[dropcap size=big]E[/dropcap]verything in Dan and Hannah’s relationship has gone as smooth as you can imagine. They are young, naive and in love. That is until Dan invites her Hannah for dinner. In Hannah’s mind, this invitation obviously means wedding bells. As she ventures to Dan’s apartment, Hannah recounts their relationship and obsesses over the reality and immediacy of the future. Her life is about to change forever.
It was a family dinner with my parents and my sister over a decade ago. I was about fourteen. I will never forget that dinner. A home-cooked meal by mom could never go wrong, usually (This depends on the mom. Though you should always respect a mom’s cooking.) — But it wasn’t the food that made the meal so memorable.
I remembered it clearly: My dad broke the news that my mom was diagnosed with a type of cancer. I pretended like I didn’t care and focused on the television playing in the next room. See, the news was always on whenever we had dinner. I never cared for the news (I was fourteen and didn’t care about anything other than Pro-Wrestling and Emo bands.
Give me a break.) but on that night, I’d rather watched the news than to let the truth sink in. My dad continued to open up the seriousness of my mother’s terminal illness. I kept on eating. Every each bite added to the mush piling on in my mouth because I wasn’t swallowing. I couldn’t swallow. I was trying to act tough by not showing emotions. What a shitty kid I was. “Who are you to tell me that you have health issues? What do you mean you won’t be there to take care of me? It’s your responsibility as a parent to stay alive. Feed me.” I had many thoughts going through my head at that moment, but again, I tried desperation to hide my feelings. But then, reality sunk in. I realized I wasn’t angry at her; I was angry that I couldn’t do anything to stop this. The wall I built up could only hold up for so long before it crumbles. And it did. I sobbed but I fought hard to stay quiet.
My attempt to not interrupt the dinner might have caused more attention on me, but no matter — I wasn’t the tough kid I thought I was. Looking back, I’m glad I wasn’t. About a year after this dinner, my mom passed away at the hospital. Since then, I’ve always found difficulties talking about it. This short film, “Dan Invited Hannah over for Dinner”, might as well be my self-indulgent emotional release. Long story short: Instead of going to therapy, I’ve decided to make films about myself though fictional characters.
To spoil the film a little bit, the ending scene resembled how my parents broke the news about the cancer. Instead of a family dinner, it’s a fictional account of an unmarried couple. It’s about a girl’s neuroticism and a guy revealing bad news. I only hope the ending captured the feeling of how I felt at that moment. – Patrick T. Lo – Writer and Director