Some stories are so universal they defy the boundaries of age, culture, and geography. After playing at many festivals around the world, Some Freaks has done just that, resonating with a diverse and widespread audience. The film, which tells the raw story of a troubled romance between two outcasts, is coming to Denver’s SIE Film Center and 10 other U.S. cities on Friday, August 4.

Some Freaks stars Me Earl and the Dying Girl’s Thomas Mann as a high school student with one eye who falls in love with a plus-size student played by newcomer Lily Mae Harrington. The characters meet during the winter of their senior year, but their relationship faces obstacles when they each change after she moves to the west coast to attend college. The story explores how we transition through different phases of life—in this case, the shift from the end of high school to the beginning of college.

The change is depicted beautifully and intentionally on screen by director and writer Ian MacAllister McDonald. The first half of the film, shot in Rhode Island during the winter, deliberately uses shaky camera work to show the rawness of the high school characters when they meet and fall in love. The second half of the film was captured six months later during the summer. The camerawork is steady and conveys the disconnect between the characters when they reunite in California and realize how much they have each changed—both physically and emotionally.

“I would say the message of the film is to be really present and open to exploring who you are and how that changes, and to give yourself permission to not worry so much about how the world might be defining you or trying to impact you in the meantime,” says producer Lovell Holder, who attend graduate school at Brown University with McDonald.

The story shows the vulnerability in finding ourselves and accepting who we are becoming. Holder says that after the positive feedback received from audiences at the Vail Film Festival, he is especially excited to share the film in Denver. “Everything that I hear about Denver is how it is really exploring so many different aspects of itself, and that makes it a prime venue for a film like this, which is all about exploring how many different shades there can be to one person,” Holder says.

This idea is conveyed best through Harrington’s character change. When casting for the film, Lovell says agencies didn’t have any women over 150 pounds and under 30 years old to audition for her role, which to him, confirmed the importance of having a plus-size lead. Lovell says he wanted Harrington for the role after seeing her on The Glee Project. Her performance has since earned her Best Actress nods from the Nashville Film Festival, Rhode Island International Film Festival, and the Princeton Independent Film Festival.

“Anyone who ever felt remotely isolated growing up, which I think we forget is more people than we ever realized, will find things to connect with here in a way that I think is done with a lot of authenticity and really minimal condescension,” Holder says. “I think it’s trying to have frank conversations in an unsentimental way while also acknowledging the beauty of those types of situations.”