The Family Tree (2020)

In his latest film, provocative auteur Jorge Ameer narrates a nostalgic Christmas story based on a old Panamanian holiday tradition. Víctor Gardel, a lonely workaholic, rescues animals for a local shelter. He loves the end of the year celebrations. From small... read more

Completed On: 17 May, 2020

Duration: 2 hr 11 min 0 sec

Genres: Feature, Fiction

Country: United States

Director: Jorge Ameer

Submitted By: Jorge Ameer

The Family Tree Poster
In his latest film, provocative auteur Jorge Ameer narrates a nostalgic Christmas story based on a old Panamanian holiday tradition. Víctor Gardel, a lonely workaholic, rescues animals for a local shelter. He loves the end of the year celebrations. From small, he would create life size dolls made out of newspaper and explosives to celebrate the end of year festivities. However, this holiday season will prove unforgettable as Victor's latest creation comes to life to disrupt and enlighten him on the true meaning of love, friendship and family. Life ,as he knows it, is about to change. The holiday spectre will teach him to cherish the moments that makes lasting memories, as what was once is no more.
  • Director
    Jorge Ameer
    The Singing Forest, The House of Adam, The Dark Side of Love, D'Agostino, Sabor Tropical, Oasis, Medusa
  • Producers
    Jorge Ameer,
    The Singing Forest, Contadora is for Lovers, The House of Adam, The Dark Side of Love, D'Agostino, Sabor Tropical, Medusa, Oasis
  • Producers
    Jean Carlos London
    Sabor Tropical, Oasis
  • Writers
    Jorge Ameer
  • Film Type
    Feature, Fiction
  • Genres
    Fantasy, Drama, Holiday, LGBTQ
  • Runtime
    2 hours 11 minutes 0 seconds
  • Completion Date
    17 May, 2020
  • Production Budget
    USD
  • Country of Origin
    United States
  • Country of Filming
  • Film Language
  • Shooting Format
    4K
  • Aspect Ratio
    1:85
  • Film Color
    Color
  • Student Project
    No
  • First-time Filmmaker
    No

New York Cinematography Awards
New York
08/06/2020
Best Feature Film, Best LGBT film

New York Film Awards
United States
New York
08/05/2020
Best Original Story

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Director's Biography

Jorge Ameer began his professional career while in his late teens. At the age of 18, he was selected to participate in the Walt Disney College Program. He worked in the marketing departments of New Line Cinema, Paramount and Columbia Pictures. In motion picture development, Jorge worked as a story analyst for Richard Gere's production company and Wendy Finerman's productions at Tri Star Pictures in the early nineties and the now defunct Fries Entertainment. His acting credits include, " Gramercy's "Panther" and "Tales from the Hood", HBO's "Social Friction Fables" New Line's "Friday", and cameo appearances in his films "The Truth Within", "Strippers", and a supporting roles in "The Singing Forest", "Contadora is for lovers", "The House of Adam", "The Dark Side of love" and "D'Agostino". He co-stars opposite award winning actor Matthew Leitch (Star of AKA) in the carnival romp "Sabor Tropical".

In October 1997, he founded and Executive directed The Continental Film Festival, better known as the first American Independent film festival overseas on an island, was held on the island of Contadora off the gulf of Panama. Upon the festival's completion, filmmakers returned to their destinations with reviews from the national and international press.

There is where his film career actually began. He served as a festival coordinator during the very beginnings of the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival. At the LALIFF, he worked alongside Edward James Olmos and Marlene Dehmer the current festival director. Ameer also served as the coordinator for the 1988 Latino Entertainment Industry Conference and as a member of the advisory board of the Methodfest Film Festival. Other previous industry positions include being a U.S. representative for the Barcelona G & L Film Festival and a film programmer for the Palm Springs G & L Film Festival. At these festivals, Ameer helped in the selection of many foreign features. After noticing a lack of recognition of foreign and independent gay themed films released theatrically, he founded the International Gay Film Awards, the Glitter Awards (2001-2008). Ameer currently is the US representative for Festival Mix (Mexico) where he assist in curating foreign features and shorts.

Glitter Awards, the only award show of its kind, attracted celebrities presenters such as Academy Award nominated actress Lupe Ontiveros, Karen Black, "Grease" and "Summer lovers", "Blue Lagoon" director Randall Kleiser,Ayre Gross, comedian Jason Stuart, Peter Miller (star of "Mambo Italiano") to name a few.

