Richmond International Film Festival presents the RIFFx Online Series, co-presented by the RIFF Arts Institute.
The first discussion will take place April 27 at 2:00pm eastern time via our Facebook Live Video feed.
To tune in, simply visit the page and click to watch the live broadcast. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RVAFilmFest
Also, feel free to send questions or comments during the broadcast for our special guests, Robin Greenspun and Amy Ayoub who will be joining us on behalf of their film, ZEN SPEAKER: BREAKING THE SILENCE.
Tuesday, April 28 the series continues with special guest filmmakers from ILLEGAL. This will also take place at 2:00pm eastern time.
More information is below on each film. We look forward to having you with us for the series!
ZEN SPEAKER: BREAKING THE SILENCE: Finding One’s Voice as a Survivor of Sex Trafficking. Directed by Robin Greenspun
About: As a prominent public speaking coach and former political fundraiser, Amy Ayoub always encouraged her clients to be authentic and to share their personal stories—painfully aware that she wasn’t ready, yet, to tell her own.
Then, in 2012, she learned about Nevada Assembly Bill 67, a bill designed to fight sex trafficking.
The Zen Speaker: Breaking the Silence charts Amy’s transformational journey from a tumultuous childhood in Las Vegas to her emotionally wrenching testimony before the Nevada State Legislature in 2013.
A personal portrait, the film explores the emotional and physical devastation associated with sex trafficking; being a survivor; public vs private personas; and finding one’s voice in unexpected ways. 4
Guests: Amy Ayoub & Robin Greenspun (Nevada)
Nevada Public Radio Feature: https://knpr.org/desert-companion/2019-04/film-accidental-documentarian
ILLEGAL: Redefining Boundaries, Borders and Perspectives. Directed by Nick Alexander
About: Illegal is a feature-length documentary about the miraculous journey of Salvadoran immigrant Laz Ayala’s life or death path to U.S. citizenship, the challenges of present-day immigration, and his mission to humanize immigrants and reform immigration for the benefit of all.
The film begins as Laz journeys back to his childhood home in El Salvador. He recounts his arduous path north on the Pan American Highway with his father and brother where at any moment they could have been discovered and turned back… or killed. Laz’s life is a story of struggle, determination, and hope for a brighter future for immigrants, the industries that rely upon them, and our entire country.
Guests: Laz Ayala & Nick Alexander (Oregon)
Nick Alexander is an Oregon filmmaker aspiring to convey powerful, inspirational stories through the medium of film. For the past 3 years, he has grown his video production business, focusing on video marketing, weddings and documentaries.
In academia, he received a Bachelors Degree in the studies of Emerging Media & Digital Art and Spanish from Southern Oregon University. Being fluent in Spanish and having cultural experience in the Latin American world, these qualities led him to my first feature film: Illegal.
In 2016 when I graduated from university, I told people that my dream was to film a documentary in Latin America. At the time I was clueless of how this would come to pass — until the day I met Laz Ayala, an immigrant from El Salvador.
Laz and I met at the Southern Oregon Rotary Club in 2017 where I was hired to film Laz’s speech. Thirty minute keynote — nothing out of the ordinary, right? Wrong. After hearing Laz’s testimony, I was inspired by his life story, suggesting that it could be a powerful film. In November 2018, I was chosen to direct his movie and my dream became a reality. At that time my motivation for telling Laz’s story was purely biographical—to give the American public an opportunity to step into the immigrant’s shoes and learn about their story of desire, struggle and success.
However, as I finish editing today and am exporting the final movie, I realize that sharing Laz’s narrative is not just a “feel-good” underdog success story; rather, it is about finding a solution to the conundrum of illegal immigration, one that is humane, impartial and a win-win for the migrant, employer and American society. Creating this movie has become more than just achieving a personal dream, but standing up for something that really matters in this life — and that is humanity. Everyone has a name, a story and a dream. Proudly, I share with you the story of Laz Ayala.