Much has been the talk in the media on the movie Vestido de Novia (Dressed as a bride) since it was just a project of the Cuban filmmaker Marilyn Solaya. While she was shooting it she made the multi-awarded documentary “In the wrong body”. Both works are considered part of the same footage.
Just a few days ago it won the First Prize Postproduction Our America First Copy that was delivered by the Alba at the recently concluded 35th International Festival of New Latin American Cinema. The award consists of $ 60 000 and services sponsored by Bubble Sound, Taurus Digital, Boogieman Media, Assimilate and Arachne.
Supported by the formidable performances of Laura de la Uz, Luis Alberto García, Alina Rodriguez, Jorge Perugorría, Mario Guerra, Isabel Santos the film tells the story of Rosa Elena and Ernesto, immersed in Havana in 1994. She is a nursing assistant and he is the head of a work important for the country’s tourism development construction. They fall in love, get married and try to be happy until a secret in her life threatens that harmony and they become victims of violence, prejudice and stereotypes of a society that is still governed by patriarchal and sexist attitudes.
With the filmmaker we talked about his film that we can see in theaters next year.
In the film, where does fiction begin and the documentary end?
The film is inspired by true events that are not only Mavi’s life; the first Cuba’s gender reassignment, but to everybody’s. I appropriated and set off from a true story, the human drama that these people all live, all they went through and not only them, but the spouses and family all around them, that caught my attention.
What was the most interesting thing you discovered about the lives of these people that are reflected in the film?
What caught my attention and is where I connect as a filmmaker and as a Cuban woman is like them when they start to live with this new gender they reproduce all the stereotypes and prejudices of the contemporary woman. What captivates me is gender issues because I feel they are still unresolved issues in Cuban society, subject to pending despite the Revolution’s cultural policy and all changes that have been satisfactory.
I think my mission is to approach it from my perspective as a full woman, heterosexual, single mother of two, in a fairly male Institute where only three women, in which I include myself , have been able to make their films. That’s the subject line of my work.
Why did you choose actresses to interpret the characters of transsexuals?
Because they are physically and mentally women, and they assumed themselves as such; it is just what they are although born in the body of a man, wrongly, when I chose that title for my documentary , I cannot isolate it from this film, I meant precisely that. They live trapped in a body that is not what they assume as theirs, and so are born wanting to change everything. Once you begin to live as women, then they are, so they have to be interpreted by females because otherwise what are we talking about, I thought just because I’m telling stories of women, because in fact they are, although born with another reproductive organ.
What do you consider your biggest challenge during this realization?
Demonstrating first to the institution that I could take on the project, for them to trust me and understand the complexity of the subject and the need to address it because we do not live in a bubble, isolated, it is a universal issue and that is everywhere. My film also tackles the issue of violence, the issue of inequality, ignorance about what gender relations and stereotypes are. Gender is a social construction, is an invention all that is attributed to each gender. In my film I propose a different, more sensitive man. Working with masculinities, Julio César González Pagés is my advisor, we also love to approach it from the perspective of men, and gender is not only a woman is to be a man and in the same way man achieves to change that way of so closed way of seeing life we will live with more harmony and fulfillment.
Why naming the film as the poem by Norge Espinosa?
By the same token the phrase represents, dressing as women because it is synonymous with femininity, in that year Fresa y chocolate was released. They were in the special period, times were hard. Norge’s poem was an anthem for those people and I thought it was important to have a protagonist in that context that he was beginning to have a voice. The name Vestido de novia is a great symbol.