IMA DOLA: A short film

By Kimberlite_Write

FADE IN:

A HAUNTING, SOLO PIANO CONCERTO BEGINS.

EXT. OLD TOWN, EDINBURGH - DAY

The Grassmarket on a weekend, bustling with people.
At the centre of the market, sitting perfectly still on a bench is a strange, life-size human doll (like a Gothic rag doll). This is IMA DOLA.

She sits haphazardly, her long legs jutting out like poles, one arm dangling, the other in her lap. Her white fabric skin is held together by red stitches.

She blinks, motionless but for the repetitive, forced blinking of her lashes.
Ima listens to THE SOUND OF HER LASHES TOUCHING, opening, touching. She blinks over and over, like a ritual until...

A MAN’S TROUSER LEG touches her calf.

The concerto fades.

Her fingers twitch. She sits up straighter. Ima blinks harder, concentrating... trying not to let on that she’s aware of the trousers.

The STRANGER with the trousers is handsome but disheveled in a mis-matched suit. He watches her cheerfully.

STRANGER
Hello.

HER EYES dart to him quickly, then retreat. She tilts her head away. She stops blinking, willing him away. HER EYES STARE FORWARD TILL THEY DRY OUT AND THE FOCUS BLURS, but...

STRANGER (CONT'D)
Lovely day.

... he’s persistent. She blinks. Her eyes snap into focus.

Her bright red lips part hesitantly. A soft breath escapes, followed by slowly formed words.

IMA
H-hi.

He smiles at the small victory.

STRANGER
Hello!

She continues to stare straight ahead, not daring to make eye contact. He leans out, trying to catch her eyes.

STRANGER (CONT'D)
You alright?

She cuts her eyes up, away from where they might find him.

IMA
Yep. Thanks.

STRANGER
Good. I’m quite well today. Just passing through. But it’s lovely, isn’t it? Lovely day. Did I say that already? Might have. Sorry.

She blinks.

STRANGER (CONT'D)
Don’t you think it’s lovely?

He smiles again. She shrugs and blinks.

STRANGER (CONT'D)
Do you live round here?

She nods, presses her fingers to the bench.

STRANGER (CONT'D)
Oh that’s brilliant. I’d love...

His eyes drop to her hand.

STRANGER (CONT'D)
Wait, you mean you live here? Right here on this bench?

Ima nods.

STRANGER (CONT'D)
That’s a bit odd, don’t you think?

She shakes her head, no.

STRANGER (CONT'D)
Don’t you get cold?

She turns stiffly to look at his face and realizes he’s quite attractive. Their eyes catch.
Her fabric cheeks flush red, surprising her. She looks away.

IMA
I don’t see the point of questions.

STRANGER
Sorry. Am I bothering you? I am. Do you want me to go? I could go.

IMA
No. It’s fine.

STRANGER
Thank you. You see, I’ve become quite fascinated with...

He searches her face noting the expression and texture.

STRANGER (CONT'D)
... this bench.

She looks down. Her pink converse kick absently.

IMA
The bench is nice. Yes.

They sit, watching her feet kick the cobblestones. He looks up at her again. She looks up too... then quickly away.

STRANGER
May I ask your name?

IMA
Doesn’t matter.

STRANGER
Oh? Why’s that?

IMA
It’s meaningless, a fabrication.
(beat)
What’s your name?

STRANGER
You didn’t tell me yours.

Silence. They both turn their heads to stare at the--

COUPLE DRINKING ESPRESSO on a patio... their pale faces smile a bit too perfectly, hands lifting as if by strings.

The solo piano concerto begins to play again nearby. Both tilt their heads, turning to listen to it. The Stranger frowns and Ima starts with the blinking again.

The Stranger jumps to his feet, extends his hand.

STRANGER (CONT'D)
C’mon.

IMA
Where?

STRANGER
Nowhere. Anywhere. Just a walk.

She shakes her head, no. He wiggles his fingers at her.

STRANGER (CONT'D)
C’mon, it’ll be fun! When was the last time you left the bench?

She studies his hand... strong, rough but gentle, and strangely welcoming.

