A New Tomorrow (2022)
13 min | English | Producer: John Fuentes Director: Lea Pfandler
Just when a young urban couple decides to extend their family, their plans get interrupted by a quintessential decision that will challenge their love for one another.
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As excited as I was to direct this beautiful story when my dear friend John approached me, I was also nervous. How could I, a European female from Switzerland, tell this story that’s so personal to John and his childhood growing up in the Bronx? How could I make justice to what drew John to write this film when I grew up so very differently from him? John had faith in me. And that faith and trust gave me the confidence to direct his script. It is what I love about human connections, and specifically about our collaboration and friendship: despite our different backgrounds, upbringings, and worlds, we share a connection from the heart, and we share the same passion and love for storytelling, the need to spread empathy with our stories, the longing for inclusion, to share experiences, the need for our voices to be heard.
I would direct this film and I wanted both to stay true to John’s ideas and add my personal vision. It was my mission to touch the viewer’s hearts when they watch this film, to feel for these two characters, to understand them both. To me, it is a story about love, struggle, and heartbreak. What ones upbringing and surroundings might compel one to do because there might not be another option in sight. It displays human choice and the chance to grow and move on. But there is also hope and the choice to choose hope and move on, and to not become the burden of one’s upbringing. The choice to make the decision to rise above. That there is always a new tomorrow.
Working with visuals, sounds, and original music, metaphors and colors, or the absence of such, was a choice to let the viewers dive into the story and lives of these two in a very visceral and visual way. To let the visuals work into the viewer's hearts, to let them tell a story, Dom and Jessie's story. Working with these two phenomenal actors was very special to me. Not only do we all share a deep friendship, but the commitment of the two was outstanding. They gave their all to make these characters come to life, believable, and moving. It was a very humbling experience for me to have John's faith and trust in me to tell his story and make his script come to life.
Some of the challenges making this film included that there was zero budget, so we had to all pull together to tell this story. We managed to tell this story with only two people for crew plus the two actors.
With John and Niki being musicians and singer songwriters as well, we could even make our own soundtrack. A process I absolutely cherished and hold dear to my heart, as it made this film this much more personal and special.
Empathy can change minds and perspectives. It was my mission with A New Tomorrow to spread empathy rather than judgment, to share that we are all not so different from each other in the end. We all want something out of life, we all have our goals and ambitions, we are all seeking love and to be loved. And we all have to make hard decisions at times. To tell a human story was what inspired me to direct this urban drama. I felt compelled to show this couple’s life and choices through a lens of empathy and understanding, to display their human feelings and struggles, something we can all relate to. Because the key to acceptance and inclusion, in my opinion, is empathy.