We are currently raising funds for our short film Trust Issues, which we hope to shoot this coming December. Learn more about the film and how to get involved in our efforts here!
A young and traumatized musician navigates trust issues, new love, and a destabilized career.
Trust Issues tells the story of a young musician, struggling to regain her footing as she faces past traumas of sexual assault. As a sexy dream girl archetype, she finds herself having difficulty healing because being that version of herself no longer feels safe.
After these experiences, she has difficulty trusting her body, her relationships, and interactions. She doesn't know how to reconcile her inner pain with the role she is meant to fulfill within the industry, particularly during a moment feels triggering. She resents that the past haunts her, and would prefer to aggressively ignore it than to face it head-on. She realizes, however, that trauma doesn’t disappear, just gets buried deeper, to re-emerge later with more force.
I started working on this story during a time when I was facing the afterlife of an intimate trauma that had happened two years prior. I was reflecting on how easy it is for people to forget that trauma always lives in us, though its color and shape may change. I was feeling particularly isolated in these emotions, and reached out to friends who I thought would identify and found that they had experienced similarly.
When trauma first occurs it is easy to show up and support, to discuss, break it down, lend an ear and a shoulder, but what about its afterlife? What about the times that trauma appears years later, unannounced and demands the entirety of your attention? What about the guilt of not being over it, and the shame of not being able to “handle it” or be strong? What about the seductive appeal to just disappear, to be consumed by the black hole that is psychological pain?
I wanted to delve deeper into this world and focus on this shadow layer of trauma. I wanted to explore how Aliya might continue to struggle. How incidents in her past might affect her present relationships, her career, and her ongoing mental health.
By the end of the story, Aliya is reminded of her own power, she is reminded of the support that she does have, despite feelings of isolation, and she learns that all is process—that things take time, and that she doesn't have to compromise or pretend like nothing ever happened. I hope that bringing this story to life will allow folks of all backgrounds to look closely at the traumas that have hurt them most and encourage them to see the liberation in accepting that darkness despite how terrifying it is to do so.
Trust Issues is undoubtedly a difficult story to engage with, but in the process of writing it and facing my own deepest shadows, I really came to believe that the only way to find any sense of peace or healing is to confront and accept those darkest feelings. Your financial support will help us see this story to completion for the sake of all those who may have had similar experiences. I am enthusiastic for you to join us as we embark on the journey of bringing Trust Issues to life and through it, promoting radical honesty, healing, and self-compassion.
Once Trust Issues is complete, we plan to submit to the festival circuit in standard fashion, but also hope to link our work with sexual assault awareness non-profits to do public screenings. Ultimately, our goal is to reach those who have been impacted by trauma and create healing spaces through intentional film engagement, safe space discussion, and healing creative activities.
Reva Santo (she/her) is a filmmaker and storyteller whose stories pinpoint the emotional pulse of issues faced by marginalized communities and create space for radical healing and for reimagining.
“I hope that bringing this story to life will allow folks of all backgrounds to look closely at the things that have hurt them most—that it will encourage them to see the beauty in the darkness, and to be unafraid and brave in the face of those shadows” - Reva Santo, Writer/Director, Trust Issues
“Trust Issues tells the story of a young black queer woman facing the after math of sexual assault. As such, we feel that it is important to centralize black women, queer women, and POC in our crew.”
Sydni Chustz (she/her) is an LA native and presently works as a producer for a commercial advertising agency. She is also the founder of Bid Black, a database and platform that highlights the work of Black filmmakers, with a focus on increasing their visibility and opportunities to bid on commercial projects in the advertising world. As a producer for one of the top automotive brands in the world, Sydni enjoys taking the skills she uses on the job and applying it to help create the stories that are most important to her within her community.
When we meet Aliya she is vibrant, carefree, charismatic. An excellent performer of full sex appeal, however, she is guarded, and not particularly vulnerable. Behind her eyes, there is something tender. She is protective of her true self. This part of her identity gets amplified after a few experiences with sexual assault. She struggles to get back to the person she used to be, worried that her career will fail if she can’t get back to her former self.
Flash forward and we find Aliya at a low point, triggered by intimacy with love interest Dre, and falling deeply into flashbacks of her sexual trauma. Dre is kind and genuinely cares about Aliya. She checks on her even when Aliya tries to ghost her, but Aliya doesn’t know how she can trust anyone and isn’t ready for a relationship. She figures out how to express this to Dre by the end of the film.
Throughout the story, Aliya goes back and forth between the past and the present as she grapples with the trust issues that the assaults left in their wake. She has difficulty remaining present and finds herself struggling against a dreamy, timeless, foggy state.
Leland enters during Aliya’s most tender moment. Her longtime old friend, he encourages her to be vulnerable with him and open up about her experiences. He reminds her that healing is an ongoing process and that her art is meant to help her do so.
Aliya’s manager Joe is hip and cool, but untrustworthy. He wants Aliya to fulfill the sexy dream girl archetype. When Aliya is assaulted, Joe is unresponsive. Aliya becomes skeptical of his character but is afraid that her career will fail without him. By the end of the film, she gets the courage to fire him and move forward with her career on her own terms.