follows a young couple as they go through processing a cancer diagnosis. Directed by Atlantan Robyn Hicks and edited by her husband Jonathan, whose real-life cancer diagnosis inspired the film. Though it’s a drama about illness, there are moments of levity,
a great soundtrack, and excellent performances by Kate Kovach (the girlfriend), Weston Manders (the boyfriend) and Barry Anbinder (the doctor). Moving beyond disease, the short film explores questions that come with all young-adult relationships: What are we doing together? Where is this going? Can I be without you?
The couple says that Jonathan’s diagnosis has pushed them to accomplish more in the past three years than they would have otherwise. This is their second short film together, and post Que Sera
, they’ve already completed filming another short. Robyn is also a member of the Atlanta chapter of Film Fatales
, an organization uniting women filmmakers throughout the world. Here, Robyn and Jonathan discuss Que Sera
, living with cancer as a young couple, and empowering women through film.
You and Jonathan have made another movie about cancer together, Nirvana: A Short Film About Cancer. This time you were the director and writer. What else is different about Que Sera?
Well with Nirvana
, Jon directed that one and that was very much coming from his perspective as the person who was going through the diagnosis. Que Sera
is more narrative than Nirvana
and it really dives into the relationship between a couple and how the cancer diagnosis can affect both of them: the patient and also the caregiver. How it can tear them apart but also bring them together in a lighthearted kind of way.
Dealing with cancer is extremely difficult. It’s something that no one really knows how to deal with until it happens to them. Not to mention the fact that when Jonathan got diagnosed you were both in your 20s. Can you talk a little bit about that experience?
You’re definitely right, nobody really knows how to deal with cancer. Even though we’ve been dealing with it for the past three years I still don’t know how to tell somebody to deal with it. My best advice is to just get through each day and in some way find something to be happy about. So I thought that that was really important. A lot of times when you see films about illness, they’re afraid to dive into the ugliness in it. So it was important for me to show two aspects: the ugliness and the despair. And also, in the moment in the film when the couple comes together, they kind of forget about the diagnosis and live life.
In your twenties, life is so much about planning what comes next. But, with a diagnosis, you’re forced to just stop and be thankful for what you have, as opposed to planning for the future so much.
And truly, I mean not just in the short film Que Sera
but in real life with Robyn and myself, we initially thought that the diagnosis of cancer would end everything. We were just gonna have to give up all of our dreams. But in actuality, this cancer has inspired us and fueled us and we’ve prevailed beyond it and we’ve actually accomplished more since the diagnosis than we had prior to. So it’s made us appreciate the importance of the moment and we’ve not let anything slip beyond us like we had before. You know [before] we were thinking, “Oh that can wait till tomorrow.” [Now] we’d do it today.
Absolutely, I totally agree with him. We were filmmakers before this happened. So as an artist you take whatever life gives you, and in this example it’s so extreme, but as filmmakers we took it and we did the only thing that we know how to do with it: infusing it into our creativity in hopes that it could touch other people who have experienced something similar.
It made us stop worrying so much about success and just focus on the work and our dreams and our passions. I mean, I went back to graduate school after his diagnosis, something that I had always kind of put off, but it kind of forced me to realize that life is short, there’s a lot of ups and downs, and you just have to do what makes you happy.