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Producer Xiaoyuan Xiao on the Modern Love Triangle of Pop Rox

There’s an unspoked relationship between the public and filmmakers. They each keep pushing each other to tell the important stories that will progress society. Yes, there’s a time for entertainment which is lighthearted fun but it’s also vital that films communicate those who are on the precipice of changing the public’s perception. Producer Xiaoyuan “Ivy” Xiao is immensely proud of her work manifesting Pop Rox, a story that crosses a number of boundaries but at its core is simply a love story. As recipient of a nomination for Best Short Film at the Berlin International Film Festival and winner of Best Short Film at the Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival, this film’s success has proven that it resonates with a global audience. It’s impossible to think of this outcome without Ivy’s guidance behind the scenes which led to such international acclaim.


The film stars Kimia Behpoornia (of ABC’s Golden Globe Winning Series Modern Family and the Netflix original Unicorn Store-starring Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson) as Jesse, a seventeen-year-old Iranian-American girl who finds she has fallen deeply in love with her best friend Roxanne (played by Sara Young Chandler). Roxanne is the epitome of a popular and pretty teen girl. Jesse decides to confess her love one evening but her plan is derailed as Roxanne has invited Evelyn (Samantha Dilday, known for FX’s Leo Nominated and Primetime Emmy Nominated series Legion) to join them for a night out at the school’s theater. When the trio engages in a game of truth-or-dare, Roxanne and Evelyn kiss. The evening escalates in tension from there.

Producers are most commonly known for the “production value” of the film, commonly credited with the authenticity and believability of the aesthetics. While this is most certainly remarkable in regards to Pop Rox, Producer Xiao contributed even more significantly than this. She relates, “The original ending was very sad with Jesse driving home by herself and destroying her love letter to Roxanne. I made some suggestions based on the fact that these three main characters are teenagers; they should act out in an explosive manner as teenagers tend to do. Even more importantly than this was not to have a clear and easy resolving conclusion to the end of the story. I think the ending we decided upon created great tension and was a great way to transfer Jesse’s emotions to the audience. I like the awkwardness and I think it’s good to keep teenage stories a bit silly.”


Pop Rox has experienced a very successful festival run with an overwhelming response from attendees. Attending the 68th Berlinale in Berlin along with the director, editor, production designer, and writer, Ivy noted one vital element of the film. She declares, “There I was, sitting with a room full of strangers in Germany and I noticed that there were more Chinese names in our credit title than the whole festival section combined. Sometimes US films need to make a point; different cultural/artistic perspectives can create a new and intriguing element. I’m very proud of how unique Pop Rox is and what our fantastic team created.”
Producer Xiaoyuan Xiao on the Modern Love Triangle of Pop Rox Reviewed by JaamZIN on 8:21:00 AM Rating: 5
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