A close-up shot of delicate hands deliberately washing a fresh green apple, a bejeweled ring flaunted on a finger, a grip tightening around a cup of coffee — these are just some examples of hand imagery used by student Lorena Garibay for her film, “Medium: Flesh.”
The inspiration, comes from a specific aesthetic, as Garibay puts it. “I’ve always had a fascination with nice hands, and jewelry,” she explained. “I wanted to explore what fascination and desperation could drive a person to do.”
Without giving too much of the story away, the main character, Emil, also played by Garibay, is tasked by her art professor to create an art piece using hands as the subject. Garibay portrays Emil’s character as a tense person with a cold, quiet exterior that hides a whirlwind of visual and auditory hallucinations that play on her greatest insecurities. Fellow Chabot student, Stu Briggs, plays David, a seemingly close and concerned friend. He also appears in her hallucinations, and thanks to Briggs’ compelling acting, the viewer gains insight into the anxieties and obsessions of Emil.
At roughly 20 minutes, the short film was entered into Chabot’s student film festival, which was held from April 23 — 25. There were five categories for consideration, but unfortunately, “Medium: Flesh” did not take home a single award. Instructor Thomas Lothian of the Mass Communication department, who also had a small role in the film as the art instructor, believed that the film deserved more recognition. He argued that the film should have been awarded the best narrative.
Despite not winning any awards at the festival, the students involved in Garibay’s project were all proud of their work and what they learned. This includes Auburn Jordan, who worked on filming and assisted with the postproduction work. Jordan described his editing process as “piece by piece like a puzzle” because, as he states, “magic happens in production.” This is most evident in a critical scene in the film where Emil, played by Garibay, hallucinates for the first time. In filming, he preferred to let the scene play out in long takes, as he believes “it feels like you’re watching real life, as opposed to a constructed narrative.” He also stressed that he had to take extra care not to clip too much from what was filmed, “when you clip a lot [the editing] shows.”
After viewing the film, several students walked away, feeling impacted by the jarring climax. First-year student Kacie Reed said she “definitely would recommend this to a friend,” noting that she liked the use of sound effects in the hallucination scenes. Another student, Ronwaldo Silverio, was drawn more to the cinematography and storytelling, “my favorite part was the twist ending.” This sentiment appeared to be shared by student Phillip Antwine, who theorized that the main character, Emil, became “overstressed and obsessed by the small obstacle of [drawing] hands.”
While Emil can be cold, obsessive, and self-centered, Garibay herself is bright, sharp-minded, and attentive. When asked how she tried to portray an unbalanced person like Emil, Garibay explained, “I tried to portray her [mental] state by showing her hurting herself and causing herself to bleed.” In postproduction, more effects were added to accentuate that feeling of imbalance and instability, as she further elaborates “We also incorporated some filters that helped distinguish between what was reality and what was her delusion.” Being an amateur actor, Garibay had to draw from personal experiences to accurately portray the character of Emil. Her inspiration came from “times in which I found myself creating another reality in my mind,” which she describes as a way to vent and fantasize about various outcomes in her life.
If you missed the film festival and want to see the twist ending for yourself, you can head on over to YouTube. There, you can search for “Medium: Flesh” or go to the YouTube channel of Chabot College Television to watch the film.