PIU PIU: Short, Psycho-Surrealist Thriller Tackling Rape Culture Now On Kickstarter

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“A routine trip to the city turns into a surreal nightmare when a restless young woman tries to escape the confines of romance in order to find her super power.”

The current work of Naima Ramos-Chapman can be found on HBO’s Random Acts of Flyness, where she contributed as a writer, director, editor, and actor to the critically-acclaimed late night show. Her first directing efforts helped create AND NOTHING HAPPENED, explored the psychological aftermath of sexualized violence and premiered at the 2016 Slamdance Film Festival. It also screened at a number of other film festivals; including the L.A. Film Festival, BAMcinemafest, Blackstar Film Festival, Rooftop Films, Urbanworld, CinemAfrica in Stockholm and Tacoma Film Festival. Ramos-Chapman earned a Best Director win at the Tacoma Film Festival, and her film became a Vimeo Staff Pick and short of the week. Fun fact: AND NOTHING HAPPENED was brought to life in part to folks who believed in her vision and pledged money on Kickstarter!

I love film, and a good genre hybrid. Film is one of my favorite mediums for stories, and certainly one of the most impactful. I’m always excited to see more women and marginalized folks behind the camera in the film industry. So I was really intrigued upon reading the words “Psycho-Surrealist Thriller” (with the added context of a Black Woman being center stage). As BNP’s Kickstarter Queen, I’ve pledged money to several handfuls of film projects and I’m always game to check out more by women.

About the film, Ramos-Chapman says:

“Based on a real interaction I had with a man who stalked me for several hours in broad daylight, PIU PIU is a meditation on frontier justice — illustrating how standing up to violence can be a transformative experience, but not in the ways you think. Sometimes standing up can reveal uncomfortable and irreconcilable truths about our capacity to save anyone from abuses. We hear slogans like “Say something…”, but we don’t educate people on best practices in disrupting violence. We aren’t educated as a society on how to de-escalate conflict, on how to hold each other accountable, how to ask the right questions.

We instead latch on to this heroship that exists in an idealized dreamscape where we are the sole creators vs. our reality, in which we co-author outcomes; with multiple people, factors, environments, and higher planes that are in duality indifferent and in support of our sustained humanity. I hope PIU PIU will ultimately be a disruptive force to society’s quiet resignation to comply in reinforcing hierarchical domination and abuse; by holding up a mirror to the daily injustices that I, myself, as a woman, have sometimes found too commonplace and normalized for reproach.”

Seeing the trailer teaser for PIU PIU stirs up much in me on several different levels. It calls to mind the sinking, extremely uncomfortable feeling that follows me on occasions where safe spaces were disrupted, where personal space and consideration where invaded and thrown out the window.

I think of how just last week in a car using a rideshare app, telling my male driver of how I wished more men who drove for such services could learn to read the room. Aggressively hitting on me when picking me up from churches where it was clear I had attended funerals is, for a lack of a better word, disturbing. The driver simply dismissed my words, telling me I should be grateful for the compliments.

I think of the man a few months ago who cheerily confessed to turning his car around on a busy street after and stalking me for several blocks after seeing me exit a bus. He did not want to take no for an answer when he presented me with his phone number, attempting to plan a date for us.

I think of the man earlier this year who had the audacity to physically push me and then threw his beer on me; splashing me and making my clothes carry that odor as I was commuting to work one day. My crime? Rebuffing his advances. I just wanted to get to where I was going.

I think of all the horrific stories of women in the #YouOkSis tag on Twitter, and how men choose to be the aggressors in the lives of others everyday.

There is always a power imbalance, a disruption made, or agency lost that compliments these stories. My stories. The filmmaker’s stories. If you’re reading this as a woman and/or female-presenting person it is more than likely these are your stories as well.

Some of our stories are more traumatic than others. Some more violent. Some longer. Some certainly more scarring.

Through these type of experiences, at least for me, I’m not always the hero I want to be in my stories. That’s not my fault, because many times that’s taken away from me. So seeing a teaser for a film with a narrative that explores a Black woman in a similar situation gives me hope for more unique stories. A narrative of a Black woman’s struggles; and her complicated relationship to routine violence, romance, self and alienation? This is something cut from a different cloth than the everyday narratives we see a lot of.

Black Women don’t always get to be the tellers and crafters of our own stories. Black Women also aren’t always allowed the luxury of being more than victims, side characters, or caricatures in the stories that others tell.

How awesome is it to see an project written, edited and directed by a Black woman about a Black woman; with the opportunity to fight back against trauma and society itself…and very possibly win?

How hyped can you be to see a Black woman become the hero she needs for herself in a world that oftentimes hates Black folk and womenfolk alike?

How stoked can I be to want to see this production not just happen, but birth more projects that deal with how living and coping in these times must be a real, obtainable goal? The filmmaker expressed that now was the time for this deeply personal, necessary project. In regards to Black Lives Matter, to the #MeToo movement, healthcare, even LGBTQ and women’s rights, so many basic human freedoms have been put on the line and recent years have been truly volatile to live through.

PIU PIU is a short film exploring “agency, justice, and victimhood ontology as expressed through magical realism, sonic worldliness, and the Black
female gaze.”

 

The Creative Team

Naima Ramos-Chapman // Writer and Director
Shawn Peters // Director of Photography
Jason Hightower // Producer
Natalie Clunis // Production Manager
Damani Pompey // Choreographer
Terence Nance // Executive Producer

The Cast

NATALIE PAUL
JERMAINE SMALL
TRAE HARRIS
SANTANA BENITEZ

The Kickstarter campaign launched on August 7th, and will conclude on the 30th. Contributions from the fully-funded endeavor will be used to compensate post-production crew (including a colorist, a visual effects editor, sound mixer, & composer), as well as cover festival submission fees and deliverables.

If you’re down to support the vision and presence of more Black women in the film industry directing (and being more awesome, overall) be sure to check this one out and pledge. If you’re also down to see more talented people of color as creatives — in positions ranging from acting talent to cinematographers — be sure to check out this project as well.

This looks like a fine time to give money to a Black Woman for a short film about a Black woman, with a theme that every woman has the ability to be her own savior. This is truly a timely message for the women of today.

See the trailer teaser, hear from the filmmaker herself about the project and even check out the unique items available to those who pledge (from the sketch book that birthed the idea for the film, to a masterclass on how to take your experience and make a film about it) here. See more of Ramos-Chapman on Twitter and work on her personal website here. See more updates about the film here on Instagram and Facebook.

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  • Carrie McClain

    Reviewer/Editor

    Carrie McClain is writer, editor, social media maven and media scholar. Other times she's known as a Starfleet Communications Officer, Comics Auntie, and Golden Saucer Frequenter. Shuri is her favorite Disney Princess. Nowadays you can usually find her buried under a pile of Josei manga. She/Her

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