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An Interview with Sophia Romma, Director of Used and Borrowed Time

Would you tell us about how it started for you? When did you become interested in cinema? Tell us about your first experiences, what did you work on before making Used and Borrowed Time?

Cinema is a lurid way of expression. Nonetheless film can also immerse one in the cherry oaky colors of wine and the aroma of roses imprinted upon celluloid. When I was a child and had arrived on the purple shores of American soil as a refugee; I became infatuated with American Movie Classics which I had skipped school to watch with my grandmother. Turner Movie Classics and American Movie Classics ignited my passion for the films of legendary directors such as Hawks, Hitchcock, Lang, Ray and Welles. There is indisputable evidence on the screen of the methodic unraveling of a character’s life, exposed and infused, drenched in drama, and accentuated by a cinematic religion which guides motion-pictures. I realized that there is this egocentric conception of the director’s craft which I yearned to exhibit desperately, to tame insanely and to possess—intimately. I began to revere the French New Wave auteurs of the Cahiers du Cinéma. I ceased paying attention to rules and conventions, aiming to write and to direct cinematic works that were more disputable, disagreeable, and uncomfortable for exposing an inconvenient muffled and often stifled truth about the horrors of those beasts in society who bring forth collective harm to the innocents. In my films, there is a gravitational pull to unmask those who prey upon the tolerant underserved and who cause them irreparable grief. I am aware of generic conventions and commercial expectations of the film industry, but I have maintained a strict adherence to fostering a personal vision by conforming to, yet oddly transcending, genre and commerce. I was reared in vaudeville, off-off Broadway theatre and am a child of La MaMa Experimental Theatre, but upon graduating New York University’s Tisch School of The Arts in the late 1990’s, I began teaching screenwriting and the narrative history of film at the New York Film Academy and so commenced my obsession with the transformation of draconian in sync Hollywood as I embarked upon the 1990’s Movement of the art-house independent films which portrayed corsets, clerks and criminals without apologies—devoid of shackled conformity and overbearing censorship film industry codes. I made films which called for social change, integration and acceptance. The reconfiguration of the film industry when I was young, granted me the carte-blanche to shoot short award-winning documentaries on the struggles of sexual minorities in third world countries, on the hounding and prosecution of liberated women in Arab Countries who fought for human rights and were incarcerated as punishment and on highly charged subjects such as the human organ trade in Eastern European countries as well as the inhumane barbaric captivity of forced prostitution as well as unveiling the scars of the wounded sex slave toilers. The poets and the downtrodden weave dreamers seeking societal change wet my appetite. In 1998, I was privileged to write and produce the cult film, Poor Liza, which starred the legendary iconic screen actor, Ben Gazzara and the Academy and Emmy Award-Winning actress, Lee Grant. With Poor Liza, I paid homage to the sentimentalism school set forth by Russian 18th Century literature and tipped my director’s bowler hat to true love which sadly could not transcend the mire of the impenetrable class system which had swallowed that love—whole, and ultimately culminated in a beautiful peasant girl’s demise as she lost her life to suicide—done in by a grieving and bleeding heart. It was a universal ill-fated love story which earned my film the noble honor of the prestigious and coveted Grand Prix Garnet Bracelet at the Gatchina Literature in Film Festival (in Saint Petersburg, Russia). The award was the equivalent of having won the Oscar which I proudly shared with my mother and with my grandmother, my patron saints. However, I had never allowed for the honor and prestige of winning that award go to my head and swell it. I remained humble and active in seeking human rights tales which called for tolerance, acceptance and presented themes in my films which presumed a loyal marriage to the rule of law.

The film begins with a series of shots of stone sculptures. Does this opening scene work as a metaphor that reflects the central theme of the film? Can you talk about the main theme of the film and how it can be relevant today?

