About the Film

Mo - Still 1
No amount of practice on the mat can prepare Mo for the challenge she faces at her first high school wrestling match.

SYNOPSIS

Fourteen year-old Monique “Mo” Morris is the only girl on what has been the all-boys wrestling team. As she prepares for her first, co-ed high school match, we learn that her desire to dominate the male opponent she will face on the mat is about more than proving to her skeptical teammates that she has earned her starting position. She is also wrestling to connect to her father, a former wrestler, and struggling single dad.

TEAM

Olivia Newman | Writer/Director

OLIVIA NEWMAN has written, directed and produced award-winning short films in the USA, France and Serbia. Olivia’s films have received awards from HBO, The Caucus for Producers, Writers and Directors, SimonSays Entertainment, Cine Golden Eagle, and the Angelus Awards, and have screened in film festivals internationally including the New York Film Festival, Aspen Shortsfest, Palm Springs International Shortsfest, Cinequest, Vancouver International Film Festival and the Bermuda Film Festival. Her short, FIRST MATCH, won Best Student Short at the 2012 Aspen Shortsfest, Best Short Film at the 2012 NJ International Film Festival and is currently airing on PBS. Olivia is a 2012 Film Society of Lincoln Center/IFP Emerging Visions Fellow for the development of her first feature based on her short, First Match. She received her MFA in Film from Columbia University.

Ken Murphy | Producer

Currently pursuing an MFA in Film at Columbia University, KEN MURPHY combines extensive experience as a senior executive in corporate America with a growing creative resume that encompasses screenwriting, directing and producing. A published author of business fiction and non fiction, Ken successfully integrated the use of the arts — theater, film, and fiction — into corporate leadership and organization development initiatives. At Columbia, Ken has written, directed and produced several short films and is currently writing a feature film, FIRE ON THE BEACH. Ken has a BS degree in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University, and is the 2010 recipient of the HBO Films Young Producer’s Development Award for FIRST MATCH.

Veronica Nickel | Co-Producer

VERONICA NICKEL is an independent producer based in New York, currently in production on her second feature film. In 2010, Nickel was chosen to take part in the prestigious Sundance Producing Summit. In 2009, she was awarded the Arthur Krim Endowment Award for excellence in producing at Columbia University. Nickel completed her MFA in film production at Columbia where she produced numerous award-winning short films. She was the Executive Producer of a web video campaign that was the result of a partnership between Equal (sweetener) and Columbia University, and oversaw production of six videos. Currently, Nickel runs her own production company llluminaria Productions. Prior to embarking on a career in production, Nickel was an HR Consultant, based in the U.S. and Australia..

Chanelle Elaine | Co-Producer

CHANELLE ELAINE is pursuing her MFA in producing at Columbia University’s Graduate School of the Arts, where she was named a Dean’s Fellow for the 2008-2009 academic years. Chanelle focuses on projects with a social purpose from her first film Death ≠ Silence,”a documentary about the late Keith Cylar, the co-founder of Housing Works and former member of ACT UP!, to her recent Humanitas nominated television pilot, OutSkirts, a teleplay centered around a neighborhood undergoing gentrification. As a former community organizer, Chanelle understands the importance of lending voice to the disenfranchised and hopes to continue to do so with her upcoming short and feature projects, First Match, Preservation and Something Should’ve Told Me.

Adam McDaid | Director of Photography

ADAM MCDAID is a cinematographer based in New York and Los Angeles. Ever since he was a little kid, he has been getting in trouble for spending too much time looking out windows and daydreaming. It makes sense that he fell in love with cinematography – an art that requires unique vision and a talent to see the minute details that reveal elements of story, character and emotion via composition and light. Having completed his training at the American Film Institute with an MFA in Cinematography in 2006, Adam has been busy shooting narratives, commercials, music videos and docs in all formats – 35mm, Super16 and HD. Recently, Adam had the opportunity to hone is craft under Janusz Kaminski as his camera intern on Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Adam is a visual storyteller who looks for projects that are challenging, collaborative and push the medium forward. Adam still hasn’t stopped daydreaming.

Rory Haines | Assistant Director

RORY HAINES is a British filmmaker currently based in New York. Studying his MFA at Columbia University, his first short film screened at festivals in both the US and the UK including Palm Springs, and he was awarded the Hollywood Foreign Press Association foreign filmmaker award. His first feature screenplay was selected for the Nantucket Screenwriter’s Colony in 2009, he has since been shortlisted twice on the Nichol’s Screenwriting Fellowship, and was listed as one of the film industries up and coming screenwriters in the 2011 ‘Young and Hungry List’. He has been represented by David Lonner’s Oasis Entertainment since 2010.

