Experiencing Interruptions?

Unboxing

An abstract short documentary attempting to locate identity, challenge external temporary forms of being and burn limiting frameworks of the mind in order to redefine the past & create a new all-encompassing harmonic self.

  • Ash Verwiel
    Director
    Heart Whispers
  • Ash Verwiel
    Writer
    Heart Whispers
  • Ash Verwiel
    Producer
    Heart Whispers
  • Ash Verwiel
    Key Cast
    Heart Whispers
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Short, Student, Web / New Media
  • Genres:
    Documentary, experimental, short, drama, LGBTQ, LGBT, indie, queer, independent, student
  • Runtime:
    8 minutes 33 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 17, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    0 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    Netherlands, United States
  • Language:
    Dutch, English
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    Yes
  • Student Project:
    Yes - San Francisco State University
  • Beyond the Curve International Film Festival
    Paris
    France
    August 26, 2021
    European Premiere
    Best Queer Narrative
  • London International Web & Shorts Film Festival (UK)
    London
    United Kingdom
    September 6, 2021
    Selection
  • Seattle Queer Film Festival
    Seattle
    United States
    October 14, 2021
    North American Premiere
    Selection
  • San Francisco Transgender Film Festival
    San Francisco
    United States
    November 11, 2021
    Official Selection
Distribution Information
  • Argo
    Distributor
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: Internet, Video on Demand, Pay Per View, Free TV, Paid TV, Console / Handheld Device
Director Biography - Ash Verwiel

Ash Verwiel is a trans & queer filmmaker from the Netherlands, currently operating from San Francisco. He recently received his BA in Cinema from San Francisco State University, where he works as an audiovisual engineer. His often reflexive work focuses on documentary and experimental film that attempts to traverse obscurities of the human condition, in order to reshape frameworks created by the mind.

SFSU's Queer Cinema Project supports creators of LGBTQ+ film through the annual Barbara Hammer Award, which Ash won in 2019. Recently circulating the queer festival circuit,  Heart Whispers (2020), explores his journey through adolescence, developing his own voice and struggling to belong as a trans man. Verwiel often excavates such topics of identity, rebirth and self-alignment.

In May of 2021, Ash was granted the Marcus Culminating Funds by SFSU, towards completion & distribution of his next film - coming soon.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

"Unboxing" is a sequel to "Heart Whispers" and will serve as the second piece to a documentary trilogy about queer identity.

The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed me to sort through a large amount of footage I have collected over the years. I’ve used film as artistic therapy, to reflect on my identity and the identity of human beings as a whole. Being in quarantine provided me constant access to myself as a subject.

Before transitioning, I was utterly blind to the reality and actual potential this world holds. I lived in isolation for a long time, waiting to be in a position to turn my entire life around, move across the globe and start over. Heart Whispers takes place within this isolation for most of the film, hearing my voice in constant search of home. In a world where my future body once existed in my imagination only, I show how I manifested myself to life. This first film in the trilogy paints a simple picture that change is possible; that change is inevitable. Once you learn to accept yourself, home becomes a place you carry within.

Subsequently, Unboxing is an observational experimental documentary that begs the ever-provoking question: Where do we exist? Where does identity live? Where is our history if our physical history doesn't feel real? The box of old memories I go through in this film is a symbol of entrapment; the objects within representing different selves. The film unpacks internal feelings of disconnection from the past, assigned roles of self and external labeling. I have slightly anthropomorphized the box, exerting its will; closing in on me, as a way to convey how I envision the universe always pushing towards healing.

This film plays with framed imagery and ultimately destroys these frames, corners, boxes and other visual representations of isolation. Using steel molding archival footage and circuit boards burning to materialize the destruction of being defined. All other footage was originally shot by me and most sound design was created by my voice. I’ve also scattered written journal entries throughout the film, all in attempt to use such visual and aural abstractions to communicate obscured emotion to the audience.

This unpacking of hegemonic ideas and definitions sheds light on how being boxed into a role limits our ultimate potential & multi-versed layers of being. I want to encourage this process of abolishing, unlearning and reframing ways to view our past experiences and ultimately, our lives; the lives of people who have been hurt and trapped by the system into a story that was never theirs.