A 23-year-old Spanish filmmaker's three-minute short about a woman with an anus on her face is the most meaningful commentary on social-media censorship you've ever seen.
Eduardo Casanova is a 23-year-old director from Madrid whose short film, Eat My Shit, is currently competing in a contest sponsored by a well-known Irish whiskey. Posted on the contest page, his video has gone viral in Europe, not just because of its catchy title or its star's intriguing visage. From such an exaggeratedly sensationalist, potentially fraught, initially dubious starting place, Casanova, a former child actor on a popular Spanish TV show, has ended up with the most unexpectedly moving, meaningful commentary on social-media censorship you've ever seen. It's concise, too. Well worth 210 seconds of your time.
It all starts when Instagram rejects Samantha's selfie for its "sexual content." But she only posted a pic of her face! Her face is not like other faces, however. Turns out she was born with a wrinkled, hairy, puckered asshole where her mouth should be. In a bar so empty it only includes the chair she sits on, her table, and a totally unsympathetic server in an Iron Maiden T-shirt, Samantha orders soup and weeps as she pages through a notebook collaged with huge smiles across every face. By the film's end, let's just say she takes advantage of her special power to leave an existential comment on all the service she's received in life—an all-encompassing negative review that feels glorious, victorious, a finger in the face of the world's jerks.
Eduardo Casanova kindly agreed to receive a few questions sent to him in Spanish. His translated responses appear below, but in any language Eat My Shit is an affecting dramatization of the conflict between oddity and ostracism.
VICE: You've written that you used all your child-acting earnings to fund your own work. Have you also invested lessons from the directors of your youth in short films like Eat My Shit?
Eduardo Casanova: I learned a lot as an actor, most of all how to manage filming from behind the camera. Acting has been a bridge that's connected me to directing.
It seems like you have a normal mouth, but your artistic tendencies might not be so conventional. Do you see something of yourself in Samantha, your differently mouthed protagonist? How autobiographical is Eat My Shit? You mention your therapist on your site... Was making the video cathartic?
We are all Samantha. No one (or so I believe) has an anus on their face, but we've all felt socially excluded for something, or at least we all understand that something similar can happen. I've felt this way sometimes, although it doesn't happen to me day to day.
Like your protagonist, have you managed to harness your oddities and avenge yourself, at least a little bit, against any real assholes?
I believe so. Eat My Shit has become a viral success in Spain, France, the United Kingdom... The movie is going to do it. This makes me think that people understand a woman with an anus on her face more than I thought they would.
Did you go with a spare aesthetic out of necessity (i.e., it's easier and cheaper)?
All aesthetic choices should have a moral justification. She's alone in a bar because she's alone in the world and she hides from society. Someone like her wouldn't enter a McDonald's. Beyond that, it looks better aesthetically.
Do you think social media helps overcome solitude?
Social networks make you believe you're less alone and you're essential to society. But this isn't necessarily true. Social networks also make it so you have a place (a place among millions) in society. To deny someone an existence on a social network, like what happens to Samantha, is the strongest possible type of exclusion.
Did you start out thinking you'd create a striking commentary about online censorship, or did its conception have more to do with creating something worthwhile about someone with a literal buttface? Also, once you started working on this, how concerned were you about its emotional force? How consciously did you exaggerate the juxtaposition between sensationalism (the finale) and subtlety (the music, the tears, the cut-outs in her notebook)?
Eat My Shit isn't about a woman with an anus on her face. Eat My Shit speaks to the difficulty people have in society if they're physically different. This is a drama and it deserves a dramatic shit like the one that occurs in the film.
I'm sure you're happy that the video has gone viral. But what about your aspirations? Do you think about making feature-length films one day? Do you expect to always make short films, which seem best suited for online distribution? How do you feel about online distribution in general? How do you see this short in terms of your career?
My idea is to make feature-length films. To echo that, Eat My Shit functions like a teaser for my first feature. Short films are all very good and can go viral like in this case, but I have the need to tell stories that travel more distance.
Last question: Would it be considered anal if someone with an anus on their face performed fellatio?
Lee Klein is the author of The Shimmering Go-Between: A Novel and Thanks and Sorry and Good Luck: Rejection Letters from the Eyeshot Outbox.