Emotional Labor Alexa Best NFMLA

In the short film “Emotional Labor,” by Alexa Best, she plays a woman on the margins who tries to hold on to her humanity when a client seeks an emotional connection in his upscale apartment. The film, presented at NewFilmmakers Los Angeles‘ recent InFocus: Female Cinema, finds its protagonist torn between going over the edge or finding a connection.

Best not only stars in but also wrote and directed the film. In her interview with NFMLA’s Danny DeLillo, she talked about her love of “trying to find the humor in really difficult situations.”

“I’m into dark comedy, really grounded humor,” she explains. “So it’s not really funny situations, but it’s maybe layering a difficult situation on top of another difficult situation on top of another until eventually I’m like, ‘OK. Now I’m laughing at all of this stuff.'”

Alexa Best on the Meaning of ‘Emotional Labor’

The film starts from the observation that woman are often expected to do emotional labor that has nothing to do with their actual jobs — including comforting and assuaging the feelings of men in positions of power.

“Not funny,” notes Best. “If the job is to help this privileged man, very high status, to escape his power and privilege just for a moment, then I’m like, ‘OK, maybe this can start to be funny.'”

The interaction between the woman and man (Chris Valenti) involves the characters trying not to say what they mean. The film turns darkly funny as it starts to explore manipulative tactics Best has encountered.

The 12-minute film is the directorial debut for Best, a trans actress and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. The film’s festival placements included both NewFilmmakers Los Angeles and NewFilmmakers NY, and it was nominated for Best Narrative Short at the Blow-Up Arthouse Film Festival. Best also directed a music video, “Rebuild,” that was featured in Queerty, Yahoo News, and more.

You can follow Alexa Best on Instagram at @emotionallaborfilm and Twitter at @bestestalexa.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Alexa Best, writer and director of “Emotional Labor”:

The film was part of NFMLA’s March film festival celebrating up-and-coming female talent in front of and behind the camera. The program included two shorts programs, along with award-winning filmmaker Dawn Jones Redstone’s debut feature.

The day began with InFocus: Female Cinema Shorts I, a collection of films that explore motherhood, fertility, birth, and reproductive choice from a wide range of perspectives. The programming continued with the Los Angeles premiere of “Mother of Color,” the first feature from award-winning writer-director Dawn Jones Redstone. The night concluded with InFocus: Female Cinema Shorts II, an eclectic mix of short form work from emerging talent, whose stories explored body image, intimate relationships, work and its many struggles.

NFMLA showcases films by filmmakers of all backgrounds throughout the year in addition to its special InFocus programming, which celebrates diversity, inclusion, and region. All filmmakers are welcome and encouraged to submit their projects which will be considered for all upcoming NFMLA Festivals, regardless of the InFocus programming. 

Main image: Chris Valenti and Alexa Best in “Emotional Labor”