In 1997, as a distributor, Ameer started Hollywood Independents with the theatrical release of "California Myth" starring Tyron Powers Jr.. Thereafter, the company has released such titles as the Jamaican/American co-production "Klash" starring Jazmine Guy, "Eastside" starring Mario Lopez, "Tequila Body Shots" starring Joey Lawrence, "Poor White Trash" starring Jamie Pressley, Jason London, William Devane and Sean Young, Spain's Academy Awards Winning film (Goya Winner) "I will Survive" (Sobrevivire), and "Hotel Room" from the director of "Nico & Dani". Other releases include his film "The Singing Forest", and "Junked" starring Thomas Jane (star of "The Mist", "Punisher" and the popular HBO series "Hung") and Jordan Ladd (star of "Cabin Fever", "Hostel 2"). Mr. Ameer has authored, produced, and directed the theatrical features "The Truth Within", "Strippers","The Singing Forest", "Contadora is for lovers", "The House of Adam", "The Dark Side of Love","Sabor Tropical", "D'Agostino". All projects released theatrically through Hollywood Independents.

Ameer has produced, written and directed countless 35mm comedic shorts films to name a few "My Straight Boyfriend", "Popcorn & Coke", "Uninhibited", "Midnight Snack", "Tease" now available on DVD as a compilation of shorts called Straight Men & the Men who love them. This collection has been so successful, Ameer has executive produced, program and curated two programs of the same titled Straight Men & the Men who love them 2 and the upcoming Straight Men & the men who love them 3. The latest compilation of shorts is a collection of international shorts curated from the Cannes Film Festival (short film corner).

His documentary works include the 2005 Glitter Awards, 2006 Glitter Awards and "Classic Hollywood Cinemas" an in depth look at the old Hollywood movie palaces, their historic and preservation value and impact. In this documentary, the movie theatres are the stars!!!.

He's also produced and arrange the publishing of the historical and award winning first ever "Guide to Gay & Lesbian Film". The first edition was published through Blood Moon productions. The book has won many book awards for its detail, educational and historical contribution to independent films, specially gay & lesbian films released in theatres.

A human rights activist, Ameer has spent most of his career creating controversial, cutting edge trivial stories with thought provoking subject matters to challenge audiences from the stereotypical social conventions and outdated traditional values which detract from enhancing the global human experience.

In addition to filmmaking, within the exhibition industry, Jorge Ameer was the last person to re-open the historic Vogue theatre in Hollywood as a movie theatre to showcase independent films. Films such as "Nico and Dani" (TLA Releasing) and "Just one time" from the now defunct Cowboy Releasing played at this theatre. The resurgence of film exhibition at the Vogue was short lived due to alleged hauntings at the venue where a paranormal research group leased the theatre from Mann theatres to set up shop as headquaters for their research group. The theatre was gutted a few years later to make way for a nightclub that never opened. This short stint with this historic theatre has made Ameer a part of the Hollywood Historic Cinema experience as he was the last person to play films at what was a great film venue back in its day.

Jorge Ameer's theatrical distribution company Hollywood Independents International opened its theatrical distribution operations in Central and South America in 2006 with the theatrical release of "Grande Ecole" a film by Robert Salis. The French film was censored and banned in Panama due to its explicit sexual content where his company was schedule to open it in theatres in January 2007. Ameer took a trip to Panama to denounce the banning of this film. After outraged from the Panamanian press, the film opened successfully in Panama. It opened number one at the Alhambra-Plus Transistmica beating studio films "Night at the Museum" and "Deja Vu". It broke box office record locally, for this genre of film, playing for eight week theatrically.

On January 26, 2009 the Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Fairbanks Center for Motion Picture study invited Mr. Ameer's to have his screenplays be a permanent part of "The Core Collection". The screenplays in this collection are made accessible for research purposes; students, filmmakers, writers and actors are among the patrons.

In additional to his filmmaking, acquisition and distribution activities, Ameer programs and curates films and has been a guest speaker at countless film festival and media events worldwide.

