To The EastDirected by Mónica G. Carter
Written by Ambika Subra
Synopsis: Maya is a 25-year-old Indian American in New York, broken by the impossibility of true love. Over the course of a single night, she navigates through various memories – of the last summer at a Bharatanatyam (classical Indian dance) school in Virginia, of repressed high-school traumas, and the terrible fight she has that night with her closest dance-school friend, Roopa.
In weaving together her past and present, through the transcendence of dance and the difficulties of acceptance, Maya closes the gap between her Western reality and Eastern idealization. However, she must also mend the severed connection with Roopa in order to understand the true meaning of love...for Roopa might be more similar to her than she realizes.
Note from the Writer:To The East is a true story of my upbringing and training as a Bharatanatyam dancer, as well as the experiences of one of my close friends. Our summers together at dance camp were nothing short of a utopia, where we were immersed in an ancient culture that we lacked as second-generation Americans. But the stark contrast of that place against our Western realities created a difficult tension where our sexuality, experiences of binge drinking and rape, and ability to express ourselves, were all restrained. While my Western life hovered over me like a haunt, my friend’s Eastern identity kept her paralyzed. The second-generation experience is complicated, and this film aims to create a new vocabulary for girls like us.... for multicultural female identity, for love and acceptance, and for friendship.
Note from the Director:The story of confused-identity is not one specific to culture. As a mixed-race woman that grew up all over the world, finding a sense of “place” was a solitary journey of self-love and self-acceptance. To The East depicts a scenario where the weight of culture confuses the identities of two women, but the universality exists in how they find solace in each other. One does not need to be Indian, only human, to understand this experience.