97 minutes (Drama / Venezuela, Colombia)
The further down the LGBTIQA acronym we go, the awareness and issues surrounding sections of our community could arguably be scarce. Patricia Ortega’s film unlocks the world of the gender diverse community. The fictional story will resonate with many as it voices the choices denied to a generation unable to fully make sense of who they are.
You’ll have to be in the right frame of mind for this, as it is screening on a Friday night. In Venezuela we meet Ariel (Lucia Bedoya) who works as a seamstress by day and nurses her mother on her death bed in the evenings. The film opens with an uneasy intimate encounter with her boyfriend spurring questions throughout the film in a puzzle of discombobulation. Interlaced between the slow paced interactions with her mother, co-workers and love interests, are segments (clues) with subjects vocalising the seeming betrayal and deception Ariel appears to be feeling.
Ariel’s physician reveals that when she was born, she was raised a boy until it was discovered her chromosomal makeup was female and she possessed female reproductive organs. Her mother made the decision to raise her as female with the Doctor re-enforcing the idea saying she would “live a more viable life as a woman”.
Though explicit when her initial medical condition sets her on the path of revelation, Bedoya’s portrayal of the sadness and insecurity many in the intersex community might feel, does not rely heavily on the dialogue. Her demeanor and interaction with the other characters speaks volumes and is a testament to the embodiment of Ariel.
Patricia Ortega uses Ariel’s personal journey to challenge the prescribed roles of binary gendertypes in society and culture. By putting the spotlight on the intersex voice, we’re told many were forced into surgeries, some not aware they had it, being mutilated as an infant and the impact and stigma that can result.
The film is a very deep contemplation of self which doesn’t rely on situational catalysts to propel the story. It allows the undertones of shame and embarrassment depicted to be resolved in an empowering conclusion when Ariel is asked if she felt like a man or a woman.
Her response, “I am what I want to be”
WHERE: Dendy Opera Quays – Shop 9. 2 East Circular Quay, Sydney
WHEN: Friday 6 September – 7pm