WALT - We Are Living Things
Xingchen Lyu, Jorge Antonio Guerrero, O-Lan Jones, Paul Cooper, Zao Wang, Kristen Hung, Blanca Vivancos, Alfonso Rey, Lawrence Ballard, James Patrick Nelson, Cherry Fu, Geoff Lee
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Meet Solomon, an illegal Mexican immigrant who lives and works in the back lot of a recycling plant on the outskirts of New York City. He’s a scavenger by nature, resourceful and self-sufficient. With a large antenna that he secretly built, he tunes into distant radio signals hoping to capture a transmission of non-human origin. Solomon believes that his mother, who went missing many years ago in the Arizona desert, was actually abducted by a UFO.
Meet another illegal immigrant living on the fringes of American society: Chuyao, a young Chinese woman with false ID and a dread of deportation. Like Solomon, she’s a quick-on-her-feet survivor, and works as a manicurist in a nail Salon. But lately her quasi-pimp boyfriend Tiger enlists her as a companion to Chinese businessmen. Her services stop just short of sex, but the fetish games have gotten increasingly dangerous and she’s scared they’ll go too far.
Solomon moonlights as a building super, and meets Chuyao by chance when he’s sent to her apartment to fix a leak. Solomon’s interest for her intensifies when he realizes that she too has an interest in UFOs.
Wanting to save Chuyao from Tiger’s exploitation, Solomon confronts and kills him. But when he gets caught on security footage, he and Chuyao have no choice but to head West as fugitives from the law. Improvising as they go this Chinese Bonnie and Mexican Clyde make their way for the desert outpost in Arizona where Solomon’s mother went missing. Along the journey, the affection and understanding grows between them.
When he finds the Arizona trailer park where he lived for a while after crossing the Mexico border into the U.S., Solomon is forced to confront his past. This place that was once his home, and Constance the 60 year-old dysfunctional loner who mothered him back then, feel unwelcoming to him now. There’s nothing here for him or Chuyao and they have no place to go.
Dawn in the desert, perhaps the very spot where Solomon’s mother was taken. Chuyao keeps warm in a scavenged space suit, resting in a hammac that Solomon has made for her from broken antenna parts. A shrill sound comes from nowhere, getting louder. Small clouds of dust fast approaching, converging. Extraterrestrials? Cops? As they look up into the sky, it's just two dreamers in a strange land.
WE ARE LIVING THINGS is entirely set in the United States but its main characters are illegal aliens. Solomon (Mexican) and Chuyao (Chinese) meet by coincidence. As the events unfold the characters begin to sense that they ‘know each other from somewhere else’. They both have had powerful experiences that seem to indicate hidden dimensions behind reality, but they don’t know what to make of these experiences or how to share them. What they believe in is not institutionalized religion, it’s the existence of an external, out-of-space life form that could save them.
Our story is an ‘out of time’ ironic fable with a science-fiction element that acts as a metaphor, yet we believe our film also captures something very immediate about the world we are living in right now, the “funhouse mirror” reality we have come to know. It also resonates with the current national and global controversies over migration, protectionism, and border patrols.