Used and Borrowed Time features a series of haunting and daunting shots of stone sculptures at an Autumn Fair in Birmingham, Alabama. The children and their dogs, with vacant cold eyes are petrified and iron-clad. Superimposed are whispers and cries of children’s voices which softy reminisce in various languages and echo a foreshadowing of the motif of my film, namely that the past is still ahead. Indeed, these grey stone-cold children remain lifeless for eternity and yet come to life with the enticing expectation of a glimpse into the past which mirrors a certain future. Through their soft, eerie whispers, the spectators are meant to embark upon the torrid journey into the past of Older Eva Gold as she is transported magically to face her days of youth—reliving the horrors of the vengeance of the white supremacists clan who had captured her and her young lover, Steadroy Johnson, a poet and Civil Rights Activist during the 1960’s at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Roy’s plight for equality and justice is my homage paid to the great African American soulful writer, James Baldwin, who skillfully epitomized the burns and stings of Harlem wisdom with a confluence of the misery in being crickets deeded to a white man’s cage—trapped by the gestapo autonomy and supremacy of the white man who enslaved the blacks. This very motif leads me to discuss the main theme of Used and Borrowed Time which revolves around the vindictive hypocrisy unleashed like venom upon those who are marginalized in society, such as ethnic and religious minorities and folks of a different color, heritage and cultural background. Racism is a ghastly disease which is confounding yet apparently unbudging. My film reveals a microscopic glance at the misogynistic, sadistic sex games of a white supremacist family who happen to take a young couple as hostages on Christmas Eve and destroy their pure love for each other by ravaging their young impressionable hearts with the sickle of pious feigned and blind backwoods religion. Segregation in the South was key to the leitmotif and premise of Used and Borrowed Time. Sadly, the theme of my film remains relevant today as Americans are divided and racial tensions run as high as ever. Racial profiling and police brutality are on the rise. There is civil unrest and an unabating political divide. There appears to be no real justice for the impoverished, the marginalized, and the underserved communities of color—this is most evident now amid the discrepancies of our healthcare programs in light of Covid-19 and the havoc it has reeked upon struggling poor communities, unveiling stark inequality and incongruity among the American mass population which is indeed tragic in the 21st Century.

In the film, there is a local market that has an unconventional, crazy atmosphere. The audience feels it through people’s interaction with one another. How influenced were you by the surrealists? How much of the character of the old woman in the film is influenced by the films of surrealists, like David Lynch?

In my opinion, surrealism is about departures and not arrivals. Surrealism itself draws upon irrational imagery and sheds light on the ailing subconscious mind burdened by an influx of sensual stimulus, political angst, economic hardships, prophetic nightmares cascading into potent artsy dreams about succeeding in our often, nonsensical Alice in Wonderland inverted universe. It is not a fixed aesthetic but a whimsical revolutionist manifesto—a calling to unlock the mysteries of the possessed human spirit with a demonic unspooling of hidden heinous truths. Surrealism is a weapon to fuel my refusal to be captured in any particular moment in sedentary time. The absurdist atmosphere of the Alabama Autumn Fair on All Saint’s Day reflects a floating brittle psyche amid the bellowing clouds of an unknown and an identified stratosphere which churns into a backdrop of a private holocaust of frantic racial, ethnic slurs and a condemnation of foreigners with vitriol cast upon the so-called “Asian invasion of America,” the “thieving caravan Gypsy population” and the asylum seekers who are outwardly shunned as well as the presumed “exalted conniving rich Jews from New York.” The fair is uncanny and maniacal with vendors who rummage through the remnants of the integrity of the human soul and soil it. This is our relevant reality. We shun immigrants, question their cuisine, stifle their culture, demand assimilation and then lash out at foreigners coming to American and stealing American jobs. We are fearful of other nations gaining control while American exceptionalism wages war against countries by sanctioning governments which only leads to the sanctioning of torn and tattered village people who cannot make ends meet. We do not punish the oligarchs—miraculously they escape American wrath. Like the surrealists, I too employ shocking, irrational, absurdist imagery and Freudian dream symbolism to challenge the traditional function of linear narrative and story-weaving by recounting an inverted, perverted reality reminiscent of bedlam on earth yet exhuming certain harsh truths about the human race and its propensity to commit evil deeds to appease the prophets of uncontested tradition. I have always related deeply to Dada Cinema and have rejected a cinematic rigid battleax mentality by cautiously using these grotesque shocking images and dialogue to directly accost the conscience and spirit of an unsuspecting audience member but yet move the spectators of my film to experience an emotional catharsis leading to soulful change. I am a disciple of André Robert Breton, Jean Renoir, Marcel Duchamp, Jean Epstein, Salvador Dali, Ingmar Bergman and the rare genius of Luis Buñuel. After Viewing Buñuel’s, The Exterminating Angel, in my Cinema Studies class at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts during my freshman year, I developed a mordant view of human nature that suggests that we harbor savage instincts and are impregnated by such dark secrets which signal sheer insidiousness. People wallow in their own hypocrisy—sanctimonious, and never actually question their pathetic unjust motives. The entrapment of mediocre minds in their own confined cul-de-sacs is the most appalling scenario of human nature and perhaps the saddest of all, especially when those chains cannot be broken. Older Eva Gold with her ferocious sarcasm and keen wit was indeed influenced by the surreal ambiance and characters drawn to the limelight by David Lynch. I had the good fortune of working with his son on a television commercial for the Hispanic College Fund and I realized that Mr. Lynch has graced his offspring with his sense of the macabre. I cannot say just how many times I have watched the Surrealist films by Lynch, such as Mulholland Drive, The Elephant Man and Blue Velvet—not to mention that I was raised on the cinematic repertoire of Twin Peaks. The old woman is exactly this juxtaposition of the offbeat and the everyday clashes in her character. She is an opposing force of light and dark. She bears a grave sensitivity to organic phenomena but is condemned by her own quirkiness, her handicap and her hatred for the atrocities of human complicity in the face of egregious, monstrous adversity. Exposing the grittier sides of human existence, as Lynch has, I grapple with vandalized souls brutalized by the sickness of corruption, religious and racial hatred. Neo-Noire is a hard target to achieve in film and Eva Gold is a neo-noire broad. She teeters on the brink of insanity due to forces outside of her control. She is someone else’s target practice and hence society’s victim. When I was a kid I used to listen to Roy Orbison. One of my favorite songs was the ethereal celestial song, “Candy Colored Clown.” A magic night with silent prayers was depicted in Lynch’s iconic film, Blue Velvet. That classic scene is what Eva Gold represents—the mystery of the open road bleeding the mysticism of a past still lingering large in the future.

