DEFINING DODO, 13min., USA, Drama
Directed by Lauren Harris
This story was written to spark viewers’ prior knowledge (even if only on a tangential level) of growing up and navigating the realities of machismo in the pursuit of self-expression from a Latino perspective. This lens is important for exploring how a gay male character tries to work through mental and emotional wellbeing, as well as finding peace at home and at work, with an ever-present tension from his mother would never accept a gay son.
Similar to how dodo birds can’t fly or flee far from their nests, this story explores identity and the outcomes of feeling trapped by norms put in place by society and reinforced through the perspective of a character sorting out his mental health, sexual identity, and place in society and his family. Through the character’s journey, the audience is taken on an emotional roller coaster from childhood through adulthood of someone who has grown accustomed to trying to keep up appearances for the sake of honoring family values.
The mood of the film is meant to bring to life a Bildungsroman with subtle flairs of Nora Ephron’s cinematic style and Greg Daniel’s dry humor. In a setting like Los Angeles, people coming in and out of a person’s life are influences of the Latino protagonist’s life that will be captured in this moving story of defining oneself. Showcasing a special occasion like a wedding with brass and string instruments of mariachis will be crucial for ensuring authenticity of the character’s journey.