About

After the mayor of a theocratic regime imposes tough film restrictions, the sullen projectionist of a failing movie theater is inspired by a stranger passing through town to create a unique flick to skirt the oppressive system.

Award & Nominations

Cast & Crew

Directed by
Jehad N Al-Khateeb

Written by
Mark Feigenbutz

Producers
Xzavian Cookbey
Erik Molina

Cinematography by
Badr Z. Sfeeran

Edited by
Andrew Gott

Music by
Monk Blaire

Production Design
Shereen Al-Khateeb
Lucy Madeline

Costume Design & Prop Master
Lucy Madeline

Unit Production Manager
Charlotte Martinez

First Assistant Director
Erik Molina

Second Unit Director
Cindy Serigatto

Audience Cast
Jeff Poole
Sicily Ranieri
Don Nofte

 

Camera Operator.Grip
Michael Clark

AC.Gaffer Grip.Dolly
Erik Molina

 

Production Sound Mixer
William Gallegos

Sound Editing
Fabrizio Ferri

Sound Design
Jehad N Al-Khateeb

 

Titles Design
Andrew Gott

Graphics
Emad N. Khateeb

Visual Effects
Andrew Gott

Colorist
Badr Z. Sfeeran

 

Music Recording Engineer
Scott Jarrett

Flute
Horance Alexander Young

Vibraphone
Eugene Mason IV

 

Special Thanks
Liam Lockhart
Shantanu Sagara
Carolyn Michelle Smith
Ana Victoria Aguirre
Max Marriner
Riley Gardner
Peter Grendle

Stills

Screenings

================  Past Screenings  ================

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 9, 2016

December 10, 2016

January 27, 2017

March 11, 2017

March 24, 2017

April 21, 2017

June 7, 2017

June 24, 2017

|    I Filmmaker International Film Festival – Marbella, Spain

|   Sose International Film Festival – Armenia

|   Lilliputian Film Festival – Missouri, USA

|   4th Pink City International Film Festival – India

|   Neu World Studios International Film Festival – Utah, USA

|   London Golden Scout – London, UK

|   7th Underground Cinema Film Festival – Ireland, UK

|   Highway 61 Film Festival – Minnesota, USA

|   Yes! Let’s make a move Film Festival – Canada

|   Kiwi International Film Festival – New Zealand

|   Director Circle Festival of shorts – USA

|   2016 New Mexico Filmmaker Showcase – New Mexico, USA

|   Aesthetica Short Film Festival – York, UK

|   Dubai international Film Festival – United Arab Emirates

|   Santa Fe Film Festival – New Mexico, USA

|   Freedom Shorts XVII – Philadelphia, USA

|   Las Cruces International Film Festival – New Mexico, USA

|   Boston Underground Film Festival – Massachusetts, USA

|   Blackbird Film Festival – New York, USA  [INFO]

|   Albuquerque Film & Music Experience – New Mexico, USA  [INFO]

|   Snake Alley Festival of Film – Iowa, USA  [INFO]

================  Upcoming Screenings  ================

September 14, 2017

September 22, 2017

|   Palermo International Short Film Festival – Palermo, Italy  [INFO]

|   Paris International Cinefest – Paris, France [INFO]

Screenings

===== Past Screenings  =====

I Filmmaker International Film Festival – Marbella, Spain

Sose International Film Festival – Armenia

Lilliputian Film Festival – Missouri, USA

4th Pink City International Film Festival – India

Neu World Studios International Film Festival – Utah, USA

London Golden Scout – London, UK

7th Underground Cinema Film Festival – Ireland, UK

Highway 61 Film Festival – Minnesota, USA

Yes! Let’s make a move Film Festival – Canada

Kiwi International Film Festival – New Zealand

Director Circle Festival of shorts – USA

2016 New Mexico Filmmaker Showcase – New Mexico, USA

Aesthetica Short Film Festival – York, UK

December 9, 2016   |   Dubai international Film Festival – United Arab Emirates

December 10, 2016    |   Santa Fe Film Festival – New Mexico, USA

January 27, 2017   |   Freedom Shorts XVII – Philadelphia, USA

March 11, 2017    |   Las Cruces International Film Festival – New Mexico, USA

March 24, 2017    |   Boston Underground Film Festival – Massachusetts, USA

April 21, 2017    |   Blackbird Film Festival – New York, USA  [INFO]

June 7, 2017   |   Albuquerque Film & Music Experience – New Mexico, USA  [INFO]

June 24, 2017   |   Snake Alley Festival of Film – Iowa, USA  [INFO]

===== Upcoming Screenings =====

September 14, 2017   |   Palermo International Short Film Festival – Palermo, Italy  [INFO]

September 22, 2017   |   Paris International Cinefest – Paris, France [INFO]

Reviews

1Blackbird

“Another prime candidate for Best of Fest. Every facet of this film was masterfully executed; from the directing to the cinematography to the fantastic acting, this film has all the makings of an award-winning short. I loved how self-aware this film was, and the dialogue between the two actors was some of the most organic I’ve seen. Throughout this film I was constantly drawing parallels to The Last Picture Show and the escapism associated with movies. In just 15 minutes, I felt as if I had watched an entire feature and was enthralled for every second. A truly satisfying film, one that is certainly award-worthy.”

