student short film created by Daniela Dwek, Chrisy Baek and Maya Mendonca and produced at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

Daniela, Maya, and Chrisy, students at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, are the talents behind Hamsa. They have produced a short film named Hamsa and won the Student Academy Award from the Oscars. They have kindly agreed to share some insights with us on their journey of producing Hamsa.

A young Israeli girl named Tikvah is oblivious to the historical conflict she lives in. On a trip to the market, her mother reinforces her fear of “the other”. However, when chaos strikes she finds that the people she was once afraid of are not so bad.

What is Hamsa trying to tell us?

Daniela: Hamsa promotes peace. The story takes place in Israel as there is an ongoing complex conflict between Israel and Palestine. Hamsa is here to remind us that, at the end of the day, we are all human. It isn’t about the war or any government decisions, but about the people. We have to coexist with one-another – we see each other as humans. This is what Hamsa is showing us through the eyes of Tikvah who is still so innocent. She listens to what adults tell her and then at the end, you can see that the woman she was taught to fear was the one that helped her. Not only does she change her mind, but so does the mother through her child. Hamsa gives hope that the future generations can give up the judgment that was in the prior generations.

Is the story personal to you?

Daniela: Being Jewish and coming from a family of refugees from the Middle East, I can really relate to the three different characters. My identities are fighting in away.

Maya: Even though we aren’t necessarily facing the same issue, we can relate this to our own – Black and White conflict, North and South Korea. We all appeal to this film in our separate ways.

What were some challenges you faced during the production of your short movie?

Daniela: One obvious one was when Corona hit! It came in March when we were at the peak of production, we were almost done yet there was still so much left to do. We were uncertain when we would be able to go back to school to use the facilities we needed, would it be weeks? Months? We had to take all the files on a hard drive which were HUGE. We were always used to working together, but now being in different states and not having access to the facilities was definitely a challenge.

I wasn’t supposed to be the voice of the mother, but we didn’t really have a choice because the recording booth at our school was closed.

How have digital technologies available for film making impacted your work?

Maya: We all watch animations and we never really thought or knew what the process was behind making such films. My interest sparked when I got to college, and throughout it with the different projects. I got to familiarize myself with all sorts of software and technologies that allow you to do different things.

Daniela: If you think about it, we’re creating a whole new world. There is a software that encompasses everything, but then for more specific things such as painting their skin, objects, textures, etc.. we would use other software.

Chrisy: Really, we’re using a library of software!