Dasha Sainstremy, of Germantown, has been named a finalist for two awards for her innovative film, “Closet Doors.”

By Rita Charleston

Germantown resident Dasha Sainstremy, known professionally as “Da Saint,” has been named a finalist for both the “Quality of Message Award” and the “Discovery Award” for her “Closet Doors,” a short film about a young female minister.

Born and raised in Miami, Florida, to Haitian parents, she has been in Philadelphia for the past two years, most recently living in Germantown. “I chose Germantown for several reasons. First of all I like the small town feel of the area. I also found friends and things in the area that really appealed to me. But I think it was the beauty and serenity of the Wissahickon Valley Park Trail that became one of my favorite spots. That did it for me.”

The awards for which Dasha were nominated are given out by PhillyCAM, which will hold its first annual Cammy Community Recognition Awards (“PhillyCAM” stands for Philadelphia Community Access Media) on Friday, Oct. 20, 7 p.m., at Taller Puertorriqueno, 2600 N. 5th St. This is a free event, and the public is invited.

PhillyCAM is a non-profit organization designated by the City of Philadelphia to operate its public access TV networks. Its mission is to provide Philadelphia residents and organizations with the opportunity to communicate with each other through the creation and distribution of non-commercial media. Dasha’s film premiered on PhillyCAM in June of this year.

Sainstremy has been writing since middle school, and although she believes she always had an artistic soul, she set off on a different path to please others. “Originally I said I wanted to be a doctor, even though I always knew I really wanted to write poetry and play music.

“I see myself as very analytical but also free-spirited. And last year, at the age of 35, I promised myself I would release my first series of poetic shorts, transforming my poetry into short films.” The result led to her being nominated for the two upcoming awards.

“I’ll admit,” she told us, “that my best work is the work I’ve done with others. I often meet people whose talents move me in such a way that make me start thinking about ways we can co-create a piece, whether it be in dance, visual art or poetry.

“I believe we are often better together, and when we allow each other to express the creative self in the uniqueness of the authentic self, it paints a beautiful picture of the world we imagine. My only downfall has been that I can be a bit timid and miss out on the opportunity to ask.”

According to Dasha, Closet Doors “is a short film written in poetic form. A young woman minister returns home to be with her family, yet she finds herself with an internal wrestle of who she is versus who she must BE. Self-discovery is one of the major life changes one will undergo in one’s lifetime …

“Closet Doors … exposes ones vulnerability in wanting to simply BE and not being afraid to show one’s nakedness (authentic self) before those who believe they know us well. Closet Doors uses the creative expression of the spoken word and merges it into the genre of short films, creating a new genre known as poetic shorts.”

With a master’s degree in social work from Barry University in Miami and a second master’s degree in divinity from the International Denominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Sainstremy now works part-time with youths in North Philly in an after-school program in which they can hopefully learn to express themselves freely and bring their inner spirit out.

“Over the years,” said Dasha, “I had the jobs, the house and the money, but I finally decided what I really wanted to do. And for that I have to thank the little girl who is still inside me. And I think if all of us stay really quiet long enough, we can all hear that childlike spirit inside.”

Sainstremy’s motto and the platform in which she produces her creative works is #Live.Love.Liberate.

For more information on the awards ceremony this Friday evening, call 267-639-5481.