Defining Dodo

This film is available for the run of the festival starting the day of Thanksgiving 2021. To watch or to vote for this film please click on the orange “TICKETS” button below and purchase a ticket for BLOCK 8.  You also have the option to buy the Movie Buff Pass to watch all the films of the festival until December 15, 2021.


This story was written to spark viewers’ prior knowledge (even if only on a tangential level) of growing up and navigating the realities of machismo in the pursuit of self-expression from a Latino perspective. This lens is important for exploring how a gay male character tries to work through mental and emotional wellbeing, as well as finding peace at home and at work, with an ever-present tension from his mother would never accept a gay son.

Similar to how dodo birds can’t fly or flee far from their nests, this story explores identity and the outcomes of feeling trapped by norms put in place by society and reinforced through the perspective of a character sorting out his mental health, sexual identity, and place in society and his family. Through the character’s journey, the audience is taken on an emotional roller coaster from childhood through adulthood of someone who has grown accustomed to trying to keep up appearances for the sake of honoring family values.

The mood of the film is meant to bring to life a Bildungsroman with subtle flairs of Nora Ephron’s cinematic style and Greg Daniel’s dry humor. In a setting like Los Angeles, people coming in and out of a person’s life are influences of the Latino protagonist’s life that will be captured in this moving story of defining oneself. Showcasing a special occasion like a wedding with brass and string instruments of mariachis will be crucial for ensuring authenticity of the character’s journey.

Df203edecd headshotDirector Biography – Lauren Harris

Lauren Harris, a Philadelphia Native, graduated with honors from the University of Southern California with a double major in Dramatic Arts (emphasis on Acting) and Spanish (fluent). She has studied at the Berridge Conservatory in Normandy, France, The British American Dramatic Academy in London, England, and The Pig Iron Theatre Company in Philadelphia, PA. Locally, she has studied with Margie Haber, Judy Kain, Annie Grindlay, Ivana Chubbuck Studios, Tyler Poelle and Lesly Kahn and is currently in the advanced level of Groundlings. Lauren has portrayed numerous roles both on the stage and in film and television, and also wrote, produced, and co-starred in a feminist web-series titled It’s A Girl Thing, that was highly regarded in over 14 international film festivals. Most recently, she made her directing debut with Defining Dodo, a short film meant to shine a light on Latinx/LGTBQ issues, and will be releasing a documentary on human trafficking in the Philadelphia area this fall. She is also a board member of SheNYC, that works to produce female driven plays.





Director Statement

Defining Dodo explores the constant identity crisis some members of the LGBTQ community face to live up to the societal pressures and expectations of their communities. Through our film, I hope to start a conversation about mental health, gender identity, and increase representation of the Latinx community in film.

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