Brooklynite Ashton Ghaffaar’s ‘Angel & Paris’ premieres at Manhattan Film Festival

Ashton Ghaffaar, his dad, Qassim A. Ghaffaar, and his mother Hon. Sylvia G. Ash.
Photo by Andrea Dawes

“Angel & Paris,” a short film by Brooklyn-born Ashton Ghaffaar, an activist, artist, writer, actor and director, premiered at the Manhattan Film Festival on June 22.

“’Angel & Paris’ is an anti-hero fast-paced heist filmed, where I played triplets caught in moral and ethical dilemmas,” Ghaffaar, the son of retired New York Supreme Court Justice Sylvia G. Ash, the Trinidadian-born daughter of Grenadian and Vincentian parentage, told Caribbean Life over the weekend.

“It’s the ‘Town meets Bonnie & Clyde’, and leaves you wondering: does the end always justify the means?” added Ghaffaar, who moved to Los Angeles to showcase the full range of his talents through compelling cinematic storytelling. “It was my first time showing anyone in New York by debut, so nothing can express the feeling I had when I walked into a fully-packed theater filled with family, friends and a sea of smiling faces.

“As the credits rolled, I was overwhelmed with joy and pride at the thunderous applause, which I will cherish forever,” he continued. “Every artist seeks validation from their peers, but, for me, it was always about making something that my family will be proud of,” he continued. .

“As a first-time filmmaker, being selected and acknowledged at the prestigious Manhattan Film Festival and winning an award for best television drama in front of my loved ones, was all the validation I needed to prove that I can do this and do this well,” Ghaffaar continued. “God is truly good.”

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.”

Ashton Ghaffaar (center) and his Poly Prep Country Day High School friends, Corey Greenblatt and Armand Brescia.
Ashton Ghaffaar (center) and his Poly Prep Country Day High School friends, Corey Greenblatt and Armand Brescia.Photo by Andrea Dawes

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.”

Ashton’s aunt and cousins, all from St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Ashton’s aunt and cousins, all from St. Vincent and the Grenadines.Photo by Andrea Dawes

Ghaffaar’s mother told Caribbean Life that “words cannot express the emotional pride and joy that overwhelmed me as I sat in the theater watching my son on the big screen.

“That pride and joy were compounded knowing that he wrote, directed, produced and starred in the film, which was his first theatrical endeavor,” added Justice Ash. “His dad, Qassim A. Ghaffaar, and I congratulate him for all the awards and accolades he has received, and we wish him continued theatrical success.

Ghaffaar said he was inspired and influenced by the likes of Spike Lee, Quintin Tarantino and Ryan Coogler “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 also 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.