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20 Strangers Were Asked To Kiss Each Other By This Filmmaker. What Followed Was Beautiful…


These days, it isn’t easy to say hi. People seem obedient to their mothers’ teachings: Don’t talk to random strangers. We lead our separate lives. Individually.

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So what happens when 20 volunteers sign up for some blind fun?

In March, 2014 filmmaker Tatia Pilieva chose to follow her instincts, and implemented the idea that had nested in her mind a few months earlier.

Here is the result…

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In a personal interview to Huffington Post, Tatia tells the tale of the video that made her famous. Apparently, it was a simple, low-budget attempt to help out a fashion designer friend that led to a hundred million eyes being caught and one of the most prestigious awards in the film industry – the Golden Lion, Cannes Film Festival, 2014.

How the idea was born

Pilieva seems to have herself a fairytale-ish, romantic married life with her husband. The kind where someone magically shoots their pictures while they are having special moments, and passes the pictures onto her for keepsake.

As absurdly unreal as it seems, I want to believe it, for the beauty of the romanticism.

So Tatia has a collection of kisses with her husband Andre, and each one is different, but each one gives her a warm feeling inside. A kiss is a very intimate moment between two people – physically and sometimes emotionally too.

The social experiment was conceived along these lines- where she wanted to have strangers kiss each other and see their reactions. Her husband recommended the “black and white” backset.

However, what no one had anticipated was what would preface the kisses…


When her friend Melissa – owner of WREN Studio fashions – wanted to advert her latest Fall-Winter, 2014 clothe line, she approached newly graduated Tatia (MFA from AFI) to make a short film on a low budget. They decided to do the “FIRST KISS”, with artist friends from all over Los Angeles.

The shoot

In her story, Pilieva narrates how they were very careful about not disturbing the candid of the pairs being shot. All these 20 strangers were told to do was kiss the person they were paired randomly with. Nothing else – no scripts.

Her cinematographer hubby shot the short silently on rolling cameras and she herself never called “action!” All the expressions, words, actions in the film were entirely natural and effortless. There is one thing to be said here: You taught her well, AFI!

There is just something about this film…

While the couples all seem to be ‘hot Americans’ who are models or actors professionally, it’s no reason to assume that would overshadow their human instincts. Each couple is nervous before their kiss. Awkward. Trying to close the weirdness.

You can hear nervous remarks like “Shall we make out? Absolutely!” and “This is really scary!”

I think it’s the beauty of the candid of all these people that is so charming. In a world where we are shying away from each other, or pretending to be something else in a large crowd, it’s striking to be real. These folks are vulnerable in all their insecure selves, because they are equipped with the knowledge that what they are about to do cannot be faked. And so they are scared.

Another aspect to this concept is the blindness of it all. The dark abyss that they see ahead, but aren’t sure of. It’s like when you think of doing something crazy, but then you are afraid of doing it. However, as the video progresses, it is evident that they all liked it, or at least liked that they tried.


Moreover, it seems that a kiss can vanish the “stranger” part of this group. After the lip-lock, they all seem more comfortable with each other, and smile more easily. That’s a little weird, and a little magical. I bet they each smiled as they thought about the kiss on their way back home – although not because they fell in love or anything.

Follow up.

After the film’s huge success, a lot of love and hate came Tatia’s way. She was much criticized about the fact that what is portrayed as “real” is performed by models and actors, and is “just an ad” However, we can’t deny that it was a beautiful short film, and no matter what, it DOES make your day.

Two months after this film however, Pilieva made another called “UNDRESS ME” and uploaded it on YouTube. That one was far-fetched, to say politely. However, considering that it WAS a scripted piece, made for the Masters of Sex, it’s okay.

It’s been nearly 20 months since the short came out, and it has done very well – grossing more views than some of the big-shot music artists too. But you can’t be sure if 108,286,216 people saw it, or only a few saw it over and over – like I did… I’m still not sure what it is exactly, but I like the film. A lot.

Did you? Tell us in the comments section!

P.S.: Do not try this at home, you live in India.


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