“The Invisible Man and the Blind Girl” had its West Coast premiere at the Dances with Films festival this afternoon. The short film, which has already won two awards, the 24th Annual Palm Beaches Student Showcase of Film, where the film took Short 1st Prize and the 2019 Gold Rami Award at WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival where the film had its world premiere.

The Movie Revue had a chance to sit down with the short film’s director, Xiao Ma to discuss his film, what the story meant to him, and about his future plans.

TMR: What drew you to this particular story?

Xiao Ma: There were many inspirations, but the biggest inspiration was a sense of loneliness after having arrived in America three years ago. I was afraid of being lonely and this story gave me a way to express that loneliness in a very positive way, much the same way my education at Florida State University had a positive effect on me. This film served as my thesis film.

TMR: What message do you hope to share with this film?

Xiao Ma: Starting with my own feelings of loneliness, I wanted to explore the feelings of self-hatred, a lack of confidence in oneself and ultimately self-forgiveness.

TMR: I noticed a nice contrast between the two characters as they come to terms with their own challenges.

Xiao Ma: Thank you. That was a key to the story. We have such a short amount of time to get to the conflict that it is imperative that those themes come through clearly.

TMR: I thought they did and brilliantly so. This leads me to my next question, how did you find the actors?

Xiao Ma: That is an interesting question because I auditioned many actors and working with our advisors, who gave us feedback, we discovered that all of the actors who had auditioned really didn’t feel badly about themselves. My thesis advisor, who had to approve the talent, gave me one piece of advice: whomever plays this role has to feel for this role. That led me to Bryan. When we started in the program, we watched the current thesis film, “Scenes from a Funeral Reception,” which featured Bryan. I always remembered his performance, but he didn’t audition for the part initially. I approached him after the note from my advisor and within a night, I had him for the role of Bryan.

TMR: I thought his performance was exceptional. The body language is key to the emotional side of him discovering himself and being discovered by Emma (Ashlyn Jade Lopez).

Xiao Ma: Thank you. With Ashlyn, we needed someone who was younger than Bryan. We auditioned many actresses for the role and Ashlyn worked really well with Bryan and within the character arcs.

TMR: Her body language was just as important to her character as it was for Bryan. There was a electricity about the performances that I did not expect.

Xiao Ma: Yes, thank you for noticing.

TMR: What else are you working on?

Xiao Ma: We are working to expand this short story in to a feature length film. I am working with my co-screenwriter fleshing out the story and then we will begin the search for producers who can help us bring this film to a theater.

TMR: I look forward to seeing the feature length version of this story. It is a beautiful and poignant look at the human condition.

The Movie Revue would like to thank “The Invisible Man and the Blind Girl” director Xiao Ma for his time.

About Xiao Ma

Xiao Ma was born in Lan Zhou, China. He worked in the documentary industry in Beijing for over four years before he came to the US. He has written, edited and directed documentary subjects in the categories of psychological, e-commerce, historical. Many of his projects have been broadcast on China’s national channel, CCTV. The psychological documentary “Decoding Instinct,” which he wrote, directed and edited for one episode won the International “Gold Panda” Award for Documentary at the 2013 Sichuan TV Festival. He also edited and directed one episode of the commercial documentary, “E-Business War,” which won the 2015 Jade Mountain Best Documentary Film Award of the Zheng Jiang International Documentary Film Festival. He is also the chief director for the five-episode documentary series, “Disputed Cases in Forbidden City.” Xiao graduated from the Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts in 2018. He finished three narrative short films in school, and his thesis project, the 15-minute short film, “The Invisible Man & The Blind Girl,” won the 24th College Feature/Short 1st Place for the 24th Annual Palm Beaches Student Showcase of Films and the 2019 Gold Remi Award of WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival.