“Almost all of the stories I’ve been telling with my films have a strong core of family through it. This has only occurred to me in hindsight. When I’m making something I don’t set out with a goal, or a theme to reach. I become a conduit for these stories and I let them flow through me without a filter. I can’t afford any therapy sessions, but the process of filmmaking has taken up that role for me. It helps me better understand myself and the world I live in.
In more introspection I’ve come to realize this: both my growth as an artist and the growing awareness of my role as an immigrant living in America has coincidentally blossomed together.
Leaving my family back in India to immigrate to a “better” life in America without the option to say no, and all of a sudden being forced to become used to a new family and environment created a fractured sense of self and questions about the concept of family itself. At the time I didn’t know how to express these very strong feelings within me, and often they would manifest themselves in sporadic, short, and very intense episodes of depression. The push and pull it created inside me had only found an outlet when I discovered filmmaking.
For me the bulk of the process of filmmaking happens in my subconscious without me even knowing “it” is happening. The process for “This is closest to how the last weeks of March felt like” was no different.
It was during the first month of the pandemic where the whole world was in panic mode. The colleges had begun to send students back, and the whole campus was covered in a gloomy aura. That was when a very loose idea for this film came to me.
At the time I had decided to stay on campus, because there was no way for me to be 100% sure that I didn’t have COVID-19. The last thing I wanted was to unknowingly spread the virus to my father. The campus was barren and the financial situation at my home was seemingly becoming worse and worse every day. There was a real feeling of the end of the times for me, and in that state of my mind I did the only thing that could’ve been done. I wrote about it, not knowing that a month later I would shoot it. The script was written based on real phone calls I had with my dad. Acting through the script with my father and reliving those hard conversations again with him helped us to regain some sense of control over a situation we were losing control over.
Since making that film the relationship with my father has began to change, even though it’s still very much in progress, it’ progress. We both try to keep each other in check in terms of not pushing ourselves too hard, reminding each other to take a breather and relax, and always being honest about how we are doing. Compared to before where the way we showed each other affection was lying about how happy we were, as to not worry the other person.
This is filmmaking for me, a place for me to go and hope to find myself. Hope to better understand my circumstances, hope to better understand the world I live in, and hope to better understand the people I love and care about.”
Kunga is a writer, director and cinematographer hailing from Queens, NY. His works have all carried strong undercurrents of identity and family. By showcasing the hyper specific and unique experiences of a Tibetan immigrant living in America, he hopes to oxymoronically also explore the universal lows and highs everyone faces.
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