Directed by Myra Aquino
USA | 9:30 min
A former cop works in purgatory and processes people going to heaven and hell. One day, his 20-year-old son appears.
The Gray is a short film about the value of sacrifice, and the limitations of using a moral scale to judge the actions of human beings. I was raised in a Catholic family, and attended Catholic school in the predominantly Catholic island of Guam. Even though I’m no longer as devout as I used to be, I often find myself still beholden to a high moral standard and am ridden with guilt if I don’t uphold myself to it. Moreover, as a daughter of Filipino immigrant parents, I grew up inheriting a narrative of struggle and survival, where the greatest joy and solace can be found in the greatest sacrifice. With The Gray, I wanted to create a DMV-like environment and a diverse cast of people whose inherent value as human beings could not be judged by the sliding scale of traditional morality. I wanted to show that the idea of purgatory (and a place where we will be judged in the afterlife) is an impossible project; our persistence in pursuing morality for the sake of being “saved” is imperfect and quixotic, and therefore comedic. At the climax, Perez breaks out of this moral system and chooses for his son to live a longer life on Earth, even if it means that he’ll spend the rest of eternity in hell. In the end, Perez’s actions are judged to be “good”, underscoring my belief that human beings are complex and deserve to be deeply understood before any judgments can be made.
Myra Aquino is a writer-director who was raised both in Guam and in the Philippines. An insatiable learner with a love for both the arts and the sciences, she enjoys exploring complex moral dilemmas through high-concept stories. Her work has been supported by the Delia Salvi Memorial Award, the Caucus Foundation, UCLA Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship, Sony Streisand Fellowship, and the Norris Fellowship. Prior to graduating from UCLA’s MFA Directing program, Myra received her MD and public health degree from the University of Miami.