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An Assyrian Bard Weaving Tales in Hollywood
By Jorge Lucena
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Dustin Kahia.
Hollywood, a glittering labyrinth of dreams and ambition, is constantly on the lookout for fresh voices. Enter Dustin Kahia, a filmmaker on the rise, ready to challenge conventions with his unique cultural heritage and captivating stories.

Kahia's culture is the lifeblood of his art. Born Chaldean, a descendant of the ancient Mesopotamian civilization, he carries a legacy stretching back 5,500 years. This rich history, a vibrant tapestry woven from countless stories, fuels his creative fire. In a world dominated by familiar narratives, Kahia's perspective, representing a global community of just 500,000, brings a rare and precious lens to his career as a film director.

However, his love affair with cinema began with a bittersweet twist. A young Kahia, facing his father's battle with cancer, found solace in video editing software. This represented a gift of shared creativity during a difficult time. Diving deeper into video editing ignited a passion that burned bright, propelling him forward despite personal loss and financial hurdles. His relentless pursuit of knowledge led him to prestigious internships at Revelations Entertainment and Village Roadshow Pictures, where he honed his craft alongside industry veterans.

Kahia's journey isn't paved with red carpets; it's a testament to sheer grit. His second short film won the coveted Audience Choice Award at the National Film Festival for Talented Youth. With a limited budget, this film represented Kahia's talent and resourcefulness. But Kahia isn't just a director with an eye for visuals. His storytelling prowess shines through his writing. Feature screenplays he has penned have become finalists and semi-finalists at esteemed competitions, showcasing the depth of his creative well.

A pivotal moment arrived with a self-made 55-minute film shot in a whirlwind four days. This wasn't just any film. It premiered to a sold-out crowd at the Newport Beach Film Festival, garnering rave reviews and comparisons to the legendary Alfred Hitchcock. It was a testament to Kahia's ability to craft captivating stories and to do so under immense pressure.

His recent short film, Monday Mourning, is a crowning achievement. With fifteen official selections, fourteen nominations, and seven festival wins, the accolades speak for themselves. Kahia can also boast of being nominated three times for 'Best Director' awards and winning one--a clear recognition of his exceptional talent behind the camera.

Looking ahead, Kahia's ambition burns bright. A spec script for a historical epic with a budget exceeding $100 million is just one example. Kahia's current project is a grounded science-fiction thriller, with its budget set between $2 million and $5 million, which is designed as his feature directorial debut and a precursor to more ambitious endeavors like his historical epic. The enthusiastic response from industry professionals and investors to both of his feature film screenplays further underscores his ability to weave tales that resonate on a grand scale. One industry veteran lauded the sci-fi project, noting, "It's creative and well-written while also being deceptively low-budget. I never once got a 'low budget' feel when reading it."

Securing funding for his directorial debut might be an uphill battle, but Kahia's unwavering commitment and unique cultural perspective are his weapons. His meticulous pre-production process, evident in the creation of over 1,400 detailed storyboards, reflects his dedication to translating his cinematic visions into reality with unparalleled precision.

Dustin Kahia dreams of establishing his own production company, a platform to share his stories and enrich the cultural tapestry of cinema. With his unwavering resolve and a storytelling gift steeped in a rich heritage, Kahia is not just a filmmaker to watch--he's a bard weaving tales that will resonate for years to come.

Follow Dustin Kahia's journey on Instagram and Twitter.

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