In Summer 2020, in the midst of the pandemic and Black Lives Matter uprising, a mixed-race filmmaker struggles to engage her 7-year-old daughter as they transition from blending to dissenting in their white suburban community.
ARA, UNTAMED opens in the Spring of 2020, as the pandemic shuts down everything in our Colorado community, including the golf course at the center of our neighborhood. Desperate to experience something wild in a suburb that feels oppressively tame, I begin hopping the fence with my 7-year-old daughter, Ara (like “Sara”), to explore an open space normally reserved for golfers. Then, every night at dusk, our neighbors begin howling to honor health care workers, the sick, and each other. For the first time since moving to this neighborhood three years ago, I feel like we might belong.
Then Breonna Taylor is murdered. Then Ahmaud Abrey. Then George Floyd. As Black Lives Matter protests explode around the country, I begin to realize that the unease I'd been feeling in my white suburban community had little to do with our access to nature, and everything to do with living in a racist system that upholds white supremacy. As a mixed-race, light brown-skinned woman, born in Indonesia and adopted as an infant by white American parents, I’d been blending into this system my entire life. Suddenly, I was at a crossroads: Do I stay quiet and keep blending? Or do I dissent? What does dissenting look like, and how do I make sure I bring Ara along with me?
ARA, UNTAMED is a soul-searching love letter to my daughter, as well as to the younger parts of myself that didn't feel seen, heard, or understood as a transracial, transnational adoptee. My hope in charting my journey is to open a door for those in my white community who may also wish to break from white solidarity, but feel alone or uncertain about where that might lead. The message to myself, my daughter, and my viewers is the same: I know this feels hard, but I believe in you.
ROLES: Director, producer, cinematographer, writer, editor