Used and Burrowed Time is mostly dialogue-bound, meaning that dialogues reveal information and move the story forward. How long did the screenplay take to find its current form? Where did the original idea come from?

Used and Borrowed Time originated as a short ten-minute play which was performed at The Players at Gramercy Park in New York. It was originally entitled “Used and Borrowed Pies for Eyes,” and was performed during an evening of cabaret dinner accompanied by a medley of play selections. When my play was over—silence fell upon the hundred-year-old oak room and not a fork was moved. The play resounded with impact and thrashed the soul with bitter truth about society’s tremendously dark foibles. There was a backer in the audience who approached me pertaining to writing a screenplay based on the premise of my original play. So that is exactly what I had accomplished—the challenge was set to the tune of a dare. I love dares. Just dare me! In September of 2019 I had embarked on the journey to write the screenplay—it had taken two months to complete—I was riding high on an inspirational trajectory. The bug of creativity had bitten me badly. In an effort to shed light on an all too horrid and common practice of shameful racism and segregation in the 1960’s, and amid the unjust enactment of anti-miscegenation laws in the United States, during the apogee of the Civil Rights Movement—I embarked upon the journey of documenting an incident that occurred in Birmingham, Alabama at the peak of protests against segregation laws and inequity. This horrific historical incident that sparked deep-rooted interest and spurred me to research this momentous moment in time was recounted by the dignified educated son of slaves who worked as a chef on the Amtrak train which had transported my grandmother and I, once upon my past, to Alabama from New York, during Halloween. This humble chef extraordinaire had cooked up the most delectable rosemary baked aromatic lamb chops and collard green, and while the train tooted onwards with full steam ahead, he poured his heart out about this true tear-jerking tale of a tender ill-fated love. This lashing psychological docu-drama welled tears in my eyes as the tale captured the narrative of the chef’s young cousin, a civil rights leader and poetic soul who had expired way before his time at the hands of a clan of heartless white supremacists. The unspeakable crimes committed against an innocent Jewish blind girl and her African American soul mate is a tragedy which unfolds in my experimental psychological drama phantasma. I pray that this film shall serve as a reminder of the evil that can descend upon innocent spirits seeking to change our wounded world for the better and as a beacon of hope in the plight for human rights, gender parity, and equality as we stand united—one nation under the unified multi-colored and multi-national blanket of universal hope: guided by a forgiving understanding Lord who made Us walk upon this earth as One—sharing in moments of grief as in moments of ecstasy.

The Film is 3.5 hours long and has a large cast. Our audience, both film enthusiasts and young filmmakers, would want to know how you managed the casting process. How did you select these actors and how long did the rehearsal take?

