About the Film
After a slew of disappointing Christmas presents, 5-year-old Alex finally receives the gift of her dreams, a gorgeous doll. Forbidden from opening it because it's a collectible, Alex, determined to play with her beloved new toy, sets out to free the "princess" no matter what the cost.
In making "Collectibles," I wanted to explore the complexities of childhood by making the film entirely from the heroine's point of view. Alex is the kind of girl who reads lots of storybooks and fairy tales, and that dictated the story and aesthetic. At the same time, I worked to achieve a tone that I think is more honest about childhood than most mainstream movies admit: innocently funny, yet simultaneously dark and strange. Alex's skepticism of her parents' rules makes us laugh; but-as a little girl in a big house stuffed with untouchable objects, who has been given an incomprehensible rule to follow, by unsympathetic parents-Alex finds her childhood is marked by estrangement and fear.
Although it is a simple story, "Collectibles" is both a critique of capitalism gone awry and a (feminist) coming-of-age tale. Alex has a moral clarity that her parents lack: she knows the doll's value arises only from Alex's being able to enjoy it, so keeping it in the box-and preventing Alex from playing with it-is wrong. Acting on this moral conviction, Alex becomes the knight in shining armor who must free the sleeping princess from her box. This is her moment of self-awareness and rebellion-she is ready to prove herself an active person with a determined mind. In asserting her right to play, she both distinguishes herself as an individual and reminds us of what is truly important in life.
A key to the success of the film was finding the right girl to play Alex. We nearly missed Alessandra Daniele, the star of the film, because she couldn't make the first round of auditions. But I didn't find anyone who felt right for the character of Alex, so we did a second round, and she was able to come. The auditions consisted of trying to knock a Barbie off a high shelf using plush toys, and Alessandra blew us away. She was one of only two girls who succeeded in knocking the Barbie off the shelf, and she had such natural pluck and determination that I knew within moments of meeting her that she was the one.
About the Filmmaker
Director Miranda Yousef was born in Boston, MA to Egyptian parents. After receiving her B.A. magna cum laude in Comparative Literature from Harvard College, she lived abroad, shooting her first short film in Singapore before moving to Los Angeles to attend the M.F.A. Film Directing program at UCLA. Her graduate thesis film, "Collectibles," won the award for Best Director, Women's Category, at the prestigious Directors Guild of America 2008 Student Film Awards, and is currently playing at film festivals all over the world.
Miranda worked for the Sundance Film Festival's programming department for several years, before moving into a career as a feature documentary editor. She has worked as an editor on several features, including Academy Award nominee Kirby Dick's 2009 release "OUTRAGE"; 2008 Sundance Film Festival favorite "I.O.U.S.A."; and 2008 IDA Audience Award winner "FOOD FIGHT."