My Name is ‘A’ by Anonymous Dir. Shane Ryan

[Mad Sin Cinema; 2012]

Styles: art film, horror, exploitation?
Others: Amateur Porn Star Killer, Van Sant’s Death Trilogy

Scattered Thoughts, Neither Advocacy Nor Opposition

Alyssa: Fifteen-year old Alyssa Bustamante murdered her 9-year old neighbor Elizabeth Olten in 2009, and is currently in prison serving a life sentence.

Amateur Porn Star Killer: fake snuff film depicting the rape and murder of a minor, directed by Shane Ryan; plotted and titled so to ensure the film would receive attention and publicity.

anonymity: Avoiding eye contact, walking with your hands in your pockets, quiet murmurs of apology for slight grievances; alternately, loud and brash, tormentor (internet).

art film: Four actresses portray different aspects or sides of Alyssa. Because art films aim to transcend entertainment, they may not appeal to most audiences and are therefore much more difficult to market than films with “porn” or “killer” in the title.

bulimia: A collection of mason jars; contents indecipherable, warmed to body temperature. Why fill them? Why keep them?

bully: One of the ways I coped with bullying was revenge fantasies, the most ultimate of which ended in murder. The film was originally titled The Columbine Effect.

comfort level: “There needs to be films out there that remind people how ugly crime, murder, and all of these things are.” —Shane Ryan; do not avert your eyes, swallow the vomit.

cutting: Each edit or cut destroys a moment, damning reality; each cut or scar preserves a moment, immortalizing pain.

Damiano, Alex (“the angst”): I hope you’re doing better, Alex. I wish you the best.

Dolnikova, Teona (“the performer”): What does the appearance of a Russian pop star have to say about the nature of creating a public persona as a teenager? Is her narrative caregiver or predator?

depression: “Please say something even if its just OK, or, fine, or you piss me off.”

exploitation film: August Underground, Guinea Pig: Devil’s Experiment, The Human Centipede, Amateur Porn Star Killer?

horror film: designed to induce negative emotions and often focusing on the unseen or unmentioned; though typically associated with supernatural elements, this association is neither exclusive nor necessary.

improvisation: Child actors provide dull, repetitive and annoying dialogue, overusing the word “skank”; these teenagers sound like teenagers.

incest: (something)

Marsh, Katie (“Alyssa”): Perhaps the most important portrayal of Alyssa in the film to Ryan. She is vulgar, abrasive, and loud, but ultimately harmless (except to herself).

medicated: The hand sanitizer cleans, but I don’t feel clean. I think it’s the absence of water.

money: “But even though my budgets averaged a laughable miniscule thirty bucks or so per film… I only received money from two of them and it wasn’t even enough to cover all of the promotional materials and screeners and festivals I entered, etc., so I still have never turned a profit, or made a single cent. So no, in the end it isn’t a living, but a slow death.” —director Shane Ryan

“Pop! Goes the Weasel”: jack-in-the-box, childhood, anticipation, surprise, stress; alternately, predictability.

pop music: children, teens, tweens, Teona Dolnikova; “pop” is short for popular, popular kids do not get bullied?

pretension: Titling a film review “Scattered Thoughts…”

rape: Lucretia of the Roman Republic; no no no no.

rating system: Arbitrary; art/entertainment cannot be defined by a numerical scale; subjectivism; how do you rate something that you do not know how to engage with?

responsibility: Bullshit concept that shifts the blame of a film’s contents onto the shoulders of the filmmakers; frequently implies that the ideas within a film are the filmmakers’ own and assumes the themes explored are also supported.

Ryan, Shane: Director/writer/editor; his own history involves cutting and being arrested as a teenager for a crime involving a child (he was never convicted); in Alyssa he saw a misunderstood teenager, possibly innocent.

self-harm: I saw one of my best friends in Target the day after watching this film. He pulled back his shirtsleeve, revealing a series of latticed marks on his forearm. I instructed him to seek help and medical attention, and talked to him later that night. But despite my own history of depression and self-harm, I still do not know how to talk to even my best friends about these things.

shock value: Does including real depictions of self-harm within a film damn it to the excesses of luridness and exploitation? Does advertising that fact in the press notes?

sincerity: Versus exploitation; Asa Carter and The Education of Little Tree

teenager: Deaf, dumb, and blind to the world; Clearasil; anger; façade; Tommy can you hear me?

thought-provoking: Phrase for when a piece of work/art/culture is more interesting to talk about than it is to consume.

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