In April 2011, Mr. Ameer started his own film series in Panama called Jorge Ameer presents Cine Serie Independiente, a showcase to promote and exhibit high profile award winning independent and foreign films in Panama. Among the few films Mr. Ameer was responsible in bringing to Panamanian audiences was Aluzio Abranche's controversial incestuous drama of brotherly love "From Begining to End" (Do Comeco ao Fim), Andre Shortell's "Psych 9" starring Sara Foster & Cary Elwes, Karee Andrew's "Altitude". During the film presentations, directors presented their work to Panamanian audiences in person and live via skype on the movie screen. This is the first time in Panama's cinema history technology has allowed local cinephiles the opportunity to interact with award winning filmmakers virally before and after their film presentations. During the film series screenings, Panamanian audiences shared comments and exchange opinions with the artists live on-screen from their home countries. Unfortunately, the presenting cinema and only theatre exhibitor to support independent films - the Alhambra Theatres- would close the following year, on January 31, 2012, due to financial troubles. It was the last of a series of vintage stand alone cinemas constructed during the boom of single screen theatres and drive-ins in Panama. There are currently only two theatre chain exhibitors (Cinepolis & Cinemark) operating in Panama. Both chains have their multiplex cinemas located throughout today's popular mega malls. More details of the end of the single screen theatres and era is exposed in Mr. Ameer's documentary Classic Hollywood Cinemas.

Several months after his film series, Mr. Ameer served as producer to the opening night after party to the October 2011 edition of SCREAMFEST, the world's premiere horror film festival based in Hollywood, California. The event was held at the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel. The event brought luminaries of the genre such as Paranormal Activity's Oren Peli, "Saw" and "Insidious" director James Wan, as well as "Grease", "Summer Lovers", "Blue Lagoon" director Randal Kleiser and "Firestarters", "Class of 1984" director Mark Lester to name a few celebrity attendees. With a seance theme, over 400 votive candles were used to create the atmosphere. In addition over one hundred skulls, the screamfest symbol, were featured as centerpieces and part of the morbid "look" throughout the event. A well lit coffin surrounded by neon lights was featured in the gift room where guests retrieved their gift bags from the open casket.

In 2012, Mr. Ameer was invited to be President of the jury to the International TV, film and video Film festival of Panama. The Festival Cine Diva is a competitive festival held Sept 8-16, 2012. The festival focuses on short subject experimental, documentary, short and television works both local and foreign. Winner are awarded the Premio Diva. (Diva Award)

After many years in the making, Mr Ameer has pioneered and procured the opening of the first high school film program in Panama at the Pan American Institute in Panama City.. The film program's curriculum was designed by Jorge Ameer and approved by the Ministry of Education. It started on March 2, 2015 with the first class schedule to graduated on December 20, 2017.

Released Halloween 2015, Jorge Ameer's latest film Medusa, a contemporary dark gothic tale of terror based on the greek mythology starred Jeff Allen, William McNamara (Stealing Home, Copycat), Katy Foley, Britt Rose & Tom Struckhoff. Visual effects were under the supervision of Jeremy Vanneman (Godzilla, Pacific Rim, Wolverine & Star Trek Into Darkness, Avengers 2, Jurassic World, Ghostbusters 3 among other studio films). The film was officially announced to the public at the 2014 Wondercon. It was named one of the most anticipated upcoming films of the year by videodetective.com.

In 2015, Jorge Ameer had two films having their world premieres in two different programs at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, his authored feature Medusa (aka The resurrection of Medusa) which he directed and acted as as Kao the witch doctor premiered in Cannes premiere as part of the Marche Du Film. Also, Find Pauletta, a ghost story was selected as part of the Short Film Corner. Jorge Ameer stars as Douglas in Find Pauletta, a horror ghost story about a new smart phone app that enables camera phones to see ghosts.

Mr. Ameer is currenty the Film Festival director of FILMS FROM PANAMA presented by The Viva Panama Organization and held at the historic Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood yearly. His latest film OASIS, shot in Panama the same week his other film MEDUSA was released in theatres in Panama on August 2016, premiered at in Cannes at the Marche Du Film May, 2017. It was released theatrically November 10, 2017 . It was submitted for 2018 Golden Globes & Oscar consideration. The film was among 341 films eligible for Best Picture consideration for the 2018 Academy Awards.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: anonymous

