Director: Rachel Harrison Gordon
United States, 2020, 10 min
Genres:Drama, African-American, Religion/Spirituality
Cast:Indigo Hubbard-Salk, Chad L. Coleman, Jari Jones, Mel House, Bill Aiken
Crew:Writer: Rachel Harrison Gordon. Producers: Rachel Harrison Gordon, Alon Gur.
Birdie, a biracial girl raised by her Jewish mom, spends a rare visitation day with her father while preparing for her Bat Mitzvah. They share a meal, she overcomes her doubts, and decides to risk inviting him back into her life. Birdie confronts what independence means as she steps into adulthood on her own terms.
About the director
Rachel is an MFA/MBA candidate at NYU Tisch/Stern and a Sundance 2020 Blackhouse Fellow. Rachel's interest in storytelling evolved through pursuits of perspectives in journalism and in government. She has studied people through quantitative behavioral data and through their stories, and hopes to create features, commercials and music videos that highlight the different ways people come of age and find their own stories and passions.
Prior to NYU, she served as a Presidential Innovation Fellow for the Obama Administration, focusing on Veterans and their experience returning home. She worked as a data analyst within a consumer insights group at The New York Times, analyzing how people across the world engage with news platforms. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering, where she studied Mechanical Engineering.
Broken Bird is her first film.
The title of Broken Bird critiques a harsh label often applied to people in situations like Birdie: the daughter of divorced parents affected by substance use, confused about where she fits in racially and spiritually. I remember hearing whispers of my "broken" home and internalizing it to mean I was different. Despite the film's events, the characters' stories are not ones of defeat. I hope this film shows the benefits of celebrating the complexities of people.
This story is semi-autobiographical, and aims to capture some of the isolation I felt growing up as a Black and Jewish girl – at Temple, with other Black people, at my mostly-White school, with my hair. The dress Birdie wears is the one I wore, and we worked with my real Cantor and performed the scene at the Temple where I had my Bat Mitzvah. It was a cathartic experience reentering a place with a history of conflicted feelings, about to do something new that I already loved. The actor playing Birdie, Indigo Hubbard-Salk, mentioned that the role and conversations with participants on set, including my mom and Cantor, inspired her decision to have her own Bat Mitzvah. I hope I can be like Birdie and walk into each new chapter of my life as gracefully full of self-confidence as she does.