-length project, there were a lot of issues that we worked out as a team. I also learned a lot about character and finding a way to keep consistent with what the character was feeling, and going through scene to scene. It’s funny, I actually made a 10-page bio for the character before shooting and then continued to write the bio throughout the shoot, adding in the scenes that would have happened to my character depending on what we were shooting. By the end, I had a full 50 pages. Shoutout to Ms. Bohannon. It was a nice reference to have every day to help me keep track of Angel’s character."

"Dirt City" is projected to be available for digital download in 2022. Photo credit to IMDB.

"Pitbull: Exodus," a feature film directed by filmmaker Patryk Vega, is the fifth installment in the Polish action film series, "Pitbull." These iconic, cult movies are based on true stories told by the homicide departments as well as the criminals they catch in Poland. The newest installment in the series, "Exodus," stars past student Justyna Karłowska (Class of 2021). The film has opened in theaters in thirteen European countries and is set to release on Netflix in 2022, having Poland’s largest film opening of 2021.

Karłowska plays a character named Renata, a kind and sensitive woman, who falls in love with Nos. She was very excited to work with Patryk Vega, who is considered one of Poland’s top filmmakers. In a quick interview, she gave some on-set advice to aspiring actors:

"Remember, in a stressful situation full of adrenaline, keep the inner peace and focus on what’s most important: staying in the moment. That’s what makes you productive and believable as an actor. Don’t get distracted, you’re at work… I can proudly say that thanks to the Academy’s Summer Intensive Program and Full Time Programs, I am where I am."

Ms. Karłowska is currently working on Poland’s most popular soap operas, "M Jak Miłość," which translates to "L Like Love." The story revolves around the complicated lives of the Mostowiak family. Ms. Karłowska plays Ola Majewska, who enters into the family with an unexpected pregnancy with an unknown father.

"I just finished shooting a new film, but it’s top-secret at the moment, so perhaps there will be more information next year regarding the project."

Stay caught up with Karłowska on Instagram @justyna.karlowska. Photo credit to IMDB & Justyna Karłowska.

"Honey Cycle," a film by Yudelka Heyer, follows a diverse group of women who are survivors of domestic abuse. Seeking counseling and help, we hear their stories as they meet together in a Center for Domestic Violence. Each character has their own way of dealing with their scarred pasts, whether they open up completely or reveal their stories piece-by-piece.

The film stars many Academy graduates, including Claire-Monique Monique (Class of 2018), Alana DeGregorio (Class of 2017), Barbyly Noel (Class of 2012), Barbara Bernard (Class of 2017), Maeve O’Haire (Class of 2018), and Hannah Ciesil (Class of 2018). The short has found much success as it tours film festivals around the country. A few of the awards include, "Humanitarian Award" at the Accolade Global Film Competition, "Best Short Outstanding Achievement Award," and "Best Director in Women’s Film," at the Liaff India Film Festival, "Best DOV Drama," at the Bare Bones Film Festival, "Best Drama," at the Falcon International Film Festival in London.

"Honey Cycle" is currently screening at the North Dakota Human Rights Film Festival. Photo credit to YUVI GORILLA Productions.


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