Fabian Almazan | Composer

Composer and pianist FABIAN ALMAZAN, a native of Cuba now residing in New York City, found his musical roots as a child in his homeland of Havana where he first became involved in the classical piano tradition. In 2002 Fabian was selected to perform with the National 2002 Grammy High School Jazz Combo. During the completion of his bachelor’s degree at Manhattan School of Music, Almazan immersed himself in the realm of orchestral composition studying instrumentation and orchestration with Mr. Giampaolo Bracali. In the spring of 2009 Fabian received a master’s degree from MSM, selected as a recipient of the Michael W. Greene Scholarship, studying privately with Jason Moran. Recent awards and residencies include the Cintas Foundation 2010/11 Brandon Fradd Award in Music Composition, an award that has been historically granted to Cuban artists who have gone on to play an influential role in the development of Cuban cultural heritage, and the Sundance Composers’ Lab 2011, where Fabian studied with such acclaimed film composers as Harry Gregson-Williams, Alan Silvestri, George S. Clinton, Christopher Young, Ed Shearmur and Peter Golub. Fabian’s debut album (Biophilia Records) “Personalities” will be released October 2011 during a week long stint at the Village Vanguard in New York City. For the past four years Fabian has been the pianist for the Terence Blanchard Group and has toured North and South America, Asia and Europe extensively.

Brooke Sebold | Editor

BROOKE SEBOLD is a documentary and narrative filmmaker currently based in New York City. In 2007, Brooke, and her film collaborators, Todd and Benita Sills, completed their first feature length documentary, RED WITHOUT BLUE, which received over twenty audience-choice and jury awards. RED WITHOUT BLUE screened at 200+ film festivals, universities, and museums all around the world. Additionally, Brooke’s narrative shorts have won numerous awards and screened at such festivals as the Florida Film Festival, Palm Springs ShortFest, and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Brooke is currently in production on a webisode series for Killer Films and a documentary short produced in conjunction with Last Bastion Entertainment. Brooke’s work can be seen on PBS, the Sundance Channel, Logo, and Current TV, where one of the pieces she edited was nominated for an Emmy (2008).

CAST

Nyasa Bakker | Mo

NYASA BAKKER is a junior at Wingate High School for Public Service in Brooklyn, NY. She has been wrestling for three years and is currently a starter for the Wingate High School “Generals” and as well as the Beat the Street Girls Wrestling Team. Nyasa placed first in her weight class in the 2011 NYC Mayor’s Cup Girls’ Division.

Anselm Richardson | Darrel

ANSLEM RICHARDSON most recently starred in the Sundance award-winning feature film, HOMEWRECKER for which he won the Maverick Award for Best Actor at the Method Film Festival. He has also starred in FIVE DEEP BREATHS, directed by Seith Mann, screening at Cannes, Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals (Best-Narrative Awards at Chicago International and Los Angeles Film Festivals) and won Best Actor at First Run Film Festival. Other credits include AN INVISIBLE SIGN OF MY OWN, THE LIFE BEFORE HER EYES, LIFE ON MARS, LAW & ORDER: CI, and Joel on the daytime series AS THE WORLD TURNS. He stars in THE VISIT selected for the 2009 SXSW Film Festival and performed Off-Broadway in THE
EXONERATED, directed by Bob Balaban.

Anslem is also an award-winning screenwriter. He was awarded the Gordon Parks Award for Emerging African American Screenwriting at Film Independent for his first screenplay, THE SUBWAY STORY. His following screenplay, BARDOS, was awarded the Tribeca All Access Creative Promise Award in Screenwriting at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival — currently in development with producer Frida Torresblanco (PAN’S LABYRINTH). He co-founded ThisThing Films with Marin Gazzaniga, to create the mini-series LIKE SO MANY THINGS…for the Independent Film Channel Gazzaniga.

Zach Lombardo | Coach

Born and raised in Cleveland, OH, Zach came to New York City to study acting at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Zach has been performing Off-Off Broadway since 2005 in many of New York’s Off-Off houses including two productions in the New York City International Fringe Festival, “Tough Guys don’t Shoot Blanks” and “Buddy Becker’s Big Uncut Flick.” Both performances received great reviews by Off-Off Online and Tony Magazine. Zach is a current resident company member of Apple Core Theater Company which had its debut at the Barrow Group. Zach has also appeared in Collegehumor.com showing his off-the-wall comedic side and taking him to MTV networks The College Humor Show. Film credits include the short comedy “With Anchovies Without Mamma” which won an Audience Choice at CMJ Film Festival.

DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT

Coming soon.