ZIAD HAMZEH

Ziad’s body of work as a director, producer and writer has earned over forty awards and honors.  Most recently he produced acclaimed Tunisian filmmaker Ridha Behi's The Flower of Aleppo starring Hend Sabry and executive produced Dreams I Never Had starring Malcolm McDowellThe Flower Of Aleppo was honored as Tunisia’s entry into both the 2017 Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards, and it was chosen as the opening night event at the prestigious Carthage Film FestivalIrrefutable Proof, the dramatic thriller Ziad directed as well as produced, swept the Beverly Hills Film Festival earning three of the fest's highest awards: The Golden Palm, Best Actress, and Best Cinematography.  He shared the Abu Dhabi Film Festival's Black Pearl Award for Best Producer with Ridha Behi for Always Brando, which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film FestivalAlways Brando also received the Best Picture Award from the Alexandria Film Festival and the Jury Prize from the Algerian Film Festival.  Ziad's Academy Award qualifying documentary The Letter: An American Town and the Somali Invasion has won numerous awards and accolades and was heralded as Critics Pick by New York MagazineWoman, a documentary he directed on location in Syria, once again earned Ziad the Beverly Hills Film Festival's highest honor, The Golden Palm Award.  ¡Henry O! also garnered Best Documentary honors at the Beverly Hills Film Fest as well as the Best of Fest Award from the Breckenridge Film Festival and the Accolades Award for Excellence in Film.  His critically acclaimed debut feature film Shadow Glories was heralded as “Powerful and distinctive. A mature, accomplished work... strong, stylish and uncompromising” by Kevin Thomas, film critic for The Los Angeles Times.  And Ziad is kicking off 2018 with the release of Sushi Tushi, his animated and live-action football comedy.

Currently Ziad is developing his feature film epic Asmahan based on the true story of Asmahan Al-Atrash, an emerald-eyed beauty, a diva and revolutionary, she was a seductive star of the first magnitude in early 20th century Egypt and a spy for the Allies during World War II.  Her daring and heroic life was mysteriously cut short at the age of twenty-six when her body was found in the Nile.  Some said accident, some said murder, all said her legend was born.

In Hollywood, Ziad created two extraordinary theatres: The Open Fist Theatre Company and The Egyptian Arena.  As Founder and Artistic Director of the multi-award winning Open Fist Theatre, Ziad brought to the Los Angeles theatre community prestigious international playwrights such as Arrabel, Artue, Beckett, Brecht, Churchill, Gretzky, and Lorca. He directed and produced over sixty major stage productions, among them Roxy Ventola’s After The Bomb, Brecht’s Baal, Sam Shephard’s True West, Arrabel’s Car Cemetery, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears Of Petra Von Kant, Tennessee Williams’ Vieux Carre, Nicholas Kazan’s Blood Moon, Poor Murderer, The Architect And Empress Of Assyria, Cinders, Low Level Panic, and Dusa, Fish, Stas, And Vi.  Ziad has mentored and empowered numerous artists such as Burr Steers (Charlie St. Cloud, 17 Again, Igby Goes Down), Tony Spiridakis (The Last Word, Queens Logic), Dalene Young (Cross Creek, Pale Rider Pale Horse, Little Darlings), and Juan Carlos Valdivia (Southern District, Juno And The Pink Whale, American Visa). They found a haven for their creative powers when joining Ziad at The Open Fist Theatre.

Professor Ziad teaches advanced and graduate classes in filmmaking and photography at Lesley University and the directing courses at Emerson College.  He earned an MFA in directing and an MA in writing and criticism from California State University and a BA in theatre from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

 

 

Marc Sandler

Marc made his mark on the indie film scene as the proverbial "triple-threat", screenwriting, producing, and starring in HMF's critically acclaimed and award-winning feature film Shadow Glories.  He's collaborated with Ziad since HMF's inception and co-produced the documentaries Woman and The Letter, associate produced ¡Henry O!, Bleacher Boys, and Playbyplaymen, and story designed Woman, The Letter, ¡Henry O!, Bleacher Boys, and Playbyplaymen.

Marc's written the original screenplays Shadow Glories, Working Class Heroes, Tangled Up In Blu, Ballistic, Neverland, the television pilot Doctors In Lala Land, and       co-written the screenplays Asmahan and Hangman.  Asmahan, written with Ziad Hamzeh, received semi-finalist honors in the Shasha Grant $100,000 Screenplay Competition, one of only five screenplays chosen from over 1000-submissions worldwide to receive that distinction.  Shadow Glories garnered semi-finalist honors by  The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Nicholl Fellowships.  Working Class Heroes earned quarter-finalist kudos from The Page International Screenwriting Awards.  Marc's been a contributing writer to TBS Network's Feed Your Mind, script analyst for the USA Network’s feature film division, and he taught screenwriting at the Maine Media Workshops and College (formerly the Maine International Film and Television Workshops) and Grub Street in Boston. 

A veteran actor in repertory theatre, Marc was honored with Drama-Logue's (aka Backstage West's) Critics Choice Award for Best Performance by an Actor for his work in David Rabe’s Goose And TomTom.  He created roles in the original casts of Dalene Young’s Night Angels and Roxy Ventola’s After The Bomb, and appeared in the revivals of Nicholas Kazan's Blood Moon and Orson Welles’ Moby Dick, Rehearsed.  Most recently Marc was featured in HMF's feature film Irrefutable Proof, and he's acted in such films as Ziad Hamzeh’s Baal, Tony Spiridakis’ Self Storage, Marek Probosz’s The Last Supper, and Jordan Ellis’ Guns Before Butter.  An original member of Los Angeles' critically acclaimed and award-winning Open Fist Theatre, Marc served as Assistant Artistic Director, acting teacher and actor.  His theatrical CV includes Assistant Directing and acting at The West Coast Ensemble Company, studying with The Philadelphia Company of the Walnut Street Theatre, and surviving — yes, surviving — master classes with Misha Nuchi of the legendary Moscow Art Theatre.

Marc's directing credits include the stage productions of Harold Pinter’s The Lover, John Lewis Carlino’s Snow Angel, and the American premiere of April de Angelis’ Hush, all in Los Angeles.  He's a member of SAG/AFTRA and AEA.   Official website: marcsandler.com

Nina Cullen-Hamzeh

A founding member of Hamzeh Mystique Films, Nina’s contributions have been far-reaching and invaluable.  She has co-written and produced several of HMF’s award winning films.  Her credits include producer of the documentaries Woman, associate producer of ¡Henry O!Bleacher Boysand Playbyplaymen, and co-writer of The Letter: An American Town And The Somali Invasion.

Nina co-created The Open Fist Theatre Company in Los Angeles.  Her contributions assisted the award-winning repertory company in becoming the highly respected theatrical oasis that it remains to this day.  The Open Fist’s philosophy required that its artists continually improve their craft, unconditionally support each other’s work, and relentlessly challenge the audience with thought-provoking material.

As a founding teacher of the Marblehead Community Charter Public School in Massachusetts, Nina and her colleagues accepted the challenges of the Education Reform Act of 1993 and created a school where all children achieve academically within the context of a nurturing community.   The first of over sixty charter schools in Massachusetts, MCCPS is looked up to as an example of excellence.  Nina presides as the Principal of this extraordinary learning environment and serves as a member of the MCCPS Board of Trustees.