Two desperate parents search for their missing daughter, Alexia. When they discover a cryptic videotape she left behind, they're drawn into her world of secrets. Their search leads them to Magaly, a friend from school, triggering an unexpected unraveling of truths. As the layers of secrecy peel away, they're confronted with "Why I Hate You" and "Why I Love You," the revealing tapes. With each tape exchange, they confront their pasts, propelling them toward a collision of hidden emotions and unresolved conflicts.

  • César Oyarzabal
  • César Oyarzabal
  • Ellison Mann
  • Chris Zilong Wang
  • Alexia Towle
    Key Cast
  • Oona Yaffe
    Key Cast
  • Ken Driesslein
    Key Cast
    "Mr. Dukowski"
  • Steph Van Vlack
    Key Cast
    "Mrs. Dukowski"
  • Rex Sang
    Director of Photography
  • Ingrid Zhang
    Production Designer
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Genres:
  • Runtime:
    8 minutes 5 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 24, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    3,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - New York University
Director Biography - César Oyarzabal

César Oyarzabal, a young French filmmaker, is a senior undergraduate at NYU Tisch in Film and TV. From an early age, he immersed himself in filmmaking, creating over 30 short films spanning narratives and documentaries. With six years of experience, César has worked in various roles within the industry, honing his skills in writing, editing, and more.

His filmmaking philosophy centers around the idea that compelling stories don't require extravagant equipment; a powerful narrative and genuine emotions transcend technical limitations. César's creative vision explores themes of loss, illusion, secrets, and the impact of hidden truths. Drawing inspiration from diverse influences like Vinterberg’s Festen, Louis Malle's "The Murmur of the Heart," and Sam Mendes' "American Beauty," his style remains versatile and evolving.

Born to cinephile parents, including a stage and screen actor father, César's upbringing between France, China, and the US enriched his cinematic sensibilities. With a passion for storytelling, César Oyarzabal continues to shape his voice in the world of film.

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Director Statement

My biggest fear is to lose my home. Beijing at 9 years old. Chicago at 13. Paris at 15. New York at 18. Now I can feel a ball in my stomach. Yet Alexia departs her home willingly. This film is about facing your fears. Each character embodies a distinct fear that they’re going to confront by the film's close.

In my short existence of 21 years I haven’t gotten to know very many things but I do know romantic relationships at school and difficult marital situations at home. Magaly fears what people will think of her if they know about her gay relationship with Alexia. Mr and Mrs Dukowski fear being alone after 20 years of marriage because they don’t love each other anymore. I have a personal connection to each of these situations which made me want to tell their story.

The foundation of the film germinated from a simple notion: a character perpetually filming with a camcorder. This stemmed from my infatuation with subjective storytelling and Thomas Vinterberg’s influence. I continually experiment with storytelling and coverage techniques to immerse audiences in the protagonist's perspective. Filming with a VHS camcorder is more than an aesthetic choice; it brings the audience closer to Alexia's experience, creating a more immersive viewing.

As a filmmaker, my mission is to delve into characters, but 'Runaway' transformed into something more—a personal odyssey into my own fears, an artistic canvas for my vision, and a voyage into the depths of characters' souls. Like Alexia, I create films with the aim of eliciting an emotional shift within the audience. Just as it did for her parents and her lover, I believe in imbuing my films with a purpose—to resonate, to provoke, and to inspire a transformative connection.