ZIAD HAMZEH

A Director, Producer, and Writer, Ziad’s work has earned over forty awards and honors.  Most recently he won his second prestigious Golden Palm Award from The Beverly Hills Film Festival for his feature film Irrefutable Proof, which had its world premiere at the iconic Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.  It's the first time in the BHFF's 16-year history that the Golden Palm, their highest award achievable for filmmaking, has been awarded twice to a single filmmaker.  He shared The Abu Dhabi Film Festival's Black Pearl Award for Best Producer with acclaimed Tunisian filmmaker Ridha Behi for Always Brando, which had its world premiere at The Toronto International Film Festival.  Always Brando also received the Jury prize at The Algerian Film Festival and the Best Picture Award at The Alexandria 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 chosen Critics Pick from New York MagazineWoman earned Ziad a Golden Palm Award from The Beverly Hills Film Festival, ¡Henry O! took Best Documentary from The Beverly Hills Film Festival, The Best of Fest Award from The Breckenridge Film Festival, The Accolades Award for Excellence in Film, and his critically acclaimed 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.   Ziad's latest feature Irrefutable Proof will be released in 2016.

Ziad is currently developing his feature film epic Asmahan based on the true story of an emerald-eyed beauty, a diva, and a 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 Artistic Director of the award-winning Open Fist Theatre, Ziad brought to the LA 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 at Lesky University and Emerson College.  He earned an MFA in directing from California State University, Fullerton, an MA in writing and criticism from California State University, Los Angeles, 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 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 Cable Network’s feature film division, and he taught screenwriting at 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.   

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 Boys, and 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.