A Beautiful Life, The Movie

September 25, 2009 by  
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In 2007 I finally got to produce a film I had been working on for ten years.  The film based on a play deals with hope, sexual abuse, and relationships.  

“A love story set against the decaying skyline of downtown Los Angeles between a runaway from a suburban small town and an illegal from Mexico. As the emotional walls between them come down a more horrific picture appears, that of a boy searching for a mother who left him behind and may or may not be alive and that of a girl whose idea of love and violence are inseparable. A Beautiful Life is what these two teenagers want and will fight for with the help of an exotic dancer who dreams of a singing career.”

We didn’t have enough money or enough time but had a committed cast and crew.  There were many difficulties and we were able to overcome each one of them. 

On October 2nd A Beautiful Life, will be released in a number of theatres across the US.  The film features Bai Ling, Jesse Garcia, Dana Delany, Debi Mazar, and Angela Sarafyan. 

Below is the link to an interview I gave today about the making of the film.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/mrmedia/2009/09/25/Deborah-Calla-A-BEAUTIFUL-LIFE-indie-film-actress-Mr-Media-Radio-Interview

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A Beautiful Life

September 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog

A Beautiful Life, a film I co-wrote and produced will be released on October 2nd.

The film deals with rape and Maggie’s (the lead character) belief that love and violence are one and the same.  I’m not going to give the plot away but the film ends on a hopeful note and that is the beauty of the story and that is why I spent so many years of my life trying to make this movie.

I’m often asked what attracted me to the material, as it was a play first.  Early on my response was: “It’s really compelling material.” But the truth is I have a lot in common with the lead character.

For one, I was sexually assaulted in 1994 when the US was the host of the World Cup.  I was attacked by a fellow Brazilian, an attorney, who was here with the Brazilian delegation.

This happened right after I moved to LA from NY and after my divorce from a very unhappy marriage.  Needless to say I was very fragile.

I was able to go to the police station and because the OJ, Nicole Simpson case had just happened, I was taken very seriously.  The man was arrested in his pajamas at the Beverly Hilton Hotel and the police took his passport away. 

His friends found my phone number and started calling me at all hours of the day pleading with me not to testify.  “He didn’t mean it.  You know how Brazilians are.  He has a one year old boy” his friends kept saying while my mind kept thinking: “Maybe I shouldn’t have been so nice, did I lead him on?  I did fight.  I did ask him to stop.”  What ended up happening during the assault is that I left my body.  It was like my spirit was hovering over me and watching from a distance the scene below. 

The police sent me to the Santa Monica rape crisis center.  I was there assigned to a therapist.  Their goal was to help me.

The man had appendicitis in jail and was taken to the hospital.  His friends kept calling me. The detectives kept calling me: “We’re counting on you to testify” they would say.  And I didn’t know what was up or down.

My Santa Monica therapist said to do what I wanted, do what I could.  What I wanted was to run.  What Maggie wanted was to run.

After a couple of months I told the detectives I couldn’t spend another year of my life getting phone calls and feeling guilty.  The detectives were angry at me.  They thought it would be an easy case but without my testimony they didn’t think they could get a conviction and decided to let him go.

I wished I had more time to calm down before having had to make the decision to testify or not.  Victims of sexual abuse are often so immersed in shame that the last thing we want is to be placed in a court of law and answer antagonistic questions from the defense attorneys. 

I wished the therapist that was assigned to me would have also helped me understand that by letting the guy go I might put other women in jeopardy.  I still hope his experience here was enough to put a stop to his actions.  But I don’t know.

Maggie and A Beautiful Life became my way out of my shame and paralyses.  By working on her words and her hope, I gave myself hope.   I turned my loss into something positive but I was lucky to be able to do that. 

There are so many of us, men and women, that have experienced what it is to be objectified; to count as much in the eyes of another as a table or chair. 

I don’t know what makes a rapist a rapist but I do know we need better tools to help the victims and to be able to put the criminal on trial without having to drag the victim through another humiliation.

A Beautiful Life is a tough movie.  It puts in the foreground the very real consequences of abuse including the rejection and the blame that we suffer even from people that love us.

Maybe the film is not everyone’s cup of tea but the subject it discusses should be everyone’s cup of tea as it happens more often than we care to know.   

But what I really have in common with Maggie is that I too want A Beautiful Life and like her, I won’t stop fighting for it no matter what life throws my way.

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