COLORS OF A BLACK BELT, 16min., USA, Drama
Directed by Lina Kraftsof
14 year old Emerson struggles with their self-identity and often lashes out in many ways. One of these ways is stealing their Karate instructor's black belt. After a moment of delusion, reality hits and Emerson is forced to deal with the consequences.
I am the writer and director of Colors of a Black Belt. I tried to tell a story with multiple layers, so everyone could have their own take away from Emerson's mistake. It was important to me to highlight the fact that queer characters can struggle with things other than their queerness, as this is something that is very under represented in today's media. Often times we forget that non-binary (or any other queer individuals) exist outside of our stereotypical thinking. Hence, I ended up casting someone who doesn't represent most people's idea of a non-binary person. I am aware that it's something that goes over a lot of people's heads, but that's okay. I think the A-story that attempts to teach patience and perseverance is just as important and can act as a great reminder even to an older audience.
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
Besides wanting to graduate, I was motivated to make this film for many reasons. I have been reflecting a lot these past two years in an attempt to heal and understand everything that went wrong/right in my childhood. This includes, but is not limited to, my relationship with men, self-discipline, sexuality and gender expression. I wanted to build a story around these topics and hide them in extremely subtle ways while telling a story everyone can relate to. I think telling these stories through children is so powerful because it removes from the prejudice we might have towards adults. One of my biggest motivators though was to create accurate media representation of a non-binary character who faces other struggles besides being queer. Often times in media we only get to hear about a queer character's, queer struggle, but don't get to witness their goals, aspiriations and hardships. I wanted to see if I could do it differently.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
I would say about 8 months.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
Layered and refreshing.
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
I would honestly say that the monetary restraints were the biggest obstacle when completing this film, but also seperating myself from what we created and looking at it objectively to improve it as much as possible.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I was so overwhelmed with joy and surprise that people who weren't there when we created the short understood what I tried to do. The relationships between the characters were so important to me and I worked with the actors a lot to achieve that heavy comfortability between them. It was very reassuring to hear that most of the audience truly understood what I was going for. Thank you so much for the positive feedback!
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
It took me a while to understand that I could actually work in the film industry, so I would say I only fully grasped my desire to become a filmmaker when I was about 16. I have been making short films since I was 12 years old though.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Unfortunately some of these I rewatched over and over again when I was a kid, so I felt like it was necessary for me to include them: Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Interstellar, Waves, Moonrise Kingdom, I Origin and Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
From the film festivals we have been selected for so far, you have done the most outreach and offered your help the most, so I don't have any suggestions currently.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
I like using FilmFreeway. Everything is easy to understand and the Dashboard feature is really helpful to be able to catch all updates at once.
10. What is your favorite meal?
Home made Uzbek Plov!
11. What is next for you? A new film?
I am working on a lot of projects right now, helping people out who helped me out a lot this past year. I decided to go down the DP route for a while and acquired my own RED Komodo to give myself a head start, but I also just started writing my first feature. Lots of exciting things are happening at the moment!