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The Hush Behind The Lips

A film on contradiction, oppression, and compassion.

Reimagining the stories of 3 generations of women who were hushed and silenced. A witnessing to untransformed trauma, turning into violence against self and others. 

The Hush Behind The lips
00:00 / 08:28

In his book, 'In an Unspoken Voice,' Peter Levine writes that 'Trauma is caused when we are unable to release blocked energies, to fully move through the physical/emotional reactions to hurtful experience. Trauma is not what happens to us, but what we hold inside in the absence of an empathetic witness. The salvation, then, is to be found in the body.'"

"The Hush Behind the Lips" is housing the imagination of such a witness to one's own untransformed pain. The film was initiated in 2017, and the story holds the types of oppression, domination, and untransformed contradictions that run through Iran's history, in particular around the notion of patriarchy and its manifestations. However, the film is not limited to Iran's history. It touches on the human condition that evolve itself in various forms throughout history. The film acknowledges the limitations of the notion of patriarchy and sees it as an expression of untransformed inner contradictions within an individual and/or society. 
In one sense the relationship to pain, unease, and inner contradiction shape how individuals and societies find meaning and truth. This film introduces compassion in this dwell.  
To hear the story behind the making of the film, I invite you to play the audio file above.

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Below is the rehearsal for the film, based on contact dance improvisation. Cheryl Pallant who is an author, mover, and poet is preparing the cast for their roles. 


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Cheryl Pallant

Cheryl Pallant is a poet, author, dancer, healer, and professor who lives in Richmond, Virginia. She has published several books of innovative poetry, nonfiction, and has been featured in several anthologies. Her background as a writer and dancer has led to frequently merging these disciplines. Learn more about her in this LINK


Kylie Newcomb

Kylie or Miss Honeycomb is a writer, performer, photographer, creative editor, multi media sculptor and curator. Her passion is human mind, love, and the natural rhythms of the world. She is currently working with Rosewood Co. Find out more about her at this LINK.


Frances Wessells

Frances Ann Wessells is an American dancer, choreographer, and Associate Professor Emerita and founder of the dance department at Virginia Commonwealth University. She helped form the department of dance at VCU and was still teaching and dancing professionally in her late nineties. LINK


Kevin Gallagher

Kevin Gallagher is a Richmond, Virginia based photographer and filmmaker. Kevin graduated with a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University's Department of Photography & Film. He has gone on to work as an adjunct professor at VCUarts and as a lighting and camera technician for feature films, television and commercial work. 

Kevin's work has been exhibited at the Anthology Film Archives, Mill Valley Film Festival, Virginia Film Festival, Proteus Gowanus and Yosemite International Film Festival. He is currently working on a long form documentary project about wilderness, wildness, and how people interact with the environment in Northern Maine.

Find out more about Kevin at LINK

Behind the scene 
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This film could not come to life without the contribution of the cast and crew, as well as the support of VCUarts Research Grant. Find out about them by clicking on their names:


Cheryl Pallant, author and poet

Kylie Newcomb, artist and photographer

Kevin Gallaghar, filmmaker and photographer

Frances Wessells, Dancer and the founder of VCU Dance and Choreography

Artistic mentors:

Ariana Hamidi, filmmaker

Sasha Waters, filmmaker, professor 

Marry Beth Reed, filmmaker, professor

Sonali Gulati, filmmaker, professor

Many thanks to Michelle Taft, Alex Coyle, Will Barker, Olivia Cliff and Jared as the crew.

Many thanks to Jeanie Keys for the works of art. 

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