A film by Erin Vassilopoulos

Discharged from the hospital after a partial face transplant, Eva is consumed by curiosity about her donor, with whom she feels increasingly connected.

Written and Directed by
Erin Vassilopoulos
Cinematography by
Mia Cioffi Henry

Alexia Rasmussen

Laila Robins
David Warshofsky
Zuzana Stivinova
Gordon Joseph Weiss
Orlagh Cassidy
Andrew MacLarty
Emily Davis

Director's Statement

Well before the medical know-how existed to facilitate a face transplant, the idea repeatedly cropped up in fiction; storytellers and artists intent on exploring the range of themes and questions surrounding the possibility of a person adopting a new face. Within the last decade, face transplant surgery has become not only possible but an increasingly common procedure. Loosely based on Isabelle Dinoire, the first person to undergo a partial face transplant in France in 2005, “Valeria” follows Eva, a woman recovering from face transplant surgery.

Undergoing such a jarring transformation places Eva on a trajectory of discovery, as she becomes increasingly curious about her donor. “Valeria” is a heightened world bordering on a dream-nightmare, where colors and patterns, sounds and sensations take precedent. A pink light in the attic of an unknown house serves as a siren for Eva, a visual stimulus she cannot shake. Returning to the house on several occasions, Eva begins to enter into Valeria’s universe.

With this project, I wanted to explore the boundaries between an intuitive, emotional – uncanny – experience and a medical explanation of that same phenomenon: a patient feeling increasingly connected to her donor. The film traces Eva’s physical movement toward an attic, while attempting to map the emotional undercurrent surrounding Eva’s shifting identity, including the horrific elements of the healing process as well as the process of merging identities.  

Mike Ambs

I love to film things, tell stories, and read on the subway. I'm pretty sure blue whales are my power animal.