At just 18 years old, writer and director Atheena Frizzell is already working to make film a more inclusive medium for women by showcasing the issues that impact them most. Her new short, Better Late Than Never, gives a darkly comic look at the struggles faced by young girls growing up in deeply religious homes — above all, the immense tensions surrounding teen pregnancy and abortion. While we won't spoil the climactic, sadly hilarious ending, we will say that the lengths to which Marie, Frizzell's main character, goes to explain a potential high-school pregnancy truly underscore the urgency of changing the often caustic tone of women's rights debates.
"The plot of the film was not inspired by any one event in particular, but rather an accumulation of my interests at the time," Frizzell explains. "Girlhood, religion, and how the two intertwine has always fascinated me." And though Frizzell wasn't raised in a devout household herself (her mom is actress Augustine Frizzell, by the way), her film is nevertheless inflected by the stories of the kids she knew growing up. "I was homeschooled, which means I spent a lot of time around kids who were homeschooled because of their religious affiliation," she says. "Additionally, I am always eager to desensitize menstruation. I think I’ve seen three maxi pads on screen in my life, if that!"
It's clear that the goal of Frizzell's provocative movie is to enrich the diversity of narratives featured on the big screen, especially those created for female actors. "Filmmaking is freeing in this sense; there's magic in the realization that you have the power to put whatever you want to see on screen. There are so many stories to be told."
Press play above to catch all of Better Late Than Never. If you're anything like us, you won't know whether to laugh or shed an empathetic little tear.