Zaida Carmona • Director of Girlfriends and Girlfriends
"It would be interesting if a straight person could have LGBTQI+ characters as role models"
- We spoke to the Spanish director about her debut feature, an independent, deeply cinematic and proudly lesbian comedy
Girlfriends and Girlfriends [+see also:
interview: Zaida Carmona
film profile], directed, co-written (with filmmaker Marc Ferrer) and starring Zaida Carmona, will hit Spanish cinemas on 3 February with Begin Again Films, having had its international premiere in the Bright Future section of the IFFR, although it was previously awarded at the last D'A in Barcelona, Lesgaicinemad and Rizoma.
Cineuropa: Your first film is now coming to Rotterdam.
Zaida Carmona: It’s been amazing, beating all my expectations. It's an honour to be there with such a punky feature film, especially at the production level.
Because you have produced it completely independently?
With crowdfunding and self-financing, but with a limited budget, typical of a short film. It was the only way to get it made. But that was our way of getting it off the ground, outside of the industry, although a distributor (Begin Again) came on board later, something we didn't expect. Because the film was born out of a physical need to shoot it, using contacts and the equipment we had at home.
It’s similar to what your co-writer Marc Ferrer has done with his films.
Yes, Marc’s very guerrilla and kamikaze method. Being close to him also prompted me to make a film like this. Because if I hadn't seen that it was possible, I wouldn't have dared to do it.
But even Carlos Vermut has confessed to being a fan of Girlfriends and Girlfriends.
We knew him because he liked Marc's films, but I was both afraid and excited for him to see mine because one night, a bit drunk, we had been talking about Eric Rohmer. When you admire someone so much and they like what you've done... you go into shock.
Rohmer is more than a guest star in your film. Where does your fascination with him come from?
I discovered him at university when I was studying Audiovisual Communication, but I didn't really pay much attention to him. A few years ago I revisited Full Moon in Paris and I was hooked. It was so entertaining, someone who made romantic comedies in the nouvelle vague, and his female characters are amazing. Talking to Marc we said that we should do a homage or adaptation, because we can relate to the plots. It started out as an adaptation but became a homage.
A homage to cinema and culture. The characters are very much so.
Yes, Rocío Saiz's character makes a little fun of that whole snobbish thing, something common in Barcelona where we don't take ourselves too seriously.
It's a lesbian-proud comedy, the only guy who appears on screen is Ferrer...
Yes, it was poetic justice: he had to be there. In the first version of the script we wrote together, he told me that he loved the fact that I hadn't put any boys in it. I said it just came to me like that, unintentionally. But we found it funny that there was not a single male actor in the film, just him.
It is also a light-hearted comedy with an undramatic take on the lesbian theme.
It was important for me to make a film where we recover a little bit and celebrate our identity. There are many lesbian-themed films that I love, even though they are dramatic. It’s normal to find problematic and painful experiences within the LGBTQI+ identity, but I wanted to create something where we have fun and where the characters do the wrong thing sometimes. It feels like we always have to create characters that are exemplary role models and that trauma justifies their identity. I wanted to keep it light while remaining activists. We have a good time and from there we can also get in trouble.
But sometimes LGBTQI+ cinema is only seen by LGBTQI+ audiences. Do you think that films like yours, being so light and fun, inspire a different kind of audience?
Yes, it's a shame, because those of us who are LGBTQI+ watch films with straight stories all the time, we see ourselves reflected in them in certain aspects and we find them interesting. I think it would be interesting if a straight person could have LGBTQI+ characters as roles models. But that’s not happening, it's been like that for a long time and it's as if it were a separate genre, similar to films directed by women. It's to do with education and the industry. The more different viewpoints there are, the more they can slip into mainstream programming. But there’s a lot more work to be done.
Do you agree with the label of a moral tale that has been given to your debut work?
It's more amoral, isn't it? Or immoral.
(Translated from Spanish by Vicky York)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.