“Spark” Short About Protest in Venezuela Nominated for Student BAFTA

Director Juan Martinez Vera

Los Angeles, CA – The short film Spark, written and directed by Mexican-American filmmaker Juan Martinez Vera, is one of the 10 films nominated for the BAFTA US Student Film Award set to screen on June 16th, 2016 at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Preforming Arts in Beverly Hills as part of a showcase honoring the best creative works from film students across the United States.

Spark tells the story of Oscar, a college student looking for his missing father in the midst of the political turmoil in Venezuela who uses an innovative smartphone app to circumvent the censorship in his country.
The film was developed by Vera in collaboration with his producers Diego Nájera, winner of the 2016 PGA Debra Hill Fellowship, and Tim Hautekiet, all recent graduates from the renowned USC School of Cinematic Arts. The story is inspired by the use of social media in the ongoing protests that have shaken Venezuela since 2014 and the emergence of the smartphone app FireChat. This innovative app uses Bluetooth to create a mesh network among its users allowing them to communicate without using the internet and was widely used in the ‘Occupy Central’ movement in Hong Kong.
The filmmakers were committed to honor the spirit of the Venezuelan student uprising and to accurately represent their social movement so they brought on board experienced Venezuelan actresses Fanny Veliz and Ileanna Simancas as co-producer and associate producer, respectively. Veliz served as casting director, assembling a stellar all-Venezuelan cast that included Simancas along with Gabriel Tarantini and Carlos Montilla in the leading roles and special appearances by Steve Wilcox, Daniela Azuaje, Victor Manso, and Ricardo Herranz.
The members of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and a Special Jury comprised of Academy Award Winners Pete Docter and William Goldberg, as well as STX Entertainment President, Sophie Watts will select the winning film and award the respective prizes. The BAFTA US committee selected the film out of 245 entries submitted from 56 film schools across the United States.
Spark is a project produced by the University of Southern California. The script won the Alfred P. Sloan Film Production Grant and garnered the support of Micha Benoliel’Open Garden, developer of FireChat.
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