The dream apartment view for any student living in Paris.


MAGC Students’ Documentary Short Enjoys Film Festival Success


Alfonso and Mayar

AUP’s master’s programs are hands on, allowing students to put theory into practice through workshops with industry experts and other experiential opportunities. For students in the MA in Global Communications (MAGC), this often means getting to grips with media production – including filmmaking. In 2021, Alfonso Sjogreen G’22 and Mayar Alanis G’23 took a hands-on module called Urban Tales for Sustainable Society: Art of the Documentary. The film Alfonso and Mayar produced – a seven-minute documentary called I Feel Perfect about Stoian, a man living on the streets of Paris – has since found success at a number of international film festivals.

The pair’s original assignment was to create a short documentary telling the story of a societal issue. After being provided with a wide list of possibilities, the pair chose homelessness as their theme. “Paris has this global reputation of being a beautiful, romantic city,” says Mayar. “We wanted to show another side, highlighting invisible people whom you don’t often hear about.”

Mayar and Alfonso met Stoian, the subject of their documentary, in Paris’s 16th arrondissement. Stoian is a Bulgarian migrant whose papers were stolen, meaning he has been unable to find work in Paris or return to his native Bulgaria. “He was very kind and his smile was very warm,” says Mayar. “Despite neither of us speaking his language, he quickly became much more than a stranger to us.” The pair filmed Stoian over three days, using a translation app to communicate with him in Bulgarian, while also shooting B-roll in locations across the city.

During the editing process, Alfonso reached out to a friend to translate the transcript. He and Mayar were surprised to discover how much of Stoian’s responses they had been able to understand through body language, facial expressions and the strength of their human connection. “For me it was a metaphysical thing,” says Alfonso. “As a filmmaker and someone who is very spiritual, it’s an experience that resonated with me a lot.”

The pair shared cinematography, directing and editing responsibilities, working together to create I Feel Perfect on a tight deadline. After submitting the assignment, they were contacted by the module lecturer, LA-based producer and AUP alumna Gabrielle Almagor ’07, who suggested they enter some film festivals. “It’s not something we had a lot of experience in,” says Alfonso. “We’re so grateful to Gabrielle and her husband Tomer for helping us with the process.”

Together, they developed a plot synopsis and film poster and filled out the necessary applications. The first festival to accept the movie was the Inheritance Festival, a Northern Irish festival of arts and the environment. This led to I Feel Perfect being broadcast by a Belfast-based TV station, NVTV. Since then, Alfonso and Mayar have also been accepted into Story, an International Student Documentary Festival in the Republic of Ireland; the Meihodo International Youth Visual Media Festival in Japan; the Trinationales Filmfestival der Hochschule Offenburg in Germany; and the Duemila30 Film Festival in Italy.

Festival recognition is a meaningful moment for both alumni. Alfonso partly attributes their success to choosing a narrative that resonates with their own experiences of crossing borders and coming to terms with new environments: “I think what it comes down to is being in love with the story you want to tell and the process of telling the story,” he explains. Mayar’s advice for current students looking to create their own documentaries is to choose a topic that drives people toward potential solutions. “One video might not change the world, but it can move people in the right direction,” she says. “Aim high!”