AND THE ACADEMY AWARD GOES TO… EILEEN CHUNTZA
Eileen won Best Supporting Oscar by mistake. And now people expect great things of her. She stole a movie in one memorable scene, one expression really. A slo-mo captured, gently contorted face, its delicate scrunch bearing two tears like beautiful, transparent limpets, whilst her reddening cheeks became flabby and swollen as if they and no other part of her, were underwater. She nailed in one take too, so they say. Her face, in that moment is now movie history. It is a face, that critics said ‘understands the suffering of the world’. A face that will be studied and scrutinised like famous portraits: that terrified scream or the lady with a complicated smile.
Eileen’s face is on posters and t-shirts, album covers and shrouds, screen savers and advertising slogans. Hers is the face of the 21st century. On talkshows they ask her to do it again, they beg her. She has been paid 18 million US dollars to do it again, or something similarly impressive, in her next film which will be a studio financed blockbuster.
It was her first speaking role, although no one remembers her voice.
Eileen graduated from a theatre school with unimpressive alumni, in the Mid West. She knew her limitations as an actor but didn’t mind scratching a living with bit parts and extras work. Acting wasn’t a calling, it was a flimsy choice, a shrug of a career, formed from a lack of alternatives and the desire to self identify as artsy. But she got a part, albeit tiny, in a feature film. She walked on a fraught set and was told because it was being shot on film not digital the budget didn’t allow for multiple takes. So when the time came for Eileen to read her lines and she felt a sudden twitch. She allowed her face fold inwards, grotesquely so, as she tried her hardest to withhold a sneeze, worried her hay fever might cause added delay and extra cost.
Pop psychologists, of whom there are many, believe Eileen showed us our true selves, exposed the reality of existence more clearly than sacred texts or paintings ever could. Everyone is psyched to see her new movie. They are sure her face will unravel the mysteries of the world.
Listen to SImon read "And the Academy Award Goes to... Eileen Chuntza" below:
SIMON LOWE is a British writer. His stories have appeared in Breakwater Review, AMP, Storgy, Firewords, Ponder Review, Visible Ink, and elsewhere. His new novel, The World is at War, Again, will be published on June 7, 2021 (Elsewhen Press).