Brooklyn-born filmmaker showcases full range of talents through compelling cinematic storytelling

Filmmaker Ashton Ghaffaar (left) with his team.
Photo courtesy Ashton Ghaffaar

Brooklyn-born Ashton Ghaffaar, an activist, artist, writer, actor and director, says he moved to Los Angeles to showcase the full range of his talents through compelling cinematic storytelling.

Inspired and influenced by the likes of Spike Lee, Quintin Tarantino and Ryan Coogler, Ghaffaar, the son of retired judge Sylvia G. Ash, the Trinidadian-born daughter of Grenadian and Vincentian parentage, told Caribbean Life that he strives “to bring artistic and creative films to the world that emotionally resonate with audiences.”

“As a kid growing up in Brooklyn, I’ve always loved movies,” said the filmmaker. “I was always fascinated by the art of storytelling and the opportunity to turn my vision and dreams into a tangible thing.

“I wanted to create something that can be seen, heard, felt, and provoke some type of emotion out of you,” he added. “When I decided I wanted to be a filmmaker, it was to share my dreams with the world on the big screen, and then take you on a thrilling joy ride inside my mind and imagination.”

Ghaffaar said he has written, directed and started several films and documentaries, including “Angel & Paris” (2023), a notorious robbery team.

“When a dangerous heist against a powerful Kingpin goes wrong, the couple are forced to seek help from Paris’ estranged family of skilled thieves, as they go to war against the crime organization,” he said about the film that examines the life around Paris, “a mastermind of traps.”

Brooklyn-born filmmaker Ashton Ghaffaar.
Brooklyn-born filmmaker Ashton Ghaffaar.Photo courtesy Ashton Ghaffaar

Ghaffaar said he was “pleased that Angel & Paris has been well-received and critically acclaimed.

“We just started our festival circuit and already got accepted into several film festivals around the world and won multiple awards, such as Best Drama at the Hollywood Independent Film Awards and Best Director at the Hollywood Blvd Film Festival,” he said.

“I’m pleased for the inclusion and acknowledgment of having my film screened among other amazing artists and filmmakers from all over the world,” he added. “So, winning any awards was a feeling that I am extremely grateful for.

“I’m thankful that this has opened doors to more writing, directing and acting opportunities, along with producing a feature film,” Ghaffaar continued. “People received the film as a modern-day reinterpretation of ‘The Town’ meets ‘Bonnie & Clyde,’ with aspects of ‘Oceans’ Eleven.’

“You definitely find yourself empathizing and rooting for the villain due to the extraordinary performances of the actors,” he said. “You have this family drama about redemption, a compelling love story, and a sinister twist tied with the main elements you hope to see from a bank heist action film all in one. I’m very proud of the project as a whole.”

Ghaffaar said he did not only write, direct, produced and designed the wardroom for this action-pact thriller, but he also played multiple characters.

“Playing triplets, all with different personalities and nuances, was something I’ve never seen before,” he said. “So, I must admit I was a little nervous as to what people may think of it.

“I remember inviting several other actors and directors in the industry to come to see the film during its L.A premiere and feeling so thrilled that everyone not only loved it but was upset that it wasn’t longer,” Ghaffaar added. “I always knew that the film was great, but after the premiere and the acknowledgment from my peers, along with the many awards that we’ve won thus far, that was the validation as a new writer, director and actor that confirmed that this is something that I can do and do well.”

Ghaffaar said he created the documentary Breakfast With Socrates (2020) in response to the murder of George Floyd and during the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement “to try to find a cure to solve society’s ill with a roundtable discussion of thought leaders.

“The diverse panel shares their knowledge and perspectives on a series of thought-provoking and controversial questions geared towards addressing and finding solutions to reform racial, political and economic societal issues,” he said.

Ghaffaar said this series discusses questions such as: “What’s more impactful, social reform or revolution? Should there be a test to prevent certain segments of society from voting?”

He said “morality requires we balance our own interests against the interest of others.

“How do we get people to care about issues that don’t directly affect them — reparations ions for African Americans?” he asked. “Discussing which system of ideals and values can create a sustainable utopian society and more.”

Ghaffaar said ‘Breakfast with Socrates’ is “an enlightening eclectic talk show featuring the views of innovative modern-day philosophers and critical thinkers.”

He said he wants “to continue to see what I can do with all this talent.

“I’m a writer, director, actor, designer, musician and activist,” Ghaffaar said. “My main aim with everything is to freely express myself.

“I’m blessed to use my gifts to do good deeds that will make God pleased with me, and my parents proud,” he added.