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Santa Cruz Mountains Short Film at Cannes

Abby Nuccio’s Mom(s) & Young Actors’ Theatre Camp 

By Julie Horner

Mom(s), a short film written by and starring Pacific Collegiate School student Abby Nuccio, 13, debuted at the Emerging FIlmmaker Showcase at Cannes Film Festival in France and was nominated for the 2024 Emerging Filmmaker Showcase LGBTQ+ Films award at the American Pavilion during the Festival. Abby is the real-life daughter of two moms who realizes as she becomes a young adult that it is hurtful that she and her family are excluded from the high school Father/Daughter Dance held in her small San Francisco Bay Area town because of their alternative family structure. Abby and her family lobby with dance organizers to be treated fairly. “Not just for me,” Abby said, “but for people who live with their grandparents and for people who are adopted.” The 8-minute film addresses coming of age in a changing world, tackles discrimination and bullying, and celebrates all families and the true meaning of community. “The dance was eventually changed to the Kid’s Choice Dance,” Abby said, “and you could invite anyone you wanted.” Abby took her cousin John the first year and one of her moms the next year. “I got to be with all my friends, and I felt included and like I fit in.”

Abby wrote her original screenplay when she was 12. Coaches at Young Actors’ Theatre Camp Winter Film Camp, one of several acting retreats conducted year round by YATC at Mount Cross in Ben Lomond, helped Abby develop her vision. Directed by Matt Pittenger with student directors Madeline Burchett and Tyson Hall and produced by YATC program Co-Founding Director Shawn Ryan, John Ainsworth, and Associate Director Valerie Dohrer, the film also features actors Kristen Howard, Maddie Walton, Lily Thornhill, Teagan Nichols-Marc, and mountain residents Jaxon Robinson and Amauri Roe. Abby auditioned for the lead role of “Cleo” and won the part, playing an older version of herself in the film. “Channeling the hate” from her experience being excluded from the Father/Daughter Dance, she said, was challenging but ultimately healing. Best friend Amauri was cast as the bully, a difficult role that pushed both actors outside of their comfort zones. Jaxon played the role of Amauri’s bully boyfriend. “It was so cool to work with them and the other actors on the team,” Abby said, “and my director, Matt, he was so great; he really helped it come to life for sure.” Abby will have a chance at camp this summer to expand Mom(s) into a full length movie. 

Most of YATC productions are filmed on location at Camp Cross and many have scenes filmed at familiar locations in the Santa Cruz Mountains. For Mom(s) they transformed a cabin dorm room at camp into a teenage girl’s bedroom using items from Amauri’s home nearby. Abby said that every scene required several camera angles, taking hours, sometimes days to shoot. “It’s so interesting to me, we would spend six hours filming a scene that turned into 30 seconds.” 

Abby traveled to Cannes with her family to represent the film in May.

Another short film created at YATC, Arlo, which ends with a scene shot at Felton Covered Bridge Park, was also nominated for the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase LGBTQ+ Films award this year. While neither film won an award at Cannes this year, YATC films have made it into 16 festivals worldwide, won several awards, and have been screened globally earning millions of views on YouTube.

Watch Mom(s): Mom(s)- Young Actors’ Theatre Camp

On the cusp of her trip to Cannes, Abbey said, “There are so many opportunities that are going to present themselves. I don’t expect to win, but just being there and learning to self-promote and become a better actress, getting recognized by people in the business, it’s going to be a really really good opportunity.”

Young Actors’ Theater Camp is a multi award-winning theater camp in the Santa Cruz Mountains for students ages 8 to 18. Summer sessions start in July. (925) 858-3548

FB @campyatc | campyatc.com | YouTube @YoungActorsTheatreCamp

Featured photo by Angela Hedges: Young Actors’ Theater Camp actors L to r: Abby Nuccio and Amauri Roe

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One Thought to “Santa Cruz Mountains Short Film at Cannes”

  1. X22orine

    Hey people!!!!!
    Good mood and good luck to everyone!!!!!

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