“Dear Stranger,” is about a fiery young girl who has grown up in a very isolated, controlling and bland environment. To cope with her lack of independence, Viera develops a friendship with a unlikely pen pal - a prisoner serving a life sentence for murder.
We feel that this is a story that many can relate to as it is a love letter to your adolescence and to ours. This is a story for anyone who has wanted to break free, to explore their youth, to rebel, and to be understood inside and out. I feel that at some point in our lives we have all been faced with some kind of oppression, be it from financial situations, family, significant others, occupations or even ourselves. We want this film to relate not just to girls on a quest towards independence but to everyone in search of someone to go through life with.
We also believe that prisoners and their families are incredibly underrepresented in art and in media. We actually just read that 1 in 14 children have a parent who is in jail. This is a huge population that will grow up in a place where their parents are always going to be portrayed as evil or problematic. We want to break the stereotype that comes with portraying criminals and instead show the challenges they face and their growth in becoming a good person.
The Team behind Dear Stranger seeks to empower young girls and change how females are depicted in cinema. By creating a strong and ruthless main character, Viera, we hope to tell a coming of age story that is more relatable and unique to what movies have explored in the past.
The story will be told through secret letters between Viera and Mr. Unger, a mysterious prisoner that mentors Viera through her troubled life at home. This relationship will change how they both handle their isolation in ways never imagined.
As a storyteller Matilda Gala is interested in the journey we embark on in our youth to gather ourselves and to connect to others. She is also interested in atypical relationships and the chemistry that arises when perspectives and pasts collide to reveal the beauty in our differences.
Dear Stranger is Matilda’s NYU senior thesis film set to begin production in late April. She hopes to use this project to explore and experiment on how we express and discover ourselves in adolescence using animation, lighting effects, and personal references.