I am a wizard at casting. I don’t mean to boast. I have been reared on casting for theatre and I have always been at the side of all directors during the casting of all of my sixteen Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway plays. I am also loyal to the actors whom I have worked with over the decades. I have worked with Grant Morenz who plays Wade Woods since I had cast him in my play, “Defenses of Prague” at La MaMa Experimental Theatre in 1999 and we have maintained a close friendship as well as an over-two decade working relationship. I have worked with Gavin Rohrer since 2013, when he came to audition for me for my short play, entitled, “Carte Blanche” which had run at the Midtown International March Madness Festival in New York and have continued to cast him in nearly all of my plays since then. I have worked with Alice Bahlke since 2012, when I had cast her in my award-winning international play, “The Past Is Still Ahead,” which had also been produced at the Midtown International Film Festival. These actors are immeasurably versatile and a joy to work with on set. Over my twenty-five-year career as a playwright and director of national and international theatre; I have developed this keen knack for the casting process. Since I am professionally trained as a playwright and screenwriter, I close my eyes and envision how this particular actor could perform my lines in verse—and I just feel it in my gut. I instantaneously have an inkling whether the actor/actress auditioning for the part is a good bona fide fit for the role or simply not. In casting the ensemble cast of Used and Borrowed Time, I must say that I was blessed with the god-send of a magnificent expert casting director who was in tune with my desires for casting from the get-go. She aided me in the time-consuming, tedious casting process and brought her expertise to the grueling demands of auditioning for hours on end. My ensemble cast brought to light some of the most uncomfortable cringy moments in cinema to life—that is the scope of their unflinching talent. Regrettably, I did not have much time to rehearse with my actors and my one hundred eighty-page script screamed for numerous rehearsals but alas there was a time constraint and the producers’ budget plan to contend with. I am not John Cassavetes albeit he went through his own struggles in fighting against the Hollywood system and for a female director—well we are always hurried and harried. Frankly and shamefully, we only had a week of rehearsals and the script is complex, written in a staccato verse. I can only say that had it not been for my intrepid cast and my brilliant executive producer who believe in all of my creative work, Dr. Renee Lekach—this film would not have been shot at all. I am a lucky indie director indeed.

Experimental films almost always struggle in finding audience. Do you think film festivals are the solutions to help independent films to be seen more?

The general public, bombarded with marketing messages boasting the success of mainstream movies, seldom gets a chance to glimpse distinct films on the screen with a range of differing voices. A potent, innovative film festival screens film selections by resisting commercial pressures of the standard mainstream line-up, pleased to present features which have clearly deviated from the “acceptable norm of films,” and instead lauds these rarities as industry gems. The independent voices of unique filmmakers are often stigmatized while film festivals bring to the limelight an opportunity for those diverse voices to be heard and for unconventional content to be seen. A filmmaker is able to gauge audience reaction at a film festival screening and this aids the indie filmmaker in perhaps re-editing the film before a prospective theatrical release. Film festivals promote meaningful content presented by ground-breaking films with social messages which call for social change—hence diversity is promoted while exposure is gained. A director and producer of independent cinema must raise awareness. Film festivals grant the opportunity for networking and for awareness. Winning an award is humbling and very rewarding not just to place laurels on your film poster but as a means to collectively praise the efforts of your film’s cast and crew as they had struggled so hard to present a film product the audience is at the very least interested in. When reviews and interviews are published regarding a winning or selected film, the festival can help spread the buzz. Film festivals grant the opportunity to present film content which unveils general interest topics which are very relevant in today’s charged climate of animosity, such as climate change, racial, sexual prejudice and social injustices which enriches art and culture. Although, face to face networking has been abolished this year due to the threat posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, a film festival these days serves as a viable vital virtual platform to feature cinematic content and to receive instant engagement as well as constructive feedback which can lead to an industry theatrical distribution deal. Film festivals are also a significant platform for discovering new young talent which is so important for the future of cinema. These days, we are all confined to the auspices of home—film festivals play an even greater role in screening experimental films, films on the periphery, and art-house films by not shunning cutting-edge filmmakers who have a great deal to present via images. Discovering talented filmmakers of the future aids in alleviating the saturated virtual film market and widens the nonconformist perspective by giving access to unconventional filmmakers searching for a venue for strong mind -altering content.

What were the challenges you faced during production? How long did the shooting stage take? Can you give some advice to young filmmakers as to what things to do and what things to avoid when making a film?

