It’s a classic post-breakup story. Maria, a trans woman who has just gone through a breakup, is doing everything she can to get her life back on track. The only roadblock? Finding a way to return her ex-partner’s sex toy.
In April, the short film “Virgo" debuted at the Avon Cinema as part of the Brown Motion Pictures Spring 2023 showcase. Written by Masha Breeze ’23 and directed by Elizabeth Lokoyi ’25, the film tackles themes of romance, friendship and trans misogyny.
Breeze, also acting in the film’s lead role, began to think about “Virgo" well before the project came to fruition with Brown Motion Pictures.
“I had a bunch of scenes in my head that I put down in my notes app,” she said. “I realized that these ideas needed to go somewhere, in some TV series or movie that I wanted to write.”
Breeze drew inspiration from a variety of sources during the process of putting her ideas to paper, including television shows like “Fleabag” and “Better Call Saul.”
“‘Better Call Saul’ (is) an example of an aesthetically beautiful show with intricate plot points,” Breeze reflected. “You have to keep track of a lot of details, but it never becomes boring. That’s really impressive, to tell a story that way.”
The film’s exploration of womanhood was also influenced by Fiona Apple, whose music focuses “about an experience of femininity that feels very relatable to me,” Breeze said.
“Virgo,” while generally comedic, also delves into the challenging realities of a trans woman’s experiences.
The film demonstrates what it's like to move through “universal types of experiences in non-universal circumstances,” said Will Malloy ’25, who played Maria’s belittling hookup partner, “twinky straight boy,” in the film.
By depicting Maria’s loneliness following her breakup, “Virgo” highlights the difficulties faced by trans people when trying to build intimate relationships, according to monique jonath ’24, who played Maria’s non-binary friend Jo in the film.
Friendship also plays a prominent role in the film, particularly in a scene near the end of the movie when Maria asks Jo to kiss her. In this intimate scene, loneliness is overcome through the fluidity of queer friendship, jonath explained.
In its short runtime, “Virgo” captures a tangible complexity — in part achieved through the artistic direction of Elizabeth Lokoyi.
“It was wonderful to see different parts of the film come together,” Lokoyi said. “When it came to shooting, everything went well. It all felt very lived in and real.”
Lokoyi worked closely with the film's director of photography, Daniel Xue, a Rhode Island School of Design student, to bring her vision of the film to life — from selecting a 1:6:6 aspect ratio for the film to using specific camera lenses.
These decisions allowed the film to be aesthetically cohesive, Xue said.
“We had a blast, and every day on set was super fun,” Malloy said. “‘Virgo’ was a total pleasure to work on. … [Collaborating] with a bunch of queer and trans actors on a queer and trans movie feels very special.”
“My hope is that people watch this and can see themselves in someone that is experiencing shame, heartbreak and awkwardness whether or not they are in the same circumstances as Maria,” Breeze said. “At its core, ‘Virgo’ explores these slimy, very human things that we tend to push down in ourselves.”
Read more from The Herald's Pride 2023 Special Issue.