Soft

Late one night in a suburban martial arts studio, three teenage boys unearth their romantic interest for each other and their coach’s sexual interest in them.

Director’s Statement

SOFT faces my demons head-on. Years ago, I started sharing the story of my sexual assault amongst my friends. I noticed that my vulnerability allowed others to do the same.

In early 2019, I teamed up with Teen Vogue and RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) to write an op-ed and direct a PSA about my assault. After the release, strangers, especially men, began to tell me about their own similar experiences.

SOFT takes things a step further. My sexual assault foreclosed my sexual identity; every time my interest in a man arose, I always felt like I was leaving younger Daniel behind with my abuser. In creating SOFT, I have exposed the interrelation between my assault and my sexuality. Through this exposure, I finally feel a sense of relief. I hope others who have faced similar situations will feel identification and encounter healing.

Oddly enough, this story gives non-survivors (both queer and heterosexual) a release too. Society teaches us, particularly men, that we cannot be tender and gentle; that sensitivity reduces our ‘masculinity.’ This film asks us to bring the darkness of assault and toxic conceptions of masculinity to light. It asks us to see the strength and beauty in vulnerability, in softness.