Director Statement: I remember seeing the news about the Heaven’s Gate cult on TV one morning as a kid before my mother woke up. It scared me to think that all of these grown-ups had killed themselves because they believed aliens would catch their souls after they’d left their bodies. Adults were supposed to be rational. I didn’t understand why at the time, but I believe this alarmed me so much because I was in the process of losing my father to an extremist religious group. He had always been a devout Catholic but, incrementally, he fell in more and more with a sect of fundamentalist Christians who attempted to separate me from the rest of my family. Specifically, they tried to convince me that my mother and sister were in league with the devil for divorcing my father. I haven’t spoken to my dad in seventeen years and I don’t know if he is, in fact, still alive. But I have thought a great deal about his mental state and developed a certain kind of sympathy for him. Through writing and directing this film, I’ve come to understand how isolated someone would have to feel in order to join a cult. I think my father felt profoundly alone.
Displaced itself emerged from a SeedandSpark.com contest called Communal Nightmares, which sought to help horror features dealing with social justice topics find funding. I realized that gentrification was a great theme because it would require us to cast lead actors of not one or two, but of four different racial backgrounds. Plus I wanted to create opportunities for my diverse circle of friends. The title refers not only to the displacement urban gentrification causes, but also to the sense of isolation our protagonist feels without the cult he grew up in. He didn’t register his cult’s practices as abusive because they were all he ever knew. Now, as a grown man, he struggles to reconcile how much that abuse felt like safety.
On a more personal and political note, I found the courage to ask for the help and money to make this film by learning from politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders. Their pleas for economic and social justice caused me to question why I believed that I couldn’t be a filmmaker simply because I wasn’t born a millionaire. When did I consent to not pursuing my goals because of my class? Well, it turns out I never did and now, after two years of sometimes embarrassing levels of hustling, I’ve made the film I needed to make. And I feel great! I hope that I can be that kind of influence to someone struggling within their own circumstances one day.