Ariela Rozentul is a 13-year-old girl from Cliffside Park who is currently an eighth grader at Yeshivat He’Atid. Ariela has been acting on stage and in front of cameras since she was 6 years old. She has always loved to write and had long dreamed of creating her own films. Last year, Ariela wrote and produced her first short independent film “Butterfly,” which was inspired by true events. “Butterfly” portrayed a young girl, played by Ariela, who tried to delve into the reasons why some people die young. The film was selected by over 20 film festivals worldwide and received 15 awards.
This year, Ariela finished her second short film, “Follow the Crow,” a horror story starring Ariela, a close friend and a crow. Ariela was inspired to write and produce this short film during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic when she witnessed those around her dying from the virus. “Follow the Crow” is a reflection of those events. Ariela believes that “every person will have their own interpretation of this film,” which is certainly a very unique feature.
Writing the film did not take Ariela very long because the idea and theme song simply “came to” her, and the inspiration for the dark part of the film was drawn from Native American legends. Producing “Follow the Crow” was exciting, yet also challenging because the film was shot at night in a freezing cold forest, and half of the time Ariela could not even feel her own hands and feet. It was also pitch black except for some lights used for the camera, and the production team was constantly on the lookout for bears.
The film was produced by the same two directors and music producer from “Butterfly,” as well as Ariela’s uncle and his friends, who protected the crew from the eerie wildlife. It was a strong and cohesive team.
Since “Follow the Crow” has just started its festival run, Ariela has to wait a few months before she can release it to the public, but she hopes to release “Butterfly” soon.
While “Butterfly” is a film based on a true story and is a story of hope and love, “Follow the Crow” is a dark and suspenseful short film, a little over 10 minutes, which will keep viewers on the edge of their seats the entire time.
“Follow the Crow” and “Butterfly” will soon be part of a grander story. Ariela is working on a feature film/musical, which will be a thriller, a dark story about teenagers and a reflection of losses.
“It will be the perfect ghost story to tell in the dark,” she explained.
One of Ariela’s inspirations for writing her own films is her acting coach who told her, “If you have no opportunities, make your own.”
Ariela also believes that writing her own films provides opportunities and inspiration to other aspiring actors and actresses.
Ariela writes her own scripts, music and lyrics, and stars in her films, an extraordinary accomplishment for an adolescent just beginning her teen years.
“Follow the Crow” has already been selected for and/or received several film festival awards, including NJ Film Festival; BFC Short Film Festival (Fort Lee, New Jersey) 2022, Best Young Actress for Fox International Film Festival (Russia) 2021, Best Writer for Couch Film Festival 2021 (Canada), Best Young Actor for New Jersey Film Awards, October 2021 and Best Drama for Paris International Short Festival, October 2021, among others.
The hardest part of being a young writer, producer and actress for Ariela is the financial aspect. Ariela feels lucky to have her mentors, extended family and friends donate for her projects, as well as her parents. Submitting her work to film festivals is very costly, along with the expenses for production and other aspects of making the film. Ariela is always looking for sponsors or donors and will need help with her next feature film. One can contact her via Instagram @arielarozentul or email @[email protected]
“Follow the Crow” and “Butterfly” have been selected by the Barrymore Film Festival in Fort Lee. Winners will be announced February 15, 2022.