Beneath The Surface

This visual spoken word poem is a love story about coming to terms with your past and learning self-love. We travel rouge with a pair of young, queer lovers and throughout, we explore the sharp, familiar pains of nostalgic heartache.

  • Desirae Lee
    Things At Rest
  • Nyla Stanford
  • C.A. Barrow
  • Nyla Stanford
    Key Cast
  • Shak'Ti
    Key Cast
  • B. Neal Jefferson II
    Production Assistant
  • Project Type:
    Experimental, Short
  • Genres:
    Avante Garde, Arthouse, Experimental, Poetry
  • Runtime:
    2 minutes 58 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 30, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    1,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Desirae Lee

Desirae (Des) Lee is an Alumna of the University of Florida where she completed a unique program infusing photojournalism with innovation. During her time in Gainesville, Des co-founded a monthly community showcase for POC artists called DOPENmic. She participated in UF’s Campus Movie Fest for two consecutive years. Her 2018 experimental directorial debut "HE(A)RE" was featured in the Lycoming College museum showcase "Blurred Expectations".

Des is currently pursuing her MFA in film at Howard University. During her time studying film, she has written and directed several shorts, including "We've Got the Summer" which was awarded the Paul Robinson Award in Graduate Excellence. She was also selected for a fellowship with Blackhouse Foundation at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Her experience includes media internships with a variety of companies including; The John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center, NBCUniversal, Brave New Voices, and Long Story Short Media.

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Director Statement

I strive to create art which celebrates vulnerability, finds beauty amongst the mundane, and portrays diverse people of color with empathy. Within my work I appraise blackness as a holistic experience; a gift and a challenge that demands preservation. I encourage the youth to look to previous generations as an inspiration and our elders to treat the youth as a non-renewable resource. This juxtaposition fuels my fixation on the tricky emotion of nostalgia. I believe womanhood is a complex blessing and I’ve found power in femininity that shows through my work.

Things At Rest is an amalgamation of a blossomed poet, an observant photographer and an avid reader. Being all three, I’ve come to learn the premise of this project to be true; everything we consume teaches us to see. In designing this project I do not take for granted the difficulty in the nature of conveying a singular tone. So, I revolve rapidly around many— including regality, sensuality, and the rapturous space between reality and dreams.

This project serves as a study in bringing visual meaning to spoken word and merging the two art forms.