STRANGER (CONT'D)
Been a while, hasn’t it.

The piano music grows louder. They’re both strangely effected by it. Their minds search as they listen.

Ima stares down, brings her dangling hand up and clutches it in her other hand. Her fingers push against each other.

The Stranger watches her pressing her fingers together.

STRANGER (CONT'D)
You okay?

Ima looks up at him, but her eyes don’t focus. For a moment they are both still, her staring up, him staring down...

Then her legs twitch. She pulls them in, forcing them to bend. She struggles, fighting with the stiffness.

STRANGER (CONT'D)
Can I--?

IMA
--No.

He waits with his hand in the air.

She stiffly falls forward, slapping her hand into his.

He grabs hold and tugs. She rises awkwardly and they stand, hands linked. He feels the strange texture of her fabric skin; she feels... nothing.

Ima stares down at their linked hands. Her fingers twitch. She blinks and blinks.

Her eyes wander to the stitches weaving up her fabric hand, at the rows of red yarn on her forearm.

The Stranger’s eyes follow hers.

She looks up into his eyes and blinks, quickly.

IMA (CONT'D)
What?

He smiles exuberantly to hide his concern.

STRANGER
Ready to explore?

She nods, and they stroll through the market silently. Ima looks more alive, gazing about shops. Her fingers clench tightly, then spread out, unsure of the Stranger’s hand.

He looks down at her hand fretting in his and wonders...

STRANGER (CONT'D)
Have you always been a doll?

IMA
That’s a silly question. I’d never ask you if you’d always been a man.

STRANGER
How do you know I am a man?

IMA
You look like one.

STRANGER
Ah. True. But we ought not to be fooled by appearances.

They walk past THE PIANIST, in a bowler’s cap and dark suit, playing the concerto next to The Lot Pub. Neither notice him, or that he watches them stroll by.

IMA
Are you saying you are not a man?

STRANGER
I’m saying you don’t look entirely like a doll.

IMA
Well, I’m not an ordinary doll.

STRANGER
Quite right too.

He winks. Ima studies the cobbles beneath her feet.

The Stranger looks up at the grey sky, takes a deep breath.

STRANGER (CONT'D)
I think it’s going to rain.

Ima jars to a halt. The Stranger pivots to look at her, wondering why they’ve stopped. They stand at a dress shop. Ima stares into the glass at a flowing pink girl’s ballerina dress.

FLASH TO:

INT. SMALL FLAT, EDINBURGH - NIGHT

YOUNG IMA (11) DANCES IN HER PRETTY DRESS... SMALL HIPS SWAYING, DRESS TWIRLING, ARMS LIFTED AND FREE. HER BRIGHT EYES AND SMILING FACE ARE BEAUTIFUL AND FULLY HUMAN.

FLASH TO:

EXT. OLD TOWN, EDINBURGH - DAY

A RAIN DROP hits Ima’s lashes. She blinks and her eyes stay closed for a moment. She listens to the sound of rain.

IMA
It’s raining.

STRANGER
Sorry. It might be my fault.

She turns to him.

IMA
You can’t control the weather.

STRANGER
I imply things and my implications often effect the outcomes.

IMA
Well, I like the rain.

She looks up. The drops hit her face one by one... drip, drip, drip...
FOOTSTEPS approach.

Ima’s head lowers and she sees THE PIANIST reflected in the glass. She whips around and the Stranger grabs her hand.

THE PIANIST
Hello, Ima Dola. That’s what you call yourself now, isn’t it? You know I could have given you a much more, imaginative--

His eyes cut over to the Stranger holding Ima’s hand. There’s a flash of uncertain recognition between them.

THE PIANIST (CONT'D)
--do I know you?

The Stranger says nothing but looks nervous.

The Pianist cuts his eyes back over to Ima Dola.

THE PIANIST (CONT'D)
You made a friend, doll? Who is he?

The Stranger looks at Ima, still holding her hand.

STRANGER
Who is this? Who is he to you?

Ima lunges at The Pianist trying to attack, but her limbs are stiff and awkward. They don’t respond well. She falls.

The Pianist laughs.

