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Friday, July 19 Living

Weston native screens independent, autobiographical film at Garden Cinemas

Love stories are no strangers to the cinema, after all, the search for love drives entire genres of film.

Weston’s Ann Lupo wrote, directed and starred in her autobiographical independent film “In Reality” as she dealt with rejection from a one-sided love affair. Lupo will screen her deeply relatable film in the same theater where she watched indie films growing up, Garden Cinemas in Norwalk, on Monday.

“In Reality” is a film that follows Lupo’s character Ann as she goes through the typical motions of a millennial’s search for love; one-night stands and a friends-with-benefits situation fail to sate her character’s desire for a true love. Until a relative sets her up with Ryan and she falls in love, only to have her heart broken when he decides he wants to be “just friends” with her.

It’s a scenario most people can relate to, the self-loathing spiral and naive optimism that the desired person will change their mind and decide, that yes, he/she/they love you back.

Lupo describes her film as “an autobiographical investigation of a relationship that I went through that basically takes you on a roller coaster through my mind as I unravel love and romance and relationships.” She added that she thinks the relatability of rejection is one of the film’s strengths.

As Lupo tells the story of her own attempt to understand what happened or what went wrong with her almost love story, she provides the audience with a glimpse into not just her experience but into her psyche as the scenes play out the vivid daydreams she had as she progresses from the sanguine infatuation to the crushing reality that her feelings are unrequited. The film features whimsical scenes with alternative scenarios, stop-motion journaling and even a musical number.

Holly Meehl, of Redding, produced the film with Lupo and says she’s excited to be screening “In Reality” in Connecticut after wrapping up the movie’s run on the festival circuit, where it garnered several awards. Meehl worked on the project with Lupo, which originally began as a 10- minute short film that grew into a web series before evolving into a feature film after getting $45,000 in funding through Kickstarter.

“Ann is an amazing, amazing creator, the way she goes into her fantasies and whimsical worlds that she actually does imagine and that we were able to recreate in the film also makes it really, really special,” Meehl says.

Lupo says the working on the film taught her a great deal about herself and what she’s capable of as a person and as a creator.

“Oh my God, I learned oh so many things, it’s hard to nail it down to one thing. I started at the beginning to see if I could change my mind about how I was seeing things and what was causing me to go into an obsessive downward spiral after a very average, normal breakup. Ultimately it really taught me what I need to do to be healthy and how to take better care of myself. As far as love and relationships it’s still perplexing, there’s no [way] to really get to the bottom of when it comes to those things, humans are really complicated. I think that’s a life long learning experience,” she said. “This movie has really allowed me to explore and stretch my creative muscles in a lot of ways.”

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She also adds that exploring the relationship that inspired her film helped her discover the need to balance the elements of fantasy and reality in her mind. “You have to fantasize and you have to have an imagination and you have to be able to dream of wonderful things but it’s also important when to let those things go and to bring yourself back to reality.”

It was this understanding that inspired the film’s title, “In Reality.”

Both Lupo and Meehl will be at the screening with one of the actors from the film, Jill Eikenberry, for a Q&A. Meehl noted that “In Reality” had its digital on demand release on April 2, but she hopes people will come out to Norwalk to see the film on the big screen.

When asked what they want audiences to take away from the film, Meehl said she hopes viewers will feel less alone, while Lupo said she would like people to feel validated and heard by her film.

For more information about “In Reality” and the screening visit inrealityfilm.com.

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