/Interview by Alika Gasimova/
In the film ‘Roses Are Blind’ Wendy White told the story which happened to her at the young age. It is hard to watch because of it being not just a story but the real experience of the writer. The film tells about tough relationships between parents and children, about heredity and being strong. We talked with Wendy about her film and about her feelings after she told this story full of emotions to the viewers.
How would you explain the title of the film ‘Roses Are Blind’?
‘Roses Are Blind’ is kind of a poetic title. The best way to think about this is that roses are red, which is about love. And my father became blind in my teen years. So, the story revolves around his blindness or taking a blind eye to the situation that happened. So, where the love is blind that is the roses are blind.
The information on the website says that the film is based on a true story. Could you share more information about that?
This is based on part of my true life story. The incident occurred when I was 19 and I was in search of myself. When my Mom passed in my 30s I was able to write about it and I converted the story into a three-act play. Then the play was produced in New York, Florida, and Holland and encouraged to become a movie. What you see in the short film are few scenes of the full feature and also a few scenes of the play. Those incidents you see are dramatized as it was in the play. The movie focuses on super close-ups. Those events unfortunately happened but my dream was to tell the story one day.
I am so grateful to Gui Agustini (Director, Co-Producer, Co-Writer, Actor) and Christina Jolie Breza (Co-Producer, Lead Actress) for saying yes to filming Roses are Blind, as they put together our entire creative team and all things became possible.
How do you feel about sharing your personal experience with the public via film?
It wasn’t necessarily scary. What helped me overcome this was the journal I wrote since I was a little girl. When the play started happening and I was in the east village in New York in my 30s everyone loved to see the drama on stage with my parents. So, events that happened in my life moved up to the theater and most people didn’t believe it. Showing my Mom, Dad, the arguments, uncle coming in, and what happened was almost therapeutic when I was young. It became more art and more drama to me. It transformed. So, it’s a blessing to be an artist and a writer and taking what really could have kept me in a certain place into a place of achievement and people wanting to see more. It helped me forgive them and I forgave them through this process. It’s been a very important journey. I hope that one day it will help the world too. Maybe people with similar stories will find support in this film.
How do relationships with parents affect our lives?
It affects us every day. I think my husband and I have a similar upbringing. We talk about how different it was or is for us when we don’t have that foundation almost daily. I’ve been very lucky to be a musician. My first voice was music and was lucky to be in family atmospheres in theatres and groups. But still every day is very different to not have them. Although spiritually they’re here. The basic foundation of Mom and Dad, of two parents, is so important for love and to just feel good about yourself, for your confidence, and for knowing that you are pretty or not pretty. Good parenting may say that you don’t have to be an overachiever and that what you’ve done is enough. I was very lucky to get those interactions from teachers but it’s still challenging. As a result, as I got older, my dream was to help children. My husband and I developed a non-profit foundation and we go to homeless shelters to help children who don’t have parents who can afford them some things that usual families can.
Which genre of art — cinematography or theatre — did you find more expressive?
It was very helpful to do it on the stage but the theater left it at a certain point. It’s been very rewarding. And with the short film, it is even more rewarding than I could ever dream of. It is like a Fibonacci spiral. This new spiral with the movie is so satisfying. I think it is more powerful than the theatre and it’s going to reach so many more people.
Captions from the film
Which challenges did you meet while writing the story for the play in the theatre or for the film?
It was easy for me to write it because I was in the theatre since I was a little girl. It was a very dramatic experience. What was really interesting and challenging were the actors. When they read it they would often go into shock. One of the directors couldn’t sleep all night. When I was in Hollywood last year at the time there was a Q&A in front of the theatre. There were 200 people looking at me and trying to believe that this was a real story. And I was just Wendy. Then when the story was up in the play it would often take a life on its own. Whoever played Julie at the time or whoever played the roles it was challenging to work with them. I was the director, the writer, and the producer at the same time. I am an organic director and I just let things be. It was powerful how things got very explosive.
What was the main idea you wanted to convey with this story?
The main idea was talking about family and about what happened within my family — a misdiagnosis. Not many families have this but certain families do. Maybe the main idea is self-acceptance and not judging children. It is more of a psychological issue. We have parents that are not well. I mean not only physically not well but they inherit emotional things. Let’s say that there is Mom that came in with depression which my Mom did. I found out later that she had postpartum depression. My father also had depression. And then they have two children who are projecting that they might have something. And that’s the parents that had something and they needed help. I want to share this idea about emotional help and, I don’t like the term ‘mental ilness’, but I wanted to show what can happen in a family where someone is not well. I was very lucky to survive it all. There is a funny tv show, the comedy, ‘The Addams Family’, where all of the members were portrayed as caricatures of the silent film era, like the movie ‘Frankenstein’ and there is one character “Marilyn” the normal one with a sense of humor. That’s how I see myself. This movie helped me to learn radical acceptance. I wanted to show the idea of quickly labeling children or adults with the terms we use. At the time, the misdiagnosis was being labeled with the term manic depression or now they call it bipolar. In my case, it turned out I had all symptoms of what teenagers go through and I went through hormonal things. In my 20s I found out that I had hypothyroidism, so I inherited an underactive thyroid that has all these symptoms which also inherited from my mother and grandmother. It is interesting that when you fnd out something is off in your body maybe there is something wrong with the hormones. It doesn’t mean that you have a condition and you have to be put away. I think it’s tragic because a lot of people are still there or they get misdiagnosed.
It was a promise to one of my roommates that I would come back and make a movie of the place because I was released but they are maybe still there.
What is the sense of life?
Life is a dream and I feel very lucky to be alive. I am grateful for every day. Humans are capable of everything and anything. Before this experience I had at young age I didn’t know that these places where people were put in existed. I felt like it was a movie but it was real. I’m aware that anything can happen. Maybe I’m totally awake and open to living. I’m very grateful to be here and to share it.