Trivia (17)
He was the last person to exhibit first run independent films in the now defunct historic Vogue theatre in Hollywood, California. Films such as "Nico & Dani" and "Just One Time" starring Guillermo Diaz were one of the films that Jorge projected in this theatres during its last days as a theatrical exhibition venue. The theatre was gutted for a nightclub that never opened. To this day it still remains closed.
Jorge is the only Panamanian filmmaker who writes, direct, produces and own his own production and distribution company in Hollywood.
On January 26, 2009 the Library of the Motion Picture Arts & Sciences contacted Mr. Ameer to invite his screenplays to be a permanent part of the Core Collection. The screenplays in this collection are made accessible for research purposes; students, filmmakers, writers and actors are among the patrons. The screenplays may be found at the Margaret Herrick Library - Fairbanks Center for Motion Picture study.
Jorge was the second person to review Oren Peli's "Paranormal Activity". A review Mr. Peli originally added to the website and used to promote his film prior to its acquisition by Paramount Pictures.
Jorge left his home at age 16 in the late 80's due to political unrest and civil instability in Panama during the dictatorship of the Noriega regime, who was recruiting young men to fight in his military army for a looming confrontation with the United States. In 1989, the United States invaded Panama on December 20 and ousted the Panamanian dictator during operation Just Cause.
Jorge Ameer's "The Dark Side of Love " was the last film to shoot at the Regent Showcase Theatre in Hollywood prior to its closing. "The Regent Showcase Theatre, originally the Gordon Theatre (1938), is one of the older art houses in Los Angeles until its closing in May 2009.
Mr. Ameer was invited to preside over the jury of the 2012 International TV, film & Video film festival of Panama. Festival Cine Diva 2012.
Jorge "George" Ameer (August 26, 1994 - December 11,2012), Jorge Ameer's cat was the main inspiration for the story concept of D'Agostino describing an odd relationship between a man and his human pet/best friend. Mr. Ameer has dedicated the film to his 18 year old cat who passed from complications from old age/type 2 diabetes on December 11, 2012. D'Agostino has the interesting distinction of being one the few films dedicated to a feline.
Jorge Ameer pioneered and procured the opening of the first high school film program in Latin America at one of the most prestigious high schools in Panama - the Pan American Institute in Panama City, Panama. The film program curriculum was designed by Ameer and approved by the Ministry of Education -the highest government body responsible for education & approval of curriculum in the country. Classes began in 2015. Their last third of their senior year, they were placed in professional internship with film companies and local television networks as part of their graduation requirements. Panama's and Latin America's first high school film class graduated on December 20, 2017.
Jorge Ameer is the first filmmaker to start a high school film program in Panama. The high school film program confers what they call a "Bachiller Bilingue en Communicacion y Cine" (High School diploma specializing in Communication and Filmmaking) and it is based at the Pan American Institute (Instituto Panamericano) one of the oldest (established in 1906) & most prestigious private institutions in the country. The program was approved by the Ministry of Education of Panama in 2014. Twenty Four pioneering students have subscribed to this three year program. Classes commenced on March 2, 2015 with the first high school pioneering class of this film program receiving their high school diploma in Cinema & Communicacion on Wednesday, December 20, 2017. The diploma was conferred by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Panama.
Jorge Ameer has two films having their world premieres in two different programs at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, his authored feature Medusa (aka The resurrection of Medusa) which he directs and acts as as Kao the witch doctor is schedule to have its Cannes premiere as part of the Marche Du Film. Also, Find Pauletta, a ghost story selected as part of the Short Film Corner. Jorge Ameer stars as Douglas in Find Pauletta, a horror ghost story about a new smart phone app that enables camera phones to see the dead.
Actress Katia Semacaritt, who plays Constancia in Jorge Ameer's "Oasis", was discovered by Jorge Ameer in "Salsipuedes". Salsipuedes was the film that represented Panama at the 2017 Academy Awards.
A die hard Superman fan, Jorge Produced the 40th Anniversary celebration of SUPERMAN (1978) with celebrity host Levi Tinker at the historic Chinese Theatre where the film originally premiered on December 14, 1978. At the 40th Anniversary Celebration, the cast with executive producer Ilya Salkind had a Q&A of the film prior to the showing of the extended version of the film. The Q&A was moderated by celebrity host Levi Tinker. Cast in attendance was Aaron Smolinski (Baby Clark Kent), Marc McClure (Jimmy Olsen), Jack O'Halloran (Non), Diane Sherry (Lana Lang). The 40th Anniversary celebration was held on Tuesday, February 27, 2018 in Hollywood.
Jorge Ameer is a member of the board of directors of the Viva Panama Organization since November 4, 2015. Viva Panama organization is a non-profit organization with the objective of promoting cultural awareness of Panamanian culture in Los Angeles. The Organization holds its yearly formal gala as part of the opening night of the Films from Panama film festival.

