It’s Halloween.

Jessa, a Chinese-Swedish 8-year-old, wears her favorite costume: two pigtails with colorful, mismatched clothing. She’s Pippi Longstocking, but no one seems to know it.

As she dangles from the monkey bars, Jessa muses on last week, when a casual comment to her mother led to an unexpected exploration of nostalgia, interpretation, and survival.

Now, in front of her peers, Jessa must decide what part of herself to show - and if there’s anything she should hide.

  • Mia Walker
  • Karoline Xu
  • Jefferson White
    No Future (Tribeca 2020), Yellowstone, The Twilight Zone
  • Karoline Xu
  • Mia Walker
  • Tiffany Tran
  • Angella Cao
    Key Cast
  • Karoline Xu
    Key Cast
    Lincoln, Evil, Launch Day
  • Scott Ray
    Lead Artists
    Spiral Farm, Kama'aina
  • Daniel Prosky
    Lead Artists
    Anna Sui
  • Gabrielle Ruffino
    Lead Artists
    Manifest, The Politician, The Tick
  • Hsin-Hua Wang
    Driving Through The Dark, A Way Home
  • Ayumi Ashley
    Crown Royal, Budweiser, KAHOLOʻAʻĀ
  • Brady Hearn
    The Deliverer, Malala Day
  • Julian Muller
    Sickboy (Vimeo Staff Pick)
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Drama, Horror
  • Runtime:
    6 minutes 40 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    April 14, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    10,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English, Swedish
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Mia Walker

WRITER: Karoline was born in Shanghai, China. There was no air conditioning in her mother's hospital, and she was ten days late. She studied English at Harvard College, and acting at Atlantic Acting School and Actors Theatre of Louisville. Off-Broadway: The Hard Problem at Lincoln Center Theater, and the world premiere of [Veil Widow Conspiracy] at Next Door @ NYTW, for which The New York Times singled her out as “terrific.” TV/FILM: Lincoln (NBC), Evil (CBS), PIPPI, Kiss (Means of Production), music video for Softee’s “Oh No.” Her writing has been a finalist of the FOFIF Fund, WAVE Grant, Outfest, and Orchard Project. She has published with The Establishment and was a writing assistant for Race in America (Norton) and The Written World (Random House). onlykaroline.com

DIRECTOR: Mia is an NYC-based director who works in multimedia from theater and live arts to film/tv and audio. She was selected as TV Directing Fellow by the Drama League, for which she shadowed Director/ Executive Producer Tom Verica on the Shondaland/ ABC show "For The People," and is currently developing a new musical digital series. Broadway/National Tour credits include: Associate Director, "Jagged Little Pill"; Tour Director, "Finding Neverland" and "Pippin"; Assistant Director, "Waitress "(music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles), "The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess." B.A. Harvard University, Concentration in Film Studies and Production (Magna C. Laude, John Harvard Scholar, Louis Sudler Prize Talent in the Arts for Directing, Women’s Leadership Award, Carol Pforzheimer Fellowship). At Harvard, Mia founded "On Harvard Time," the first student-run digital TV news station. www.miapwalker.com

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Writer's Statement:
From 1998 to 2000, I lived in a municipality next to Stockholm. I loved everything there: underground grocery stores, recess in the woods, dressing up for St. Lucia’s Day. Later, my mom told me that I had a difficult time. The school where I kissed my first crush (a
young Norwegian boy) was the same place where other white boys mocked my small “Oriental” eyes. In 2014, Sweden re-released the 1969 Pippi Longstocking television series and removed a few
racial slurs, including the phrase “king of the Negroes” and a sequence where Pippi draws her eyes out into the slant eye gesture and sings a mock Chinese song. There was a large backlash; many Swedes believed this censorship corrupted a national treasure and reflected a submission to the “politically correct” atmosphere. The fusion of these events spurred what would eventually become PIPPI. What is our relationship with our past, and specifically nostalgia, as we evolve as a society? At what point does memory become oppressive and selective and harmful? And how do we talk about the past with the people we love?
Aesthetically, PIPPI is a horror film. When I wrote the script, I asked myself: what is the scariest thing I could see on screen that I haven't seen yet? I wanted to delve into the racial self-hatred that I, and many other Asians, have been experiencing for a long time.
But PIPPI's beating heart is just that -- heart. A child’s love for an icon, a mother’s love for her past, and the strong, albeit complicated, bond between them. I think of that scene in Slumdog
Millionaire when the young boy gets stuck in an outhouse while his favorite idol comes to town. In a moment of desperation and intense longing, he takes the ultimate plunge: into the
bath of shit below. Then he runs through the village, down the dirt roads, through the dense crowd, until he's there, in front of the person he wants to see most. Sometimes, the most
painful thing is wanting something badly enough.

Director's Statement: When I first read the script for PIPPI on March 9, 2020, I knew instantly I wanted to direct it. Karoline’s screenplay celebrates the joy and strength of an iconic “shero” figure, especially as something that bonds a mother and daughter, and when least expected, complicates both. I am drawn to stories with uncomfortable gray areas that force the audience to think beyond its constructed binary of good and evil. PIPPI immediately drew me into the mind of 8-year-old Jessa and her experience of this complexity.

Three days after I read PIPPI, New York City shut down. At first, it seemed impossible to shoot a film. But as America’s racial wound split open, PIPPI felt more relevant than ever, reckoning with racial identity in a way I had not seen on film before. We began discussing how to make the film as soon and as safely as possible. The original script featured a classroom setting. We shifted this to an outdoor playground and limited the number of children in the scene. We embraced these limitations of our situation and invited a COVID-safety certified line producer to join us. We were overwhelmed by the support from our cast, crew, and everyone who rallied behind us, supercharged by the story and its timeliness.

I was very interested in PIPPI’s intense psychological elements. I wanted to explore how Pippi Longstocking had been burned into the mind’s eye of both Jessa and her mother. This heroine lived in their psyches, the way that dominant culture so often does. The media and icons we consume as children stay with us and become baked into our consciousness. When discussing the tone of our film, Karoline often had instincts toward objectivity, an observer looking in, wanting to treat the story as an “every(wo)man” narrative. I tended towards the more experiential, wanting the camera to be the character’s eyes trying to understand the characters’ experiences. (Re)watching the original Swedish TV show became a guidepost. Although its main aesthetic is observational, there are moments when the camera enters Pippi’s POV. We were inspired by this stylistic blending, which has contributed to the off-kilter nature and dynamic tension. We’ve leaned into this discomfort, creating a viewing experience that not only reflects the process of racial reckoning but also hints at the nature of transformation itself.

**Please see our EPK which gives important insight into the film and features a conversation between us about PIPPI. **