Monday, May 4, 2009
'Maybe Tuesday' Premiere
On Thursday, I went to the premiere of a short film I was in, ‘Maybe Tuesday’.
‘Maybe Tuesday’ beings with producer/writer/director/star Stella Palikarova singing, in perfect key, “Someday he’ll come along, the man I love . . .”.
She sits in an empty theatre, watching a male and female dancer on the stage. The female, which Stella dreams of being, is dressed in a long white summer dress and ballet shoes; the man is shirtless; their bodies perfect, the piano music soothing. Then the female dancer’s legs give out and she is dragged across the stage.
The music changes to techno.
Another female dancer enters, this one in a black and burgundy dress—she drips with sexuality. The male dancer leaves the ballerina, helpless on the floor, and follows the seductress offstage.
Then it’s Stella’s turn onstage: spinning around in her motorized wheelchair, longing to be able to dance, “You can twill me into oblivion, I still wouldn’t be her.”
The juxtaposition of the dancers’ flowing bodies, their flexibility, balance and control of movement; set against the rigid wheelchair, which Stella is confined to, is brilliant.
The short film (22 minutes in length) is filled with a physical longing of every nature, not something that we are accustomed to seeing in a film that has anything to do with physical disabilities.
The short was toted as being controversial, provocative and thought provoking, which are buzzwords these days; but in this case, they’re true. And it doesn’t accomplish it by cheaply going out of its way to shock, but by simply being honest. Stella describes it as a, “mediation”; and she is giving enough, and courageous enough, to let us share in it.
The film does what all good art should strive for: to tell the truth, take a risk and shine a light in a corner that we usually choose to leave in darkness. To show us the world through someone else’s eyes, eyes we may normally choose not to look through, but in doing so we increase both our understanding and empathy. This type of freedom of expression is something we see far less of in an increasingly desensitized world where we are free to say whatever public opinion tells us we can; ignoring anything that makes us feel uncomfortable; going with the flow regardless of where it takes us or how many get swept away in the undertow.
My part in the film was near the end. I play the lover who leaves; without looking back. Though my character’s departure is cold, I have to say, Stella and I had some fire onscreen. During the well-edited sequence, the audience started to fan themselves, three women in the back row fainted, and one man, close to the projector, grabbed the extinguisher. Well, maybe that’s not entirely true, on a literal level, but it was pretty hot.
Though, on a personal level, I was feeling a little insecure. The bare-chested male dancer, that was on the screen before me, was baby oil buff; then I take my shirt off and am up there all Crisco doughy.
Then came perspective: there is a vast difference between a physical disability and a little over hang around the belt area. The realization of my own personal vanity increased my admiration for the courage Stella showed in making the film.
I use the term physically disabled instead of disabled because clearly Stella is very able. She produced, wrote, directed, stared, helped edit and sang in the film. While I was in TO I acted in 3 short films. Stared in one and had supporting roles in two. To my knowledge, this is the only one that has been finished.
Making a film is a long, tiring process; it’s a lot of work and everything that can go wrong does—Murphy was a filmmaker.
But Stella Palikarova got it done, showing that “disability” is a relative term. The film was low budget and has a rawness that only adds to it, forcing you to look past the minor surface imperfections, to see the perfect heart that lies at its centre.
“Maybe Tuesday” is about more than physical disabilities. It highlights the western obsession with physical perfection, the isolation it causes, the emptiness it breeds, stopping us from making a deeper, more human, connection. The film reminds us that true beauty can’t be seen in a glance, or perhaps it at all, only felt: if you have the courage to care.