Sunday, 2 September 2012

Movies To Watch: Mia

Last year, it was Gun Hill Road; this year, it's absolutely Mia!

Another groundbreaking film dealing with trans issues and starring a transgender actress: in this case the Cordoba, Argentina-born Camila Sosa Villada. Directed by first-timer Javier Van de Couter, Mia has the cinematographic flow and powerful, but not overwrought scenes, that are usually the hallmarks of a director's later works. The supreme acting talents of Villada (as lead character Ale), and Rodrigo de la Serna and Maite Lanata as the grieving father and daughter, Manuel and Julie, respectively, gave the film both its heart-warming humour and heart-wrenching sadness in equal doses.

The film won the OUTtv People's Choice Award For Best Feature at the Vancouver Queer Film Festival (VQFF) last month as well as Best Film, Premio Maguey, at the Guadalajara International Film Festival in July. Mia will be showing at the 7th Annual Sydney (Australia) Latin American Film Festival which begins this Thursday.

Mia was sold out very quickly at the VQFF, but the (currently screening) Vancouver Latin American Film Festival (VLAFF) also screened it on September 1, as part of their inaugural queer film spotlight. This time, I, and a few friends, caught it. It was well worth the extra wait. With VLAFF organizers and Van de Couter himself in the audience, the film was introduced briefly beforehand.

The director, clearly an ally to our community, drew upon his own knowledge and observations of the trans community in Buenos Aires, including the experiences of many of his friends and acquaintances. The "Pink Village" shanytown, that the both the gay and trans characters are paradoxically ghettoized and threatened with eviction from, is based on a real village which existed between 1995 and 1998 and again rougly a decade ago until 2004; the residents were evicted both times. In 2011, not long after Mia was originally released, the Argentinian Gender Identity Law began its journey through that country's parliament. This past May, it received senate approval and on June 4, it officially became law.

After the film, Van de Couter, with the help of a translator, fielded questions from the awe-struck audience. After questions, many gathered around the director to thank him for his powerful statement, including yours truly. Another excellent monument to the dignity of not only those of us in the trans community, but of the human spirit itself. "Thank you!" I said to Van de Couter, "Gracias!"

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