Kindling is a short film by Xinyi Zhu about two friends who reunite for a very emotional moment. Most people will latch onto the moment (an abortion) and make the entire film about it, but director Zhu says that is a mistake. She says that female friendships are often misrepresented on screen and she wanted to change that, “women experience a wide spectrum of emotions” that include an intimacy that may come off as sexual tension but is just another facet of friendship. Those are just a few lessons that Zhu wants to offer in the short film. Making Kindling took Zhu on an unforgettable journey through reproductive justice, Western girlhood, and so much more. All of it is woven into the moving story of friendship.
The short film features two friends, Piper played by Jill Renner and Celeste, played by Nicole Falk, who are estranged after high school. One stays and works at home while the other goes off to college and becomes a sorority girl. This much is implied by the short but is a key part of the narrative. Then, the one who made it out of their small town, Celeste, needs a favor. It’s a favor that only her childhood best friend Piper could perform without judgment and with the support Celeste is going to need.
However, things don’t go as planned and a one-day trip to the clinic turns into two. Celeste is now stuck with her friend and the damage done to their friendship for 24 hours. The girls are forced to be honest and to get rekindle their relationship if they are to move on.
It’s More Than Another Abortion Narrative
So many will watch Kindling and they will want to force it into a narrative about abortion. However, the story is beyond these arguments. The abortion here is only the vehicle by which the Celeste and Piper are drawn together. Zhu says that she wanted to get the abortion part right so she and everyone a part of the film did their research. “I wanted to educate myself on normalizing abortion.” She wanted to see it as a small surgery that just happens. Zhu and her entire team embarked upon this research journey to ensure that they not only depicted the procedure accurately but that they also placed it in its proper form online. Friendship is what Zhu wants people to focus on.
Kindling feels like it could be a part of a larger story if it wanted to be. However, Zhu says that the film was always meant to be a short. “When an idea is born, it chooses its own format. ” Kindling chose to be a glimpse at true female friendships.
You can find Kindling at the Nevada City Film Festival from August 28th – September 4th.
For more information, go to https://www.kindlingfilm.com/.
Rating 5 of 5
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