The Importance of Gummi Bear and Her Weight on Me with Producer Rebecca Shuhan Lou

(RJ and Rebecca at the American Black Film Festival)

Filmmakers are entertainers but can also be artists driven by purpose. They are much more than social barometers; they can be a compass for the people. Displaying stories in a manner that allows an audience to touch upon the emotions and experiences of those completely different from them (or the same), filmmakers can achieve something that almost no other group can, the transference of empathy. Producer Rebecca Shuhan Lou takes this charge seriously. An artist at heart, she exhibits the passion inherent in this title through her work in films like Gummi Bear. In spite of its sweet title, this film explores the difficulty of two young minority siblings in America. Though Rebecca may not be visible on the screen, the very DNA of her approach to the story is found in every facet of this award-winning production.

The work of a truly committed and exceptional producer is exhausting to say the least. Rebecca’s work on Gummi Bear began with the inception of the film and continued through virtually every aspect from scheduling, cast auditions, principal photography, and on to edits and screenings. One might wonder what type of person would take on such a completely enveloping vocation; the answer is Rebecca Shuhan Lou. Her approach checks all of the boxes: creative, highly detailed, staunch work ethic, but most important to her is giving a voice to a statement that needs to be made. This applies to the public “we” as much as a personal “I” for Rebecca. She refers to her own unrelenting adolescent fear that drove her to speak her mind and overcome the challenges of scoliosis; instilled by her own parents and ironically rooted in their love for her. This would unearth itself in her film project Her Weight on Me. As producer of the film Gummi Bear, Rebecca explored a more general social context. She communicates, “We live in a conflicting world where society has put a very high standard and competitive environment on raising a child with expensive education fees and extracurricular activities so much so that many families are financially concerned to raise a child. Whereas, on the other hand, young parents are struggling to provide for their children that they have no emotional capacity to be present with their children in their daily life. Lack of emotional capacity, anxiety and depression all masked by toxic masculinity passing on from one generation to the next.”

Gummi Bear is a tale of two siblings who come to the understanding of just how autonomous they are due to the systems of disempowerment created by cycles of toxic masculinity perpetuated via forces outside and inside of the Black community on a daily basis. An Official Selection of the Oscar-qualifying Run&Shoot Filmworks Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival (Dukes County, MA) and a number of US film festivals, Gummi Bear also received international recognition as an Official Selection of the Rapport Festival (London, UK) and Africa International Film Festival (Lagos, Nigeria), among others. Numerous awards vetted the exceptional skill of those behind the film including Best Cinematography and Best Editing at the Milestone Worldwide Film Festival (Battipaglia, Italy), Best short film and Best actor at Victory International Film Festival (Evansville, IN), and Best Editing at Aura View Film Fest (Battipaglia, Italy). The story is told through the eyes of brother and sister Terence and Teresa. The core of the story focuses on a cycle that their young father Jarrod hopes to break but seems almost destined to pass onto the next generation.

While the culture may be different in the film Her Weight on Me, the premise of parental influence is still dominant. The story centers around a Chinese-American teenager crumbling under her parents’ toxic love and traditional values, a downward spiral that also leads to her first taste of sexual freedom. A Nicholl Fellowship semi-finalist as well as a finalist in the BlueCat Screenplay Competition, Her Weight on Me is an examination of abusive manipulative relationships within the family unit which are often perpetrated in the name of love. It shows the struggle of Hanna and how her father [Joel], the epitome of patriarchy, seems to support women in changing their circumstances while at the same time installing a mental jail of shame and inferiority. Joel has gone one step further by recruiting Hanna’s mother into his patriarchal view and manipulating her insecurity to constantly make her fearful of Hanna’s future. Instead of empowering the women, he abuses his power to instil fear in them.

The intensity Rebecca feels as a filmmaker, producing and even co-writing Her Weight on Me, is undeniable when watching her films. Director/Writer-R.J. Dawson of Gummi Bear confirms, “The reason I teamed with Rebecca was because of the passion and intent she put into nurturing the relationships of the team around her. Her ideology about making a film being like a relationship and a family really drew me to her and it was that care that we were able to accomplish what we did with our film.” Whether she’s post on Chinese Social Media to build awareness of her films or deeply mired in the day to day of keeping her team on-point, Rebecca Shuhan Lou proves herself much more than a filmmaker who seeks public notoriety; she deeply wants to make a difference.



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Kelly King

An LA based writer with more than a decade as a staff writer for NYC based Drumhead magazine, Kelly is also a contributor to a number of outlets.