The senior thesis film by Faye Ruiz, a School of Theatre, Film & Television (TFTV) graduate, has been acquired for national distribution and will be screened at theatres throughout the United States and Canada starting June 11.
“The Lights Are On, No One’s Home” follows Mar, a trans woman who left home years ago, as she returns to her old neighborhood to find her childhood home. Upon her return, she’s confronted with the changes that gentrification has brought to the place she once knew so well.
Kino Lorber and Dedza Films acquired the film as part of their first collaborative release, a film omnibus entitled Who Will Start Another Fire, featuring the works of nine emerging filmmakers from underrepresented communities worldwide. The anthology will be released digitally on KinoMarquee.com, in partnership with arthouse cinemas around the country, along with in-person screenings nationally (TBD).
“Dedza is committed to changing the landscape for emerging, underrepresented filmmakers and I’m elated to be a part of their first collection of short films and honored to have my film chosen to play on such a wide platform” said Ruiz. “I’m grateful to the University of Arizona and the School of Theatre, Film & Television for providing me with the filmmaking resources and faculty mentorship to bring ‘The Lights Are On, No One’s Home’ to life and out into the world.”
Along with Ruiz (BFA ’20, Film & Television) in the starring role, the film features actor Adriana Acedo Campillo (BFA ’21), who is double majoring in Theatre Arts and Film & Television. Emma Sinex (BFA ’20, Film & Television) edited the film and Ramani Menjugas (BA ’20, Film & Television) produced. The cinematographers were Martin Somoza and Zach Lovvorn (both BFA ’20, Film & Television). The University of Arizona Hanson FilmTV Institute provided completion funds.
“’The Lights Are On, No One’s Home’ truly stuck out to us from the beginning of tracking shorts,” said Dedza Films founder Kate Gondwe. “We knew almost immediately that we had to meet Faye and the film would be in our first collection. We couldn’t be happier to put Ruiz’s work out to the wider audience it deserves.”
The film made its debut at “I Dream in Widescreen 2020,” TFTV’s annual marquee event showcases short films made by BFA Film & Television senior students. Ruiz’s film collected awards for Cinematography, Production Design, and Post Production as selected by a jury of industry professionals. “The Lights Are On” went on to be selected to screen at multiple international film festivals, among them:
- London’s BFI Flare, the largest LGBTIQ+ film festival in Europe,
- Outfest Fusion, the Los Angeles-based festival dedicated to creating, sharing, and protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and genderqueer media.
- Later in June the film will screen at the Academy Award-qualifying Palm Springs ShortFest, where it will be in competition for Best Student U.S. Short and Best LGBT+ Short.
“It’s always exciting to see our talented film and theatre students recognized on an international platform but even more so when supported by a ground-breaking and important initiative like Dedza Films,” said Andy Belser, TFTV Director. “We’re thrilled that Faye’s film is part of the inaugural release and extend congratulations to all involved.”
Dedza Films, founded in 2020, aims to foster diversity, build community and cultivate the next wave of emerging filmmakers. The shorts in Who Will Start Another Fire were curated and acquired by the Dedza team and Kino Lorber, who is serving as an incubator for this initiative, consulted on marketing, publicity and digital distribution.
The anthology title refers to Malawian poet Jack Mapanje’s “Before Chilembwe Tree” (1981), in which he asks, “Who will start another fire?” This film collection, in various ways, propose an answer to his question. Each of these stories is personal and distinctly told, but unified by themes of rebirth and growth. The Dedza Team notes that “these films reject the idea of art for art’s sake and do not exist in self-designed aesthetic vacuums. Their creation represents a necessary reckoning for their makers and so perhaps, too, their viewers. These are growing films by growing filmmakers, made for the future and the past, presented for you to experience for the first time now and again and again afterwards.”