Russian Gangster – Synopsis

Nikolai Dalca has been aspiring to be a great actor in Hollywood. The only thing stopping him is who he is…

Maissa Houri

About the director, Maissa Houri

Maissa Houri is an Middle-Eastern-Canadian actress and emerging filmmaker based out of Ottawa, Canada. She is also one of the Co-Founders and the Director of Industry Events for the Eve Film Festival, a festival dedicated to women and women-identifying directors. Recently, her short film Inara won her two awards at the Ottawa Digi60 2018 Spring Edition including the SAW Video Female Filmmaker Award and Best Director Award. Her first short film Russian Gangster, a comedy dedicated to diverse actors, is an official selection of the Women’s Only Entertainment Film Festival and most recently the Canadian Diversity Film Festival 2018. 

What inspired your film?

The inspiration for this film is my friend Bogdan who plays the lead Nikolai in the film. I wrote this for him because he was having issues getting auditions because of his accent. In the film industry, they say they want diversity but it is limited to skin colour. Most of the time when a casting call is put out, it has to be indicated that an accent is required. Most casting directors have told him that he needs to get rid of his accent. I wanted to showcase that reality in this film. 

What was your biggest challenge in making your film?

The biggest challenge in making this film was finding time to film it. This film was a no budget film. Everyone volunteered their time and resources so finding time when everyone was available was hard. 

What was the best part of the experience for you? 

The best part of making this film was seeing my words come to life. This is my first short film so seeing it develop into something was incredible for me. I was really proud of what I had put together and the people who believed in it. I really learned a lot. 

What advice would you give aspiring filmmakers? 

The advice I would give to aspiring or emerging filmmakers is to invest in yourself before you expect someone to invest in you. Make connections and surround yourself with people who believe in what you do. You can create something so special with so little. All you need is talent, equipment and a really good story. Also, keep learning and getting better at your craft. Watch international films, go to film festivals to see what’s out there and how you can improve your skills. 

What’s next for you?

My other film has been submitted to film festivals and has been getting some recognition so there’s that happening for me currently. I am also in the midst of creating a web series that touches on some taboo subjects and is very inclusive. It’s something that I think a lot of people will be able to relate to especially since the characters go through real experiences that I have gone through as well as the actors in the series.

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