Filmmaker’s rom-com short explores millennial celibacy

Filmmaker and producer, Crystal Roman. Her latest short film “Cecilia the Celibate,” slated to screen at Stuart Cinema and Cafe on Nov. 14, examines committing to celibacy in the age of social media.
Stephen Edwards

A new romantic comedy film about a Brooklyn woman exploring celibacy is going to screen in Greenpoint on Nov. 14. Filmmaker Crystal Roman’s film, “Cecilia the Celibate,” follows a late twenties Afro-Puerto Rican woman trying to commit to a new lifestyle. As its title suggests, the short film examines the lead character’s journey as a newly celibate woman, and even makes light of what leads to the decision and how people navigate it, said Roman.

“It’s about being celibate but it’s also a funny, serious topic with a lot of humor to it,” she said. “Because how does one take a vow to become celibate while living in inner city?”

The ease of social media and online dating has made finding prospects easier, but Roman said the added challenge of the competitive nature that comes with those platforms, pressure people to conform.

“It can be hard because we live in a hyper-sexual society and sometimes it’s not even up to date three and sex is already a topic,” said Roman.

In the film, the main character Cecilia embarks on a quest to celibacy and decides to abstain from sex and focus strictly on non-sexual forms of intimacy. But the challenge comes with a struggle, as well as pushback from her friends about trying to change the tune on dating habits she has never done before.

But Cecilia aims to look beyond those societal expectations and set her own terms.

“She wants to have a deeper connection and make and learn how to create a deeper sense of self,” she said. “She’s not alone in her story, and she also has to deal with friends who challenge her.”

The film was partly inspired by a panel Roman attended years earlier about dating from a man’s perspective. At the male-focused panel, one man stood out to Roman as he discussed his journey into celibacy. And she felt inspired to explore the practice through a woman’s perspective.

“One guy said he was celibate and explained how he wanted to find a woman who was also celibate,” she said. “I was toying with the idea on what women would feel about it.”

Roman said although the idea sprung up in 2012, the Me Too movement encouraged her to revisit the subject.

“I felt that this might be the time to give women a breath of fresh air, and also let women know their power,” said Roman.

She noted in one particular scene, a dinner date conversation toes the line between casual conversation and sexual approach.

“We don’t realize how sexual everything is, and one scene explores her date talking about food, but to the audience he’s talking about undressing her and we don’t realize how hyper-sexual dating can be,” she said.

She said the film, a light hearted comedy, is meant to take on a serious and sometimes taboo topic — and have the audience see something they may relate to. And she said her heroine comes to terms with sticking to her gut.

Roman said she wanted the short film to be an eye-opener about the changing landscape of the dating world, and the story of a woman’s attempt to navigate through it.

“She stays true to herself and true to her body and her spirit and who she is,” said Roman.

“Cecilia The Celibate” at Stuart Cinema and Cafe [79 West St. between Kent and Noble streets in Greenpoint,]. RSVP.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected] Follow her on Twitter @AS1mon.
In the film, character Cecilia, center, is faced with navigating celibacy with pushback from dating prospects and friends.
Stephen Edwards

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