Director's Statement

ABOUT THE STORY
The Family Tree is a Christmas story based on a Panamanian tradition and on filmmaker Jorge Ameer household traditions. Ameer, from small made life size dolls out of explosives - a Panamanian tradition that is still practiced to this date - as a way to say goodbye to the old and welcome the new. The tradition consist in creating a life size character out of explosives, newspaper and usually old clothes (Ameer would dressed his characters piñata style). - The chosen character could be a political, animation or public figure. These characters are created in a caricature type manner. The premise of the film comes from the idea of what would happen if while making a New Years wish, as your creation explodes, it comes to life and changes the course of your destiny?

Here is where Ameer, an avid fan of 80's films used the concept of an otherworldly figure personified that disrupts the life of the protagonist. We see this in many 80's film such as "Mannequins" (1987), "Splash" (1984), Date with an Angel (1986) among others. These concepts are what many 80's and 70's film memorable.

The film is also a love letter of sorts and dedication to his late mother Mrs. Sybil B. Ameer, who gave Ameer as a child many unforgettable holidays. "It is interesting how life is, my mother gave me the fairy tale chrisms with Santa Clause and other holiday traditions. In her senior years, Ameer would visit his mother and bring the holidays with him to offer her a relative experience.

THE MANY THEMES OF "THE FAMILY TREE" -
Jorge Ameer's film is charged with many themes that address many current issues such as homelessness, infertility, loneliness, animal rights advocacy all wrapped in a different kind of christmas story.
The story of Victor, Alina and Roy were set during the holidays, because it is the time of the year where those who celebrate the holidays alone tend to feel more depressed and/or nostalgic during the holidays. For those who grew up with an unforgettable holiday celebration and are now providing a end of the year celebration for their own families, there is a nostalgic feeling that sets in bringing them back to the days of how thing were during their childhood. The holiday brings back moments of happier times within our childhood memories. The film is a nostalgic love letter to those memorable times lived.

THE CAST

MICHAEL JOSEPH NELSON debuts as ROY a Santa dressed mysterious b-day gram messenger, hired by workaholic animal rescuer Victor, to deliver a birthday message to his friend Alina.

After many attempt at casting the role of ROY - the last actor to be casted in the role of Roy withdrew the day before principal, forcing the production to split the filming of the story between Panama and Hollywood. Upon shooting portions of the film in Panama, filmmaker Jorge Ameer returned to Hollywood to re-cast. There is where he found Michale Joseph Nelson during a casting that presented several thousand submissions. "His look stood out" and I only hoped he would be OK with the material as I wrote it. After his initial auditions, we met in person and spoke for over five hours about the story and the character demands. We were both on the same page". Once shooting began the process would be complete flawlessly. Michael was such a pleasure to work with. He brough my character to life and for that I will be eternally grateful. He made this story his and into a very moving story. As I edited the film, I felt tears rolling down my cheeks as many of the scenes organically brought me to tears. Scene that were not originally written with that purpose." says Ameer.

KEITH ROENKE - Keith Roenke is no stranger to Jorge Ameer films. Having starred in the 2009 film "D'Agostino". Keith and Ameer have been in conversations about working together since D'Agostino. However, schedules and availability impeded the collaboration. Ten years later, the time and the project made sense for both. Mr. Roenke after reading the script loved it and signed on to star as Victor Gardel.

ANAIS LUCIA - Actress Anais became a part of the cast upon referral by Michael Joseph Nelson. Casting was already on its way for the role of the actress, until actor Michael Joseph had recommended Anais Lucia who had previously shared acting classes with the actor. Upon here several submitted auditions, Ameer met with Anais and both worked on creating the character of Alina to give her more of a rounded feel to the character. His recommendation meant a lot to me because chemistry is very important to me. It was just as important the actor Keith Roenke approved of the actress since all three characters form a bond.

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  • The Family Tree - a Jorge Ameer film
  • The Family Tree - a Jorge Ameer film