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‘Raven’ ascends, John Hughes goes Korean

Director Don Schechter (left) with actor Johnny Lee Davenport on the set of “Ascendants: Raven.”

Writer-director and Tufts University film instructor Don Schechter just returned from the ITVFest (the Independent Television and Film Festival) in Dover, Vt., where he screened his latest short film, “Ascendants: Raven,” the second installment in his film series titled “The Ascendants Anthology.” It’s a futuristic tale about how only a select few humans are granted permission to ascend to an afterlife, resulting in a corrupt dystopia. Schechter founded and runs Charles River Media Group in Newton Center, which produces TV commercials and industrial films for corporate clients. For years he’s wanted to create his own film project.

A science-fiction fan who earned his undergrad and graduate degrees in music from Tufts, he took matters into his own hands in 2006 and wrote a feature-length script (“Ascendants”) that he says was influenced by dystopias in futuristic films such as “Strange Days” and “Children of Men.”


“I knew it would be too expensive to make and I didn’t want to sell it,” he says of his script. So Schechter gathered his resources at CRMG and with a volunteer cast and crew decided to make a series of short films that together might lead to a feature or a series. The first was the 18-minute “Family,” followed by the 30-minute “Raven.” Set in 2060, “Raven” stars local actors Johnny Lee Davenport, Craig Houk, and Nicholas Goroff and boasts “high production values,” says Schechter, thanks to the participation of crew members such as David Bouley and Tom Fitzgerald, cinematographers who have extensive experience on Boston-shot films. Subsequent films in the anthology include the just-completed “Ascendants: Day’s End” and the now-in-pre-production “Ascendants: Serein.”

“Each film is an episode that’s also part of a larger mythology. It’s an independently produced TV series, really, but there are not a lot of TV festivals,” says Schechter, who composed the music for the films. “Raven” is available on Vimeo On Demand — — and is also accessible via the videos page on the film’s website: ascendantsthemovie


The Korean John Hughes

He may not be the only Korean filmmaker fixated on 1980s teen spirit chronicler John Hughes, but he’s the only one we know. Writer-director Benson Lee will attend the opening of the Boston Asian American Film Festival Oct. 22 with his autobiographical coming-of-age film “Seoul Searching” at 7:30 p.m. at the Brattle Theatre. “Seoul Searching” pays homage to Hughes’s comic dramas with its story about a group of misfit Korean teenagers from around the world who arrive in Seoul in 1986 to attend a cultural propaganda camp — and end up having the best summer of their lives.

Billed as New England’s largest Asian American film festival, BAAFF, a production of the Asian American Resource Workshop, runs Oct. 22-25 at the Brattle and at ArtsEmerson’s Bright Family Screening Room in the Paramount Center. It closes with “Miss India America,” a comedy by writer-
director Ravi Kapoor about an ambitious California teenager whose lifelong plans are ruined when her boyfriend falls for the reigning Miss India National beauty queen, prompting her to try to become Miss India National herself. Writer, producer, and actress Meera Simhan, whose one-woman stage show, “Miss India America,” provided the basis for the film, will attend the 5 p.m. screening at the Paramount Center.

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Loren King can be reached at