#TBT2011 10 years ago today, I had the thrill of seeing myself, my family, my film through a stranger’s eyes. Lindy West (who later authored Shrill, The Witches Are Coming, and most recently Shit, Actually) wrote the first ever review of my film. By the end of it, I was crying. Up until that moment, I had no idea whether my film would resonate or connect with anyone outside my circle of friends and family. Mostly because I had been told by funders and distributors for 8 years that no one would care. I was an unknown. There was no one famous in my film. It took place in “Africa. Who could relate to this? Why should anyone care about the stories of these people? What makes you think your story matters to anyone but you?” It was a relentless torrent of unequivocal No’s.
So after hearing (but not believing) that my personal story was unrelatable, the power of seeing my film reflected back at me in Lindy’s words knocked the wind out of me. She got it. She got all of it. She offered insights into my family and my story that I hadn’t even made. I felt seen and validated.
I cannot overstate the power of this moment. Reading Lindy’s words erased the years of rejection, and set me on a new course. I stood taller. I breathed deeper. I stopped seeking the permission or approval of traditional gatekeepers, hoping they could pave the way for my film. I carved out my own path instead, and my film’s life span has exceeded all expectations.
My take away, from both my film and experiencing Lindy’s review ~
Never underestimate the power of bearing witness to another person’s story.🖤