Former Burbank Resident Directs Film Up For Burbank International Film Festival Award

Roya Aryanpad directs actor Nicholas Alexander in "Jacob Stone." (Photo Courtesy of Dream Benders Productions)

Documentary Director and Producer Roya Aryanpad’s foray into fictional short films, Jacob Stone, screens Friday, September 11, as an Official Selection of the Burbank International Film Festival. The film has been nominated in the “Best Short Films By Women” category.

Written by David Blacker, Jacob Stone tells the story of an inner-city high school basketball player, portrayed by Nicholas Alexander, as a mistake from his past threatens his future.

Jacob Stone examines many social issues, such as racial profiling; stereotyping; dysfunctional families; corporate greed; incarceration for non-violent crimes; and the straight men HIV stigma,” commented Aryanpad, noting the film’s message resonates with people from many backgrounds. “These are the challenges that our youth and young adults are facing in 2015, in all parts of U.S.”

Roya Aryanpad directs actor Nicholas Alexander in "Jacob Stone." (Photo Courtesy of Dream Benders Productions)
Roya Aryanpad directs actor Nicholas Alexander in “Jacob Stone.” (Photo Courtesy of Dream Benders Productions)

“I believe the message of the film is also universal, and not only people at home, but everywhere can relate to and make connection with.”

A former refugee born in Shiraz-Iran, Aryanpad’s directs and produces films that contribute in a positive way to environmental, social, cultural and political issues.

“My own experiences in Iran during the time of the Revolution which led to my family’s exile have made me very sensitive to issues of social injustice, poverty and human oppression everywhere.” Aryanpad also said. “The struggles of African-Americans may not be my own, but I feel a kinship with them, as we are all survivors of oppression. The story of Jacob Stone is one of survival and hope in the face of great obstacles – themes which are very relevant in my own life.”

Nicholas Alexander and Jazlyn Yoder in a scene from "Jacob Stone." (Photo Courtesy of Dream Benders Productions)
Nicholas Alexander and Jazlyn Yoder in a scene from “Jacob Stone.” (Photo Courtesy of Dream Benders Productions)

“As a former resident of Burbank for six years, I think the beautiful city of Burbank has a lot to offer, and Burbank International Film Festival (BIFF) is certainly one of them,” Aryanpad commented. “I particularly favored BIFF for having a Short Films By Women category.”

“In a society with an ongoing battle for equal pay for women and in an industry with the percentage of the network and cable shows directed by women being ridiculously low, it is wonderful to have festivals like Burbank International Film Festival to bridge the gap, and celebrate the films made by women,” she added.

Director/Producer Roya Aryanpad. (Photo Courtesy of Dream Benders Productions)
Director/Producer Roya Aryanpad. (Photo Courtesy of Dream Benders Productions)

“I’d like to thank Jeff Rector, the president and festival director of Burbank International Film Festival, for making a great difference and providing options for women filmmakers to showcase their work. We are truly grateful for the opportunity and honored to be a part of BIFF this Friday.”

Jacob Stone was shot in Glendale and Los Angeles, because Aryanpad’s Dream Benders Productions crew was able to find the necessary locations in those cities. The film is a true indie production as local independent filmmakers with home studios offered their services for post production work.

Jacob Stone is a real story, about real people, having real experiences in life. Although we examine many social issues in this film, our writer David Blacker has woven these issues so skillfully into the story that it does not feel preachy at all, and you get so deeply drawn into the story from the get go,” Aryanpad continued. “That was one of the reasons I was also attracted to the script.”

“The performances of our actors are great. The cast was nominated for Best Ensemble at LAIFFA (Los Angeles Independent FIlm Festival),” she said.”Nicholas Alexander and Jazlyn Yoder (our lead actors), Virtic Brown, Deon Lucas, Stephanie Charles, Nathalie Autumn Bennett, James Haley, Crystal Lott, Joe Gabler, Stephen Quadros, Lucas Dean Peterson, Richey Nash and Ashford Thomas are just brilliant.”

(Photo Courtesy of Dream Benders Productions)
(Photo Courtesy of Dream Benders Productions)

“Our Cinematographer Idan Menin and his wonderful crew have created a great look for the film. The excellent quality of the film is attributed to the love and passion the cast and crew have invested in this film. I believe all of these have contributed to the success of the film.”

Jacob Stone premiered at the San Diego Black Film Festival in January 2015. The film has screened at The Alhambra Theater Film Festival, Indie Night Film Festival and Black Cat Picture Show. The short film will screen in coming weeks at the Catalina Film Festival, the International Black Film Festival and Gary International Black Film Festival.

The Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards honored Jacob Stone with the Best Drama Award. The film was nominated for five other categories at LAIFFA, including Best Director (Roya Aryanpad) and Best Actor (Nicholas Alexander.)

Advance tickets for the screening of Jacob Stone at the Burbank AMC Town Center 6 for Burbank International Film Festival, on September 11, at 9:30p.m. can be found here:

Next up for Dream Benders Productions, Aryanpad will focus on a full-length screenplay she wrote, based on her experiences as a teenager growing up in Iran, and her family’s escape after Iran’s Islamic Revolution.

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