In just under 12 minutes, filmmaker Kyra Zagorsky shows audiences the struggle Middle-Eastern Americans face today in her short film, "The Prince."
With screenings set for Nov. 3 at SCAD Museum of Art, "The Prince" is one of the films selected for the Global Shorts Forum, "We Are America." Based on true events, it depicts a young tap dancer, Olivia, and her Uncle Amir, an actor, who are faced with an unexpected racial confrontation.
"'The Prince' was inspired by two events that happened with my family," Zagorsky says. "One was on the SkyTrain in Vancouver.
"Also, my husband [Patrick Sabongui, the film's executive producer] is a working actor. We both went to graduate school together and I've seen him play so many characters.
"Everything he got in the beginning as a professional actor was terrorist roles," she says. "He started making the decision, 'Do I take this part or not?'
"I started thinking about, 'What is our role as artists?'" Zagorsky says. "I decided to write this and turn it into an artistic piece about how a young girl does a performance with tap dancing to teach an audience about how great her uncle is."
The film is not politically based.
"I wrote it before the election," Zagorsky says. "It's something that's been on my mind for a while. Now that we have President Trump, it's become so much more relevant and timely."
The film was made with the assistance of Crazy8s, a filmmaking challenge that provides funding and support to emerging filmmakers to help them produce a short film.
"I made a video pitch to them, one of over 240 pitches they received," Zagorsky says. "They narrowed it down to 40 and those were asked to pitch in person. Then they narrowed it to 13.
"As one of the top six, I got the film produced and made. The entire film community comes together and helps you make your movie."
Since then, the film has gone on to win awards at film festivals. It received the Award of Merit at the Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood and Lee Majdoub of "The Prince" won Best Supporting Actor at the FirstGlance Film Festival in Philadelphia.
Zagorsky is pleased it is being featured at the SCAD Savannah Film Festival.
"I've been to a lot of film festivals," she says. "This is the most incredible one I've been to.
"All of the films here matter. They're all about something important, and I really appreciate the festival," Zagorsky says. "I wish I had more time to go and explore. There's something romantic and magical about the city of Savannah. I'm having a great time."
This film is Zagorsky's directorial debut, but she's a veteran actress who has been in the industry for two decades with credits for "Helix" and "Continuum."
"I wrote the first draft of this script before the 2016 presidential election and it was relevant," she says. "Post-election, it's not only relevant, but necessary. The word 'terrorist' is still typically used in reference to a specific group of people who fit a specific physical description."
"The Prince" is meant to open people's minds and hearts and show them that both victims and bystanders of overt racism do have a voice.
"As artists, we have a responsibility to do something with our creative voices," Zagorsky says. "If we want to change our damaged culture and make our society safe and inclusive for everyone, then we have to be conscious of the stories we tell, and learn how to deal with such incidents without resorting to aggression and violence.
"This film is meant to be an eye opener to the responsibility we have and I hope it inspires individuals to acknowledge their own prejudices and take the initiative to engage with communities unfamiliar to them with an open mind."
IF YOU GO
What: SCAD Savannah Film Festival's Global Shorts Forum: "We Are America" presents "The Prince"
When: 4 p.m. Nov. 3
Where: SCAD Museum of Art, 601 Turner Blvd.
Cost: Sold out; tickets for other Global Shorts Forums still available