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Student Filmmaker Documents Compelling Character


Film production major Misha Scott is building a solid résumé on her way to her degree. Scott will begin her senior year at Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film and Television having already won the top prize at the Carnegie Mellon International Student Film Festival, being a finalist at the Toronto Student Film Festival and getting the experience of submitting to a variety of film festivals.

Scott’s prize-winning entry in the Carnegie Mellon competition was her documentary “Niki”, which she also entered in LMU’s annual Undergraduate Research Symposium. The 10-minute film, made for Scott’s junior thesis, examines the life of a Roma teenager in Hungary and the social challenges she faces.

Below is an excerpt of “Niki”; film festival guidelines prohibit “releasing” the entire piece online prior to entry.

“I think that Niki is really a compelling character,” Scott said. “She shows a heartbreaking mix of optimism and resignation.” Scott’s 16-year-old subject wants to be a beautician, but the legacy of discrimination against Roma throughout Europe is stifling her ambitions. Scott’s interest in the subject began several years ago when French President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed to banish Roma from the country and forcibly expelled hundreds of the so-called Gypsies. “That stuck with me,” Scott said. “I knew that I was going to Europe for a study abroad semester, and I was looking for subjects.”

Her pre-production research included viewing the film “Our School”, which looks at education discrimination against the largely itinerant ethnic group. Scott then contacted DARTKE, a European nonprofit agency that works with Roma, to make contacts and get logistical assistance.

“Making this film comes back to why I wanted to make films in the first place: they can be so affecting,” she said. “I’m gaining confidence in my ability as a storyteller to capture things honestly and get it out to one more person. That’s a form of activism.”

During the summer, Scott will be working on a 15-minute documentary as part of an Honors Summer Research fellowship. Planned to be filmed over a period of three weeks, “Home Is” will raise awareness about the injustices facing the Navajo community of Black Mesa, Ariz. Scott will also explore the community’s vital connection to their land, as well as the violence being done to that land by major industries.