A Venezuelan film originally released in 2018 and directed by Patricia Ortega which has made its rounds on the festival circuit winning several awards. It is also Venezuela’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 2020 Oscars.
During the first blurry scenes lead character Ariel (Lucia Bedoya – first film) is having sex with her boyfriend and it does not seem to be ging well in that she is in pain. Afterwards, as she is visiting her dying mother (Maria Elena Duque), who recommends her daughter go see a doctor. The mother-daughter relationship is obviously strained as she does not believe her daughter is living the expected female existence.
After a visit to the doctor (Adyane Gonzalez – first film), the one recommended by her mother, Ariel finds out that the “common” condition she has is that she was born intersex. After many surgeries as a child her body was made to be so she could pass as female.
Learning this compels Ariel to think about her sexuality and future. During this time she begins a relationship with a co-worker at the dressmaking factory she works at. Ariel and Ana (Belkis Avilladares – first film) explore something more than friendship while Ariel thinks about her gender and future.
People who are born intersex often have it hidden from them and have to fight for their sexual identity. Sexual freedom is not a given for them. Often it is not a subject which is discussed, which leads to intersex people feeling isolated.
This discussion is even more rare in Latin countries where there are strict male-female roles. As such the film can be interpreted as a criticism of the strict sex roles imposed upon people in Venezuela. Indicating it is time for talk and allowing for intersex people to come out of the shadows and dealing with the repression imposed upon them.
In most parts of the world the way we “present” to the larger world is how we are categorized. We still largely have to slot into one gender or the other or it makes people uncomfortable. Films like this force us to think about allowing more fluidity. Allowing for the person themselves to decide how they want to present themselves. Male, female or neither. We must accept that rather than making it the presentation of the body it should be the person’s mind or spirit which decides.
Bottom line is the film is poignant, thought-provoking, empowering, and progressive in subject and presentation.