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Creative Team Behind Touching Cancer Film 'I Still Remain' Reveal Thoughts on Production

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Writer Braulio Fonseca, director Jason Lindsey and editor Sai Selvarajan open up why they made their film and what its really about

Creative Team Behind Touching Cancer Film 'I Still Remain' Reveal Thoughts on Production
“I Still Remain” is a film that inspects and explores the inner workings, insights and inspirations of a man driven and informed by two fights with cancer.

Written by Braulio Fonseca, directed by Jason Lindsey, and edited by Sai Selvarajan, “I Still Remain,” blends poetic introspection with cinematic observation to reveal a moving portrait of how serious illness carries intense emotional impact, and the power in healing the mind, body and spirit.

Here's a short Q&A with Braulio, Jason, and Sai about this project, which they describe as being "transformative in more ways than one". 

Braulio Fonseca, Writer, Subject

Q> You say your first fight with cancer was about your identity. How has your identity changed since then?

Braulio Fonseca> The first time I had cancer destroyed me physically. The second time it was both physical and emotional. I was in a bleak place, ready to give up, but then decided if I was to go through treatment then I would translate it, somehow, into an artistic process. That was the moment I committed to recovery. 

Q> How has writing helped you process?

BF> I’ve been working on a book that documents the time before, during, and after my treatment. Using a typewriter with ink smears on my face and hands, I have re-lived the experience. I typed on 1960’s onion paper - transparency, as a form and theme. It has been painful and cathartic. The words in the film “I Still Remain” are the epilogue of this forthcoming book. 

Q> Why do you photograph graffiti?

BF> It all started when I was in Costa Rica where I spent my days escaping a run down house and wandered the streets documenting everything I saw. One day, I returned to a wall I had photographed that morning, only to discover the graffiti was already painted over. I was taken with the idea that I had captured this fleeting moment, which is also very representative of our lives - fleeting and momentary. Ever since, I have pursued capturing the temporal, the often overlooked art and imagery, that will soon disappear.

Q> Have you always been an athlete or did you take up swimming?

BF> I’ve been an athlete all of my life, and one of the most difficult aspects of being in treatment was the physical deterioration and feeling handcuffed to my bed. So when I came out of chemo, I started to rebuild, and swimming was a massive part of that process. I began to set challenges, like swimming around the Florida Keys, a grueling endeavor but one that still pales in comparison to going through illness. Swimming was a dedicated part of my recovery and is an essential part of my life. 

Q> Why did you want to work on this film with Jason?

BF> Jason and I have worked together before, and I admire his talent and ethics. So when he approached me to make the film, to create “something he cared about,” I was blown away. Jason observed my photographs before and after treatment, and noted that my eye had changed. Going through cancer treatment is hard on your body, but it is perhaps even harder on your mind. Writing, photography, swimming - these were all things that pulled me through the dark moments. He wanted to understand and help express that state of being. Everyone that worked on the project gave their time generously and passionately.  

Q> What was it like to be the subject, and to see the film once it was completed?
BF> Like my writing, being the subject of the film is about vulnerability. It wasn’t seeing myself, it was capturing a feeling and seeing things through another’s lens. In watching the final film, I found myself transported. It made me cry to see love and trust all come together in this vision fulfilled. 

Q> What do you hope audiences take away from it?

BF> I wanted to depict what it feels like to come through the darkness and rediscover the world, and hope that it is helpful to others who may be going through something similar. Regardless of intention, it has been surprising to discover the moments where people find inspiration in the film. It’s not often in the words or images that I would have imagined, and that unexpectedness is really special. 


Jason Lindsay, Director:

Q> How did you get connected with Braulio?

Jason Lindsay> I have worked with Braulio for several years and he always impressed me on set. I had no idea he had cancer early in life and found out the second time because I called him to work with me again and he was recovering from cancer for the second time. After he recovered I talked with him about his story and really felt inspired to share his story with others. I related to him using his creative outlets to fight cancer.

What inspired you to do this film? 
JL> Braulio’s writing mines an emotional journey we do not often see in the fight with cancer. We wanted to craft the message with an aesthetic that would translate the depths of his healing process to hopefully reach those looking for hope and restoration. I always have several passion projects I am working on at any one time to feed my creative soul. This project went beyond that. I really felt like Braulio’s story could touch other people struggling with this brutal disease. I wanted to share it to inspire them.

Q> How did you find your team?

JL> I reached out to the best people I have worked with in the past and to new people I had not yet had a chance to work with, but were on my radar.  My main goal was to surround myself with people I thought would elevate the project and be able to enhance my vision for it. I am grateful for the tireless work and creativity that everyone contributed. 

Q> What was the greatest creative challenge?

JL> The greatest creative challenge on all my personal projects is making the time to create them between paid projects and this time I really pushed hard to make it the exact film I wanted it to be. It took longer than I hoped, but don’t all personal projects? 

Q> What is your hope for this film? 

JL> I really hope the film inspires others dealing with cancer. I want as many people as possible to see and share this film.


Sai Selvarajan, Editor:

Q> What inspired you most about joining this project? / Why did you want to help tell this story?

Saj Selvarajan> My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 and had to go through treatment and get a mastectomy.  It was a really trying time to see her go through it. It was the first time I saw fear in her eyes.  She's one of the strongest women I know.  So since then cancer has been a trigger word for me and if there's anything I can do to take a shot at cancer I will.  I saw this edit as a big "fuck you" towards cancer and that drove me to do it.

Q> What was the greatest creative challenge?

SS> It was trying to tell a narrative story but in a poetic and non-traditional way.  It wasn't just connecting the dots. It was trying to channel his interior space lyrically so that, hopefully, people would feel what Braulio feels. 


Q> What is your hope for this film?

SS> I hope that someone going through cancer or a caregiver of someone going through cancer will see this film and it will give them some hope that they're not alone in this fight and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. 


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Camp Lucky, Tue, 06 Mar 2018 14:18:14 GMT