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This Magical Short Film About Queer Female Desire Will Make Your Day

This Magical Short Film About Queer Female Desire Will Make Your Day

This Magical Short Film About Queer Female Desire Will Make Your Day

A film from a pansexual female filmmaker with a queer female lead? Yes please!


Young, prolific, pansexual filmmaker Kira Bursky created her latest short film, She Was Once Distant, in her hometown of Asheville, North Carolina during the 48 Hour Film Project. The film is a (magical realism) narrative about a young woman, and a magical box of chocolates that illuminate her inner world colorful, alluring world of her desire for women. The queer protagonist, Lily, has a boyfriend while experiencing desire for women, and their resolution is particularly refreshing. 

Bursky offered us some insight into her creative process and how she brough this magical queerness to the screen in just two days. 

PRIDE: Since this was part of a 48 Hour Film Project, how did you conceptualize this film?

Kira Bursky: At the start of the 48 Hour Film Project, each team draws a genre out of a hat. Additionally, each city is given a prop, character, and line of dialogue that all the films must include. These elements, plus the genre drawing, ensures that the films are written and made during the 48 hours. I knew going into it that I was interested in exploring bisexuality in whatever story I was going to tell. When I drew "Coming of Age" out of the hat, I was ecstatic! I already had a cast of three awesome teen actors lined up and the genre just felt perfect for a story exploring self-discovery, sexuality, etc. So it's finally the weekend of the 48 Hour and guess what? I get my period on the night of the kickoff! So here I am with a migraine, cramps, nausea, all those wonderful things. It was only natural that the film I ended up making was about a girl eating lots of chocolate! Mmmm...chocolate. When coming up with the script, I took in all the components I already had lined up: a body paint artist, fire performers, chocolate truffle faces, a magical apartment with a swing inside, and awesome teen actors. Once I had the idea of pairing each chocolate face to a surreal and dreamy encounter with a mysterious girl, the rest of the story fell into place.

Did you have any hesitations about making a film with a queer female protagonist?

Definitely not! Queer female protagonists are my favorite! I want to see more queer female protagonists represented in films! Writing stories with queer female protagonists is what feels most natural to me. 

The film has a strong magical, fantastical thread in it. How did you conceptualize your visuals to illustrate her female desire?

As I was growing up, my crushes on people were so powerful. When I had my first crush on a girl my whole reality altered into this new, magical, possibility-filled, love-fueled, creative space. Each time Lily day dreams, the visuals reflect her stages of budding sexual identity. At first her desires are unclear, but strong. The image of the mysterious girl's silhouette obscured by the door reflected that feeling of longing for something you do not have and do not understand. Eventually, Lily's feelings for this girl are so powerful and consuming that she cannot resist it. The film culminates in a scene where the girl emerges from between two fire performers. The fire performers' bare bodies are covered in the images of two women facing one another. I felt the mix of the fire and the performers with their body paint created an atmosphere of excitement, dreaminess, and sensuality. 

The fire scene was particularly beautiful. What was the biggest challenge of filming it?

It was so exciting filming that scene, but it was also a little bit scary! My cinematographer and I coordinated the blocking of the scene with the actors and the fire performers to ensure we were all on the same page for everyone's safety. It was a bit tricky figuring out where to lay out the scene, how to block it, and how to navigate with the camera without interfering with the scene (while also trying not to get hit by the fire!). The fire performers were literally circling around my cinematographer and I. I could feel the flames inches from me! Fortunately, the fire performers are super skilled at what they do, so we felt safe in their hands! 

Your film features interracial female attraction. Why did you want to showcase a woman of color as the person your protagonist desires?

Lily's attraction and interest in the girl stems from that sparkly, buzzing sensation of intrigue, mystery, and desire. It is beyond the labels of gender and race. I don't feel the race of who she desires matters, as it is the soul-connection, the intangible realm, the inescapable fascination, that unites the characters. I do feel, however, that it is important to tell stories showcasing all kinds of connections that transcend gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, etc. What is important is that love is love, desire is desire, and souls are souls.

What message do you hope this film shares with young women who are queer or questioning their sexuality?

It's a beautiful and magical thing to explore your sexuality. Feel empowered by your curiosities and day dreams. Be playful, be adventurous, and explore the possibilities! You never know who you're going to meet, how they're going to make you feel, and where it'll take you next. Sometimes unexpected feelings can be confusing, but know that this is a really exciting place to be. You are a forever changing and growing being. When you are in the unknown, it means anything is possible! Love is so beautiful. Don't ever be ashamed or afraid to desire or to love. To desire is to live with passion for the unknown. To love is to exist in a beautiful sync with the universe. I send my love to you!

Kira Burksy has a production company called All Around Artsy. See more of her work on YouTube and follow her filmmaking journeys on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

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Allison Tate

Allison Tate is the Director of Editorial Video at Pride Media and creates videos for The Advocate, OUT and PRIDE. She is a filmmaker, swing dancer, and enthusiastic Carol fan who works to amplify marginalized voices in media. 

Allison Tate is the Director of Editorial Video at Pride Media and creates videos for The Advocate, OUT and PRIDE. She is a filmmaker, swing dancer, and enthusiastic Carol fan who works to amplify marginalized voices in media.