Queen of the Desert

Sometimes we get caught up in our various biases. We all have them; we just have to acknowledge and then move beyond them. People, no matter what they look like, can surprise us. In a good way. So the message, in a short film directed by long-time producer working at NBC (Dateline) and CBS (48 Hours), but first-time director Mary Ann Rotondi, here is to not judge a book by its cover.

Here Rotondi has written and directed Queen of the Desert about Livy (Jade Radford- appeared in episodes of Orange is the New Black and Chicago P.D.), a young black woman hitchhiking in the desert. at night A long haul trucker pulls over and picks her up. From the get go both form opinions about the other. The trucker, Gus (Robert Eli – appeared in episodes of House of Cards and Blindspot), because she is black, wearing a hoodie and he hears a report about police looking for a young black female who has committed a robbery, and Livy because she sees a Confederate flag hanging in Gus’s truck. As a result, both are wary of the other. When something happens Livy’s future hinges on them moving beyond their biases about the other.

The Confederate flag…something totally, and with good reason, associated with racist people. It came about during the Civil War, flown by those fighting on the side of the South and supporters of slavery. Today those who believe that whites are superior to blacks still fly the flag. The message is clear. Or is it? Rotondi begins a dialogue. Investigating why some residing in the northern states of the U.S., who have no connection to the flag, fly it? Why when it has such a strong negative association? Are they all racist? Or are they simply ignorant?

While acknowledging that this is a delicate issue, Queen of the Desert attempts to begin a dialogue between people who are seemingly on different sides of the issue. Acknowledging that not everything or everyone is as they seem on the surface. Communicating that communication is the only way out of it.

Mary Ann Rotondi is in the process of expanding the 14 minute short into a feature length film.

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