THE PIANIST
Nice try, doll. Nice try.

Ima stays down, staring at the cobbles wishing it hurt.

The Stranger reaches out, his fingers grasping her arm to help her up, but she wrenches away.

She dashes up the nearest flight of stairs and the Stranger is left standing, dumbfounded, holding IMA’S ARM.

EXT. CLOSE, EDINBURGH - DAY

Ima hides around the corner from an old staircase, crouching down with her knees pulled to her chest. Her one arm gripping where her other should be.

THE STRANGER’S TRAINERS approach. Ima stares at the shoes.

IMA

I should have stayed where I was.

He holds her lost arm out to her. She takes it, embarrassed, and quickly pulls extra yarn and a needle from her pocket.

The Stranger looks away to give her privacy. His face betrays concern. He ponders, opens his mouth, trying to find words.

IMA (CONT'D)
(quiet)
Thank you.

He spins around, nodding.

STRANGER
So, who was that?

IMA
I don’t remember.

His eyes hold on hers. She blinks and blinks. She takes a breath. He looks around, trying to find some way to cheer her up. His eyes drop to--

A CRUSHED WILD FLOWER lying on the cobbles.

He crouches down, gently picks it up and holds it to his face, close, so it almost touches his lips.

Ima watches him, curiously as he whispers...

STRANGER
You’re not finished yet.

...and THE FLOWER SLOWLY COMES BACK TO LIFE. His eyes sparkle as he watches the colour and life flow through it again. He offers the flower to Ima and she stares at him.

IMA
What sort of man are you?

He grins a sad sort of grin.

IMA (CONT'D)
Tell me.

STRANGER
Tell me your name.

She crosses her arms. He crosses his arms. And they sit on the cold stones, silent, listening to the rain.

Ima reaches cautiously forward, touches his forearm. She runs her fingers over his skin, but she can’t feel it.

She pulls away. Ima turns her head to look out at the rain. Her VISION BLURS OUT OF FOCUS.

STRANGER (CONT'D)
D’you know what I think?

Ima shakes her head silently, exhales.

STRANGER (CONT'D)
I think you’re a girl, a human being. And somewhere along the way something went wrong. You changed cos of an idea. It’s brilliant, really. But it’s wrong.

IMA
I’m made of fabric.

STRANGER
But that’s not who you are. I can tell. There’s no use fighting this sort of thing when I’m around.

IMA
Why’s that, then?

STRANGER
Told ya, I imply things and they happen.

IMA
Like the flower?

STRANGER
Exactly.

She frowns.

IMA
You see things. You think they ought to be different. And they respond to you.

STRANGER
Yes. Well... yes. Why do you look upset?

IMA
You want to change me.

She stands. He reaches for her. She crosses her arms. His fingers close on her wrist.

STRANGER
I want to help you.

She wrenches her arm free. He tries to take it again. She pushes him hard against the wall, shocking them both. Her eyes stay wide. She stands still a moment, stunned.

IMA
Goodbye.

STRANGER
No!

She turns, dashes out into the rain. He follows.

STRANGER (CONT'D)
Come back!

She runs, surprised by her speed, by the ease of her movements. The Stranger chases.

STRANGER (CONT'D)
Wait!

THE PIANO CONCERTO wafts up to her ears. Her head tilts. She shifts course, runs toward the sound. Her movements stiffen more and more as she nears the piano.

The Stranger follows closely behind.

EXT. OLD TOWN, EDINBURGH - DAY
Ima runs down the steps. The Stranger trails after.

THE PIANO MUSIC GROWS LOUDER, THE PLAYING MORE AGGRESSIVE.
The Stranger sees Ima walking straight toward--

THE PIANIST playing the piano on a street corner, his expression eerie.
Ima dances next to the piano, like a ballerina in a music box, twirling on cue.

The Stranger watches as he approaches. There’s something eerie in her dance. It’s controlled, like a marionette.

The Stranger speeds his gait again, then stops. His eyes moving to the nearby crowds.
THEY MOVE STIFFLY WITH FABRIC ARMS AND SEWN ON SMILES. They all look
innocent and sickly controlled.

