Directed by G.D. Zebra | 65 minutes | Premiere screening October 1 at the Park Cinema
It sounds cliché, but it was true: there wasn’t a dry eye in the theatre on the night of October 1.
By the time the credits rolled at the premiere of G.D. Zebra’s amazing new film, WINK, it seemed as though all Park Animals had found it in their hearts to embrace each other for the rest of time.
Of course, we knew it wouldn’t last. And it didn’t. But for one brief shining moment—all right, several, as the film was screened again on October 5—The Park seemed as Jor had meant it to be: open, free of prejudice, and dedicated to providing a peaceful, safe, and prosperous life to all its citizens.
Produced by Kevin Kodkod (of Black Cats Can’t Jump fame), and narrated in parts by Willem Leopard, WINK takes us on the personal journey of a group of striped and spotted Animals who, after suffering a lifetime of prejudice, opt to have their visible differences removed.
One might expect Zebra to have made his mark on the film through his personal perspective, but what makes WINK so powerful is the fact that he steps back and lets the participants tell their own stories. And, in large part, it is the timeline itself that allows us to feel the full effect of those stories.
As we follow the group for a period of three years—before, during, and after their stripe and spot removal procedures—the participants cease to appear to us as a homogeneous group. Rather, we see them as individuals who have experienced similar but distinct reactions to their visible otherness. And in discussing those reactions, they open a window through which we see their suffering and hopes more clearly.
As they introduce us to their families, their friends, and their way of life, their “otherness” seems to disappear. By the time they’ve booked their procedures, we find ourselves wondering why they’ve done it. Unfortunately, that wonder doesn’t last very long.
Indeed, we learn from the film’s title that these Animals have no way of escaping their past experiences which inform their lives forever. The title comes from a statement made by participant Aadhya Leopard, who when asked how it felt to emerge as a solid-coloured Animal, said, “It’s like a wink. It’s like I’m saying I’m just like you, but we both know I’m not.”
Participant Maximilian Appaloosa went even further. “What I discovered is that there is no such thing as an invisible minority. What your ancestors have suffered and the narrative you were raised on determines who you are and how you interact with others. And other Animals can sniff that out even if you look the same as they do. I discovered that all Animals have some kind of radar. It’s not just Bats,” he said.
The film, which lasts just over an hour, includes interviews with popular Park musician and anti-stripe-removalist ZEAL, anti-sortitionist and self-described “naturalist,” director Douglas Cheetah, and SCENTIENT Beings composer and father of Reekabilly music Faramund Stinktier, who announced his transition to being a Zebra last year.
But the film isn’t about the famous, or even about the striped and spotted Animals whose stories it tells. It is really about the rest of us, whose duty it is to confront our own otherness in order for all otherness to disappear.
The Park Cinema
Showtimes: 11:00; 1:00; 3:00; 5:00; 9:00