I had every intention of indulging you in a detailed wedding post today, but last night I experienced something that stopped me in my tracks and I realize I simply can’t live with myself unless I share it with you now. This experience took place in an ordinary movie theater, where I was curled up with a pen and paper taking rather academic notes on the Burbank International Film Festival’s first evening of screenings. In other words: I was stealthily scoping out my competition on the short-film circuit, but my pen fell to the ground and all illusions of being a spy shattered when the opening credits for “Love Is All You Need?” filled the screen. “Love Is All You Need?” is a short film about a young girl growing up in an alternate universe. This universe looks and sounds a lot like ours, with mini vans zipping through the suburbs and text messages vibrating from cell phones every second; except, in this universe the privilege of driving a mini van is reserved for same-sex couples and the sensation of an ever-buzzing cell phone is a horrifying thing if you happen to be an adolescent girl who likes boys…
That’s right, the world of this film is one in which the perfect nuclear family consists either of two moms or two dads, and any kid who dares to dream of a future that looks different from this runs the risk of merciless bullying. As you can probably guess from my description thus far, this short film carries some weighty messages about sexually-motivated bullying and suicides, but the fact that the story is set in an alternate universe somehow enables the flick to come off as neither preachy nor heavy handed. Perhaps it is this masterful handling of something that could have so easily lapsed into After School Special Land that created such a strong impact on me both as a human and an artist. This is to say: the way that writer Kim Rocco Shields thinks to put every heterosexual viewer into the shoes of a bullied kid is absolutely brilliant, and it left me itching to get this movie shown in schools everywhere as well as aspiring to be half as conscious of my audience as Rocco Shields is in this piece.
“Love Is All You Need?” is less than 20 minutes long, yet it spans a very complete and satisfying story arc – it shows a young girl grapple with her ‘queer’ sexual orientation, try to hold hands with a boy, and then struggle with violent taunts and resulting suicide attempts. The bullying and suicide scenes are somewhat graphic, but this is part of what makes me think the film has the power to truly affect any young audiences that watch it; the taunts and self harm are all at once gross and realistic, which makes me think the film is more likely to cause viewers to flinch than prompt them to make fun of the subject matter. In fact, the main reason I feel compelled to write about this now is because I know I have numerous readers out there who are teachers, and I honestly think this movie could prove a valuable learning tool in your classrooms. The movie caused a packed house to applaud long after the credits stopped rolling last night, and I know I will continue thinking about it long after I stop writing this post. You can learn more about the film on the “Love Is All You Need?” website.
Psst: Thanks for sharing this experience with me…Have any other books or movies stopped you in your tracks in a similar way of late? As a creator, teacher, or any other kind of communicator, what lessons do you think we can learn from “Love Is All You Need?” and similar works in regards to the art of playing to an audience? I would love to hear your thoughts, and I promise to share a few wedding snapshots with you tomorrow to tide you over until next week. Wishing you a lovely weekend! Leave a comment.