The short film Choke debuted this weekend at Outfest as part of the “Emerging Voices” short program. In her film, Rolla Selbak examines immigration and identity through her focus on small town refugee, who has become a rising MMA star. As the big fight grows closer Sara finds herself being asked to share more in interviews, but she is still trying to hold tight to a number of secrets including her immigrant status and her identity as a lesbian.
Sara is a fighter and a strong woman, but she finds herself forced to keep secrets in order to protect her image. During interviews she holds back from discussing her family or her immigrant background, but beyond that she is keeping a secret from her own family. Over dinner her mother points out that she does not know who would marry her, but she does mention that gay people can get married now. While is seems Sara has not discussed her relationships with her family there are minor hints that her mother may know, though in an interview she is connected with a male fighter.
Outside of that hidden element of her identity Sara’s story is balanced with news coverage concerning immigration policies in the United States. Selbak does an exceptional job of connecting her character with these elements while also showing her fear of sharing too much about her family and herself. It is a beautiful work that shows how difficult it can be to balance a public and private personality when it seems as though the place you previously felt safe is pushing back against you.
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