I would have to say that the most challenging film I had worked on was Used and Borrowed Time. We were shooting on a very tight budget. We were obliged to shoot in the dead of winter with snowfalls and raging whiplashing winds. Our post-production Estonian team was riddled with the dilemma of working during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic where the entire world was paralyzed by looming death, an economic crisis and a medical calamity which taxed healthcare systems to the maximum and altered the lives of each member of society on a multi-faceted level. This film was a labor of love during the time of cholera called Covid. Often, we would be on the set/location for ten to fourteen hours. The shooting schedule was intense and emotionally as well as physically straining. Also, in the open wintry terrain, the bitter wind created a howling wailing effect which later had to be hushed in post-production by our relentless sound designer, Alex Voronin. The shooting of the entire film entailed twenty-two days. We began shooting the film on November 2nd and then waited for the cast to assemble as they were dispersed and engaged in film/theatre projects in different states. We had culminated shooting the film on January 22, 2020. I would strongly advise young aspiring filmmakers to work from storyboards so that directors know exactly which shots they wish to take on certain days—storyboarding also aids in effective post-production editing and helps layout the storyline clearly. I would heed the advice of many directors who leave ample time to rehearse with their actors since that eliminates any misunderstandings on the set and the director wastes less time—taking the desired shot right away. Most importantly, do scout out your locations with your director of photography. Scoping out the area before the shoot gives the director and the cinematographer a sense of comfort and security in knowing the surroundings well. I was caught shooting in an open area where planes flew across the skies every three minutes, rendering it nearly impossible to take long scenes, heavy-laden with dialogue and make them work without retaking the shots about one hundred times and trying the patience of the crew and of the talent. It is also imperative to remember to take the time to speak to each cast member about their characters idiosyncrasies—their hopes, their aspirations, their yearnings and their hauntings. Character development is essential as characters drive the plot and the theme forward. The characters in Used and Borrowed Time are the essence of the story. So, the director must take time to sit with each actor and table talk the script. Allow your actors to first grasp and then grip the story comprehensively and holistically so that they can imbue the tale with their own flair and flavor. This is how a story comes to life on the screen. Always make certain that your cast and crew are well fed and amply rested—otherwise performance will lag as will creativity.

Tell us about the risks of making a feature film. What financial or technical obstacles can stand in the way of making a feature film?

Committing to the uncertain fickle task of filmmaking is similar to opening up a restaurant in an unpopular area with an unconventional flamboyant chef who likes to take chances with cuisine. Fundamentally, I am an experimental filmmaker and for artists working on the periphery making a film is a huge risk. Cost/benefit analysis hardly enters the room without busting the door down whence making an independent film. The filmmaker takes a risk of never actually making a return of profit—never being successful—never seeing the film roll on the silver screen. I take these risks because it is a calling. I still count on my fingers and I cannot understand the simple principles of science—yet my vernacular and view of the world lends itself to the medium of film and if I can impart a meaningful snowflake upon the landscape of motion-pictures; the dream that I had to be a filmmaker as a young émigré, has indeed come to fruition. There is a specialty sector of the independent representation business which was once dominated by Robert Altman, Gus Van Sant, Richard Linklater, Steven Soderbergh, Quentin Tarantino, Alan Rudolph, and Wayne Wang. Films such as Used and Borrowed Time, connect first and foremost with avant-garde and with various international art-house traditions, which is why such films are a tough sell. Given the changes in the realms of financing, production and distribution in our contemporary film market, it is no surprise that exhibitors and backers are not staunch supporters of the indie business where there are more misses than there are real hits or sparkling cinematic jewels. Notice that the list of filmmakers working in that specific independent realm did not include a single female director and that is not to say, by any measure, that there was a bare absence of female talent in the movie industry. The real problem is that the film industry has never fully accepted female directors as strong vocal/visual leaders in that arena—not wholeheartedly and with open arms. Long surpassed have those days when Pulp Fiction represented some cathartic statement. The immense financial, critical, and popular success of this edgy film signaled the assertion of independent cinema not a cry for reality television which seems to permeate the cinematic landscape these days, bastardizing this profession. Independent cinema was once most closely linked to the grind house movement rather than the art house—with a pinch of fairytale quality. A film like Pulp Fiction finessed its prime appeal on the cinematic tastes of generation X, which defines my generation. Today, there are few specialty film companies left to promote independent work or to subsidize larger scale visually demanding productions such as Used and Borrowed Time, which was literally carried as a production on the backs of a few dedicated domestic and international backers who still believe in uncompromising statements fashioned in the whimsical world of art. Technical obstacles stand in the way of making a feature film for the simple reason that a solitary filmmaker never has enough funding to attain the exact film equipment which the director wishes to utilize to convey the message to the audience and so one settles for the mediocre yet feasible choices to abide by the guidelines and confines of the funding party unless the filmmaker is that one of a kind lucky bastard who has money to invest in one’s own project and hence can be his or her own master of ceremonies, which is seldom ever the case in the realm of indie film. That presents an obstacle in itself since sacrifices must be made, trimmings must be achieved and the craft of making a film may very well suffer significantly as an orphan child does in the arms of negligent foster care.

Your film uses special effects quite cleverly. Was it challenging to use special effects? Do you recommend it to young filmmakers?

My Estonian Post-Production Team, Revel Film Studios, and our editor in chief, Sergio Voronin, understood precisely in which fashion film could use special effects to efficaciously underscore the horrors of Halloween at an Autumn Fair as well as the effects that speckling yellow/emerald fire-flies would produce to phantasmagorically transport Eva Gold to her horrendous past. The color grading process naturally took eons but we all worked in tandem and walked the fine line of occasionally introducing larger than life symbolism with the personification of wild animals, rodents and reptiles in order to create a fantastical sense of an alternate universe such as the author Mikhail Bulgakov had achieved in his surreal social commentary masterpiece, “Master and Margarita.” Visual special effects are hard to contend with. Optical effects such as using multiple exposure, mattes or the Schüfftan process or in post-production using an optical printer have been overcome by CGI which has come to the forefront of special effects technologies. Now, filmmakers have greater control and we can achieve a myriad of special effects safely and convincingly, and as technology improves, filmmakers are able to use special effects at lower costs. Many mechanical effects and optical techniques have been superseded by CGI. But I still remain a fan of films such as Sunrise by the great F.W. Murnau, where special effects were used with a sense of lyricism driving with force the theme of “love conquers all,” without much concentration on the visual effects themselves and more on highlighting the memorable tender moments between the lost husband who expatiates for his desire to murder his wife and his wife’s insatiable longing to fully forgive her husband for his human folly of falling for a manipulative sex driven city girl and commit a felonious act.

What are you currently working on? What is your next project?

At New York University, I had a professor who had taught a class on Vladimir Nabokov and the students were assigned to read practically each of his novels. I was a young lady who was touched by the story of Mashenka which in my opinion served as a prelude to Nabokov’s infamous banned novel Lolita. In Mashenka, a young man, recuperates from typhoid fever, clenched in the clutches of boredom and thus conjures up his ideal love—a girl whom he actually meets a month later. Mashenka is the love of his life. Nabokov describes the lass: “a girl with chestnut scythe in a black bow, burning eyes, a swath face and a rolling carted voice.” Once the protagonist, Ganin, catches a glimpse of this girl, he is instantly smitten with her much like the lewd character of Humbert Humbert was possessed and consumed by Lolita’s underage visage and aura. Mashenka and Lolita are primary examples of young girls who are victims of solipsism. The two young girls exist only in the sole minds of Ganin and Humbert Humbert as they appear as clip-on identities and not as real youthful ladies imbued with distinct individual characteristics. In a sense, these unfortunate girls are victims of a contrived imagination. I am currently engaged in writing a screenplay revolving around Lolita’s perspective regarding Humbert Humbert in which I depict her every reaction to his haughty sexual advances towards such a young girl. I believe that as a woman I am equipped to ascertain and portray Lolita’s version of Humbert Humbert’s infatuation with a twelve-year old Dolores Haze and to express Lolita’s vision of this rather perverse seduction of a pubescent girl. While the term “Lolita” has been sadly assimilated into our popular culture as a description of a young girl who is “precociously seduced….sans the wicked connotations of victimization,” I aim to prove on the contrary (drawing from a similarly situated experience) that Dolores Haze is indeed a victim and not a seductress, at least not a conscience one due to her obvious inexperience, fickle pre-teen posture, youth and fleeting innocence which is prone to serve as sensual prey of worldly educated men like Humbert Humbert. I feel that a film based on Lolita’s response to Humbert Humbert’s uncomfortable physical and emotional advances may be timely in the era of meaningful social change movements seeking female empowerment while holding guilty men accountable for their despicable acts against women, such as the #metoo movement demonstrates. I would also very much like to shoot an adaptation of my play, which premiered at the 13th Street Repertory Theatre, entitled, “The Blacklist,” which is a fun political satire about an afterlife party hosted by the Grim Reaper with a comedic streak.


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