There’s no more prestigious place in America to premiere a short film than the Sundance Film Festival, and bisexual filmmaker Amber Sealey got the chance the year to screen her short film How Does It Start? at the event. Sealey shared a clip from the film exclusively with The Advocate and offered some behind-the-scenes images and background on the powerful film exploring sexual identification and exploration.
Her film follows 12-year-old Rain (played by Lola Wayne Villa), a girl experiences the early stages of a sexual awakening circa 1983. But unlike many a film sexualizing young lesbians, this work explores the innocent curiosity of a young girl finding her own path.
"This film is shedding light on a fairly universal part of women’s lives that has largely been avoided in cinema: the pre-teen curiosity about sex and all the accompanying physical feelings that come with it,” Sealey said. This age-appropriate and natural exploration is extremely common and developmentally appropriate; however to date, it has usually been explored through the lens of abuse and by sexualizing young girls in a way that is very adult in nature.
“What we are doing with this film is allowing a young girl to be the instigator of her own sexual investigations. This film also deals with the topic of documenting one’s life in order to better understand it. Keeping diaries, journals, and mementos is often a more female-gendered pursuit, outside of literary circles. Girls are commonly given diaries from a very young age, and they seek clarity and comprehension about their lives through these sources.
“The story is very personal. The inspiration came from my own diaries from age 10-12 and is also the story of the beginnings of my own identification as bisexual. Being 12 is a very specific time: You are not old enough to actually engage in sexual activity, but you are old enough to see that nearly everyone else older than you is, and that much of their behavior is geared towards getting more of it, but most of what you see just genuinely confuses you. What the lead character reads in books, sees at school, and overhears her parents doing, is all filtering in, and she is doing her level best to assimilate it all.”
Watch a clip from How Does It Start? below.