The top prize for the 2016 Nitehawk Shorts Festival went to the very short that opened the festival: the odd, wistful and funny VEGAS directed by New York filmmaker Saj Pothiawala. We caught up with Saj, still caught in the glow of his win, at the Shorts Fest after party and talked the late night inspiration for the short, modern dating, loneliness and his plans for his prize post-production package from Heard City and Nice Shoes.
Nitehawk: Tell us about your short.
Saj Pothiawala: It’s called Vegas and it’s about a man who gets stood up on an online date, and on his way home he encounters an eccentric prostitute at a bus stop, and he makes the decision to solicit her.
NH: I mean she’s more than eccentric, she’s a cosplay prostitute.
SP: Yeah, she’s a cosplay prostitute.
NH: What made you want to make her a cosplay prostitute? Was it like a commentary on nerd culture or was it based on something that actually happened?
SP: I think any time you pick a unique theme or take on something, because everyone has seen a movie about a prostitute before, if you pick something that’s a little bit more unique, then you by necessity have to figure out what those implications are.
On Thursday, November 3, our music-in-film series, Music Driven, invited the great filmmaker Penelope Spheeris to the theater to talk her breakthrough documentary: The Decline of Western Civilization. Chatting it up with Nitehawk programmer John Woods, Spheeris discusses her troubled childhood, the punk-ness of safe-spaces and her pioneering work as a woman grinding in the film industry.