The struggles and beauty of a long-distance relationship.
Interview with Writer/Director Kiki Lam
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
I honestly made this film as a final for a class which was to be able to provide a story with imagery alone and no dialogue. I chose to challenge myself in doing a piece of romance because I don't view both comedy and romance as strong genres I am good at in my story telling and filmmaking. This piece is also very personal to me because I am in a long distance relationship.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
I think every person should give any film a chance to show you something beautiful, to share a story or to educate you on something you didn't know. I want people to watch this film so they can feel and understand the experience of being so deeply in love with someone that you are willing to go through a somewhat painful cycle just to have those few fleeting moments with them. Many people decide to not have a long distance relationship because they have mostly negative views of them and I hope this film can highlight some of the beauty in long distance relationships.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
This film was very personal to me because I am in a long distance relationship and wanted to share the experience of the long waiting, the phone calls, and the random times where you aren't getting along and it gives you anxiety. I also wanted to share the experience of how happy it makes you feel to finally be with that person and be physical with them along with the cycle of them eventually having to leave and the process starts all over.
But the overall theme of this is relationships. The relationships between Jade and Lena (the two characters). It encompasses the connection they have even over the phone or reading texts from each other; it includes the period where they aren't talking to each other briefly. Relationships are so complex, and when you're dealing with a long distance relationship you are adding in the factor of the physical distance between these two people.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
The script started off simply as a long distance relationship. Gender and race had not been specified when I was in the first stages of forming my ideas. As a black woman, I want other black women to be represented thus I decided to case two female black actresses. As for having them be a lesbian couple, I myself am bisexual though I am currently dating a man and it was sort of a way for me to explore the other side of me by having it be a lesbian relationship. I also really want to share the most unheard voices and stories and I have black female lesbian and bisexual friends who just aren't seen a lot in Hollywood films. It hasn't been normalized yet. It hasn't become something yet where you see it and don't think twice about it the way you do with a straight white couple. Thus came about the story of a long distance relationship between two black female lesbians.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
I have received only positive feedback on this film.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
There was one feedback that surprised me and it was from my grandmother. She said there were three possibilities about the relationship that these two women shared, mother/daughter, sisters or a couple. And it surprised me because it just made me remember that because a black lesbian couple is something that isn't seen a lot, of course someone might just think they are good friends or sisters or something along those lines. It's the perception difference of walking into the house with a boy and immediately being asked about who he is and are you dating versus coming home with a girl and it being assumed she's just a friend. This is an experience that a lot of my bisexual and lesbian friends run into and in some ways is beneficial to them if they haven't come out yet about it. But it does make me question if one day that will change and it will be much more normalized to be gay or lesbian or bisexual. And I think it is slowly becoming normalized.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
This may seem like an odd thing to say but I think I want this film to be visible because I want it to be normalized. I want lesbian black girls to have representation and I want them to be able to feel okay to come home with another girl and have a meaningful relationship and have it be okay. Unfortunately, there is a lot of homophobia in the black community and I see a lot of black girls feeling less confident in coming out to their family or having to explain that the girl they've been having over is actually their girlfriend, not their friend. I want their voices to be heard.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
I think this film's message is already being amplified more than I could have ever hoped.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
Overall, I just want people to enjoy the film and take from it whatever experience it may give them. That is the power of films because everyone will have their own view and experience with it as much as I want to push a message or view, everyone adds in their own context based on their life.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
How many films have a lesbian black couple as a lead or even existing in a film? And in a day and age where both men and women are trying to have careers and keep relationships, are long distance relationships really so bad?
Would you like to add anything else?
The main reason I mention and created this film about long-distance relationships is that people often ask me, "How do you do it?". Because people worry about their partner cheating or simply can't deal with not having physical contact for that long. And my response is always, "If I don't trust my partner I should not be with my partner and as Wonder Woman says, "when it comes to procreation, men are essential, but for pleasure, not necessary". And I also believe it is important to know who you are without that person because often times people leave a relationship and realize that they weren't their own person. I want a relationship in which I don't actually need you but we somehow ended up in love and now we love each other while also being able to not be with each other and do our own thing.
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
I am currently working on a documentary about a Zellige Tiler from my trip in Morocco about the work he does and an art form that includes mathematics that is soon going to become rare and die out if the lack of interest in it continues.
Interview: February 2019
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series, music video, women's films, LGBTQIA+, POC, First Nations, scifi, supernatural, horror, world cinema. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
The struggles and beauty of a long-distance relationship.
Director: Kiki Lam
Writer: Kiki Lam
About the writer, director and producer:
KIKI LAM is an African American/Asian American woman that is majoring in Cinematography at Columbia College Chicago. She wants to share the unknown and unheard voices through film of both people, cultures and wildlife.
Key cast: Bre Jacobs (Jade), Caitlin Dobbins (Lena)
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month? In the next coming month it will be showing at The Chicago Feminist Film Festival on February 28th at 4:45pm as part of the "Transitions" program. It is located in Film Row, located at 1104 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, 8th floor.