Whisper Back

A bittersweet parable about the pain of otherness and the everlasting power of love.

Project type: Narrative Short
Project status: Development
Director/Writer/Producer: Sonja Kelly
Producer: Mark Moliterni
Director of Photography: Andrés Solórzano
Editor: Michael Tang
 
Instagram: @whisperback_movie
Website: whisperback.com
Email: production@whisperback.com
 
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Logline

In a retrofuturistic Los Angeles, a romantic psychodrama plays out between two diner waitresses, one of whom may not be of this world.

Synopsis

In a retrofuturistic Los Angeles, eighty-four cyborgs made in the likeness of one man coexist with a spectrum of human women. Our story begins in the parking lot of Bubba’s, a diner made in an evocative nineteen-forties style. Waitress Birdie paces in the glow of neon lights. Inside the diner, waitress Sara juggles dirty dishes and angry customers. When Birdie returns, the tension between the two women is palpable.

As the night progresses, it becomes clear that Sara and Birdie are at a standstill in their relationship. Days ago, Sara broke Birdie’s heart, but she realizes now, she made a mistake. She apologies, but Birdie’s hurt runs deep. Eventually, Birdie forgives Sara and they kiss. But then, Sara breaks into a violent coughing fit. When Birdie sees that Sara’s coughing up blood, she runs to the other room to call for help. Sara’s coughing escalates. Her eyes turn orange. Wings rip through the back of her uniform. As she transforms into something otherworldly, the door between them locks. Birdie races around the outside of the building, looking for a way in. The walk-up window! Birdie calls out Sara’s name. Ashamed of her appearance, Sara stays where Birdie cannot see her. But Birdie manages to coax her out of the shadows. At the window, Sara reveals her truth to Birdie. But Birdie’s not willing to accept their time is over. A sudden explosion of light sends Birdie reeling. As the light subsides, she finds herself alone.

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Meet the Filmmakers

Sonja Kelly — Director/Writer/Producer

Director, writer, and producer Sonja Kelly graduated from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. Her debut feature, a no-budget Shakespeare adaptation set in San Francisco, screened at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Seattle True Independent Film Festival, the Indie Gathering International Film Festival, and the Fort Myers Beach Film Festival. In 2017, Sonja directed a female-driven proof-of-concept short film which screened at the Festival de Cannes: Court Métrage (Short Film Corner) and received several nominations including Best Action Short of the Year at a stunts-focused film festival in Las Vegas. Sonja began her career as an intern to film critic Jan Wahl. She then joined the production teams of the San Francisco Giants and the Golden State Warriors working as a camera utility, assistant, and operator. During that time, she worked with Emmy award-winning cinematographer Scott Duncan on several occasions as a camera and production assistant. A dual citizen of Ireland and the US, with Finnish heritage as well, Sonja identifies as a queer woman filmmaker and enjoys focusing on inclusive, challenging, and emotion-driven storytelling. She has studied with Mardik Martin of Mean Streets, Dr. Rob Clare of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Evgeniy Lazarev of the Moscow Art Theatre, and many others.

Mark Moliterni — Producer

Mark Moliterni is an LA-based writer, director, and producer from Toronto. His first two shorts were both featured by Canada’s National Screen Institute and his work has played and won awards in festivals across North America. Mark is passionate about telling stories that evoke the myriad emotions of everyday life with surprising but meaningful twists. Mark is especially interested in creating narratives with an international, queer, or under-represented point of view.

Mark was UPM on Girls’ Weekend, a proof of concept pilot directed by Kyra Sedgwick, which premiered at Sundance 2019, starring Ali Liebegott, Amy Landecker, Ken Jenkins, and Linda Lavin. He recently produced his first feature film, Outside, as well as the AwesomenessTV series How to Survive A Break-Up and the short film Detox starring Marcus Henderson.

Andrés Solórzano — Director of Photography

After Andrés Solórzano graduated from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, he directed the first stereoscopic 3D television content in Mexico, the iconic off-road race Baja 1000 for Red Bull. Since then, Andrés has lensed feature films, short films, documentaries, commercials, fashion films, and music videos. He is passionate about telling stories that positively impact society with a focus on native indigenous communities, immigrants, and social movements. His first full-length film as a cinematographer Huicholes: The Last Peyote Guardians won eleven awards at international festivals. In 2016, Andrés graduated from the American Film Institute (AFI) with an MFA in cinematography.

Michael Tang — Editor

Originally from Denver, Michael Tang has been working steadily in Los Angeles as an editor for over six years. In that time, he has dozens of independent projects including narrative shorts and features. This is his second time working with Sonja after editing her female-driven, proof-of-concept short film Surrender Heaven in 2018. As an editor, Michael prioritizes story above else and uses his advanced skill set to find the best story possible. He approaches every cut with thoughtfulness and enjoys crafting high impact films that resonate with audiences.

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Contact

For inquiries, please contact fiscalsponsorship@filmindependent.org.