In “Love Reset,” the final winner of MTV’s “Look Different” campaign, a white teenage boy sees life as a video game, tallying his masculinity points, while ignoring the Indian girl who passes him, ticking off boxes on an impossible imaginary to do list. Both metaphors are apt, speaking volumes about their subjects’ vastly different daily experiences and forcing the viewer to confront the discomfort of both.
“Look Different” is MTV’s anti-bias campaign and filmmaking competition that invited emerging filmmakers to create short films on the topic of privilege – including racial, gender and sexual orientation. Three projects were chosen: “American Male,” about a closeted gay man and the pressures of masculinity, “See Me In My Black Skin,” about a white guy who dons black face for a party and wakes up black, and “Love Reset,” which premieres exclusively on IndieWire.
Filmmaker Imran Siddiquee was a founding member of The Representation Project, the group behind the 2011 documentary about women in media, “Miss Representation,” by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, which played the Sundance Film Festival that year. He also advised on her follow-up film about masculinity, “The Mask You Live In.” For “Love Reset,” Siddiquee applies his own lens to the topic of privilege.
“Video games, I thought, really allowed us to represent the power which men are given in the world – especially if they are white – but also the inevitable futility of the game they’re asked to play,” Siddiquee told IndieWire of the effective visual construct he used for the film. “On the flip side, I wanted to represent the pressure put on women and girls to fit themselves into boxes, and in particular, we thought about the lists that often appear in magazines targeted to girls and women, where a certain kind of happiness is promised, if one just checks off all the right boxes.”
Siddiquee puts his money where his mouth is, using an all female camera crew and listening to the lived experiences of his director of photography, Nausheen Dadabhoy, and lead actress, Anu Valia. “This is a short which ultimately focuses on women of color and love, and that’s a story that just isn’t told often enough in mainstream media. Anywhere.”
Though most filmmakers opt for using characters that directly reflect their own experiences, Siddiquee was able to tell the story that was important to him through characters that do not precisely represent him. “I know I’ve felt erased personally, growing up watching movies, TV, playing video games where there are no brown men, but I was hoping to leave audiences thinking about whose love stories we see least of all on screen. What we’re all missing out on as a result, but specifically what women of color are being denied in the world. “
“Love Reset” premieres exclusively on IndieWire today, and on MTV digital networks tomorrow.