Monday, January 25, 2021

LIKE THE WATER. film. paying tribute to those we lost: a greater gift for those who remain.

This guest post graciously submitted by Caroline von Kuhn

Like the Water

Last year an actor friend of mine approached me to write and direct a film with her. We gave each other one month to find the story we wanted to explore, knowing only we would write it together and shoot it in her hometown in Maine. I spent the month deliberating over every type of film and script I dreamed of pursuing and yet came back to the sole topic on which I obsessively write but never complete. The loss of my best friend from high school to anorexia. The morning I sent Caitlin an email with this premise, she also sent me one within the hour that she had eerily returned to the subject of the loss of her best childhood friend as well, of which I had no idea. And so kismet brought us even more closely together to pay tribute to the memory of our friends – writing a narrative whose point of inspiration was our raw, ugly, flawed coming of age experience. This transformative experience led us to a hyperawareness of our own mortality and the great gift that is our physical body. This hyperawareness, especially as women working in film, will always lead our work.

Although the film evolved further into our fictional story and the characters’ voices grew in tandem with the actors who were cast rather than their original subjects, the powerful presence of our friends never left us – as artists, as writers, as actor/director and even more as people. We revisited our darkest hours, forced ourselves to publicly express this loss through a script and the result was a good film but even greater – a personal growth into acceptance and forgiveness within ourselves.

It was such a gift to join forces with five other women in this male-driven industry to set out to accomplish the feat of a first feature film. In full disclosure, I was hesitant. My days at an all-girls school, while I wouldn’t trade them for anything, were also filled with the cattie side of women when we compete and insecurity rears its ugly head, the rampant years of eating disorders, which I actively, tenderly fought for my friends, until giving in for a year myself as I struggled with anorexia. All this gave me cause for pause. Yet instead of falling back into this lesser side of women, we grew even more deeply into ourselves. Each of these women was at a pivotal point in her life – be it a career change, an artistic pursuit, a relationship, a family. In the process of making this film together we served these two inspirational women whom we had lost and gained strength and love with the women whom we joined forces with to create it.

This is my story. It will be my every story. It is in everything I write, everything I film, everything I read, everything I see, everything I experience. Her story is in me and through each film I make I will explore a new idea of her, understand and overcome this disease and the always-accompanying grief – in both life and death. Like the Water is only the start of this exploration but a beautiful, fulfilling start it has been.

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