Q1 2023

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58 C I N E M O N T A G E T A I L P O P AN ENSEMBLE COMEDY INSPIRED AN EDITOR TO FIGHT FOR HER DREAMS Good Day 'Sunshine' Toni Collette, left, Abigail Breslin, Alan Arkin, Paul Dano, Steve Carell, and Greg Kinnear in "Little Miss Sunshine." P H OT O : P H OT O F E S T By Klara Kizirian I grew up in Los Angeles, and before I started my career in the film industry, I was a young girl taking ballet classes. The pressure to stay small was very real, even among girls as young as five years old. I invariably felt out of place because I was always just a little bigger than the other girls. In 2006, there was a very minimal, bright yellow movie poster around town with just one image of a family running to get inside of an old VW bus, with the title, "Little Miss Sunshine." There was something so chaotic yet warm about the poster that I just had to see the movie for myself. I remember when I got to the theater, it was pretty empty. It was just myself, my mom, and a handful of other people. I thought, this movie is either not good or a hidden gem. I saw a lot of myself in main character Ol- ive (played by 10-year-old Abigail Breslin) — a young, innocent little girl trying to pur- sue her dreams while simultaneously living in a highly unstable home environment. That included her drug-addicted grand- father, suicidal uncle, unsuccessful father and a brother who took a vow of silence. I also grew up in a dysfunctional household and felt that my dreams were the only thing I could hold on to or have control over. Watching Olive follow her dreams and not take "no" for an answer, even when she had self-doubts, really resonated with me. "Little Miss Sunshine" is the story of a dysfunctional family who comes together to help their young daughter achieve her dream of participating in a junior beauty pageant. It was the first film that made m e f e e l i n s p i r e d a n d u n d e r s t a n d t h e power of extraordinary filmmaking. Other inspirational films came before "Little Miss Sunshine," of course, but I believe it's par- ticularly difficult to make a comedy that also has a lot of heart and depth, that is genuine and not overproduced. This film made me understand how beautifully a film comes together when every element complements each other perfectly. It was flawlessly told, as evidenced by Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, a supporting actor Oscar for Alan Arkin, an ACE Eddie nomination for Pamela Martin, and much more. A main theme in this movie is to not give up, even when the cards are stacked against you. This film had a big influence on how I approach certain things when I feel that I'm lacking confidence or feel like I won't succeed. I saw a lot of parallels between my life and Olive's when she started to experience body dysmorphia. What made me fall in love with Olive is that she chose to stand against the beauty "norms" and participate in the beauty pageant her way. As an adult, especially a woman, especially in a male-dominated field like film editing, I remind myself every day that it's okay to be my true self and that I don't have to fit a typical "standard." I've had a lot of people doubt my skills. And because of that, it took a lot of sacrifice and dedication to get to where I am today. I've always had to work a little harder to prove that I also belong in the editorial space. It takes a lot of perseverance but much like Olive, the support of some family members and friends is what always kept me going. I first saw "Little Miss Sunshine" at age 14 and have carried the lessons learned with me to this day. I've learned that some days are harder than other days, that life hap- pens. But no matter what, do not stop trying to fight for your dreams. Appreciate and nurture the people who are there to support you because they won't be here forever. As Grandpa (Alan Arkin) said, "A real loser is someone who's so afraid of not winning he doesn't even try." Always try. ■ Klara Kizirian is a trailer assistant editor working in Los Angeles. She can be reached at:

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