The Stranger’s face drains. He’s horrified.

At the piano, The Pianist spots the Stranger. He looks up and lifts his hands from the keys.

Ima collapses into a heap...

... as do all the people nearby.

THE PIANIST
(to the Stranger)
Something wrong, friend?

STRANGER
I’m not your friend.

THE PIANIST
Well, I don’t know your name, do I. What else should I call you?

STRANGER
My name doesn’t matter.

THE PIANIST
Is that why you befriended my doll?

STRANGER
Who are you?

He stands, takes a large stride closer to the Stranger.
THE PIANIST

You didn’t answer my question.

STRANGER
Undo it.

THE PIANIST
You don’t think it’s beautiful? They’re all so innocent, perfect.

STRANGER
Undo it. Now.

Ima whimpers, stirring from her pile of limbs.

The Pianist looks down to her, a flash of concern.

The Stranger drops down, takes her arms in his hands and lifts. She stumbles up, wobbling like a rag doll.

STRANGER (CONT'D)
(to The Pianist)
What did you do to her?

THE PIANIST
You don’t even know her real name. How do you know I’ve done anything wrong?

STRANGER
I suppose you know her name?

THE PIANIST
Of course I do. I made her.

The Pianist starts to play the song again.

Ima jerks up like a puppet who’s strings have just been pulled. She begins to dance.
The CROWDS STAND TOO. They all start to move and dance.

STRANGER
Stop it!

THE PIANIST
No!

He plays louder, hands crashing over the keys.

The Stranger grabs Ima, holds her tight so she can’t dance. She whimpers, twitching, legs still trying to dance.

The Stranger covers her ears, holds her face.

STRANGER
Look at me.

Her eyes look at him, but they don’t focus.

STRANGER (CONT'D)
Focus. Listen to me.

Her brows furrow.

STRANGER (CONT'D)
Tell me your real name.

The Pianist plays louder.

STRANGER (CONT'D)
Who were you? Tell me. I know you remember. Somewhere, you do.

She tries to turn away. He holds her, gripping hard. She whimpers again.

IMA
Please. Leave me alone.

STRANGER
You had a name. A real name. What was it?

She frowns.

STRANGER (CONT'D)
Tell me who you were. What is your name? Remember. Remember.

Her eyes widen as she hears a whisper.

THE PIANIST (V.O.)
Angela.

Her mouth opens. Her eyes focus on the Stranger’s. He waits, silent, holding her.

The piano concerto is overcome by the RINGING IN IMA’S EARS as she stares at the Stranger, remembering. Her lips move.

IMA
Angela.

The Stranger removes his hands from her face, smiling.

STRANGER
Angela?

The Pianist’s halts his playing. The crowds fall, but--

Ima remains standing, staring at the Stranger... stunned at the sound of her old name.

STRANGER (CONT'D)
Haha! Angela. Brilliant! That’s a beautiful name!

The Pianist stands abruptly, marches toward the Stranger.

Ima backs away from them. She looks at both of them watching her. Something begins to build in her. She shakes.

STRANGER (CONT'D)
What is it? What’s wrong?

Ima looks down at HER FABRIC HANDS, HER STIFF LEGS. She remembers...

CUT TO:

INT. SMALL FLAT, EDINBURGH, FLASHBACK

YOUNG IMA twirls in a her ballerina dress. A CRASHING PIANO CHORD. Her limbs stiffen, jutting out. She stumbles over.

CUT TO:

EXT. OLD TOWN, EDINBURGH - DAY

IMA blinks.

The Pianist’s hands descend on the Stranger’s shoulders, spin him around. The Pianist shakes the Stranger, angry.

THE PIANIST
Why did you say her name?

STRANGER
I’m making things right.

THE PIANIST
Are you certain?

The Stranger turns to Ima as she spins toward a window, gazing at her reflection. She touches her strange hair.

STRANGER
She’s a girl. A human girl. She needs to be free.

THE PIANIST
She’s a doll. My doll.

STRANGER
Her name is Angela.

THE PIANIST
Stop saying that! You’ll ruin it!

She studies her pale reflection, lifts a hand to her face.

THE PIANIST (CONT'D)
You’re a doll, love. You’ve always been a doll and that’s all you’ll ever be. You’re perfect.

STRANGER
You’re a human being. A beautiful woman. Change back. Become yourself. You can do it. Trust me, Angela.

She turns around, eyes darting, caught between two places.

STRANGER (CONT'D)
Listen to me. Focus.

Her eyes find the Stranger and lock.

IMA
You imply things. You said you imply things and they happen?

The Pianist holds out his hands to Ima.

THE PIANIST
He is implying. He’s making things how he wants them. Don’t listen to him. Come here, my doll. Come to me. I love you. I created you.

She looks between the Stranger and the Pianist.

STRANGER
Angela, you’re trapped. You’ve been trapped.
(He points)
Like all those people are trapped. But you can be free. Just let go.

The Pianist returns to playing.

IMA
I’m a doll.

STRANGER
You’re not.

IMA
Look at me. I’m made of fabric. I’m not a girl. I’m a doll.

Her eyes cut over to the Pianist.

IMA (CONT'D)
He did this.

The Pianist plays on, eyes glued to the keys.

She approaches the piano. The song sounds off key to her now, the beauty of it gone, clashing. She reaches up slowly and takes off The Pianist’s hat. He looks up at her.

Their eyes lock.

IMA (CONT'D)
Who are you? Tell me.

He keeps playing but the song becomes somber, a memory.

THE PIANIST
I don’t know who I am but I know who you are. You’re my doll.

He looks up at her and their eyes catch. She remembers. Her voice softens.

IMA
Daddy.

THE PIANIST
No. My doll... don’t remember.

The Pianist plays louder, trying to drown out the memory.

FLASH TO:

INT. SMALL FLAT, EDINBURGH - NIGHT

Young Ima dances to the concerto in her pink ballerina dress. She is graceful beyond her years... small hips swaying, sensuous and expressive. A young girl blossoming.

Her father, THE PIANIST, plays and watches his daughter with tears in his eyes, unable to look away... willing her to stay young forever.

She lifts to her toes, twirling playfully. She spins and catches her father’s eyes.

He blinks, crashes his hands down as--

FLASH TO:

EXT. OLD TOWN, EDINBURGH - DAY

The Pianist’s hands crash down over the keys. Ima takes off his hat and he continues to play loud, desperate, clinging to the concerto’s dwindling power.

Ima turns away. She reaches up and unties a red thread over her heart.

STRANGER
What’re you doing? Stop. Angela, you can change back. You can be what you were. I can help you.

She spins to face him.

IMA
Tell me your name.

The Stranger backs away.

STRANGER
It doesn’t matter. What matters is you. We have to fix you.

IMA
But you’re so interested in names.

STRANGER
I have to make things right.

IMA
Why?

The Pianist watches the Stranger, trying desperately to connect the dots.

Ima steps forward, stumbles, but catches herself. She takes a breath and stands taller, determined. She steps toward the Stranger. The Pianist watches.

IMA (CONT'D)
Tell the truth, Stranger.

STRANGER
I dunno. I don’t know my name.

IMA
Why not?

He stops pacing, shouts.

STRANGER
Cos it’s forgotten! It’s been lost! Something went wrong... something happened. I don’t remember.

The Pianist stands. He knows, his mind searches.

IMA
What are you, then? Huh? What is this? Why did you come to me? What was the point? What am I to you? An idea, a project, a conquest?

STRANGER
I... I don’t... I thought... I felt. I had to make things right.

IMA
Why? What’d you do? Who ARE you?

THE PIANIST (O.S.)
Simon?

Both turn, shocked.

THE PIANIST (CONT'D)
You’re the man who became a word. I’ve been looking for you.

STRANGER
I’m sorry. You’re mistaken.

Ima looks from The Pianist to the Stranger and back again.

THE PIANIST
I learned from you, Simon. You taught me how to change things. To make things better, how I wanted.

STRANGER
Have we met?

The Pianist holds the Stranger’s gaze while he talks.

THE PIANIST
You said I was special. You said my music was... I believe the word was...

FLASH TO:

INT. THE LOT PUB, EDINBURGH - NIGHT

THE STRANGER WHISPERS IN THE PIANIST’S EAR.

FLASH TO:

EXT. OLD TOWN, EDINBURGH - DAY

The Stranger looks like he’s going to be sick.

THE PIANIST
No one liked the piece at first. But after that night, whenever I played, well... things changed. Starting with my daughter.

The Pianist replaces his hat.

THE PIANIST (CONT'D)
So who’s the real villain, Simon? Tell me. Be honest.

Ima walks toward the piano.

THE PIANIST (CONT'D)
What do you think, doll? The chicken or the egg?

Ima sits at the piano, lifts her fingers up and begins to play the concerto. It starts out as always, then becomes different, strange. A new song. The more she plays the stronger she becomes, the more powerful the song.

HER STITCHES UNRAVEL MORE AND FASTER.

The Stranger searches his thoughts.

STRANGER
I remember running. That’s all. Just running for years.

THE PIANIST
And where were you lead?

Ima plays louder, more fervently, the notes crashing over each other like violent waves. She plays and plays. More and more of her stitches unravel. She’s coming apart.

STRANGER
To her.

THE PIANIST
My doll. Why?

STRANGER
I knew. I’d never seen her before but I knew I had to help her.

THE PIANIST
Did you bother to ask yourself why?

A PIECE OF RED YARN floats off Ima, whips through the air and lands on the Stranger’s face. He reaches up and takes it. He turns it between his fingers.

THE PIANIST (CONT'D)
You implied yourself into nothingness. Why? Why would a man do a thing like that?

STRANGER
I can make things better!

Ima’s hands crash over the keys. THUNDERING CORDS.

THE PIANIST
You made things worse! You’re the villain. Not me! I’m the father! I will always be the father.

STRANGER
No, Jacob. You’re the pianist.

They glare at each other, ready to lunge.

Ima stands, still playing. The men turn to her.

THE PIANIST
My doll, you are fabric and perfect. Be what you are.

STRANGER
Be who you were, Angela. You can. Trust me.

IMA
NO! I will not!

Ima kicks over the bench and continues playing, determined. She’s unravelling, unraveling, bits of her flying off.

The colour drains from both men’s faces. The song is getting to them, there’s power in it. Both watch Ima playing, coming undone... both nauseous at the sight of it, at their regret.

The Pianist stumbles, sits. He starts to rock. His fingers tapping. He can’t take this. He squeezes his eyes shut, something building in him. He mumbles under his breath.

THE PIANIST
Not the villain, not the villain...

Ima turns to him, still playing, strong, determined.

IMA
Goodbye, Daddy.

Her fingers dance over the keys introducing a new, separate, lamenting melody. The Pianist takes off his hat and with one final look at his daughter... he vanishes.

The puppeted CROWDS stand up, free. They go back to their day as if nothing’s happened.

The Stranger turns. There’s not much left of Ima now. SHE IS A SILHOUETTE OF FABRIC, COMING APART... HANDS PLAYING, BODY UNRAVELING, swept away by the wind and the song.

STRANGER
I’m sorry. It’s all my fault. Forgive me. I give it up.

Ima’s silhouette turns. Their eyes meet.

STRANGER (CONT'D)
My words have no power.

The Stranger coughs... opens and closes his mouth.

The last bits of yarn and fabric come undone and drift off. Ima is nothing but pieces now. She is gone. The song dies.

The Stranger’s hands reach into the pile of yarn, fabric, and rags. He brings all her pieces up to his face and kisses the fabric. A tear falls down to his trainers.
FOOTSTEPS approach and--

The Stranger, now SIMON, in a new suit with tidy hair, looks up. He tries to speak but can’t. He has no voice.

ANGELA, fully human, beautiful and feminine in a blue, bohemian dress and brown boots, holds out her hand to him.

Their hands touch. She feels his skin... and smiles.

SMASH TO BLACK.
THE END.

Document
IMA DOLA: A short film

Created: Mar 23, 2010

Tags: script, short film

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