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Imposters, Intimacy and Filmmaking: Director Christina Choe on Nancy

Key art for Nancy

by
in Filmmaking
on Jun 3, 2015

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Nancy is a psychological drama about a female imposter, who lies to gain emotional intimacy and love. The genesis for this script started with my fascination with imposter stories (the literary hoax of JT LeRoy, Clark Rockefeller, Frédéric Bourdin in The Imposter, Gay Girl in Damascus fake blogger, etc). It’s only now that I’ve come to realize that my obsession with the fine line between truth/fiction, performance/reality and storytelling/confession, is something that started long before my intrigue with imposters.

After a stint editing in the documentary world, I decided to try my hand at writing a screenplay. I had no idea what I was doing, but, for the first time in my life, my art imitated life and my life imitated my art. I began writing a semi-autobiographical comedy about keeping an interracial relationship from my Korean immigrant family. By the time I finished writing Guess Who’s Coming For Kimchee, I had already been lying about it for five years. I had a double life. I was an imposter to the people I was closest to. It was absurd at times but also very painful.

Later I encountered a real life imposter. He turned out to be one of my favorite writing professors. Of course, I didn’t know it at the time. He was just someone that I revered. He was like our writing Messiah. With his long Jesus-like hair, he would tell us in a charming, ethereal Irish accent, “Write what breaks your heart, because what breaks your heart will mend your heart.” When it came out that his whole career and life was a lie, I was shocked. Why would he would do this? Was he still a brilliant teacher if he inspired me profoundly? How is it possible to feel such deep intimacy with an imposter?

Lately, I am starting to see imposters everywhere. With social media networks and content streaming from a multitude of sources, our world is feeling increasingly more and more disconnected. The more lonely we feel, the more we post our selfies and show our food porn and career achievements in an effort to fill our empty void with likes and validation. In a way, we’ve all become imposters.

Our desire to maintain the status quo of happiness has become exhausting. The only thing that jolts us out of this numbing stream of content is the occasional post revealing vulnerability or personal suffering. It reminds us of what we’re feeling, of our humanity, and the hope of intimacy. For a moment, someone is seen for who they really are.

Deep down, I think that is what we all really want. That is all Nancy, the main character in my film, really wants. She creates lies to feel connected and loved by another person. When Nancy creates an online persona impersonating a pregnant woman with a terminally ill child, she yearns to be seen and validated. Ultimately, she pathologically lies because performing these fictions represent painful traumas from her childhood past.

I’m making this film because in some way I am Nancy too. Isn’t filmmaking really just a well crafted lie? Making this film is just a way for me to connect to the world. Perhaps through a lie, through cinema, we can arrive to a truth, and investigate it?

Please, help me bring this female anti hero character to life and on screen. You can check out more info about the film and donate here.

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