Cassandra Padilla ’17 is a theater major with a film studies minor and is a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community. Her short film, “Your Eyes” is featured in Wikoff Student Gallery’s annual exhibition, “lgbtq @ Union 2015.” Padilla herself narrates the film, along with clips featuring students Angelica Rivera ’18 and Nova Batra ’17. Dedicated to “The Girl That Broke My Heart,” “Your Eyes” depicts a sad story of love and heartbreak. The exhibit, which held its opening reception Wednesday, Sept. 30 features works from a number of artists including Professor Martin Bejamin, Yuan Gao ’18. Alex Handin ’10, Danielle Melia ‘16, Ran Wan ’15 and Maya Whalen-Kipp ’16. The Wikoff Student Gallery can be found on the third floor of the Nott Memorial. The exhibit opened officially on Sept. 4, and will run until Dec. 14. According to the Mandeville Gallery’s website, the exhibit, “October’s LGBTQ History Month and National Coming Out Day” debuts on Oct. 11. The exhibit will “include work in painting, photography, digital art, short historical fiction and film by past and present members of the Union community, such as students, faculty and alumn.
Jenna Salisbury: The LGBTQ exhibit was open to submissions of a variety of art forms. Besides being a film studies minor, why did you decide to express your story through film and poetry rather than through photography or painting?
Cassandra Padilla: With mediums like photography and painting, people come up with their own interpretations of the piece. But with film, it gives the people a story to follow. Film collects the director’s vision through multiple moving images and the images sync together to create a story that people can sympathize or empathize with.
JS: What do you love about the medium of film?
CP: Film is truly an art form that lets you express yourself. You show people what you want them to see. You control how they feel. You give them an opportunity to escape into a character’s world and help people to forget their own problems in life for just a short while. Maybe learn a lesson or two from the film.
JS: Your poem that is narrated in the film is titled “Your Eyes.” Why did you decide on this title?
CP: I decided to call it “Your Eyes” because a person’s eyes are the first thing that catches my attention about them. They are the windows to the soul, and the girl that I’m talking about in the film had the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen. And I was lucky to have someone who had a personality that was as beautiful as her eyes. They told me her story. They got me through the tough times in my life. The way she would look at me, that one look, and I was submerged in happiness. But when she left me, I could never look at her eyes again. Because the eyes I cherished so much were focused on someone else. And all I felt was pain, deceit and sadness.
JS: So you based this story off of an actual event in your life. What inspired you to do this as opposed to creating a fictional story?
CP: This story had to come from the heart. I couldn’t put out a film if I knew it wasn’t real. I want it to be real. I want people to closely examine it and be able to relate to it of they can. A film motto I go by is: The deeper we get into the film, the greater the influence it has on us.
JS: Your goal was to show that people within the LGBTQ community are just people who want to love and be loved. In what ways do you think “Your Eyes” achieves this?
CP: “Your Eyes” shows that people who identify with the LGBTQ community are capable of loving a person emotionally, spiritually, physically and so much more. The only way to help people understand that “LGBTQ people can love too” is by letting my heart guide this film and push myself to reveal my emotions to the world. These true emotions. It was hard because I am very private about my past but I had to do this; not for me, but for what I represent. When people see this film, I feel that they can relate to the love and heartbreak I felt through this film, which will open people’s eyes to the reason I made this film.
JS: I know this is a big question, but what are some other obstacles or misconceptions do you believe still plague the LGBTQ community?
CP: I feel that that people just see as sexual deviants. They don’t take our love, our stories or our feelings seriously, they just think we are in it for sexual reasons or “experimenting.” They don’t believe we are just in it for the love or romance, like everyone else. I hope to see an end to this misconception.
JS: Yet another big question! I know you are still a junior, but what plans do you have for the future?
CP: I am planning to attend a grad school either in New York or California, and pursue a film career as a director. The lack of diversity in films is ridiculous and it needs to stop. I want to be that pioneer and direct a variety of films with more diversity. Films with more characters of different races, sexual orientations and more. Films that make it into theaters, not just film festivals. Films that break stereotypes and open people’s eyes to the injustice in the world. Films that a wide range of people can relate to and learn from. We need to add a little “flavor” to the film industry.
Padilla’s short film, “Your Eyes” will be displayed in the Wikoff Student Gallery’s “lgbtq @ Union 2015” exhibition on the third floor of the Nott Memorial. The exhibit is currently open to the public for viewing. Her work along with the other artists will remain on display for the majority of the fall.