not easy to explain filmmakers Shirley Bruno’s short film “Dear Pauline Jean” in a
simple paragraph or logline. I’ve seen it twice, and I still find it difficult
to tell you what it is about.
surface, it’s about the day-to-day struggles of an aspiring young actress in New
York (played by Emma Hill), but it’s a lot more than that. I could call it a character
study about about a woman going through an existential crisis, but
that’s much too simplistic. The film is much more complex than that.
let Ms. Bruno describe her own film, which she says was made to “examine the feeling of being another “Self”… [and] how that can feel
anxious and daunting in one context, yet in another, can make you feel vulnerable
says that “Dear Pauline Jean” is a film “about the different masks or different
“selves” inside each of us…. Wearing masks are often seen as generally
bad things, but I think it’s more complicated than that….We often run away from
these different “selves” and conform to the one version of us out of
fear and pressure probably, even when it doesn’t feel like the “real us”. But
sometimes transforming into someone else gets us closer to who we are or some
unlocked part of us. We all have different doors and hallways to ourselves that
we internally open and close all the time given the person or situation or the
level of intimacy”.
adds that she decided to make her protagonist an actress because “actors have
to confront, experiment, and try on these ‘other selves’ in a way
that most of us do not. It’s scary and intimidating and also sometimes
liberating. …The line between the faces she wears as an actress and the ones
she wears in real life becomes a porous line. It’s like she’s improvising
through her life using these characters that are intensely personal and very
real to her, very relevant to her life. She’s doing this in order to handle
certain traumas currently happening in life although the details of these
traumas I show enigmatically in the film….”
As for Ms. Bruno herself, she is a
Haitian-American filmmaker based in NYC, and a graduate of the London Film
School with an MFA in Filmmaking. Among her previous short films are “The Things
I See,” and “Swallowed Lessons” which have earned awards in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and the West Indies.
to subjects such as “closeness and loneliness, unspoken fears, and unusual
coming of age” and is currently in development on her first feature film, and
a collection of short films to be shot in Haiti.
Here is the
trailer for “Dear Pauline Jean,” which is currently touring the film festival circuit so
keep an eye out for it: