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Finding Comedy in the Unhappiness of House of Lonesome Human Beings

Finding Comedy in the Unhappiness of House of Lonesome Human Beings

Filmmakers like Zheng “Nathan” Nie are compelled by the twins of community and emotion to create stories that ease their own pain as well as that of the public. Mr. Zheng’s House of the Lonesome Human Beings was a filtering of his own struggles and experiences into comedy extract. He divulges, “It was inspired by my own time living alone in New York City and trying to find love. There were happy moments but more often frustrating ones in my experience. By converting that experience into a comedy, I learned that it’s never about being intentionally funny or piling up comedy tropes. It’s about being observant and sensitive. The making of House of the Lonesome Human Beings taught me that comedy is really about finding the humor in situations that are often not so happy.” Among the numerous accolades for this film was Nathan’s reception of the award for Best Director at the Palm Springs International Comedy Festival and the LA Shorts Awards. Pain is benevolently dealt with when one embraces the humor it offers. House of the Lonesome Human Beings achieves this in a most endearing manner. 

  House of the Lonesome Human Beings is an urban fairytale with three central characters of disparate backgrounds. A sad fact of modern life is that, contradictory to our online efforts, people feel more disconnected than ever and long to attain authentic lasting relationships. This message has resonated profoundly with audiences across the country. Nathan recalls, “I was attending the Dam Short Film Festival (in Boulder City, NV) when someone who had seen House of the Lonesome Human Beings randomly stopped me and insisted on telling me how much it meant to them and how they loved it. I’ve had this experience many times now and there’s no better feeling than this for a filmmaker. I think the fact that I ended the film on an emotional yet hopeful note had everything to do with these kinds of reactions.”

  A whimsical tone is set in the very beginning of House of the Lonesome Human Beings with a time-lapse animation delivered via a wall painting. Everine the Gypsy, Chester the Dandy, and Homer the Bookworm, are the most unlikely trio imaginable. Their awkwardness in amorous endeavors is what led to their tenure as tenants of this house which was made into a refuge for lonely people. Nathan has written these characters with an ample amount of eccentricities and this offers a wide set of points with which audiences can recognize themselves. The set design and art direction is equally remarkable, manifesting a space between illustration and reality. Astute viewers will recognize LA’s “The Last Bookstore” as the setting where one of the most magical romantic scenes of this film occurs. Homer, the bookworm, meets Stella, for the first time when she asks if he has the first edition of a book. Before she can finish her explanation that this book possesses a typo, Homer finishes her thought with the word and page of the mistake. While Homer and Stella’s story is central to the film, others of heartbreak and hopefulness are displayed. House of the Lonesome Human Beings is sanguine in a muted manner. It offers hope but concedes that life doesn’t always work out as we wish. 

This film is about self-belief and hopefulness even when it seems that everything points in the other direction. As a filmmaker, Nathan Nie understands this at his core. He was born and raised in China, then travelled to the United States for a college education. When he made the decision to pursue his career as a filmmaker, most advised him that success as an artist of any type is a longshot. Rebuking the common path for one which offers creative fulfillment has brought joy to Nathan and scores of his fans across the world. Like the characters of this film, belief in what “can be” is often the catalyst to making our own world a better place to live in.

Writer: Winston Scott

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