Many people still refuse to accept the new realities that COVID-19 has brought. Some take this time as a pause in their lives, who hope to “get back to normal.” But what is normal?
New York Film Academy graduate professional actor Dr. Ariel Orama López reflects on how fleeting life is in his new short film, 2ḦOOM [zu: m]. Together with Jorge Cáceres, Daniele Carretta, Jonathan Cardenales, and Koralys Meléndez, Ariel has created an almost magical experience for an audience that faces these same challenges on a daily basis.
Beyond awards and laurels (which he has already received in large numbers), the value of 2ḦOOM [zu: m] is measured by its excellent pool of international artists. Ariel and his team have managed to show humanity’s current vulnerability with a mirror through a process full of obstacles.
What is 2ḦOOM [zu: m] about?
2ḦOOM [zu: m] is a short film that was made in total confinement. It deals precisely with two brothers who couldn’t see each other during all of this…well, all this that we are experiencing, and they took advantage of the platform to discuss pending issues from many years ago. They hadn’t seen each other in a while, so they had a lot to talk about.
What motivated you to make this short film?
2ḦOOM [zu: m] was born precisely in the middle of the pandemic. One of the loudest words that came out was Zoom. At the academy level, everything was “Let’s use this tool,” and I thought it was great to tell stories that I read on social media — some were really sad and about difficult situations. They could also serve as inspiration for others in terms of two things: The connection with important people in their lives and the connection with the sensitivity of what is happening.
Maybe many people are — thank God — healthy. However, many people are going through difficult times passing since the death of their husband, family member, wife, among other things. So basically, that’s what I wanted to work on.
What were some of the most challenging obstacles you had to navigate?
Among many other things, sometimes I needed specific objects. For example, I wanted a stuffed animal, and Amazon was taking… approximately it was going to arrive in December [laughs]. But yes, being able to create a story that never happened in Zoom, and acting on a platform that we had never used before… combining everything to make it look real in a conversation was very interesting.
The desire to see [2ḦOOM] alive was more important than all those sacrifices that were made. What did it entail? Losing many hours of sleep, because as in any film project, the schedules are different, especially when there are international colleagues. This is another thing that, more than a challenge, was a particular interest of mine – to include voices from Latin America that could contribute. So, at certain times their voices are heard. That was very special to me.
I also wanted to work on the issue of HIV/AIDS. I am an actor but also a psychologist, and I had the opportunity to work with HIV patients many years ago. I wanted to put the life stories in both circumstances into perspective.
What happens when it is now a diagnosis that anyone can have? Not only when we thought about it as a stigma, as it was with HIV/AIDS for many years, even though anyone can also have the condition. I wanted to add this, in addition to the fact that I always found it curious how HIV would help explain conditions like this. And vice versa.
What is the main message you want your audience to take from watching 2ḦOOM [zu: m]?
It’s a great question. I have done several interviews about this short film, and I believe no one has asked me this before. Thank you.
I want people to think about how short life is. We use the metaphor of water. I made a series of previous short films called The Hydrographic Triptych: Cinematography of Water, which includes the One project about Hurricane María. I use the metaphor of water as something that can be, precisely, so short.
It is time to rethink plans and projects, professional and personal changes. I believe that this is a great lesson, beyond life been paused. Whoever thinks that this period is just a break has once again wasted their time. There are many things to do and evolve from this experience.
I think that’s the ultimate lesson: Life is fleeting. We are going to work for those things that are here and now.
Will 2ḦOOM [zu: m] be available to the general public?
For now, the most recent place that will present the short film is the International Puerto Rican Heritage Film Festival in New York. I understand that it will be on the platform so that you can be aware of it. And here in Puerto Rico, it’s also going to be at Fine Arts — a festival. It is supposedly going to be projected for the first time in theaters, so we considered our premiere. We are happy about that!