Six of the ten titles in Morelia’s 2018 Mexican feature competition are directed by women, likewise two of Mexican filmmakers’ five movies at Toronto. In Mexico, as Chile or Catalonia, women are finally coming to the fore as directors and screenwriters, and making movies and TV series which position their female characters in a very different places from the aspirational inter-class romance of yore. In an ongoing series, Variety profiles 10 emerging Mexican women filmmakers.
An alumnus of the Film Studies Center of Catalonia, Spain, Alejandra Marquez Abella made an assured debut on the world stage with her 2015 first feature, “Semana Santa,” selected for Toronto. Her subtle, affecting story of a young eight-year old boy, his mother and her new boyfriend on a less than idyllic holiday went on to snag prizes at the film festivals of Fribourg, Switzerland and Los Cabos, Mexico.
Marquez’s sophomore drama “The Good Girls” (“Las Niñas Bien”) world premiered at Toronto’s prestige Platform showcase, and again displays a deft and mature touch for a 36-year old filmmaker.
Picked up by Cinepolis for the Americas and Luxbox for the rest of the world, “The Good Girls” is inspired by the chronicles of María Guadalupe Loaeza, a caustic observer of Mexico’s bourgeoisie, which in this story are devastated by the crisis of the early ‘80s. Capturing the aesthetics of that decade, including shoulder pads and big hair-dos, “The Good Girls” sheds light on a society few Mexican films have tackled. Not surprisingly, Marquez Abella cites Argentina’s Lucrecia Martel (“La Cienaga,” “Zama”) as a pivotal influence on her work.
“This film was an opportunity to delve into the issues of female anxiety and the complexities of women’s power, subjects I find really interesting and are not addressed enough,” Marquez said.
The next film she is writing, titled “La Triste” (no official English translation but it literally means “The Sad One”), is based on the true story of her paternal grandmother who followed her husband – with eight children in tow – to Chicago. Unfortunately, upon getting there, she discovered that her husband had settled with a new family. Despite these adverse circumstances, she stayed on in Chicago, returning decades later to Mexico where she is hailed as a female César Chavez, the civil rights activist, in her pueblo. Talks with investors are currently underway.