– Blackbird Film Festival

2Oaxaca

“Visually, the film is really good. There is a stylised, colourful quality to the setting and styling that is visually pleasing. The shots are well framed and make the short aesthetically engaging. The premise is interesting and the plot is gratifying, particularly the end which is revolutionary in such an understated way. The characters are quirky and likeable. The woman’s food order at the cinema, for example, and her reasons for coming to the town, are amusing and serve well to establish her character. The title is really good. It is different and immediately gets the audience’s attention. Soundtrack is used to good effect, for example particularly at the end when the man stands up in the cinema to contest the film. These various elements constitute the strength of this project. Under no circumstances would I change any of these. Nonetheless, there are a few points that need to be addressed, that possibly should have been handled differently. At times, the development of the story is a little slow and the viewer loses interest slightly. The part where the protagonist is relating his routine, for example, could be a bit shorter. Aspects of the film are quite hyperbolic or unrealistic, such as the protagonist’s great variety of emotions watching the films. If I had one quote that would summarize the project, it would be this: “A quirky revolution against a film ban gets underway in this amusing and visually rich short.”

– Oaxaca Film Festival

3Largo

“An interesting look into the effects of a religious dictatorship and censorship and the loneliness that that may force upon individuals. A Town Called Theocracy is both poignant and entertaining. The tone of the film is undeniably dark yet the humour and humanistic overtones give it a charm that is tangible. This is achieved by a mixture of fantastic cinematography, a strong script and equally strong performances as well as a wonderful use of music. The conclusion is ambiguous but this leaves the audience with some thinking to do. The idea behind this film would be an intriguing concept for a feature film. Overall the film is strong and well put together, however it does feel as if more could be explored of the running time was longer. The indie feel that it has is reminiscent of films such as Burn After Reading or Running With Scissors and it achieves the same charm that these critically acclaimed films achieved.”

– Largo Film Festival

4headline

“Americans love our oversized portions. Whether supersizing fries or signing up for a labyrinthine cable TV package, U.S. residents often mistakenly correlate “bigger” with “better.” Recent SFUAD grad and filmmaker Jehad N. Al-Khateeb’s 2016 indie short “A Town Called Theocracy” calls the size fallacy out with a dark, socially conscious narrative. Made aware of injustice in his home country, Syria, Al-Khateeb says that activism is an inherent part of his art.
Within a 15-minute filmic interval, “A Town Called Theocracy” manages to underscore the danger of government censorship while successfully executing several other storylines. First, there’s the relationship that protagonist/projectionist Leo (Mark Feigenbutz, who also wrote the screenplay) has with his town’s theater. The arrival of intriguing out-of-towner Mabel (Lucy Madeline, who happens to be Feingenbutz’s IRL fiancée) sets the stage for a meet-cute and artistic collaboration…

Read more

After a rabidly religious mayor enacts a draconian film restriction bill, cinephile Leo finds himself feeding imaginary reels into the theater’s projector. He passionately introduces—indeed, conjures from thin air—nonexistent, fantastic and entirely improbable films to an absent audience. There’s popcorn, and the soda jets are tuned like a concert piano. We get to know Leo via these fantastic, absurd monologues, and then via an elegant, existential and funny dialogue with Mabel, a stranger and the sole theatergoer.

Feingenbutz’s physical comedy skill, comedic timing and stand-up comedy background allow him to make this essential character a real standout. This film also benefits from the couple’s incredible chemistry. Madeline’s portrayal of starry-eyed yet pragmatic truth-seeker Mabel pulses with naturalistic aplomb. We see the idea lightbulb flick on—that split-second when she becomes determined they must create a movie that creatively bypasses the strictures of Ordinance 4385. That’s the cue for romance’s full bloom.

Shot entirely at SFUAD campus theater The Screen (1600 Saint Michaels Drive, Santa Fe), the nighttime-lensed work features intelligent, vivid cinematography. Between the clever camera work, razor-sharp editing and a genuine soundtrack—you know, one that builds, sustains and reinforces narrative tension—audiences of “A Town Called Theocracy” are in for a treat. The festival film circuit has already announced for Team “Theocracy” with a slew of nominations, awards and official selection slots. The film has screened as an official selection at Sose International Film Festival, Dubai International Film Festival, Aesthetica Short Film Festival, 7th Underground Cinema Film Festival, Las Cruces International Film Festival, Los Angels Cinefest, Neu World Studios International Film Festival, Santa Fe Film Festival, London Golden Scout international Film festival, Highway 61 Film Festival and so on. Upcoming selections and screenings are slated for Boston Underground Film Festival, Blackbird Film Festival, and the list still grows.

Read less

– OneHeadlightInk.com

7blackbird

“A town called theocracy is a humorous tale about a town where films are illegal, and the lone theatre attendant attempting to keep the memory alive. It makes an interesting commentary on Society seen through the guise of a super religious town. Overall I really loved this, the story was creative, acting was engaging and the cinematography clearly and stylishly illustrated the monotony of the theatre attendants daily life, a super creative film I would recommend.”

– Blackbird Film Festival

Blackbird-2

“I thought this film was surprisingly good and I think it should be included in the Film fest. Not only was the film pretty funny, it also had substance and meaning that is related to our lives today. This film also had great post editing and pretty good directing that makes this film fun to watch. The best thing I liked about this film was that it was funny and the actors do a good job with their dry and sarcastic humor. The makers of this film do a good job at sending their message to the audience in a fun and enjoyable way.”

– Blackbird Film Festival

“I loved A Town Called Theocracy. I think the writing and directing were superb. The two leads were both great. I thought the editing was a huge part of the film. The scene where he gets her popcorn, chocolate, and soda reminded me of the scene in Snatch where Cousin Avi goes to London. I loved the dark comedy in the film. I thought it took very good shots at the religious freaks, as well as people who are offended by everything. It did a good job of taking these shots without doing anything offensive.I liked everything about this film.”

– Blackbird Film Festival

Behind the Scenes

Contact Us

6 + 8 =