A Praise Chorus

Some songs remind you of a time, or a person. Some people remind you who you are.

Project type: Fiction Short
Project status: Post Production
Writer/Director/Producer: Abigail Pañares
Producer: Andrew Ratermann
Director of Photography: Christiana Charalambous
Production Designer: Alia Brandt
Assistant Director: Quyne Mariah Vu
Email: apraisechorusfilm@gmail.com
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Two estranged bandmates must reunite after three years to perform at the memorial service of their drummer and best friend.


A Praise Chorus follows Jesse and Isabel, former bandmates, and (maybe, still) soulmates as they reunite after three years apart to honor the wish of their late drummer and best friend. Tasked with performing an old song at Ryan’s memorial service, they find themselves at a crossroads– and must decide to rebuild their relationship or release it.

Isabel is pragmatic, smart, and bound by a self-imposed sense of obligation that tethers her to her current life. Ryan’s passing prompts her to confront her truths and strive for greater honesty. Meanwhile, Jesse is charismatic, brilliant, yet emotionally stunted. Having cut off many of his relationships and relocated three years prior, his self-imposed isolation leads him to reevaluate his connections after Ryan’s death.

When they meet to rehearse, Jesse and Isabel perform as the adults they think they should be. However, they constantly slip into their shared rhythm of references and inside jokes, a language they can’t speak with anyone else. Isabel’s anxiety is palpable as she emphasizes their responsibility to perform the song and honor Ryan’s memory. As they rehearse, unresolved tensions simmer, culminating in a confrontation about their relationship’s abrupt ending. Their argument remains unresolved as guests begin to arrive, depriving them of the chance to rehearse the song at all. When the performance starts, Isabel falters, prompting Jesse to step in. Together, they navigate the song amidst a montage of memories honoring Ryan.

Overwhelmed by the weight of the moment, Jesse breaks down mid-performance, prompting Isabel to be by his side in a moment of shared grief.

Meet the Filmmakers

Abigail Pañares – Writer/Director/Producer
Abigail Pañares is a filmmaker and arts administrator who’s proud to call the Bay Area her home. With a foundation in theater, she’s undertaken diverse roles at theaters including A.C.T., Z Space, Yale Rep. A founder of BAD REP, she’s passionate about providing underrepresented artists with space to craft original works. Abigail was the production manager for SF Urban Film Fest and remains engaged in exploring the intersection of public space and storytelling as a member of the core team. She’s the Communications & Engagement Manager for Playwrights Foundation, which empowers playwrights’ artistic growth while championing their voices on a national level.

Abigail’s films explore points of transition and (the resistance to) growing up. Her short film, Overdue premiered at CAAMFest 2023. She’s currently developing a coming-of-age feature about running a daycare with her mother in the 90s. She holds a BA in Film Studies from UC Berkeley.

Andrew Ratermann – Producer
Andrew Ratermann is a producer and editor based in San Jose, California. He divides his time between independent film production and commercial projects. His films have garnered awards and screened in over 40 festivals across 12 countries. His most recent film, Halcyon Days, is currently finishing its festival circuit. Andrew has also led video production campaigns for notable brands such as Google, Symantec, and Williams F1. Additionally, he has volunteered with organizations such as Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) and the Junior League, collaborating on a documentary exploring the impact of technology on early childhood education. He is currently developing a mockumentary following the life of an acclaimed meditation guru.

Christiana Charalambous – Director of Photography
Born and raised in Cyprus, Christiana graduated from San Francisco State University with a B.A. in Film Production and an emphasis on cinematography. She worked as the Cinematographer for TED in Cyprus and shot commercials for brands such as Evian, Nescafe, and Uber. In addition, Christiana has shot numerous short films and three indie feature films. Healed, featuring Guinevere Turner (American Psycho) and Todd Lowe (True Blood, Gilmore Girls), was awarded the coveted ReFrame Stamp from The Sundance Institute and was included in the 2024 selection of independent films by Indie Rights at the 77th Cannes Film Festival. Moreover, The Influencer was distributed in the US and internationally in 2020 by Breaking Glass Pictures. With a deep technical understanding and a strong passion for visual storytelling, Christiana strives to create memorable images that evoke emotion in viewers.

Alia Brandt – Production Designer
Alia Brandt is an award-winning filmmaker and writer who believes deeply in the power of storytelling. Irreverence, wit, and bold explorations of daily life characterize their work. Their short films have been official selections at over a dozen national and international film festivals. They are a professional visual storyteller working in the Bay Area.

Quyne Mariah Vu – Assistant Director
Quyne Mariah Vu is an assistant director from the Bay Area. As a recording artist (also known as “NOBODY’S GIRL”) and filmmaker, she likes to delve into projects that explore human connection through the frames of mental health and music. She is excited to join A Praise Chorus’ team and help bring the vision to life.

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