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REEL WOMEN - LA MUJER EN EL CINE A Festival Celebrating Women Filmmakers of Mexico & Spain

REEL WOMEN - LA MUJER EN EL CINE A Festival Celebrating Women Filmmakers of Mexico & Spain

Dec 11 - 15, 2013

Join GALA for a festival of thought-provoking, enriching films and discussions about women in film with Mexican and Spanish filmmakers. Our festival honors films and filmmakers that entertain, educate, inspire curiosity, and stimulate conversation.

Our festival includes five contemporary films (four of which are making their D.C. premieres), as well as a special screening of the iconic film María Candelaria with Dolores del Río.

Films will be shown December 11 and December 13, 14 and 15.

All films are in Spanish with English subtitles.

Reserve your ticket now!


Wednesday, December 11, 7 pm



(Dir. Natalia Beristain, Mexico, 2012, 82 min.)

Cast: Mariana Gajá, Adriana Roel, and Arturo Beristain

Amanda is 33 years old and suffers from a condition: she cannot sleep alone. Her dull life is suddenly altered when she is forced to take care of her alcoholic grandmother, Dolores, a retired actress who lives on her past glories (played by veteran actress Adriana Roel). Largely based on the filmmaker’s relationship with her own grandmother, Beristain’s film had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival and won the prize for Best Film at the 2012 Morelia Film Festival.

8:30 PM – Discussion with director Natalia Beristain, moderated by Mimi Machado-Luces, local Emmy-Award winning filmmaker on board of Women in Film & Video. Reception follows, hosted by the Mexican Cultural Institute.

Friday, December 13, 7 pm



(Dir. Paula Ortiz, Spain, 2011, 95 min.)

Cast: Maribel Verdú, Leticia Dolera, Luisa Gavasa, and Roberto Álamo

First-time director Paula Ortiz creates a chronicle of three generations of Spanish women, each trying to control her own destiny against the background of a rapidly changing Spain. In 1923, Violeta’s passions are aroused when a young university student spends some time in her house. In 1941, Ines hides her lover, an anti-Franco activist, knowing he could be arrested at any moment. In 1975, Luisa is so wrapped up in her petty concerns she doesn’t see the possibility of happiness right before her eyes. Brilliant performances by Maribel Verdu (Pan’s Labyrinth, Y tu mamá también), Leticia Dolera (The Last Day, Prime Time), and Luisa Gavasa, who won the Goya award as best actress, shine in this unique and striking film.

8:45 PM: Discussion with directors Paula Ortiz and Natalia Beristain, moderated by Carlos Gutierrez, co-founder and executive director of Cinema Tropical and co-curator of the festival. Reception follows, hosted by the Embassy of Spain. 

Saturday, December 14, 2 pm



(Dir. Emilio Fernández, Mexico, 1944, 102 min.)

Cast: Dolores del Río and Pedro Armendáriz

“The Mexican cinema was introduced to Europe in 1946 at Cannes with María Candelaria, which has since come to be considered the classic and most memorable of all Mexican films.” (B. Rayes Nevares, The Mexican Cinema). Director Emilio Fernández (“El Indio”) contributed much to the creative period Mexico saw in the forties with films like Flor silvestre, Perla, and Enamorada—“a series of major national portraits,” writes historian Georges Sadoul, “like the murals of Diego Rivera and Siqueiros, reflecting both the Spanish and Indian traditions and a certain popular taste for melodrama.” “Dolores del Río began a renewed career with María Candelaria, the poignant story of a young girl who is mercilessly persecuted by her townspeople, first for the misconduct of her mother, and then for that which the villagers attribute to her. Pedro Armendáriz stars as the peasant boy who tries to save her. The film is set against the backdrop of Xochimilco, near Mexico City, with its floating gardens and indigenous music.” —Pacific Film Archive 


Saturday, December 14, 7 pm



(Dir. Viviana García Besné, Mexico, 2010, 93 min.)

Cast: Guillermo Calderón, José Luis Calderón, Mate Calderón, and Ricardo Montalbán

“This film traces the unbelievable true story of the Calderón family, which built grand movie palaces in Mexico and the U.S. and employed thousands to produce incomparable, hugely successful, often reprehensible populist-genre films utterly and uniquely Mexican. Told by Viviana García Besné—whose grand-uncle was mogul José Luis Calderón—this personal tale from inside an alternate universe offers glimpses of utterly unknown zaftig saturnine actresses, overweight masked wrestlers, human robots and Aztec mummies… all driven by a shameless but keen commercial impulse. And the cinematic fantasies are mirrored by an even stranger labyrinth of internal sibling strife, film business clashes, Hollywood affairs, bankruptcies and anti-intellectual tirades. It’s a Grey Gardens enquiry into a cinematic dynasty.” –Telluride Film Festival


Saturday, December 14, 9 pm



(Dir. Mariana Chenillo, Mexico, 2010, 90 min.)

Cast: Fernando Luján, Ari Brickman, Verónica Langer, and Cecilia Suárez

Nora's Will is a comedy like nothing you've seen before, a truly unique tale of lost faith and eternal love from one of Mexico’s most talented new filmmakers, writer/director Mariana Chenillo. Nora's Will was named Mexico’s Best Picture of the Year, taking home seven Ariel Awards. Chenillo is the first female director to win Mexico’s Best Picture Award. When his ex-wife Nora dies right before Passover, José (Fernando Luján) is forced to stay with her body until she can be properly put to rest. He soon realizes he is part of Nora's plan to bring her family back together for one last Passover feast, leading José to reexamine their relationship and rediscover their undying love for each other. “Quiet, original, irreverent, ironic: these are some of the adjectives that describe Mariana Chenillo’s bittersweet comedy — it’s so well realized that it left me with a smile of satisfaction—a reward too few films offer nowadays.” – Leonard Maltin.


Sunday, December 15, 2 pm

THE PLAGUE / LA PLAGA (D.C. Premiere!)

In Spanish and Catalan with English subtitles


(Dir. Neus Ballús, Spain, 2013, 85 min.) 

Cast: Rosemarie Abella, Maribel Martí, and Raül Molist

A vividly shot docudrama set in the distant suburbs of Barcelona, this hopeful film follows five interconnected Spaniards. Raül, a farmer who tries to grow organic food, hires Iurie to help him in the fields. Iurie is a Moldavian wrestler, but in order to earn a living he has to work at whatever comes his way. Slowly, their personal histories intertwine with those of three solitary women: Maria, a senior who has to leave the country house where she has always lived to join a retirement home; Rose, a nurse from the Philippines who just arrived in the country; and Maribel, a prostitute who has less and less clients. The destinies of all these characters become entwined as the summer goes on. All the roles are played by amateur actors using their own names, and it is on the border between documentary and fiction that the film's magic takes place. The film had its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival to great acclaim and it has been featured at numerous film festivals, including Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Malaga, and Seattle, earning awards worldwide.


Curated by Carlos Gutiérrez, Executive Director, Cinema Tropical (NY), and Marta Sanchez, Director of PRAGDA.

Presented in collaboration with the Mexican Cultural Institute and Spain Arts & Culture.

Community Partners: AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, DC Independent Film Festival, Filmfest DC, Latin é, Smithsonian Latino Center, and Women in Film & Video.

This project is made possible with the generous support of an anonymous donor, and support from the Embassy of Mexico and the Embassy of Spain. 

Tickets: General admission, $10 suggested donation to support GALA's educational community programs. Tickets at Eventbrite or at the door.

REEL WOMEN - LA MUJER EN EL CINE A Festival Celebrating Women Filmmakers of Mexico & Spain