My goal is to reinforce a positive image of what it means to transcend definitions of love

Kids that have a normal high school experiences would prefer to live in high school forever. For those whose life in high school feels like a “prison term,” they may best relate to the world of the misunderstood outcast in my short film, NUNE.

At first impression, my short film may be a too painful reminder regardless of what stance a person has on high school. But this story is about much more than that.

I wanted to make something exhaustively beautiful.

Today, there is too much violence, too much cynicism, and numbing of our senses that gives us permission to become detached passersby watching others get hurt. Whereas, sensitivity ought to be treasured. NUNE is about the permission to feel pain, to love honestly, rather than to escape from it.

People hold all kinds of stereotypes about youth, one of which is that teenagers are too young to know what love is and are only capable of having superficial “crushes.” But the experience of first love is a whole other ballgame. It is powerful, life-changing, and sacred thing. And this is what my film explores.

We are at a remarkable time in history, a sort of golden age in the LGBTQ world where we are moving closer to living the goal of going “beyond definition.” To put this across on film, the “gay” experience has to push further. Stories that have ambiguity about sex and gender help society transcend those gaps, by showing that “love is love.”

Throughout my life, I never labeled myself as lesbian or bi. From as early as I can remember, I feel exactly the way my two characters do. The teen couple in my film don’t attach themselves to labels. Their rite of passage goes beyond “coming out.” Although that struggle is real, such stories focus too much on self-negation. Depicting imagery where ideals appear seemingly impossible but are actually won are of special interest to me. It creates a positive imprint for the youth. We’ve had too long a history obsessed with tragedies and unrequited love and all that does is justify self-defeat.

NUNE is intended to serve a queer-questioning audience. It’s for kids who may or may not define themselves as queer; kids that look ‘normal’ on the outside, yet feel alienated within.  For this, I have chosen an elite high school arena of perfect people for our hero, Nune Lusparian, to battle against. My goal is to reinforce a positive image of what it means to transcend definitions of love and in this regard, I consider this story to be reflective of what’s most current with the youth experience today.

I chose to revisit a timeless theme in the fable, The Ugly Duckling, which is a story about self-redemption and transcendence. The story’s simple yet incredibly powerful message teaches us to peacefully rise above our darkest nights, not through martyrdom, brute force, or bloodshed—but via self-discovery. Nune Lusparian is the “swan” in my film who can’t see the beauty within herself until someone who represents society’s ideal mirrors her beauty back to her. It is essential that beauty is used in my film to symbolize the importance of ideals.

Ideals are tools that help us dream and see beyond our limited scope. The underlying goal is to show that even when we may feel unaccepted in certain environments where ideals are cast as impossible to us, our goals are immune to discrimination. They are available to us—if we can see beyond the darkness of illusions thrown our way. Film is a light that guides us through.

— Ji Strangeway/ Writer+Director/ #NuneMovie

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