Drama - 15 min. - 2016 - View Credits
Synopsis: When Marie decides to cuddle people for money, she is unprepared to meet a client who will challenge her unwittingly beyond all her expectations.
Director’s Statement: Cuddler is a symptom of a world out of balance, a world in distress, ridden by isolation and severed by technology. In the present day, cuddlers are already an international phenomenon. Across the US, Japan, and England, their services are in high demand, earning the individual cuddler up to $7000 per month.
The importance of affectionate touch and physical contact have been demonstrated in H. Harlow’s controversial and inherently sadistic experiments on rhesus monkeys in the 1960s. On a neurophysiological level, human touch releases oxytocin, a natural stress relief, and anti-depressant hormone, among other important qualities but touch also decreases the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Touch is not only enjoyable but it also benefits our health.
In contrast to communal living, in a world evermore connected by technology, we are becoming more and more separated by urban planning and vertical dwellings. The anonymity of large urban centres further contributes to a sense of social alienation and physical distance between people. The profession of cuddling sprung into being because even though the social, physical and technological structures have changed, the basic human needs remain.
Though the need for touch is fundamentally human and natural, the service of the cuddler is undeniably conflicted. Physical affection is usually preceded and motivated by emotional connection and trust. The cuddler, however, offers physical affection for money.
Cuddling is less a job and more a calling. In the case of Marie, she too has created a world for herself that soothes her own deepest unmet needs: the need for affection and acceptance exacerbated by her depressed mother’s emotional absence. Though she may believe that she’s “a giver,” her true emotional needs betray her when she is about to lose her most nurturing client, Kristi, who has become Marie’s “mother-transference” figure.
This theme of self-deceit is echoed through Marie’s two other clients Peter and Tom. The deeper or more elaborate a lie, the more obvious the truth. Peter lives in partial denial of his wife’s death while Tom, out of loneliness, lives with the illusion that his cuddling relationship with Marie is more than just a service. All three characters are avoiding their primary pain and all three, by the end of the short film, are forced to confront the truth.
2015 - Best International Short Film - Roma Cinema Doc (December) / CUDDLER
2016 - Best Short Film - International - Hollywood Verge Film Festival (Spring) / CUDDLER
2016 - Best Actress - Short Stop International Film Festival (First Edition) / CUDDLER
2016 - Best Actress - International (Hollywood Verge Film Festival / CUDDLER
2015 - Best Supporting Actress - Focus International Film Festival / CUDDLER
2016 - Best Director of a Short Film - Berlin International Filmmaker Festival / CUDDLER
2016 - Best Lead Actress - Berlin International Filmmaker Festival / CUDDLER
2016 - Best Supporting Actress - Berlin International Filmmaker Festival / CUDDLER
2016 - Best Supporting Actress - Hollywood Verge Film Festival / CUDDLER
2016 - Best of the Festival - Short Stop International Film Festival / CUDDLER
2015 - Best Actress - Focus International Film Festival / CUDDLER
2015 - Best Supporting Actor - Focus International Film Festival / CUDDLER