Produced by Amaya Izquierdo at Costa Rica’s Betta Films, and José Esteban Alenda at Spain’s Solita Films, “El Despertar de las Hormigas” portrays a humble Costa Rican family, from the point of view of the mother, who sees her dreams put on hold due to her husband’s desire for a third child.
The story explores the feelings Daniella Valenciano the mother (Daniella Valenciano) develops and her new perspectives on her femininity and sexuality, and the unsuspected micro-machismo surrounding her.
The film was directed by Antonella Sudasassi who will present her debut in the Berlinale Forum.
Sudasassi participated in the Berlinale Talents program at the Guadalajara Intl. Film Festival (FICG) with the film when it was a project. She was trained in Media Management and Audiovisual Production at the University of Costa Rica.
Sudasassi talked with Variety magazine:
What are your hopes for the way audiences perceive your main character?
I hope they identify with Isabel. Not necessarily because they live in the same situation, but because they can relate to how the expectations of others affect their own life decisions. For me, this movie is also a chance to talk about love, and how it’s imperative to redefine it and free it from harmful traditional gender roles, where women tend to adapt themselves to others. Unknowingly and without malice, but out of tradition, our mothers, aunts and grandmothers have been teaching us precisely that. Learning to love is a political act.
Isabel is a humble woman with humble dreams who sees how those dreams and sexuality are being eroded over time. Is feminism nowadays a genuine revolution, or another stage in a longer struggle, boosted by social media?
Probably a little bit of both. It’s surely a trending topic now, but it’s definitely a revolution that wasn’t started in recent years, when the #MeToo movement became popular. I believe it is a revolution that has been taking place slowly and silently for decades now, with several different peaks. Real change occurs over long periods of time and time is relative. For us a hundred years is a lot, but 100 years in history is basically nothing. That is what “Hormigas” is about, a revolution that happens silently and slowly with the smallest changes at home, a revolution that starts by redefining ourselves as women and the way we teach our daughters.
Twelve features were produced last year in Costa Rica – ten more than the previous year. How are films typically financed in Costa Rica? What are the main challenges a new Costa Rican filmmaker faces?
It’s hard. It’s almost like taking a leap of faith. For four or five years you have to work without any financial retribution, hoping that something good comes from it. In Costa Rica it is a side job. It’s almost impossible to live off of filmmaking. We financed our movie through local and international funding – Proartes, Fauno, and Ibermedia – which are the typical sources of film finance in my country. We also have a co-production with Spain where we received funding. In Costa Rica, we don’t have a law where funding is regulated, or where minimum distribution is guaranteed. I believe this is our main challenge.
“Hormigas” is part of a bigger project. Could you explain that, and how the feature incorporates to this idea?
“Hormigas” is a transmedia project that explores female sexuality in its different stages of life through different characters and stories. The project consists of three parts: a short film about childhood, the feature film that focuses on being a young adult, and a feature documentary that will shed a light on sexuality in older women. To further deepen the dialogue, the project also invites artists from all over the world to participate with their own interpretations on the subject, which we intend to display during the national premiere of the film.
What kind of cinema is you interested in making?
I would like to do all kinds of films about all kinds of realities. At the moment, I’m focused on telling stories through details. I believe that in daily and mundane stories you can find a lot of beauty, but also irony and a deep feeling of loneliness. It seems the more connected we are, the more disconnected we become. There is a lot of violence in that. And somehow through details I believe you can tell a story of transformative change, like with Isabel. I really like the work of Lynne Ramsay and Alice Rohrwacher. What Alice did in “Lazzaro Felice” is bold, strange and profound.
Can you tell us about your next project?
I’m working on the third part of “Hormigas,” the documentary that examines female sexuality after 65. It is a hybrid between documentary and fiction, where the characters go through a journey of rediscovering their sexuality, even into their 90s. I’m writing and starting to look for funding. That is the next one, but there are more films in the “oven.” I hope to keep making films for a long time.