If you’ve chosen the profession of documentary filmmaker, it’s because the genre allows you to become storytellers, and we just love telling stories; so, we constantly have our ears to the ground for news or events we can turn the camera on and tell the story.
It all began at a meeting with promoter Joan Úbeda and him putting us in contact with directors and co-producers (Carles Brugueras and Marieke Van Den Bersselaar) and invited us to consider the idea of tackling a social issue. From a long list of potential documentaries, one jumped out at us for its uniqueness and that it was a story that needed to be told: transgender minors. The main reason it stood out as novel and necessary was because, as far as we know, there has never been a movie made about the issue here in Spain; television reports and documentaries, yes, but never a movie.
Tackling such a complex question about minors and the subject of gender identity is a sensitive issue that involves huge responsibility. From the get-go we were clear that the film had to be “illuminating”, and we wanted to present the reality for these children in a natural light as this was the only way we neutralize the clichés and misunderstanding about the matter. That’s why we were so careful with cinematography and planning many of the scenes. The filming itself played a very important role in transmitting situations and states of mind. The camera became a respectful bystander in the private lives of its stars while capturing their emotions, sometimes through the camera lens and other times using powerful visual metaphors, color palettes or cinematic resources such as studio reenactments.
The internal architecture of a documentary is tremendously complex and delicate, on the one hand we had solved the problem of illustrating the complexity of transgender life, but on the other the story had become complicated: now we had to cross reference with apparently unconnected stories of varying generations and social extracts. The answer was writing, writing, and more writing. We assign a different colored post-it for each character and very shortly our editing-room began to fill up with multicolored papers.
The next challenge we had to face was content: what’d be the best way to portray the extraordinary decisions Violeta, our protagonist, should face? Being a 10-year-old transgender girl, she didn’t yet have to decide whether to take testosterone blockers or whether she should take female hormones or undergo sex reassignment surgery. That’s why we decided to include a broader cast and include older transsexuals who had already made these decisions, or were in the process of choosing the options Violeta was unable to explain us.
After months of testing structures and recording transitions that allowed us to link the crossroads of narratives s for our characters, the result was My Name Is Violeta, a THE MEDIAPRO STUDIO and Polar Star Films co-production.
Whenever you spend this long working on a project, and we were working on this one for almost a year, it’s easy to lose perspective and you sincerely begin to doubt about whether you’ve created something good or if audiences won’t be the least bit interested.
Our doubts were soon dispelled when it premiered at the Malaga Film Festival. You can’t help yourself; you can’t stop looking at the audience every second to see their reactions, and our misgivings disappeared when we saw the public empathizing with the film and its protagonists. The icing on the cake was winning the Amnesty International Award at the DocsBarcelona Festival for defending the rights proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, freedom of expression and values shared by Amnesty International, as well as demonstrating great cinematic in the struggle to transform reality. What more could you ask for?