Of molds and ceilings

Last Saturday I was lucky enough to be among the press covering the IV Platino Awards of Latin American Cinema ceremony. These awards celebrate the Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American movie industry and promote our shared culture, language and history in a borderless, genuine, and cheerful brotherhood.

As directors, actors, actresses, editors, producers and other members of the Latino cinema family walked the red carpet before my ready camera in a glamourous parade my mind reflected about the presence of women in this industry, as well as the roles they are handed and given the chance to perform.

It has been stated repeatedly that the movie industry chastises women forcing them to appear always young, to keep an amazing look for decades while, at the same time, they often get relegated to secondary, stereotyped roles not likely to raise too many hackles. It has been declared that female presence in film will not get significantly better either in quantity or quality until the proportion of female directors does not take off from the ridiculously low level where it currently sits. If this is the reality, the Platino Awards give me hope.

It gives me hope to see women like Gracia Querejeta, quiet pioneer, solid presence when it comes to directing movies in Spain, walking the red carpet. She also makes me dream that those who have taken over from her, such as Icíar Bollaín or Isabel Coixet, will also receive this award one day.

It makes me proud to applaud the sublime Geraldine Chaplin or Marisa Paredes, showing off their age before the photographers with the kind of calm ease that exudes only from those who have nothing else to prove to anyone or to themselves.

I feel overwhelmed in the presence of Sonia Braga, who received the Best Actress in a Leading Role award wrapped in all her elegance, her stunning figure and her unsmoothed wrinkles that highlight her beauty with the lines of a face that is not ashamed of having lived.

The energy and indelible smile of the singer Lucrecia infects me and I feel comforted by the fact that a black woman with a fair amount of flesh over her bones and multicolor hair brightens up a red carpet shattering race, figure or styling stereotypes.

I too love all those tall, elegant, slender women in their night dresses, high heels and baroque hairstyles: Leticia Dolera’s, Elena Furiase’s, Amaya Salamanca’s or Clara Lago’s fresh, talented youth; Pastora Vega’s, Silvia Marsó’s or Emma Suárez’s (nominee but absent from the ceremony) splendid physical and interpretative maturity.

It is not written anywhere that being beautiful is a sin. It is just fair that we can show off our beauty without our intelligence or depth being questioned. Do not we love attractive women? Let us let them be, then. And let us not fool ourselves: quite often, our most cruel critics are not male.

When it comes to crushing stereotypes, she deserves her own paragraph. I confirm her face is just like it appears on the photos. And it is wonderful. Rossy de Palma is not pretty: she is beautiful. Because beauty, both in movies and in real life, is much more than just a perfect face; because character can shift our simple perception of a combination of traits. If you still doubt it, just look at her.

My heart swells with gratitude towards directors such as Pedro Almodóvar, awarded yet again last weekend. He has certainly dedicated his life to exploring all the facets of women and, along the way, he has taught us not to be ashamed of any of them: the mother, the daughter, the whore, the friend, the lover, the weirdo, the neighbor, the passionate, the tormented, the defeated, the lonely, the brave, the fighter. Young and mature, Spanish and Latin American, all of them great: women such as Carmen Maura, Penélope Cruz, Emma Suárez, Elena Anaya, Blanca Portillo, Leonor Watling, Cecilia Roth, or Marisa Paredes herself have all graced his camera. His movies are, more than anything else, a praise to female diversity and the subtlety of our language, codes, and emotions; an eccentric but genuine reconciliation with our very true nature.

Movies are probably the most important mirror of our current society as well as its biggest critical and reforming force. If there is a field where molds and preconceived roles must be shattered as an example for others to follow, it is in the movie industry without a doubt. Because, as the recipient of the Platino Honor Award Edward James Olmos said on his speech, ‘talent, imagination and creativity know no limits, no borders: they just need opportunities.’

The Platino award is a woman. The figurine, designed by Mariscal for the first edition, portraits a woman holding the world in her hands, offering it in praise, as if she herself was ready to fly. It is a stylish, beautiful, poetic image. The explicit wish of the founders of this event is to turn these awards into the Latino Oscars and I could not think of a better formula: he is Oscar, golden like the sun; she is Platino, the moon. And they do not fight each other: right on the contrary, both are participants.

Thus, the world gets balanced.

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