It Felt Like Love

dir. Eliza Hittman, USA 2013, 82 min.

During an uneventful summer on the outskirts of Brooklyn, Lila, a lonely fourteen-year-old from Gravesend, turns her attentions to Sammy, an older thug she sees at Rockaway beach. Wanting something to brag about, she weaves a story about him and becomes fixated on seeing it realized. When her attempts fail, she propels the lie even further, claiming they’ve had sex. During her sexual quest, Lila turns from predator to prey. It Felt Like Love captures the confusing emotions and developing identity of an adolescent girl that explores what could euphemistically be called love.

“With "It Felt Like Love" I wanted to show outtakes from child- hood: the lonely moments, the surges of false confidence, and small humiliating details that are often buried in our memories. I have always been fascinated with the portrayal of coming-of-age themes in film, as a process of disillusionment. I am also very interested in filmmakers that take a radical, unsentimental approach to sex and sexual awakening within this genre, like Maurice Pialat and Catherine Breillat. My work similarly emphasizes the transitional moments for young women, characters that are highly underrepresented in film. I investigate emotional taboos, internalized feelings like humilia- tion, self-deception, desperation and shame. The discomfort involved with watching my characters navigate the world not only reflects the truth of our experience but connects audi- ences to something deep inside themselves.

Visually, my work experiments with a subjective, more poetic form of realism, where the world resists an objective perspec- tive and instead hews to the character’s perception of the events. Resisting the conventions of verite, I use slow motion and prefer close-ups. Conversely, the wides I chose create an emotional release. "It Felt Like Love" has very little dialogue and explicit story exposition, and instead uses charged images, details, music and sound design to create a hyper-subjective and immersive cinema experience.”