A short film by Zoë Greenbaum

Zoë Greenbaum

Zoë Greenbaum is a visual artist and writer/director working in fine art, manga and comics (in both Japanese and English), screenwriting, and storyboarding. She received a BFA in gag manga (comedy-based comics) from Kyoto Seika University and is pursuing an MA in filmmaking at London Film School.

Zoë’s feature-length screenplay, My World At Night, was among the Top 100 Dramas in 2020’s International Screenwriters’ Association Table Read My Screenplay Contest. Zoë’s recently completed third screenplay, Hanging Gardens of the Sea and Sky, in which a London therapist and his cosmetics executive wife, bound by their shared musical dreams, face their marriage’s greatest challenge: lies invading their private world, was an official selection at Georgia Shorts' 2021, received Honorable Mention at The Art of Brooklyn Film Festival 2021 and was a Quarter-Finalist at Sedona International Film Festival 2021.

Zoë’s paintings and 3D work have been exhibited in galleries in both New York and Kyoto, and she has done illustrations for books, galas, and magazines.

Inevitability, a 23 minute short film, is Zoë's directorial debut received Honorable Mention at the New Wave Short Film Festival in Munich  and premieres at The Art of Brooklyn in June 2021.  

Director’s Statement

If you’re looking for a filmmaker who pours her personal life and experiences onto the screen with abandon, forgive me, but you’ve come to the wrong place. When I wrote Inevitability - a love triangle in which the characters steep themselves in whimsical lies to camouflage their insecurities - my personal relationships were the farthest thing from my mind.

After five years of living in the dreamworld of Kyoto - a land in which time stands still - a return to the West was jarring to say the least. Two short weeks after receiving my degree in gag manga at Kyoto Seika University — where I had fully intended to stay drawing manga for the remainder of my days — I found myself, instead, wandering the streets of London looking for an entree into the British film industry. Broke, isolated, and renting rooms from a suite of increasingly disturbing and disturbed people, I spent the majority of my time looking for ways to not ever have to go back to their homes. Walking from one end of the city to the other (Ah, London! So many beautiful green spaces!), I pounded the pavement, bent beneath the weight of my laptop, and wrote screenplays in parks and cafes until the setting sun made it possible for me to slip into my newest living situation imperceptibly.

Because I’m a New Yorker who came of age in Japan and hasn’t actually lived in the States in almost ten years, my filmmaking is culturally ambiguous. I jokingly refer to Inevitability as “Do the Annie Hall Thing” because there is a level of New Yorker-ism that simply can’t be beaten out of me. And while this is, on one level, a film about 90’s Manhattan, it is also a kind of multi-cultural mélange, written from the perspective of an ex-pat, who just happens to be a manga artist.  In fact, as the film’s editor, Peter Hogenson, noticed, the film often looks physically flat - graphic - as if it were actually a manga and not a movie. Although Éric Rohmer’s films strongly informed  Inevitability’s style, some of my deepest inspirations came from the anime that I loved - Natsuyuki Rendezvous, Kids on the Slope, Nodame Cantabile, The Eccentric Family, The House of Five Leaves - in combination with particuarly British and Irish films like An Awfully Big Adventure, Breakfast on Pluto and Close My Eyes - and the sitcoms that I grew up revering like Mad About You and Waiting for God.

For me, the power of Inevitability is in its mercurial multi-cuturalism, romantic escapism, and what I will call accidental naturalism. I wrote it as a personal escape, yet, mysteriously, it beckoned others in. Each of my collaborators told stories about how Inevitability related to some aspect of their lives. Between the full moon, dancing, the fantastic jazz fusion of Rob Sbar, and the baroque paintings and sculptures of Joelle Shefts, Inevitability offers a fantasy removed just far enough from the familiar world of tales of lost love to allow us to laugh. The stars, Michelle Redman, Sonnei Garces, and Kassime Fofana, elevated the material beyond my imagination with almost surreal beauty.

I am, as I’m sure you will be, forever grateful for their extraordinarily authentic performances, the kinds of performances that are unique to actors who themselves have a surplus of stories to tell.

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