Wanting to be beautiful and to stay youthful is not a new phenomenon.
It’s stayed prevalent through decades with the elusive Fountain of Youth to Oscar Wilde’s “Dorian Gray” to Disney’s “Tangled,” the modern version of Rapunzel.
And now, it’s reached the Coronado Island Film Festival through Rachel Hroncich’s rendering of this idea with her short “Beauty is Bliss.”
Without giving away everything (you’ll just have to wait to watch its premiere at CIFF Nov. 8-12), it follows the short story of two middle-aged women who get caught up in the whirlwind of staying young and being beautiful, not realizing the effects this has on their lives.
“Beauty is Bliss” is showing at 10 a.m. in the Winn Room at the Coronado Public Library on Nov. 9 as part of five other shorts in the local spotlight series.
The short, a film of about 9 minutes, also touches on how horrifyingly powerful beauty and youth can be when used in the wrong ways.
Coronado’s own film writer
Hroncich, a Coronado resident who wrote and acted in the short as one of the two middle-aged women, originally wrote “Beauty is Bliss” as a short story for a writing prompt.
Although she went to UCLA for graduate school for screenwriting, ultimately wanting to pursue writing as her career, she never had plans for this short story to become a short film, much less premiere at her very first film festival.
She said the short “came out better than I pictured.”
“I couldn’t imagine it in my head the way it turned out. It felt smaller in my head, and the world felt really filled out when I watched it,” Hroncich says.
The short took several months to finish, and Hroncich coyly laughed as she admitted that she submitted it to CIFF before it was even done, as a work-in-progress.
It took three days of on-scene filming and then several months of editing, sound design, visual effects and music before the short was fully completed.
Hroncich’s first film festival
The short really was a passion project for everyone involved and “everybody was working for a pretty low fee, so you know how it is waiting until people have time. But people were really excited about the project, so it was fantastic,” Hroncich says.
She submitted the film with her cover letter, knowing that CIFF would need to have faith in her and her team and trust that it would get done before the festival.
Hroncich laughs as she says how she used to work in film festivals and would always tell filmmakers to submit earlier rather than later because the films get picked as they get watched.
And here she was, submitting her first film much later than the early deadline – and also, not completed.
“I feel very lucky. Everyone from the actors to the DP (director of photography) to the director, Dominic Garcia, had such an amazing vision for it and taking it to a different place that I couldn’t even go to myself. I love the collaborative spirit of filmmaking, and luckily on this, there was no ego involved,” Hroncich says.
What is bliss?
Although her character would do anything for beauty, it isn’t Hroncich’s bliss.
But she says there is something that she would let get to that level of influence in her life.
To her, success is bliss.
However, there’s a big asterisk attached to that in how she defines success.
“I don’t look at it financially or what I produce, what my output is. I look at it more ‘Do I live by the values that I want to live by?’ and to me, that is success,” Hroncich says. “I don’t think that there’s anything that I would compromise my values for something else. But I do think that if I live by my values, that would be a blissful life.”
The short is currently being toyed around with being turned into a full feature-length film.
Hroncich says this is unlike anything she’s ever written and it’s intimidating to think of this short potentially being a feature, but it’s a challenge she’d like to take on especially if the audience responds well.
“My heart is definitely in writing and bringing a story to life. This really solidified it, and being able to write a strong enough blueprint for a film that then other filmmakers and actors can bring to life,” Hroncich says.