TIFF21- Short Cuts- When actors turn directors, you get DEFUND, from Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah and Araya Mengesha

Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah, Producer at 2Skins Entertainment, Araya Mengesha, Producer at Incognito Ave and J Stevens have announced that their political dark comedy short, DEFUND, will have its world premiere in the Short Cuts programme at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival.

DEFUND stars Araya Mengesha (Nobody, Tiny Pretty Things, Anne with an E), Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah (Slo Pitch, Sugar Daddy, P!GS,), Anand Rajaram (Miss Sloane, Beeba Boys, Men with Brooms), and Karen Robinson (Schitt’s Creek, Tiny pretty Things, Pretty Hard Cases) as the voice of Mom, is written by Roberts-Abdullah and Mengesha who are also making their directorial debut as Co-Directors on this project. The short is produced by Roberts-Abdullah, Mengesha, and J Stevens (Slo Pitch, Hazy Little Thing).

Brother and Sister are Millennial twins, trapped in their apartment and trying to stay sane at the height of the 2020 pandemic. Brother and Sister are also Black and watching the BLM uprisings unfold on their phones. Brother tries to maintain a cool head, while Sister is ready to burn it all down. Fed up with sitting on the sidelines, they head out under the cover of night to discover that activism on the streets is very different from what they’ve seen on their screens.

“Premiering DEFUND at TIFF 2021 feels like the perfect way for our film to enter the world. Our film has been an act of community from the start. Last spring, I was approached by J Stevens, at the height of the BLM protests around the world, with an offer to lend their skillset and equipment to support whatever story I wanted to create about the times we were all experiencing,” said Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah.

“Khadijah turned her head and there I was, so obviously we came up with a movie about twins. Being roommates who were experiencing the claustrophobia of pandemic life mixed with all the calls to action from the movement outside our home, DEFUND was the natural extension of everything we had witnessed that summer,” added Araya Mengesha.

Cinematography and editing by J Stevens, with music composed by Denise De’ion (2020 Canadian Beatmakers League Season 1 Champion).

DEFUND is self-funded because social movements don’t wait for grant applications.

Follow them on Instagram
DEFUND – @defund.film
Araya – @callmemistertibbs
Khadijah – @djpaulydij
J – @the_j_stevens