Lake Success filmmaker Scott Aharoni said that while his and his partner’s short film “Bardo” was a school project at Hofstra University, the pair had their sights set on something bigger.
Aharoni and Dennis Latos, his partner from Glen Cove, who have been tagged as “the Duo” by people they have met through the film festival circuit, have found success as their film is set to be featured in 12 film festivals across the world, Aharoni said.
“‘Bardo’ always started out as a far more ambitious project than the school intended the project to be. Dennis and I always strive for the best and always want more. We are never satisfied because of our ambitious goals,” he said. “However, this is what allows us to progress further in our career quicker. It is the tenacity we have that keeps us going. If a school project stays at school and you don’t think about what happens next when you graduate, then the school project will always remain as a school project.”
“Bardo” premiered at the Dolby Theatre in New York City in June and exceeded the filmmakers’ expectations in terms of audience reaction, Aharoni said.
He said they expected around 150 to attend the premiere, enough to hold two screenings at the 88-seat theater.
But that number doubled and 300 people attended, Aharoni said, which led the theater to screen the short film two more times.
“Bardo” is about the interaction between a New York City taxi driver and an elderly woman seeking a ride home.
“We feel that ‘Bardo’ provides an emotional journey that our audience can take when watching our film. The film offers a relationship between two characters that is gripping and unique,” Aharoni said. “We like to explain ‘Bardo’ as a journey that is full of imagination, requires interpretation and has a lot of meaning that is worth analyzing.”
Now the film is set to reach a broader audience in the coming months at various film festivals, including the Sedona International Film Festival, Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, Cyprus International Film Festival, Big Apple Film Festival, Athens International Film Festival, Sydney Lift Off International Film Festival, London Lift Off International Film Festival, Urban Downtown International Film Festival, Los Angeles Cinefest and the SnowTown Film Festival in Watertown, New York.
Aharoni, a Great Neck South High School graduate, said “Bardo” will receive the award for “Best Short Film” at the SnowTown Film Festival, and the pair is being flown to the festival, where actor Viggo Mortensen will be screening his film “Captain Fantastic.”
The two men are also being flown to Sedona, Arizona, for the film festival, where they will participate in a question-and-answer panel about their film, he said.
“The theatrical releases around the world show that ‘Bardo’ was a universal work of art, touching people no matter where they are from,” he added. “Isn’t that what the creation and development of art is all about?”
Since the film’s release, Aharoni said, “various new doors” of opportunity have opened for the two directors.
He said after the Sedona Film Festival, he and Latos will head to Los Angeles to meet with movie agencies, producers and actors about potential “feature film opportunities” they may be hired to direct.
Aharoni said that in March, he and Latos will begin to film their newest project, a film titled “The Untimely Gift.”
The film, he said, is about “a young boy diagnosed with astrocytoma,” a type of brain cancer, who “documents his recovery from cancer with his camera, but after undergoing surgery to remove a tumor, he begins to look at life through a different, more spiritual lens.”
Aharoni said after “Bardo,” the pair “took a step back” to see where they could improve, which will be reflected in their coming film.
“After taking note of what we liked and what we didn’t like, we were determined to start our next film and knock it out of the ball park. That is why we couldn’t be more ecstatic about our new film, ‘The Untimely Gift,’” he said. “We learned a lot and are now taking all of our experiences from “Bardo” and putting into our next film. You will never stop learning and there will always be something else you can do to improve your craft.”
One of the things “the Duo” wants to establish, Aharoni said, is a “look” to their films.
“When you watch a film and you know Quentin Tarantino directed it, that is what we are working on … to create that ‘look’ that people know was created by ‘the Duo,’” he said.