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Split Ends

From the festering wound of an impulsive decision is born Isa's fear that her abuela is forgetting her. Any twenty-something could tell you they’ve chopped off their hair as a means of regaining agency in uncertain times. Instant regret: what if this exacerbates her abuela’s dementia? Instant defiance: her mother's disapproving opinion is unwelcome. The harder Isa bites down on the spot of her tongue that tastes like remorse, the more decapitated hair crawls up her drain pipes; a manifestation of her complex anticipatory grief. No choice but to confront it. This horror is a commentary on Latinx beauty standards––especially ones that concern women's hair and are perpetuated by mothers.

  • Cookie Estés
  • Cookie Estés
  • Jennifer King
  • April Acevedo
  • Deisy Gomez
    1st Assistant Director
  • Evita Ortega
    2nd Assistant Director
  • Molly Hernández
    Key Cast
  • Daniella Pereira
    Key Cast
  • Nicholas Emmanuele
    Director of Photography
  • Miles Andersen
    1st Assistant Camera
  • Jaxi Alegría
  • Maddie Dodge
  • Caymen Sheets
    Production Designer
  • Sarah Whitcomb
    Intimacy Coordinator
  • Brad Brewington
    Production Sound Mixer
  • Cookie Estés
  • Olivia Reid
    Assistant Editor
  • Sam Howells
  • Gabby Henderson
    Post-Production Sound Mixer
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Genres:
    family drama, psychological horror
  • Runtime:
    10 minutes 17 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    October 10, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    1,100 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English, Spanish
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - DePaul University
Director Biography - Cookie Estés

Migraineur, detail concerned, and lover of space (both negative and outer) Cookie Estés is a Cuban-American filmmaker and editor from Chicago. Estés’ work often explores mother-daughter relationships with tenderness and a dash of magical realism. Since graduating from DePaul University’s School of Cinematic Arts in 2020, this storyteller has been freelance editing, reviewing films for festivals, and, when the mood strikes, running off to the Smoky Mountains to write original screenplays off the grid.

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Director Statement

Remembering, and being remembered. Split Ends, in all of the varying shapes and forms it’s taken on, was the buttress that sustained me during a grieving period. I wrote the first draft of the screenplay for a class final when my Abuelita still remembered my name most days. I took the project on as an independent study and flung myself into production when she was no longer able to feed herself. It was during the post-production process, sometime after the jump cut decision but before the opening song had been written, that she passed. I delicately prepared this deeply personal short to horrify you a little bit, to pinch you in the place where it hurts to lose a loved one to dementia. The protagonist is forced to look grief dead in the eye as its manifestation, her disembodied hair, threatens her life. Hair and grief are alike in that way, demanding to be acknowledged in order to be let go. Alongside, in spite of, and/or because of this project, I learned that grief is just love that believes it has no place to go. This happy ending, frozen in time, was where I outpoured my love.