The Global Search for Education: Director Grace Goen’s 2018 Pandemic Was Unseen
This month audiences can screen Unseen, curated by NFFTY for the Planet Classroom Network.
Written in 2018 and Directed by Grace Goen, Unseen imagines a different type of pandemic. Nicolas lives in the midst of a pandemic caused by a deadly virus transmitted through eye contact. With a baby on the way, his fears of infecting his wife Claire rise. He must decide whether it is worth the risk to be with his loved ones or ensure their safety by abandoning them.
Originally from San Antonio, Texas, Grace started as a self-taught photographer. From a young age, she always had a camera in hand, learning from her father, a photojournalist. In high school, she turned her love for visuals into creating films.
The Global Search for Education is pleased to welcome Grace Goen.
How did you come to the idea of an ocular pandemic? What inspired your story?
At the time, I was in school and taking public transit for two hours a day at minimum. It became apparent that people will avoid eye contact at all costs. Either because they aren’t interested or they’re so uncomfortable by a situation happening so close to them, it’s easier to ignore it. This left me with a thought: what would society look like if we could never make eye contact? How would that affect our humanity?
We’ve learned in the past 2 years that anything can happen! What are your intended parallels between this pandemic and the tangible one outside our doors?
No intended parallels; I wrote this back in 2018 and finished it in 2019. I had no idea what was coming! From my personal experience with the pandemic, I think a lot of kindness and compassion have been lost with so much self isolation. Everyone needs more and has less to give with all of the stressors in these times.
Do you consider the ending to be a meaningful act of extreme loyalty or a horrific representation of the character’s self worth by the end of the film?
In a way both are true, Nicolas chooses his family. He’s been backed into a corner and this is the only way to remain in their lives. If he didn’t go through with it, the authorities would have taken him. This way he can protect his family and be there for them in some capacity.
At the end of the movie, the disease is transferable — even without eyes. This implies that the disease is carried even deeper than surface level organs. Again, what is the intended implication here?
My intention in writing it was that Nicolas had given it to Claire before he knew he had it at all, and sadly all of his fighting was for nothing.
What are you working on now?
I just finished shooting another sci-fi, Cost To Life, which will be coming out this summer. The theme explores the topics of science for profit, and the need for separation of media and state as it pertains to the future of genetic modification.
Summary: Taking place in the near future, the story follows Roman, the first-ever fully genetically modified human as she addresses the media and donors attending a government-run fundraiser. Instead of sticking to her approved speech, Roman speaks out about the government’s wrongdoings and the media’s hand in convincing the general public of falsehoods in safety, and the need for gene modification in vain of turning profit.
I will be sharing project updates on Instagram.
Thank you Grace!
C M Rubin and Grace Goen
Don’t miss Unseen, curated by NFFTY, now screening on the Planet Classroom Network.