Private Project

The Fanatics

A journalist desperate to pull her daughter out of deep depression after the cult she was in collapses.

  • Laura Skokan
  • Laura Skokan
  • Shao Chiu Yen
  • Nguyen Phan
  • Shao Chiu Yen
  • Chris Pieper
  • Hannah Kwon
    Key Cast
  • Joyce Hii
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Runtime:
    13 minutes 53 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    April 28, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    5,600 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - San Diego State University
  • San Diego Asian Film Festival - Nov. 2023
Director Biography - Laura Skokan

Laura Skokan is working on her MFA in film and supports herself primarily through teaching screenwriting at the university level. She is a filmmaker, sound designer, playwright, graphic novelist, actor, and developing puppeteer (of the stop-motion, sock, and digital varieties). Laura is the producer and editor of podcasts (Let’s CHAT, Beyond 101, Dan Harmon Uptook Nothing! and Neither Should You), music videos (Marina and the Sock Puppets, Regina Sheeptor Dance Anthems for the 80s), and short films (that she also wrote and directed—Friendshipping, Room 522, Tulle, Radiant). She is the writer of Sundown in the Old West a stop-motion film that is also currently doing its festival run.

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Director Statement

This is, at its heart, a collaborative project between Shao Chiu Yen and me. She specializes in Production Design and was eager to build a set for a house in D.C. in 1999. She called me on board to co-write and direct, but this is her story.

It is based one of her childhood friends in Taiwan, who returned home while being an active member in a cult. She is still in the cult. Her mother navigates it as best she can.
This situation reminded me of what my uncle told me about his decision to leave Iran. That’s his voice in the film, talking about how intellectuals bought into the Ayatollah’s propaganda. And it felt reminiscent of the cultural moment we are currently in, losing loved ones to right-wing indoctrination. Either cutting out people in our lives or turning a blind eye to the terrible parts, making us perhaps a version of ourselves we wish we were not.
For me, this is a ghost story, where the ghost is still alive. Michelle is trying to save a daughter that no longer exists. The expectation that a mother should (and is able to) do whatever it takes to get her daughter back is an impossible task; one that leads only to imperfect solutions.
I’m interested in how progress narratives for women hides dependence. Michelle has a good job, and yet, the things that give her a sense of control come from her marriage and her role as a mother. And these things are not stable. The question for Michelle is who is she when these identities are stripped away.